Introducing A Course in Miracles, Instillment #3

[NOTE: So here is Part #3 of the Intro to ACIM that I have been blogging about the last few days, and btw, I would love your feedback, thank you. : ) ]

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GO TO THE SOURCE

First off, as the Course itself advises us in various ways, it’s generally a good idea to “consider the source” and start with the original source material (though on a deeper level, “consider the source” would mean the Source, aka God, Spirit, the Ground of Being, Love, etc.), and for that you might want to purchase the following comprehensive edition of the Course put out by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, click HERE .  To the best of my knowledge, this is the most complete edition of the Course available, and it’s also the “standard” edition in the sense that most people citing chapter and verse are referring to this edition.

The entire Course can also be read for free online HERE .

 

For a summary background on how the Course came to be written and what it says, I recommend starting with the following:

 

Introduction to A Course in Miracles by ACIM.org

 

“A Course in Miracles is a complete self-study spiritual thought system. As a three-volume curriculum consisting of a Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers, it teaches that the way to universal love and peace—or remembering God—is by undoing guilt through forgiving others. The Course thus focuses on the healing of relationships and making them holy. A Course in Miracles also emphasizes that it is but one version of the universal curriculum, of which there are “many thousands.” Consequently, even though the language of the Course is that of traditional Christianity, it expresses a non-sectarian, non-denominational spirituality. A Course in Miracles therefore is a universal spiritual teaching, not a religion.”

“There is a course for every teacher of God. The form of the course varies greatly. So do the particular teaching aids involved…. This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome.”

~ A Course in Miracles[1]

 

The Introduction to the Course by Jesus and Helen Schucman (“How It Came,” “What It Is,” and “What It Says” – found in the Foundation’s printed edition of the Course).

 

After you read these, I would also highly recommend watching at least the first part of the following film (free on Youtube) that goes into more detail about how the Course came into existence: The Story of A Course in Miracles . It’s a very beautiful film and had my eyes welling up the first time I watched it.

 

SECONDARY SOURCES – BOOKS ABOUT THE COURSE

 

Ironically, most people don’t get into the Course by actually reading it first, however, because it is initially so challenging to understand; rather, people generally get into it through secondary sources such as books that have been written about the Course.  The potential pitfall and caution with secondary sources is that they are only as good as the author themselves understand the Course (every “translation” is an interpretation).  So with that cautionary word to the wise, here are a few of the most popular of these books about ACIM, and please keep in mind there are many other very helpful ones, these are just a few of the bestsellers:

 

Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky

 

A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson

 

The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary Renard

 

A Course in Miracles Made Easy, Alan Cohen

 

YIR-Gary-DU

Of these, it appears that Gary Renard’s book has been the most helpful on a mass level in serving as a kind of “primer” or preparation for the Course.  Not only has the “D.U.” (as it’s been called) brought many new students to the Course, but it has also brought back many “lapsed” Course students and/or those who had difficulty understanding its message.  So of the 3 books above, I am recommending that you read Renard’s book to help get started with ACIM, yet with the following caveat …

 

There has been one big issue with Renard’s book, and it is this: While it purports to be a dialogue between the author and two ascended masters (Arten and Pursah) who teach him all about the Course in a series of meetings over the course of a decade, some have cast doubt upon this claim.   Renard’s detractors, some of whom are also long-time students of the Course and Renard’s peers, argue that D.U. draws heavily upon the teachings of Ken Wapnick, the first teacher of the Course and one of its earliest editors.

 

Without saying more about this controversy here (I might go into it more later), I would just like to acknowledge that if it weren’t for Renard’s book, many people, myself included, might never have gotten interested in the Course.  So whether Gary’s book is based on a true story or not, it definitely served its purpose for me, and many others as well.  This is why I do recommend it for those who would like to get a kind of overview of the Course before they actually dive into the Course itself. [Note: Two contemporaries of mine who also got into the Course through Gary Renard’s book deserve mentioning here: Kenneth Bok, creator a popular ACIM video series on Youtube; and Alexander Marchand, author of The Universe is a Dream. The latter is a particularly helpful and fun way to explore the teachings of ACIM.]

 

[1] Manual for Teachers 1.3:1,2,4:1,2.

Into Christ's Presence

want only love

 

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ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 27

ACIM Reading for November 27

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

2. The Process of Psychotherapy- Introduction1. Psychotherapy is a process that changes the view of the self. At best this “new” self is a more beneficent self-concept, but psychotherapy can hardly be expected to establish reality. That is not its function. If it can make way for reality, it has achieved its ultimate success. Its whole function, in the end, is to help the patient deal with one fundamental error; the belief that anger brings him something he really wants, and that by justifying attack he is protecting himself. To whatever extent he comes to realize that this is an error, to that extent is he truly saved.
2. Patients do not enter the therapeutic relationship with this goal in mind. On the contrary, such concepts mean little to them, or they would not need help. Their aim is to be able to retain their self-concept exactly as it is, but without the suffering that it entails. Their whole equilibrium rests on the insane belief that this is possible. And because to the sane mind it is so clearly impossible, what they seek is magic. In illusions the impossible is easily accomplished, but only at the cost of making illusions true. The patient has already paid this price. Now he wants a “better” illusion.
3. At the beginning, then, the patient’s goal and the therapist’s are at variance. The therapist as well as the patient may cherish false self-concepts, but their respective perceptions of “improvement” still must differ. The patient hopes to learn how to get the changes he wants without changing his self-concept to any significant extent. He hopes, in fact, to stabilize it sufficiently to include within it the magical powers he seeks in psychotherapy. He wants to make the vulnerable invulnerable and the finite limitless. The self he sees is his god, and he seeks only to serve it better.
4. Regardless of how sincere the therapist himself may be, he must want to change the patient’s self-concept in some way that he believes is real. The task of therapy is one of reconciling these differences. Hopefully, both will learn to give up their original goals, for it is only in relationships that salvation can be found. At the beginning, it is inevitable that patients and therapists alike accept unrealistic goals not completely free of magical overtones. They are finally given up in the minds of both.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 27

Lesson 331

Section 12. What is the Ego?

The ego is idolatry; the sign of limited and separated self, born in a body, doomed to suffer and to end its life in death. It is the “will” that sees the Will of God as enemy, and takes a form in which it is denied. The ego is the “proof” that strength is weak and love is fearful, life is really death, and what opposes God alone is true.

The ego is insane. In fear it stands beyond the Everywhere, apart from All, in separation from the Infinite. In its insanity it thinks it has become a victor over God Himself. And in its terrible autonomy it “sees” the Will of God has been destroyed. It dreams of punishment, and trembles at the figures in its dreams; its enemies, who seek to murder it before it can ensure its safety by attacking them.

The Son of God is egoless. What can he know of madness and the death of God, when he abides in Him? What can he know of sorrow and of suffering, when he lives in eternal joy? What can he know of fear and punishment, of sin and guilt, of hatred and attack, when all there is surrounding him is everlasting peace, forever conflict-free and undisturbed, in deepest silence and tranquility?

To know reality is not to see the ego and its thoughts, its works, its acts, its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes, its plans for its salvation, and the cost belief in it entails. In suffering, the price for faith in it is so immense that crucifixion of the Son of God is offered daily at its darkened shrine, and blood must flow before the altar where its sickly followers prepare to die.

Yet will one lily of forgiveness change the darkness into light; the altar to illusions to the shrine of Life Itself. And peace will be restored forever to the holy minds which God created as His Son, His dwelling place, His joy, His love, completely His, completely one with Him.


Lesson 331

There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.

How foolish, Father, to believe Your Son could cause himself to suffer! Could he make a plan for his damnation, and be left without a certain way to his release? You love me, Father. You could never leave me desolate, to die within a world of pain and cruelty. How could I think that Love has left Itself? There is no will except the Will of Love. Fear is a dream, and has no will that can conflict with Yours. Conflict is sleep, and peace awakening. Death is illusion; life, eternal truth. There is no opposition to Your Will. There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.

Forgiveness shows us that God’s Will is One, and that we share it. Let us look upon the holy sights forgiveness shows today, that we may find the peace of God. Amen.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1224I reencountered Lesson 328 “I choose the second place to gain the first.” I am somewhat baffled even after re-reading it carefully, and therefore would appreciate your help.

A: This thought comes from the famous statement in Matthew’s gospel that the last shall be first and the first last. This is the foundation of the ego’s thought system and its principle of one or the other — God is second because the ego is first, which means God is no longer God, and so has been destroyed. A Course in Miracleshelps us recognize and correct our mistake of believing we have separated from God and thus are in “first place” because we triumphed over Him. Jesus tells us in this lesson, as well as elsewhere, that we believe our autonomy is our salvation, but it is not really what we thought it would be: “Yet all we find is sickness, suffering and loss and death” (W.pII.328.1:3) , which is not at all what God wills for us. We choose the second place by realizing our mistake, letting go of the ego, and choosing Jesus as our teacher. Then we realize that there is only the unity of the Father and Son — no one and two. There is only One. When we accept God as our Cause instead of the ego, the memory of our oneness with Him returns to our mind, and our will rejoins His.

*

Q #488: From what you have said in previous answers, I understand that the world of form may or may not change for the better when you begin to give up belief in the illusion and choose the Holy Spirit as your teacher. But in Question #273 you state “Since hell is defined as the absence of God, the world becomes hell in our experience; not a symbolic expression of it. A Course in Miracles is very clear that God cannot be found in this world of form. However, when an individual chooses to identify with the part of the mind that holds the memory of God, the world becomes a reflection of that choice, and is no longer perceived as hell: ‘The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects’” (W.pII.249.1:5,6). So, are you saying that when you choose the Holy Spirit as your teacher the “world of form” will be this place of joy, abundance and so on? Or are you referring to the world as the “real” world that has nothing to do with form? How do I put into practice the idea of seeing everything outside of me as a reflection of God?

A: The answer to your question lies in understanding one of the most important principles of the Course’s teaching: “There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release. Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly. Ideas leave not their source” (W.pI.132.5:1,2,3).

“What you wish” is either the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s. Thinking with the ego makes our seeming existence in the world hell in our perception, because we have chosen against God. Thinking with the Holy Spirit makes it like Heaven in our perception, as stated in the passage you quote. These are the “ideas” that do not leave their source in the mind. The world of form is perceived and experiencedaccording to one of these two thought systems. When we change our mind from the ego’s thought of separation to the Holy Spirit’s thought that the separation is not real, our perception changes. This results in a change in our experience of the world of form, but not necessarily a change in the form itself. What was perceived as a place of conflict, hatred, and pain, becomes a place of beauty, joy, and peace, in our perception. For example; where others were judged as vicious sinners, they are now seen without judgment as mistaken brothers calling for love. This also explains why two people may be in the same situation in form, yet experience or perceive it in very different ways. From the ego’s perspective, adverse circumstances are always perceived as unjust victimization (hell). The Holy Spirit’s perception, on the other hand, tells us that no matter how apparently catastrophic our situation may be, it cannot take away our peace (“like to Heaven”). The important difference emphasized in Question #273 is that hell does not actually exist; Heaven does.

The change in perception takes place through the process of forgiveness, whereby our judgments are recognized and released to the Holy Spirit to be transformed. Only this is what we need to practice, and only this will change our experience of the world of form. The Holy Spirit’s perception replaces ours, once we have done our part. We are not the ones who generate a new perception. Because the Holy Spirit is the symbol for the part of our minds that holds the memory of God’s Love, when we choose His thought system it is this Love that is reflected in the love and beauty that is perceived in others and the world. It is perceived equally in everyone without exception, not just in those whom we love and see as “innocent” by the ego’s standards. And yes, seeing only with the eyes of the Holy Spirit’s perception is the real world’s vision: “Can you imagine how beautiful those you forgive will look to you?… you will see the Son of God. You will behold the beauty the Holy Spirit loves to look upon, and which He thanks the Father for. He was created to see this for you, until you learned to see it for yourself” (T.17.II.1:1,6,7,8).

present love

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 14

ACIM Text Reading for August 14

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

II. Many Forms; One Correction

It is not difficult to understand the reasons why you do not ask the Holy Spirit to solve all problems for you. He has not greater difficulty in resolving some than others. Every problem is the same to Him, because each one is solved in just the same respect and through the same approach. The aspects that need solving do not change, whatever form the problem seems to take. A problem can appear in many forms, and it will do so while the problem lasts. It serves no purpose to attempt to solve it in a special form. It will recur and then recur again and yet again, until it has been answered for all time and will not rise again in any form. And only then are you released from it.

The Holy Spirit offers you release from every problem that you think you have. They are the same to Him because each one, regardless of the form it seems to take, is a demand that someone suffer loss and make a sacrifice that you might gain. And when the situation is worked out so no one loses is the problem gone, because it was an error in perception that now has been corrected. One mistake is not more difficult for Him to bring to truth than is another. For there is but one mistake; the whole idea that loss is possible, and could result in gain for anyone. If this were true, then God would be unfair; sin would be possible, attack be justified and vengeance fair.

This one mistake, in any form, has one correction. There is no loss; to think there is, is a mistake. You have no problems, though you think you have. And yet you could not think so if you saw them vanish one by one, without regard to size, complexity, or place and time, or any attribute which you perceive that makes each one seem different from the rest. Think not the limits you impose on what you see can limit God in any way.

The miracle of justice can correct all errors. Every problem is an error. It does injustice to the Son of God, and therefore is not true. The Holy Spirit does not evaluate injustices as great or small, or more or less. They have no properties to Him. They are mistakes from which the Son of God is suffering, but needlessly. And so He takes the thorns and nails away. He does not pause to judge whether the hurt be large or little. He makes but one judgment; that to hurt God’s Son must be unfair and therefore is not so.

You who believe it safe to give but some mistakes to be corrected while you keep the others to yourself, remember this: Justice is total. There is no such thing as partial justice. If the Son of God is guilty then is he condemned, and he deserves no mercy from the God of justice. But ask not God to punish him because you find him guilty and would have him die. God offers you the means to see his innocence. Would it be fair to punish him because you will not look at what is there to see? Each time you keep a problem for yourself to solve, or judge that it is one that has no resolution, you have made it great, and past the hope of healing. You deny the miracle of justice can be fair.

If God is just, then can there be no problems that justice cannot solve. But you believe that some injustices are fair and good, and necessary to preserve yourself. It is these problems that you think are great and cannot be resolved. For there are those you want to suffer loss, and no one whom you wish to be preserved from sacrifice entirely. Consider once again your special function. One is given you to see in him his perfect sinlessness. And you will ask no sacrifice of him because you could not will he suffer loss. The miracle of justice you call forth will rest on you as surely as on him. Nor will the Holy Spirit be content until it is received by everyone. For what you give to Him is everyone’s, and by your giving it can He ensure that everyone receives it equally.

Think, then, how great your own release will be when you are willing to receive correction for all your problems. You will not keep one, for pain in any form you will not want. And you will see each little hurt resolved before the Holy Spirit’s gentle sight. For all of them are little in His sight, and worth no more than just a tiny sigh before they disappear, to be forever undone and unremembered. What seemed once to be a special problem, a mistake without a remedy, or an affliction without a cure, has been transformed into a universal blessing. Sacrifice is gone. And in its place the Love of God can be remembered, and will shine away all memory of sacrifice and loss.

God cannot be remembered until justice is loved instead of feared. He cannot be unjust to anyone or anything, because He knows that everything that is belongs to Him, and will forever be as He created it. Nothing He loves but must be sinless and beyond attack. Your special function opens wide the door beyond which is the memory of His Love kept perfectly intact and undefiled. And all you need to do is but to wish that Heaven be given you instead of hell, and every bolt and barrier that seems to hold the door securely barred and locked will merely fall away and disappear. For it is not your Father’s Will that you should offer or receive less than He gave, when He created you in perfect love.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 14

Lesson 227

This is my holy instant of release.

Father, it is today that I am free, because my will is Yours. I thought to make another will. Yet nothing that I thought apart from You exists. And I am free because I was mistaken, and did not affect my own reality at all by my illusions. Now I give them up, and lay them down before the feet of truth, to be removed forever from my mind. This is my holy instant of release. Father, I know my will is one with Yours.

And so today we find our glad return to Heaven, which we never really left. The Son of God this day lays down his dreams. The Son of God this day comes home again, released from sin and clad in holiness, with his right mind restored to him at last.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #93: For several years of study I’ve tried to follow your thoughts about “looking within with Jesus” or “looking through his eyes.” I was never really able to visualize this occurring. Recently, I’ve come to accept that “looking with Jesus” means the application of his teachings in A Course in Miracles to my ego perceptions. In other words, believing the teachings also means believing and accepting the teacher. This has provided me with a better understanding of what it means to have Jesus with me. Is this a good way to visualize my relationship with Jesus or should it be something more personal?

A: The process you describe of applying the teachings of the Course to your ego perceptions is indeed a very appropriate practice of looking with Jesus. Since Jesus is a symbol of the content of the Course, he is present in our minds when its teachings are brought to awareness. This is especially true when we are willing to apply these teachings to our ego perceptions, and question their validity in the light of Jesus’ message. Because we identify with our perceptions, this is also a way of relating to Jesus in a very personal way. You have invited him to be with you in the form of the teachings of the Course, which can be symbolized as a lamp shedding new light on our darkened minds: “I give you the lamp and I will go with you. You will not take this journey alone. I will lead you to your true Father, Who hath need of you, as I have” (T.11.in.4:5,6,7).

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 2

ACIM Text Reading for August 2

Chapter 24 ~ The Goal of Specialness

VIII. The Meeting Place

How bitterly does everyone tied to this world defend the specialness he wants to be the truth! His wish is law to him, and he obeys. Nothing his specialness demands does he withhold. Nothing it needs does he deny to what he loves. And while it calls to him he hears no other Voice. No effort is too great, no cost too much, no price too dear to save his specialness from the least slight, the tiniest attack, the whispered doubt, the hint of threat, or anything but deepest reverence. This is your son, beloved of you as you are to your Father. Yet it stands in place of your creations, who are son to you, that you might share the Fatherhood of God, not snatch it from Him. What is this son that you have made to be your strength? What is this child of earth on whom such love is lavished? What is this parody of God’s creation that takes the place of yours? And where are they, now that the host of God has found another son whom he prefers to them?

The memory of God shines not alone. What is within your brother still contains all of creation, everything created and creating, born and unborn as yet, still in the future or apparently gone by. What is in him is changeless, and your changelessness is recognized in its acknowledgment. The holiness in you belongs to him. And by your seeing it in him, returns to you. All of the tribute you have given specialness belongs to him, and thus returns to you. All of the love and care, the strong protection, the thought by day and night, the deep concern, the powerful conviction this is you, belong to him. Nothing you gave to specialness but is his due. And nothing due him is not due to you.

How can you know your worth while specialness claims you instead? How can you fail to know it in his holiness? Seek not to make your specialness the truth, for if it were you would be lost indeed. Be thankful, rather, it is given you to see his holiness because it is the truth. And what is true in him must be as true in you.

Ask yourself this: Can you protect the mind? The body, yes, a little; not from time, but temporarily. And much you think you save, you hurt. What would you save it for? For in that choice lie both its health and harm. Save it for show, as bait to catch another fish, to house your specialness in better style, or weave a frame of loveliness around your hate, and you condemn it to decay and death. And if you see this purpose in your brother’s, such is your condemnation of your own. Weave, rather, then, a frame of holiness around him, that the truth may shine on him, and give you safety from decay.

The Father keeps what He created safe. You cannot touch it with the false ideas you made, because it was created not by you. Let not your foolish fancies frighten you. What is immortal cannot be attacked; what is but temporal has no effect. Only the purpose that you see in it has meaning, and if that is true, its safety rests secure. If not, it has no purpose, and is means for nothing. Whatever is perceived as means for truth shares in its holiness, and rests in light as safely as itself. Nor will that light go out when it is gone. Its holy purpose gave it immortality, setting another light in Heaven, where your creations recognize a gift from you, a sign that you have not forgotten them.

The test of everything on earth is simply this; “What is it for?” The answer makes it what it is for you. It has no meaning of itself, yet you can give reality to it, according to the purpose that you serve. Here you are but means, along with it. God is a Means as well as End. In Heaven, means and end are one, and one with Him. This is the state of true creation, found not within time, but in eternity. To no one here is this describable. Nor is there any way to learn what this condition means. Not till you go past learning to the Given; not till you make again a holy home for your creations is it understood.

A co-creator with the Father must have a Son. Yet must this Son have been created like Himself. A perfect being, all-encompassing and all-encompassed, nothing to add and nothing taken from; not born of size nor place nor time, nor held to limits or uncertainties of any kind. Here do the means and end unite as one, nor does this one have any end at all. All this is true, and yet it has no meaning to anyone who still retains one unlearned lesson in his memory, one thought with purpose still uncertain, or one wish with a divided aim.

This course makes no attempt to teach what cannot easily be learned. Its scope does not exceed your own, except to say that what is yours will come to you when you are ready. Here are the means and the purpose separate because they were so made and so perceived. And therefore do we deal with them as if they were. It is essential it be kept in mind that all perception still is upside down until its purpose has been understood. Perception does not seem to be a means. And it is this that makes it hard to grasp the whole extent to which it must depend on what you see it for. Perception seems to teach you what you see. Yet it but witnesses to what you taught. It is the outward picture of a wish; an image that you wanted to be true.

Look at yourself, and you will see a body. Look at this body in a different light and it looks different. And without a light it seems that it is gone. Yet you are reassured that it is there because you still can feel it with your hands and hear it move. Here is an image that you want to be yourself. It is the means to make your wish come true. It gives the eyes with which you look on it, the hands that feel it, and the ears with which you listen to the sounds it makes. It proves its own reality to you.

Thus is the body made a theory of yourself, with no provisions made for evidence beyond itself, and no escape within its sight. Its course is sure, when seen through its own eyes. It grows and withers, flourishes and dies. And you cannot conceive of you apart from it. You brand it sinful and you hate its acts, judging it evil. Yet your specialness whispers, “Here is my own beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Thus does the “son” become the means to serve his “father’s” purpose. Not identical, not even like, but still a means to offer to the “father” what he wants. Such is the travesty on God’s creation. For as His Son’s creation gave Him joy and witness to His Love and shared His purpose, so does the body testify to the idea that made it, and speak for its reality and truth.

And thus are two sons made, and both appear to walk this earth without a meeting place and no encounter. One do you perceive outside yourself, your own beloved son. The other rests within, his Father’s Son, within your brother as he is in you. Their difference does not lie in how they look, nor where they go, nor even what they do. They have a different purpose. It is this that joins them to their like, and separates each from all aspects with a different purpose. The Son of God retains his Father’s Will. The son of man perceives an alien will and wishes it were so. And thus does his perception serve his wish by giving it appearances of truth. Yet can perception serve another goal. It is not bound to specialness but by your choice. And it is given you to make a different choice, and use perception for a different purpose. And what you see will serve that purpose well, and prove its own reality to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 2

Lesson 214

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

(194) I place the future in the Hands of God.

The past is gone; the future is not yet. Now am I freed
from both. For what God gives can only be for good. And
I accept but what He gives as what belongs to me.

 

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #264: A clear picture of the theoretical foundations of A Course in Miracles for me is an essential base to get into practice. Therefore I’m studying the chart on your Web site http://www.facim.org/acim/theory.htm.

[1] I see the realms: one-mindedness, wrong-mindedness and right-mindedness. Which realm is the “decision maker” in? Does it dwell somewhere between wrong- and right-mindedness? Or do you see it more as a “part” of one of these realms?

[2] It is irritating to see the Holy Spirit between truth and illusion and to see the Holy Spirit in the following description of the Trinity as belonging to one-mindedness. I have more a picture in my mind that sees the Holy Spirit as a part of the illusory world — namely the right-mind — pointing out of it towards truth — or perhaps just being this right-minded world — and thus fulfilling a mediating role between wrong-mindedness and one-mindedness. Looking at the Trinity I see God and Christ in the one-minded realm and the Holy Spirit in the right-minded realm. That view makes it possible for the “me that lives in duality” to accept the idea that the Holy Spirit is a part of me. These ideas seem to contradict what is shown on http://ww.facim.org/acim/theory.htm. Can you help me in clearing up these thoughts?

A: 1) The decision maker is the part of the mind that chooses to identify with either the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s thought system. It is never neutral; it is always choosing one or the other. On the chart it would be located on the Level Two section right in the middle, above the wrong mind / right mind boxes.

2) Within the illusion, the Holy Spirit represents the Atonement principle in our right minds. He is described in many ways by Jesus, who shares His function of helping us climb back up the ladder separation led us down. When you, as a decision-making mind outside time and space, choose once and for all to let go of the ego and identify completely with your right mind, then you become the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the same as Jesus. You would know that this is your only identity and the ego thought system of separation and individuality would be seen as totally meaningless. So the Holy Spirit is most definitely part of you, the part of your mind that contains the memory of God and your true Identity as Christ, with which you (as a decision-making mind) can choose to identify at any given instant.

There are two passages in particular that indicate that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity and also functions as mediator: “And then the Voice [the Holy Spirit] is gone, no longer to take form but to return to the eternal Formlessness of God” (C.6.5:8). Similarly, in the text, he tells us: “The Holy Spirit is the Christ Mind which is aware of the knowledge that lies beyond perception. He came into being with the separation as a protection, inspiring the Atonement principle at the same time. Before that there was no need for healing, for no one was comfortless. The Voice of the Holy Spirit is the Call to Atonement, or the restoration of the integrity of the mind. When the Atonement is complete and the whole Sonship is healed there will be no Call to return. But what God creates is eternal. The Holy Spirit will remain with the Sons of God, to bless their creations and keep them in the light of joy” (T.5.I.5:4,5,6,7).

Finally, it is helpful to keep in mind when studying the chart that we are trying to diagram what is illusory (the mind that separated from God), and also what lies totally beyond form (God, Christ, and His creations). So while charts are useful teaching aides, they can never perfectly depict the thought systems discussed in the Course, which themselves are illusory.

shine it away

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 20

ACIM Text Reading for June 20

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

VII. The Second Obstacle: The Belief the Body is Valuable for What It Offers

We said that peace must first surmount the obstacle of your desire to get rid of it. Where the attraction of guilt holds sway, peace is not wanted. The second obstacle that peace must flow across, and closely related to the first, is the belief that the body is valuable for what it offers. For here is the attraction of guilt made manifest in the body, and seen in it.

This is the value that you think peace would rob you of. This is what you believe that it would dispossess, and leave you homeless. And it is this for which you would deny a home to peace. This “sacrifice” you feel to be too great to make, too much to ask of you. Is it a sacrifice, or a release? What has the body really given you that justifies your strange belief that in it lies salvation? Do you not see that this is the belief in death? Here is the focus of the perception of Atonement as murder. Here is the source of the idea that love is fear.

The Holy Spirit’s messengers are sent far beyond the body, calling the mind to join in holy communion and be at peace. Such is the message that I gave them for you. It is only the messengers of fear that see the body, for they look for what can suffer. Is it a sacrifice to be removed from what can suffer? The Holy Spirit does not demand you sacrifice the hope of the body’s pleasure; it has no hope of pleasure. But neither can it bring you fear of pain. Pain is the only “sacrifice” the Holy Spirit asks, and this He would remove.

Peace is extended from you only to the eternal, and it reaches out from the eternal in you. It flows across all else. The second obstacle is no more solid than the first. For you want neither to get rid of peace nor limit it. What are these obstacles that you would interpose between peace and its going forth but barriers you place between your will and its accomplishment? You want communion, not the feast of fear. You want salvation, not the pain of guilt. And you want your Father, not a little mound of clay, to be your home. In your holy relationship is your Father’s Son. He has not lost communion with Him, nor with himself. When you agreed to join your brother, you acknowledged this is so. This has no cost, but it has release from cost.

You have paid very dearly for your illusions, and nothing you have paid for brought you peace. Are you not glad that Heaven cannot be sacrificed, and sacrifice cannot be asked of you? There is no obstacle that you can place before our union, for in your holy relationship I am there already. We will surmount all obstacles together, for we stand within the gates and not outside. How easily the gates are opened from within, to let peace through to bless the tired world! Can it be difficult for us to walk past barriers together, when you have joined the limitless? The end of guilt is in your hands to give. Would you stop now to look for guilt in your brother?

Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon your brother as you would look upon me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness he will remember who he is, and forget what never was. I ask for your forgiveness, for if you are guilty, so must I be. But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me. Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you you see within yourself?

From your holy relationship truth proclaims the truth, and love looks on itself. Salvation flows from deep within the home you offered to my Father and to me. And we are there together, in the quiet communion in which the Father and the Son are joined. O come ye faithful to the holy union of the Father and the Son in you! And keep you not apart from what is offered you in gratitude for giving peace its home in Heaven. Send forth to all the world the joyous message of the end of guilt, and all the world will answer. Think of your happiness as everyone offers you witness of the end of sin, and shows you that its power is gone forever. Where can guilt be, when the belief in sin is gone? And where is death, when its great advocate is heard no more?

Forgive me your illusions, and release me from punishment for what I have not done. So will you learn the freedom that I taught by teaching freedom to your brother, and so releasing me. I am within your holy relationship, yet you would imprison me behind the obstacles you raise to freedom, and bar my way to you. Yet it is not possible to keep away One Who is there already. And in Him it is possible that our communion, where we are joined already, will be the focus of the new perception that will bring light to all the world, contained in you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 20

Lesson 171

REVIEW V
Introduction

We now review again. This time we are ready to give more effort and more time to what we undertake. We recognize we are preparing for another phase of understanding. We would take this step completely, that we may go on again more certain, more sincere, with faith upheld more surely. Our footsteps have not been unwavering, and doubts have made us walk uncertainly and slowly on the road this course sets forth. But now we hasten on, for we approach a greater certainty, a firmer purpose and a surer goal.

Steady our feet, our Father. Let our doubts be quiet and our holy minds be still, and speak to us. We have no words to give to You. We would but listen to Your Word, and make it ours. Lead our practicing as does a father lead a little child along a way he does not understand. Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe because his father leads the way for him.

So do we bring our practicing to You. And if we stumble, You will raise us up. If we forget the way, we count upon Your sure remembering. We wander off, but You will not forget to call us back. Quicken our footsteps now, that we may walk more certainly and quickly unto You. And we accept the Word You offer us to unify our practicing, as we review the thoughts that You have given us.

This is the thought which should precede the thoughts that we review. Each one but clarifies some aspect of this thought, or helps it be more meaningful, more personal and true, and more descriptive of the holy Self we share and now prepare to know again:

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

This Self alone knows Love. This Self alone is perfectly consistent in Its Thoughts; knows Its Creator, understands Itself, is perfect in Its knowledge and Its Love, and never changes from Its constant state of union with Its Father and Itself.

And it is this that waits to meet us at the journey’s ending. Every step we take brings us a little nearer. This review will shorten time immeasurably, if we keep in mind that this remains our goal, and as we practice it is this to which we are approaching. Let us raise our hearts from dust to life, as we remember this is promised us, and that this course was sent to open up the path of light to us, and teach us, step by step, how to return to the eternal Self we thought we lost.

I take the journey with you. For I share your doubts and fears a little while, that you may come to me who recognize the road by which all fears and doubts are overcome. We walk together. I must understand uncertainty and pain, although I know they have no meaning. Yet a savior must remain with those he teaches, seeing what they see, but still retaining in his mind the way that led him out, and now will lead you out with him. God’s Son is crucified until you walk along the road with me.

My resurrection comes again each time I lead a brother safely to the place at which the journey ends and is forgot. I am renewed each time a brother learns there is a way from misery and pain. I am reborn each time a brother’s mind turns to the light in him and looks for me. I have forgotten no one. Help me now to lead you back to where the journey was begun, to make another choice with me.

Release me as you practice once again the thoughts I brought to you from Him Who sees your bitter need, and knows the answer God has given Him. Together we review these thoughts. Together we devote our time and effort to them. And together we will teach them to our brothers. God would not have Heaven incomplete. It waits for you, as I do. I am incomplete without your part in me. And as I am made whole we go together to our ancient home, prepared for us before time was and kept unchanged by time, immaculate and safe, as it will be at last when time is done.

Let this review be then your gift to me. For this alone I need; that you will hear the words I speak, and give them to the world. You are my voice, my eyes, my feet, my hands through which I save the world. The Self from which I call to you is but your own. To Him we go together. Take your brother’s hand, for this is not a way we walk alone. In him I walk with you, and you with me. Our Father wills His Son be one with Him. What lives but must not then be one with you?

Let this review become a time in which we share a new experience for you, yet one as old as time and older still. Hallowed your Name. Your glory undefiled forever. And your wholeness now complete, as God established it. You are His Son, completing His extension in your own. We practice but an ancient truth we knew before illusion seemed to claim the world. And we remind the world that it is free of all illusions every time we say:

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

With this we start each day of our review. With this we start and end each period of practice time. And with this thought we sleep, to waken once again with these same words upon our lips, to greet another day. No thought that we review but we surround with it, and use the thoughts to hold it up before our minds, and keep it clear in our rememberance throughout the day. And thus, when we have finished this review, we will have recognized the words we speak are true.

Yet are the words but aids, and to be used, except at the beginning and the end of practice periods, but to recall the mind, as needed, to its purpose. We place faith in the experience that comes from practice, not the means we use. We wait for the experience, and recognize that it is only here conviction lies. We use the words, and try and try again to go beyond them to their meaning, which is far beyond their sound. The sound grows dim and disappears, as we approach the Source of meaning. It is Here that we find rest.


Lesson 171

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(151) All things are echoes of the Voice for God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(152) The power of decision is my own.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #221: As I understand it, all things of form in this world, both animate and inanimate, are part of the Sonship, and all parts of the Sonship need to be in the real world for the Second Coming to occur. I know there really is only one mind, but within the illusion of separation there seems to be many split minds. Also, since I need only be concerned with the healing of my own mind, there seems to be a direct relationship between my body and my mind. Does each thing of form in this world of separation have a mind that needs to be healed? How can this be? I know some form of this question has been asked before, but I still don’t get it.

A: Yes, A Course in Miracles teaches that there really is only one mind, but we have the illusion of there being many split minds. The Second Coming is the collective return to awareness of our reality as the one Son of God; it is the complete healing of the mind of the Sonship.

This is extremely difficult to understand. In fact, it is impossible to understand if you are identified with your individual existence as a human being, because that identity was set up by the ego to block all understanding of the mind that is outside time and space, and which contains the key to understanding the origin of our existence as separated, fragmented beings. Very little in the Course will make sense if you try to relate it to your experience in the world. We all try to do that, of course, because that is our only reference point for understanding anything. That is why Jesus starts us out on that level, but if we stay on that level, where we still think of ourselves as physical/psychological beings in the world, we will not get very far with the Course. Once again, that is because we always try to understand it from a perspective within time and space, and Jesus is teaching us that that perspective was made to block us from getting back to our minds. It was made to proliferate problems and mysteries that would grab our attention and then occupy our attention completely, so that we would never realize it is all a defense against the truth.

Jesus is outside this limited perspective entirely, and he is training us — through the exercises in the workbook — to gradually let go of our way of perceiving, and replace it with his. As we get further along the path of this thought-reversal, these types of questions will disappear, because we will identify less and less with our separated existence, and therefore we will have first-hand experiences of a shared identity. We will be more attracted to oneness than to division and separation.


Q #222: For some time now I have been studying the “human relations” techniques as taught by Dale Carnegie in his best selling books and famous seminar. Carnegie teaches that I should always talk in terms of others’ interests, that I should never tell others they’re wrong (but should call attention to their mistakes indirectly), and that the only way to win an argument is not to have one. I had avoided using these techniques until quite recently because I had considered them to be quite manipulative. In the language of A Course in Miracles, I believed it could even be stated that such techniques are attempts to murder other people because they are attempts to control others and get from them what I want. But over the last few weeks I have been using these techniques consistently, and I have been stunned at how well they have worked!

It recently occurred to me that Carnegie’s human relations techniques ultimately reveal the investment most of us have in maintaining our specialness and our separateness. In fact, such techniques seem to be geared toward helping others reinforce their own specialness and separateness as well. But there have also been times I realize when I could not have dealt in a civil manner with some people without using the Carnegie techniques. For some people (myself among them, I’m sure), the idea that they are not special or separate is a fearful idea. Could it be that in some cases the Carnegie techniques could actually be a form of forgiveness, just as taking medication for an illness is a form of forgiveness?

A: What you are recognizing is a fundamental teaching of the Course: that purpose is everything (T.4.V.6:8,9,10,11; T.24.VII.6:1,2,3). One of the most significant contributions of the Course to the world’s spiritualities is that, rather than advocating denial and rejection of the ways of the world, it teaches that we can use what the ego has made for separation and attack to serve a different purpose — forgiveness. The key is to be willing to allow the specific forms to serve the Holy Spirit’s purpose rather than our own (T.6.V.A.2:4,5).

You have recognized that tools of manipulation and murder in the hands of the ego can become the means for seeing both your brother and yourself in a different light. But first, you must have made a decision to see both of you differently — as having shared rather than separate interests. Your intent has shifted from having your own needs met through controlling your brother to recognizing at some level that you both have the same need to be forgiven, to be seen in the light of true charity. So now, what was made to reinforce separation and specialness becomes a means for undoing them. As always, the value lies not in the specific technique or form, but in the purpose you are giving it.

The issue of purpose is addressed further in Question #57.

the journey to god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 23

ACIM Text Reading for May 23

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

III. The Reward of Teaching

We have already learned that everyone teaches, and teaches all the time. You may have taught well, and yet you may not have learned how to accept the comfort of your teaching. If you will consider what you have taught, and how alien it is to what you thought you knew, you will be compelled to realize that your Teacher came from beyond your thought system. Therefore He could look upon it fairly, and perceive it was untrue. He must have done so from the basis of a very different thought system, and one with nothing in common with yours. For certainly what He has taught, and what you have taught through Him, have nothing in common with what you taught before He came. And the results have been to bring peace where there was pain, and suffering has disappeared to be replaced by joy.

You may have taught freedom, but you have not learned how to be free. I said earlier, “By their fruits ye shall know them, and they shall know themselves.” For it is certain that you judge yourself according to your teaching. The ego’s teaching produces immediate results, because its decisions are immediately accepted as your choice. And this acceptance means that you are willing to judge yourself accordingly. Cause and effect are very clear in the ego’s thought system, because all your learning has been directed toward establishing the relationship between them. And would you not have faith in what you have so diligently taught yourself to believe? Yet remember how much care you have exerted in choosing its witnesses, and in avoiding those which spoke for the cause of truth and its effects.

Does not the fact that you have not learned what you have taught show you that you do not perceive the Sonship as one? And does it not also show you that you do not regard yourself as one? For it is impossible to teach successfully wholly without conviction, and it is equally impossible that conviction be outside of you. You could never have taught freedom unless you did believe in it. And it must be that what you taught came from yourself. Yet this Self you clearly do not know, and do not recognize It even though It functions. What functions must be there. And it is only if you deny what It has done that you could possibly deny Its Presence.

This is a course in how to know yourself. You have taught what you are, but have not let what you are teach you. You have been very careful to avoid the obvious, and not to see the real cause and effect relationship that is perfectly apparent. Yet within you is everything you taught. What can it be that has not learned it? It must be this part that is really outside yourself, not by your own projection, but in truth. And it is this part that you have taken in that is not you. What you accept into your mind does not really change it. Illusions are but beliefs in what is not there. And the seeming conflict between truth and illusion can only be resolved by separating yourself from the illusion and not from truth.

Your teaching has already done this, for the Holy Spirit is part of you. Created by God, He left neither God nor His creation. He is both God and you, as you are God and Him together. For God’s Answer to the separation added more to you than you tried to take away. He protected both your creations and you together, keeping one with you what you would exclude. And they will take the place of what you took in to replace them. They are quite real, as part of the Self you do not know. They communicate to you through the Holy Spirit, and their power and gratitude to you for their creation they offer gladly to your teaching of yourself, who is their home. You who are host to God are also host to them. For nothing real has ever left the mind of its creator. And what is not real was never there.

You are not two selves in conflict. What is beyond God? If you who hold Him and whom He holds are the universe, all else must be outside, where nothing is. You have taught this, and from far off in the universe, yet not beyond yourself, the witnesses to your teaching have gathered to help you learn. Their gratitude has joined with yours and God’s to strengthen your faith in what you taught. For what you taught is true. Alone, you stand outside your teaching and apart from it. But with them you must learn that you but taught yourself, and learned from the conviction you shared with them.

This year you will begin to learn, and make learning commensurate with teaching. You have chosen this by your own willingness to teach. Though you seemed to suffer for it, the joy of teaching will yet be yours. For the joy of teaching is in the learner, who offers it to the teacher in gratitude, and shares it with him. As you learn, your gratitude to your Self, Who teaches you what He is, will grow and help you honor Him. And you will learn His power and strength and purity, and love Him as His Father does. His Kingdom has no limits and no end, and there is nothing in Him that is not perfect and eternal. All this is you, and nothing outside of this is you.

To your most holy Self all praise is due for what you are, and for what He is Who created you as you are. Sooner or later must everyone bridge the gap he imagines exists between his selves. Each one builds this bridge, which carries him across the gap as soon as he is willing to expend some little effort on behalf of bridging it. His little efforts are powerfully supplemented by the strength of Heaven, and by the united will of all who make Heaven what it is, being joined within it. And so the one who would cross over is literally transported there.

Your bridge is built stronger than you think, and your foot is planted firmly on it. Have no fear that the attraction of those who stand on the other side and wait for you will not draw you safely across. For you will come where you would be, and where your Self awaits you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 23

Lesson 143

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(125) In quiet I receive God’s Word today.
(126) All that I give is given to myself.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #81: I have read that all relationships are special, and that one can even have a special relationship with the Course itself. I often wonder if I myself have a special relationship with the Course. How can I know if I do or not? And is this really even a “problem” I should concern myself with? (One reason I suspect I may have a special relationship with the Course is because I often think that all the world’s problems would be solved if everyone would just read the Course.)

A: Yes, all relationships are special, and that includes our relationship with the Course. What makes the Course “special” is individualized, and varies in form, but it usually involves perceiving the form of the Course as having special power to meet our special needs. Another form the specialness frequently takes for students is feeling “special,” and often “superior” to believers of other traditional forms of spirituality. This specialness includes the reason you give — that everyone should read the Course. And with that you have answered the first part of your question. As the Course itself tells us in the Manual: “There is a course for every teacher of God. The form of the course varies greatly. So do the particular teaching aids involved….This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome” (M.1.3:1,2,4:1,2).

Our relationship with the Course is no more or less a problem than anything else. It is an opportunity for forgiveness. The ego uses everything for its purpose of separation and judgment, including the Course. All of our relationships, without exception, need to be looked at in the light of the Course’s teaching: “…let us look more closely at the relationships the ego contrives, and let the Holy Spirit judge them truly. For it is certain that if you will look at them, you will offer them gladly to Him. What He can make of them you do not know, but you will become willing to find out, if you are willing first to perceive what you have made of them” (T.15.VII.5:3,4,5). It is important to recognize the specialness, being very honest about the specific feelings and judgments involved in it, and see how you are using it to be separate and special. This applies whether the specialness takes the form of love or hate, because seeming special love for the Course is the same as special hate. The specialness with the Course reflects how we perceive other people; the people we “love” who follow the Course as we do, and those we “hate,” who do not study it as we do, or do not study it at all. Behind the specialness with the Course stand all our brothers, thus is the world divided and our relationships defined to suit our needs. The Course therefore, fits in with everything else in our lives and in our world by reflecting back to us the choice we have made to be separate. Jesus does not ask us to “love” the Course, or preach it. He asks us to study it, practice it, and apply its teaching to everything, including the Course itself: “Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you” (T.11.VI.7:3,4).


 Q #82: The Course says we are already Home. Then that would mean that we are already in Heaven now. Heaven has no outside or inside. It is everything. Does this mean that this world is in Heaven and Heaven is in this world? Is this similar to the Vedantic statement, Atman is Brahman?

A. The non-dualism of the Course is an absolute non-dualism that states that reality is infinite, formless, changeless, and eternal; nothing finite or of form is real in any way. That would mean that the finite, physical universe has no reality. It is entirely illusory. There are other non-dualistic systems that place the world within the being of God. These are the different forms of pantheism — both east and west — which give reality to the world, but not as a creation outside God’s being. The Course’s non-dualism is absolute, giving no reality to finite multiplicity. Thus reality is perfect Oneness, “nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within” (T.18.VI.1:6). And in stating that “the world was made as an attack on God” (W.pII.3.2:2), Jesus makes it clear that the world is not in God nor of God.

This is the metaphysical foundation of the startling statement that “you are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality” (T.10.I.2:1), and why Jesus asks “who is the you, who are living in this world?” (T.4.II.11:8). The entire Course is addressed to a mind outside time and space that has chosen to deny its true Identity as the formless extension of its infinite Source, and “become” instead an individualized entity limited by time and space. At the same time, this mind conceals the memory of its true Identity as the one Son of God. Only in a dream or a fantasy could this occur, but not in reality, as the Course teaches. Therefore, we, as we know ourselves in this world, have no reality. All that exists is God and the undifferentiated, eternal, changeless, and perfect extension of His infinite being, a reality having no counterpart in the world, nor can it be understood in this world.

“No one asleep and dreaming in the world remembers his attack upon himself. No one believes there really was a time when he knew nothing of a body, and could never have conceived this world as real. He would have seen at once that these ideas are one illusion, too ridiculous for anything but to be laughed away. How serious they now appear to be! And no one can remember when they would have met with laughter and with disbelief” (T.27.VIII.5:4,5,6,7,8).

Separating from infinity, from totality, is impossible, the Course teaches. God creates only like Himself. Therefore His creations share His being, but without ever being less than He is: “Yet could God’s Son as He created him abide in form or in a world of form?” (C.2.2:4). In this sense, the Course’s teachings are similar to the Vedantic statement, Atman is Brahman, as echoed in another passage: “What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:4).


Know Yourself

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 29

ACIM Text Reading for March 29

Chapter 11 ~ God or the Ego

II. The Gifts of Fatherhood

You have learned your need of healing. Would you bring anything else to the Sonship, recognizing your need of healing for yourself? For in this lies the beginning of the return to knowledge; the foundation on which God will help build again the thought system you share with Him. Not one stone you place upon it but will be blessed by Him, for you will be restoring the holy dwelling place of His Son, where He wills His Son to be and where he is. In whatever part of the mind of God’s Son you restore this reality, you restore it to yourself. You dwell in the Mind of God with your brother, for God Himself did not will to be alone.

To be alone is to be separated from infinity, but how can this be if infinity has no end? No one can be beyond the limitless, because what has no limits must be everywhere. There are no beginnings and no endings in God, Whose universe is Himself. Can you exclude yourself from the universe, or from God Who is the universe? I and my Father are one with you, for you are part of us. Do you really believe that part of God can be missing or lost to Him?

If you were not part of God, His Will would not be unified. Is this conceivable? Can part of His Mind contain nothing? If your place in His Mind cannot be filled by anyone except you, and your filling it was your creation, without you there would be an empty place in God’s Mind. Extension cannot be blocked, and it has no voids. It continues forever, however much it is denied. Your denial of its reality may arrest it in time, but not in eternity. That is why your creations have not ceased to be extended, and why so much is waiting for your return.

Waiting is possible only in time, but time has no meaning. You who made delay can leave time behind simply by recognizing that neither beginnings nor endings were created by the Eternal, Who placed no limits on His creation or upon those who create like Him. You do not know this simply because you have tried to limit what He created, and so you believe that all creation is limited. How, then, could you know your creations, having denied infinity?

The laws of the universe do not permit contradiction. What holds for God holds for you. If you believe you are absent from God, you will believe that He is absent from you. Infinity is meaningless without you, and you are meaningless without God. There is no end to God and His Son, for we are the universe. God is not incomplete, and He is not childless. Because He did not will to be alone, He created a Son like Himself. Do not deny Him His Son, for your unwillingness to accept His Fatherhood has denied you yours. See His creations as His Son, for yours were created in honor of Him. The universe of love does not stop because you do not see it, nor have your closed eyes lost the ability to see. Look upon the glory of His creation, and you will learn what God has kept for you.

God has given you a place in His Mind that is yours forever. Yet you can keep it only by giving it, as it was given you. Could you be alone there, when it was given you because God did not will to be alone? God’s Mind cannot be lessened. It can only be increased, for everything He creates has the function of creating. Love does not limit, and what it creates is not limited. To give without limit is God’s Will for you, because only this can bring you the joy that is His and that He wills to share with you. Your love is as boundless as His because it is His.

Could any part of God be without His Love, and could any part of His Love be contained? God is your heritage, because His one gift is Himself. How can you give except like Him if you would know His gift to you? Give, then, without limit and without end, to learn how much He has given you. Your ability to accept Him depends on your willingness to give as He gives. Your fatherhood and your Father are one. God wills to create, and your will is His. It follows, then, that you will to create, since your will follows from His. And being an extension of His Will, yours must be the same.

Yet what you will you do not know. This is not strange when you realize that to deny is to “not know.” God’s Will is that you are His Son. By denying this you deny your own will, and therefore do not know what it is. You must ask what God’s Will is in everything, because it is yours. You do not know what it is, but the Holy Spirit remembers it for you. Ask Him, therefore, what God’s Will is for you, and He will tell you yours. It cannot be too often repeated that you do not know it. Whenever what the Holy Spirit tells you appears to be coercive, it is only because you have not recognized your will.

The projection of the ego makes it appear as if God’s Will is outside yourself, and therefore not yours. In this interpretation it seems possible for God’s Will and yours to conflict. God, then, may seem to demand of you what you do not want to give, and thus deprive you of what you want. Would God, Who wants only your will, be capable of this? Your will is His Life, which He has given to you. Even in time you cannot live apart from Him. Sleep is not death. What He created can sleep, but cannot die. Immortality is His Will for His Son, and His Son’s will for himself. God’s Son cannot will death for himself because His Father is life, and His Son is like Him. Creation is your will because it is His.

You cannot be happy unless you do what you will truly, and you cannot change this because it is immutable. It is immutable by God’s Will and yours, for otherwise His Will would not be extended. You are afraid to know God’s Will, because you believe it is not yours. This belief is your whole sickness and your whole fear. Every symptom of sickness and fear arises here, because this is the belief that makes you want not to know. Believing this you hide in darkness, denying that the light is in you.

You are asked to trust the Holy Spirit only because He speaks for you. He is the Voice for God, but never forget that God did not will to be alone. He shares His Will with you; He does not thrust it upon you. Always remember that what He gives He keeps, so that nothing He gives can contradict Him. You who share His life must share it to know it, for sharing is knowing. Blessed are you who learn that to hear the Will of your Father is to know your own. For it is your will to be like Him, Whose Will it is that it be so. God’s Will is that His Son be one, and united with Him in His Oneness. That is why healing is the beginning of the recognition that your will is His.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 29

 Lesson 88
Today we will review these ideas:

(75) The light has come.

In choosing salvation rather than attack, I merely choose to recognize what is already there. Salvation is a decision made already. Attack and grievances are not there to choose. That is why I always choose between truth and illusion; between what is there and what is not. The light has come. I can but choose the light, for it has no alternative. It has replaced the darkness, and the darkness has gone.

These would prove useful forms for specific applications of this idea:

This cannot show me darkness, for the light has come.
The light in you is all that I would see, [name].
I would see in this only what is there.

(76) I am under no laws but God’s.

Here is the perfect statement of my freedom. I am under no laws but God’s. I am constantly tempted to make up other laws and give them power over me. I suffer only because of my belief in them. They have no real effect on me at all. I am perfectly free of the effects of all laws save God’s. And His are the laws of freedom.

For specific forms in applying this idea, these would be useful:

My perception of this shows me I believe in laws that do not exist.
I see only the laws of God at work in this.
Let me allow God’s laws to work in this, and not my own.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #995: You have said that if we really understood the Course’s message that we do not exist, we would feel terror. But I don’t feel terror, just uncomfortable and sometimes afraid. I have a friend who is doing A Course in Miracles , too, and she says she feels happiness when she thinks of losing her individuality and joining with God. I suspect that there is a degree of blockage in both of us, and perhaps in all of us. This is our denial, our non-acceptance of the truth. Is this true?

A: Yes, anyone who believes that he or she is here is in denial of the truth. If we were ready to fully accept the truth, we would no longer have any need for this dream and would awaken to our true home in Heaven, where we are still one with our Creator. The fact that we do not do so tells us that we must have a motivation for choosing this world of separation and pain over the peace of God.

A Course in Miracles lets us know what that motivation is. It states that we made up this world of murder and attack because it is a picture of what we think we are. We believe that we are murderers, deserving of death as punishment for what we have done (T.20.III.4) . And what we accuse ourselves of doing is usurping the place of God; thus, in essence, killing Him off. At the same time, we believe that God is not really dead and will come back to give us our punishment. So, the ego’s only conception of God is as an angry father pursuing His guilty son (M.17.7: 10) . These terrifying dynamics motivate us to continue listening to the ego, and keep dreaming that we are in this world of individuality and separation, which God can enter not (W.pII.3.3:4) . In other words, as bad as this world can be, we think it is our protection.

However, another part of our mind — symbolized in the Course as the Holy Spirit — retains the memory of the true God’s Love. It knows that the angry, vengeful God is a fiction of the ego. And so, we have two competing thought systems in our mind: the ego’s, which is literally scared to death of losing our individuality, and the Holy Spirit’s, which knows that we have nothing to fear and that our recognition of this fact and resultant awakening would give us everything we truly want. The Course is aimed at the part of our mind that chooses between these two thought systems. On one hand, it asks us to look at the terror, which we miscreated an entire world to avoid facing. On the other hand, it tells us that this fear is made up and gives us a method for finally letting it go and being at peace at last.

Not surprisingly then, we are likely to experience many shifting and conflicting emotions as we work with the Course. In addition, because our terror is deeply buried, we may not have a direct emotional experience of it — and certainly not consistently. The Course tells us that ” What I call ‘my’ thoughts are not my real thoughts” (W.pI.51.4:3) . It would make the same statement about feelings. Feelings lie because they are virtually always the result of thoughts about some aspect of our illusory existence as individuals within this physical world.

Of course, feelings can be helpful if they motivate us to ask the Holy Spirit to look with us at the thoughts behind them and, in the process, let His Love take the place of the ego’s guilt. If we can do just that with our feelings — learning to simply watch them without judging them, over- analyzing them, or worrying about them — they will gradually lessen in intensity and seeming importance as our capacity to feel the peace of God increases.

pray-for-what-is

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 25

ACIM Text Reading for February 25

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

II. The Law of the Kingdom

To heal is the only kind of thinking in this world that resembles the Thought of God, and because of the elements they share, can transfer easily to it. When a brother perceives himself as sick, he is perceiving himself as not whole, and therefore in need. If you, too, see him this way, you are seeing him as if he were absent from the Kingdom or separated from it, thus making the Kingdom itself obscure to both of you. Sickness and separation are not of God, but the Kingdom is. If you obscure the Kingdom, you are perceiving what is not of God.

To heal, then, is to correct perception in your brother and yourself by sharing the Holy Spirit with him. This places you both within the Kingdom, and restores its wholeness in your mind. This reflects creation, because it unifies by increasing and integrates by extending. What you project or extend is real for you. This is an immutable law of the mind in this world as well as in the Kingdom. However, the content is different in this world, because the thoughts it governs are very different from the Thoughts in the Kingdom. Laws must be adapted to circumstances if they are to maintain order. The outstanding characteristic of the laws of mind as they operate in this world is that by obeying them, and I assure you that you must obey them, you can arrive at diametrically opposed results. This is because the laws have been adapted to the circumstances of this world, in which diametrically opposed outcomes seem possible because you can respond to two conflicting voices.

Outside the Kingdom, the law that prevails inside is adapted to “What you project you believe.” This is its teaching form, because outside the Kingdom learning is essential. This form implies that you will learn what you are from what you have projected onto others, and therefore believe they are. In the Kingdom there is no teaching or learning, because there is no belief. There is only certainty. God and His Sons, in the surety of being, know that what you extend you are. That form of the law is not adapted at all, being the law of creation. God Himself created the law by creating by it. And His Sons, who create like Him, follow it gladly, knowing that the increase of the Kingdom depends on it, just as their own creation did.

Laws must be communicated if they are to be helpful. In effect, they must be translated for those who speak different languages. Nevertheless, a good translator, although he must alter the form of what he translates, never changes the meaning. In fact, his whole purpose is to change the form so that the original meaning is retained. The Holy Spirit is the Translator of the laws of God to those who do not understand them. You could not do this yourself because a conflicted mind cannot be faithful to one meaning, and will therefore change the meaning to preserve the form.

The Holy Spirit’s purpose in translating is exactly the opposite. He translates only to preserve the original meaning in all respects and in all languages. Therefore, He opposes the idea that differences in form are meaningful, emphasizing always that these differences do not matter. The meaning of His message is always the same; only the meaning matters. God’s law of creation does not involve the use of truth to convince His Sons of truth. The extension of truth, which is the law of the Kingdom, rests only on the knowledge of what truth is. This is your inheritance and requires no learning at all, but when you disinherited yourself you became a learner of necessity.

No one questions the connection of learning and memory. Learning is impossible without memory since it must be consistent to be remembered. That is why the Holy Spirit’s teaching is a lesson in remembering. I said before that He teaches remembering and forgetting, but the forgetting is only to make the remembering consistent. You forget in order to remember better. You will not understand His translations while you listen to two ways of interpreting them. Therefore you must forget or relinquish one to understand the other. This is the only way you can learn consistency, so that you can finally be consistent.

What can the perfect consistency of the Kingdom mean to the confused? It is apparent that confusion interferes with meaning, and therefore prevents the learner from appreciating it. There is no confusion in the Kingdom, because there is only one meaning. This meaning comes from God and is God. Because it is also you, you share it and extend it as your Creator did. This needs no translation because it is perfectly understood, but it does need extension because it means extension. Communication is perfectly direct and perfectly united. It is totally free, because nothing discordant ever enters. That is why it is the Kingdom of God. It belongs to Him and is therefore like Him. That is its reality, and nothing can assail it.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 25

Lesson 55

Today’s review includes the following:

(21) I am determined to see things differently.

What I see now are but signs of disease, disaster and death. This cannot be what God created for His beloved Son. The very fact that I see such things is proof that I do not understand God. Therefore I also do not understand His Son. What I see tells me that I do not know who I am. I am determined to see the witnesses to the truth in me, rather than those which show me an illusion of myself.

(22) What I see is a form of vengeance.

The world I see is hardly the representation of loving thoughts. It is a picture of attack on everything by everything. It is anything but a reflection of the Love of God and the Love of His Son. It is my own attack thoughts that give rise to this picture. My loving thoughts will save me from this perception of the world, and give me the peace God intended me to have.

(23) I can escape from this world by giving up attack thoughts.

Herein lies salvation, and nowhere else. Without attack thoughts I could not see a world of attack. As forgiveness allows love to return to my awareness, I will see a world of peace and safety and joy. And it is this I choose to see, in place of what I look on now.

(24) I do not perceive my own best interests.

How could I recognize my own best interests when I do not know who I am? What I think are my best interests would merely bind me closer to the world of illusions. I am willing to follow the Guide God has given me to find out what my own best interests are, recognizing that I cannot perceive them by myself.

(25) I do not know what anything is for.

To me, the purpose of everything is to prove that my illusions about myself are real. It is for this purpose that I attempt to use everyone and everything. It is for this that I believe the world is for. Therefore I do not recognize its real purpose. The purpose I have given the world has led to a frightening picture of it. Let me open my mind to the world’s real purpose by withdrawing the one I have given it, and learning the truth about it.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1342: I’ve been studying A Course in Miracles for a number of years, but recently I have started to feel sad or anxious because the activities that once made me feel excited about life and engaged in living now seem flat or empty. I see friends and coworkers going about their lives improving themselves, going back to school for another graduate degree or planning trips to interesting places, and I can’t find that enthusiasm in myself for much of anything. Today I noticed that I felt “left out” of things, like I was watching life from the sidelines. At times I have tried joining in, but I can’t quite get into it like I used to. Much of the time I feel quiet inside and happy for others. Yet, at other times I find myself searching for something to throw myself into. There is a kind of desperate quality to the search. Could what I’m experiencing be an example of the “period of undoing” referred to in the manual for teachers? Is it expected to go back and forth between peacefulness and agitation?

A: What you describe is very common with students who have been studying and practicing the Course for a while. You will notice some parallels in Questions #599, #971, and #1115; and you may find our discussions there supportive as you work through this phase of your spiritual journey. More than likely you are experiencing the effects of your willingness to undo your ego. When you are driven to find something in the world to throw yourself into, you probably are responding to a sense of lack and emptiness coming from your decision to let go of your ego. Shifting away from what you have identified with and valued all your life (W.pI.133) understandably can result in fear and panic, along with peace and relief because you are no longer fighting against the truth of who you are. So it is quite normal to feel desperate at times and then attempt to quell the storm by dropping another anchor in the familiar world. Moreover, as you shift your attention from the outer world to the inner, you would naturally feel different about the activities that formerly gave you pleasure, satisfaction, happy anticipation, etc. You are no longer firmly grounded in that world — a good thing! — but you are not yet firmly grounded in the inner world, and as a result, you would tend to feel suspended between the two.

As you settle into your new role of being a happy learner (T.14.II), however, you will find that there is a way to engage in activities without the highs and lows that characterized your participation before. Once you give your day the single purpose of being a classroom in which to learn the lessons that would help you awaken from the dream, you will find yourself simply doing the things you need to do, but with less intensity and more peace. You can still enjoy television and movies, traveling, sports, or anything else that has been part of your life, but there would be a different feel to those experiences now. You have to do something; you have to eat something; you have to take care of your body; you have to interact with people, and so on; but you would go about everything differently now, in the sense that you would not take any of it as seriously as you used to. You would try to see all of your interactions as the means of learning that we all share the same interests. This would actually make your interactions more meaningful — even exciting, from the point of view of knowing this is helping you on your path back to God. The form of your activities would thus come to express the content in your mind. Your friends might not notice any difference, other than that you are more peaceful and light-hearted (W.pI.155.1), but you will be experiencing everything in your life from a new perspective, having chosen a new teacher who will help you see and judge everything through his eyes.

Finally, as you continue this process of forgiveness, the bouncing back and forth between your wrong and right mind will become less and less of a disturbance as you recognize the connection between undoing your ego and remembering to laugh at the “tiny, mad idea” (T.27.VIII.6:2). Your fear and resistance will become familiar to you and not be more than minor detours from which you will calmly find your way back to your chosen path and teacher.

forgiveness is still

A Yogi’s Introduction to A Course in Miracles

INTRODUCING A COURSE IN MIRACLES

 

“This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”

This Course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.”

Peace of God 

Here is a beautiful “prayer” from the Course that I would like to share with you here at the outset, especially as it highlights my role as both a teacher AND student – and your roles as students AND teachers…

I am here only to be truly helpful. 

I am here to represent Him who sent me.

 I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do,

Because He Who sent me will direct me.

 I am content to be wherever he Wishes,

Knowing He goes there with me.

 I will be healed as I let him teach me to heal.

i-am-here-only-meditation-6  

*

“Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will no longer need him. 

This is the one true goal of the teacher.” (T 4.I. 5:1-2)

 

The intention behind this presentation is to provide a contemporary, up-to-date introduction to the phenomenon that is A Course in Miracles (aka “ACIM” and/or “the Course”), one that brings together the most helpful information about the Course from the Web and other resources.  This is primarily intended for those who are new to ACIM, but it could also very well prove helpful to those who are already somewhat familiar with it or even “seasoned.”  Keeping with the Course’s own emphasis on simplicity, every attempt will be made to keep this as simple and clear as possible, as well as fair and balanced.   Because of this, feedback on this presentation is most certainly welcome.

 

So let’s begin…

 

FINDING ANOTHER WAY, A BETTER WAY

“Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit.

Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way.

As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point.

This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight.

The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute.

But the outcome is as certain as God.”

(2.III.3.5-10)

 

The writing of the Course actually began with the decision of two people (Helen Schucman and William Thetford, research psychologists at Columbia University from the ‘50s onward) to find “another way” to communicate and be with each other harmoniously as opposed to their usual antagonistic encounters.  Perhaps you are now coming to the Course because you, too, are seeking “another way” in your life.  Well, you should know that although the Course was ostensibly a way to help Helen and Bill to find peace in their relationship with each other, it is really meant for all of us, as the Course teaches that at essence we all have a shared interest in peace, love and understanding, and in finding our true self (Self).   To help to understand this point, here are some of the issues that might have led you to this point, see if one or more of these applies to your life:

 

~ A failed or troubled relationship, whether with a spouse or significant other, parent, sibling, or friend.

 

~ Achievement of worldly success, only to find that you are still not happy.

 

~ Or conversely, failure to achieve success in life, leaving you feeling hopeless.

 

~ A sense that there must be more to life than this.

 

~ Fear about dying, or anxiety/panic about the future, for you or someone close to you.

 

~ A sense of deep regret and/or guilt about your past actions.

 

~ Confusion about spirituality and religion and how to know what the truth is regarding them.

 

~ A falling out with your birth religion, or religion in general.

 

~ A deep sense of loneliness and despair.

 

~ An unshakeable feeling that you are a fraud, a phony and/or that you really don’t like yourself, or worse.

 

~  Putting your trust in someone or something, only to be betrayed.

 

~ A perfectionism that leaves you paralyzed.

 

~ Recognizing that nothing is bringing you the happiness (love, peace, etc.) you truly seek.

 

~ A spiritual experience that left you with questions as to its meaning, one that you cannot seem to find in the world of traditional religion.

And so on…

 

Now, if any of these applied to you, then the Course might just be for you.   And in fact, the Course really is for every body, and isn’t it the case that everybody experiences one or more of those things that were just listed?    The thing is that not everybody is ready yet for the Course because it either might not be the right spiritual path for them, or they might not be at the point where they are ready to seek its guidance.

 

This could be summed up in a very simple statement:

 

“The Course is for everybody,

but not everybody is for the Course.”

 

(Or: The Course is for everyone who thinks they’re a body – more on this soon…)

 

The Course itself says:

 

‘Many are called but few are chosen’ should be,

‘All are called but few choose to listen.'”

 

I sense that your being here right now means that you have in some sense heard the “call” and are in a place to really listen to and consider what the Course says and has to offer you.  Given this, let’s get waste no time to get into the thick of it…

 

GO TO THE SOURCE

 

First off, as the Course itself advises us in various ways, it’s generally a good idea to “consider the source” and start with the original source material (though on a deeper level, “consider the source” would mean the Source, aka God), and for that you might want to purchase the following comprehensive edition of the Course put out by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, click HERE .  To the best of my knowledge, this is the most complete edition of the Course available, and it’s also the “standard” edition in the sense that most people citing chapter and verse are referring to this edition.

 

The entire Course can also be read for free online HERE .

 

For a summary background on how the Course came to be written and what it says, I recommend starting with the following:

 

Introduction to A Course in Miracles by ACIM.org

 

“A Course in Miracles is a complete self-study spiritual thought system. As a three-volume curriculum consisting of a Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers, it teaches that the way to universal love and peace—or remembering God—is by undoing guilt through forgiving others. The Course thus focuses on the healing of relationships and making them holy. A Course in Miracles also emphasizes that it is but one version of the universal curriculum, of which there are “many thousands.” Consequently, even though the language of the Course is that of traditional Christianity, it expresses a non-sectarian, non-denominational spirituality. A Course in Miracles therefore is a universal spiritual teaching, not a religion.”

 

The Introduction to the Course by Jesus and Helen Schucman (“How It Came,” “What It Is,” and “What It Says” – found in the Foundation’s printed edition of the Course).

 

After you read these, I would also highly recommend watching at least the first part of the following film (free on Youtube) that goes into more detail about how the Course came into existence: The Story of A Course in Miracles . It’s a very beautiful film and had my eyes welling up the first time I watched it.

 

SECONDARY SOURCES – BOOKS ABOUT THE COURSE

 

Ironically, most people don’t get into the Course by actually reading it first, however, because it is initially so challenging to understand; rather, people generally get into it through secondary sources such as books that have been written about the Course.   The potential pitfall and caution with secondary sources is that they are only as good as the author themselves understand the Course (every “translation” is an interpretation).   So with that cautionary word to the wise, here are a few of the most popular of these books about ACIM, and please keep in mind there are many other very helpful ones, these are just a few of the bestsellers:

 

Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky

 

A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson

 

The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary Renard

 

A Course in Miracles Made Easy, Alan Cohen

 

Of these, it appears that Gary Renard’s book has been the most helpful in serving as a kind of “primer” or preparation for the Course.  Not only has the “D.U.” (as it’s been called) brought many new students to the Course, but it has also brought back many “lapsed” Course students and/or those who had difficulty understanding its message.  So of the 3 books above, I am recommending that you read Renard’s book to help get started with ACIM, yet with the following caveat …

 

There has been one big issue with Renard’s book, and it is this: While it purports to be a dialogue between the author and two ascended masters (Arten and Pursah) who teach him all about the Course in a series of meetings over the course of a decade, some have cast doubt upon this claim.   Renard’s detractors, some of whom are also long-time students of the Course and Renard’s peers, argue that D.U. draws heavily upon the teachings of Ken Wapnick, the first teacher of the Course and one of its earliest editors.

 

Without saying more about this controversy here, I would just like to acknowledge that if it weren’t for Renard’s book, many people, myself included, might never have gotten interested in the Course.  So whether Renard’s book is based on a true story or not, it definitely served its purpose for me, and many others as well.   This is why I do recommend it for those who would like to get a kind of overview of the Course before they actually dive into the Course itself.

 

 KEN WAPNICK AS A PORTAL

 

That said, let’s entertain for a moment the possibility that Renard did draw primarily on the work on Ken Wapnick, in a sense popularizing Wapnick for the masses.  Then it would be a question of: 1) Did Renard accurately represent Wapnick’s work; and 2) Is Wapnick’s own work true to the Course?  These are very important questions to answer for oneself because it is VERY helpful, perhaps even essential, to have a guide for the Course, a kind of interpreter who can put the Course’s sometimes challenging language and concepts into layperson’s terms.  After all, not a few people have put the Course down due to its seeming incomprehensibility.

 

Once again, I answer a definitive “Yes” to these questions.  Yes, Renard’s book does fairly accurately represent Wapnick’s work (again, assuming for a moment that he was borrowing from it), and yes, Wapnick  (who just passed in 2013) did have a very trustworthy understanding of ACIM, perhaps better than anyone has ever had.   And well he should have, because after all, Wapnick was both the first teacher of the Course and also the original editor of it who worked closely with Helen and Bill from 1972 onward.  He even was present with Helen for some of the scribing of the Course, when she was receiving dictation from Jesus.  Apparently he even helped to explain some difficult passages to Helen herself(!) Wapnick oversaw the Course’s translation into many languages, etc.

 

Yes, one might ask, but perhaps Wapnick still misunderstood the Course, and what other evidence do I have to support my claim?  How do I know that Wapnick is/was a very trustworthy interpreter of the Course, especially when not everyone (such as “The Circle of Atonement” group – more on them later) agrees?  Yes, believe it or not, there have been those who sometimes radically disagree with Wapnick’s interpretation of the Course, which is one reason why I feel it important to bring all of this up here.  Because as a new Course student, you will no doubt be exposed to many opinions about the Course, and depending on who you read first, you might be led to greater confusion about what the Course says than not.

 

My answer to all of this is that after reading the Course myself, I feel that Ken Wapnick had the most comprehensive and clear understanding of the Course’s essential message than anyone I have seen.  And I do believe that he did his very best to be a true messenger for the radical message of the Course, without letting his ego unduly influence that message (to my mind, he did not unduly “mess” with nor massage the message!).  Others apparently see it differently, and that is really all good, I just feel the need to weigh in with my own two cents and six sense here.

 

And in any case, I feel that it is important to, at the very least, start with Wapnick as a guide, or read Renard’s book as a primer for both Wapnick and the Course. Starting with D.U. is not a bad idea as Wapnick is a little less accessible than Renard, whose book could be seen, again, as an attempt to present ACIM to the layperson.  (Note: Two other really useful books are D. Patrick Miller’s Understanding A Course in Miracles and Living with Miracles.)

 

So with all of that said, I definitely highly recommend you explore Wapnick’s work, starting with the very valuable information found on the Foundation for a Course in Miracles website (facim.org, and its sister website, acim.org), and Wapnick’s numerous Youtube videos, plus his books, CDs, etc.   I think that anyone with an eye to see will understand that Wapnick was a master of the material and saw himself as simply there to assist us all in better understanding what is often a challenging message to grasp (let alone practice!). [Also, highly recommended is Wapnick’s biography of Helen Schucman, Absence of Felicity, which goes into great detail about how the Course came to be written.]

 

     And YET, all other agendas aside, I do believe and strongly feel that the Holy Spirit will guide you to just the right way to get into the Course, including the books you read, websites, etc. Perhaps it was by leading you to this book…?

 

 CONTENT OVER FORM

 

Content Over Form” is a central theme of the Course and one that Ken Wapnick often highlighted.  To help make this more understandable for us, I will use Ken himself as an example, and please do note the tongue-in-cheek nature of this!

 

So when you look at Ken and hear him talk (in the many videos on Youtube, or elsewhere), at least at first look he might give the impression of a skinny, nebishy guy with a thick Long Island accent and a kind of harsh quality to his voice that makes him sound maybe a bit too snobby at times, not to mention he had a speech impediment that made him stutter.

 

But when you go beyond that superficial appearance (that is, the “Form”), you begin to see both the depth of his understanding, and his commitment to the message of the Course and helping others to understand it (that is, the “Content”).   So, too, the Course asks us to look beyond appearances to see the underlying sameness of all people, that at heart we are all just seeking but one thing, and we can call that thing Love, which is a word that it seems we can all agree upon!  And we get to Love through the practice of forgiveness.  So let’s talk about this core Course message, which beyond all of the verbiage is very simple: It’s all about love and forgiveness; or, the practice of forgiveness as a way to return to Love, our true nature.

 

[Note: For a really nice Ken Wapnick tribute video, please see Jon Mundy’s Youtube video, click HERE.  I highly recommend this video for helping to understand Ken better, as well as for an introduction to Jon Mundy himself.  Mundy is also one of the great teachers of the Course, and I also highly recommend his own introduction to the Course, which starts HERE.   And for more about Ken Wapnick: http://www.miraclestudies.net/KenWapnick.html ]

 

 SIMPLE, BUT NOT EASY

 

Okay, so thus far I’ve thrown a lot of words at you and you might be wondering why it took this long to get to this simple message of love and forgiveness?  Well, look at the Course itself!  It’s over 1200 pages of material with half a million words, most of it quite intimidating to the new reader (again, think in terms of Form & Content here).  Everyone asks at some point or another this question: If it really is all just about love and forgiveness, why so many darn words, and why did it have to be written in such a convoluted, Christian/biblical, and male-chauvinistic way?  The Course says it’s simple, but so why not just say: “Love thy neighbor as thyself… because at essence they are Thy Self!” and be done with it?  Isn’t that the bottom line of all of this?

 

The simple answer to this question is that the Course is so seemingly long and complicated because we ourselves are so complicated with so many “complexes”!  We’re not ready for the simple truth, because it’s TOO simple.  We feel, for one thing, that the spiritual quest somehow requires some great sacrifice and achievement to be won.  And we’re not ready to let go of all of our conditioned beliefs and attitudes (our “story”) that quickly, we really have to warm to that idea.   As the saying goes:

 

The truth is simple, but it ain’t easy!

 

But when it comes down to it, it is as simple as seeing everyone and everything as yourself, with the recognition that as you treat anything that seems to be outside of you is how you treat yourself, and vice versa.  So when we judge, blame or condemn others, it is only because we have already done that to ourselves.  And when we see others as who they truly are, which is totally blameless, without any sin or needing any judgment or condemnation, then we also simultaneously remember who we truly are, which is totally innocent.   And this is all as simple as a change of mind, just a little shift of perception! But to do this requires that we first truly take the Course seriously, and so that’s the next idea/theme we will turn to…

Holy Encounter copy

 

When you meet anyone,

Remember it is a holy encounter.

As you see him you will see yourself.

As you treat him you will treat yourself.

As you think of him you will think of yourself.

Never forget this, for in him you find yourself or lose yourself.

 

 

SEEING IT THROUGH

 

“Think this through with me

Let me know your mind

Oh Oh what I want to know is…

Are you kind?”

~ Robert Hunter/The Grateful Dead

 

First, let me say that this is not just about taking the Course seriously, but about taking any true spiritual path seriously in the sense of following it all the way through to the end.  Who does that, right?  Do you?  No, we all seem to take little bits and pieces from here and there and cobble together a spirituality that works for us.  While there’s nothing wrong with that in theory, it doesn’t generally work over the long haul because almost inevitably the ego gets in the way.   As the Course says in so many words (so many! — and I paraphrase), we end up bringing the Truth to the illusion, rather than our illusions to the Truth.  In other words, we end up making our illusory self and world real, making spirituality just another thing we do to feel better about ourself (small “self”) and our life in the world (making a “happy dream” as the Course puts it), and find it hard to go beyond that.  And if anyone (like the Course) suggests we do consider the flimsiness of the world and our own self-concept, we heavily, and sometimes very heavily, resist it.

 

[Resistance, by the way, is a Freudian psychoanalytic concept that the Course uses (reinterprets) to explain how the ego attempts to distract us from the process of awakening to who we truly are.   It’s very helpful to think about how resistance might be at work in our approach to the Course and what we find problematic in it.]

 

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

  ~ Alice in Wonderland

 

So the point I want to make here is this:  If you really want to understand the Course, please give it your full attention and read it on its own terms as best as you can.  Here’s my suggestion (and do keep in mind that we all have our own pace to get to the peace, so this is a very general statement!): Go through the Text, the Workbook, and the Manual sequentially for a full year, doing just a section and a lesson a day.  It will make a world of difference in helping to understand the Course.  Believe me, if you have trouble with the language, such as the King Jamesian-ness of it all, or all the masculine pronouns, or even the term God or Holy Spirit, by the end of a year all of that will (in theory, at least!) drop away because you will have understood the underlying CONTENT (that is, intention, message) and overlooked the FORM.  And that’s exactly what the Course is asking us to do about everything!  Go beyond the appearance to the underlying essence, and then you shall truly see!

 

 

       Jesus is asking us to accept his terms and meet his conditions, but there is no punishment involved here at all.  We will only be delaying our own homecoming if we don’t follow the deepest urging of spirit.  Jesus is therefore only a symbol for that deepest urging within all of us.

         

GOD IS IN THE DETAILS…OR IS IT THE DEVIL?

 

One other little point I would like to make here is that even though the Course does basically say the same damn thing over and over and over again throughout its 1200+ pages (Jesus is Johnny One Note), it’s not that there aren’t a lot of nuances and subtleties that we are asked to take note of.  The Course has been likened to a symphony in which a certain theme or motif is introduced, then dropped, only to return again later to be further expanded with variations.  Numerous examples of this could be noted, but just dig in and read it and you’ll see how that works.  I will just add that this is why a close reading of the Course will make a difference in your understanding and practice, simply because of those nuances and new perspectives on the same one thing.  This very well reflects the saying that “God is in the details.”

 

And yet there is also the converse idea that “the devil is in the details,” and you will also recall Shakespeare’s famous quote that even the devil can quote scripture.   This is a caution to not get so caught up in the details that you miss the forest for the trees and get bogged down in sectarian theological disputes, something that the Course itself cautions again in several places.

 

“A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary.

 

It is this experience toward which the course is directed”

                                                              (C.in.2:5,6)

 

 

On that note, there is a great story that shows the humor and wisdom of Helen Schucman’s co-scribe and colleague, Bill Thetford…

 

One day two Course students were heatedly arguing about the meaning of a passage in the Course.  Bill came in and they asked him which one of them was right?  Without missing a beat, Bill said to them: “Oh, just tear that page out.

 

Do you get it?  There are actually a number of places in the Course where Jesus says that it’s not about the Course – “the notes are nothing,” he says, and “forget this Course”  — cautioning us not to get too caught up in the words (again, the FORM), but do understand the spirit of it all (the CONTENT) which is to get in touch with the perfect love that resides in your heart.  Like a musician, learn your notes and scales by going through the Course carefully, but once you’ve done that, do not be afraid to tap into your own intuitive, improvisational brilliance, ever guided by Spirit, of course.  All rules are ultimately mean to be broken, after all.

 

THE LITTLE PROBLEM OF FAITH

 

Okay, so we’ve gotten a little ahead of ourselves here and we might want to go back to one of the most fundamental problems with understanding the Course, and again it does have to do with resistance, but it also is a simple matter of faith, as well as reason.  And the essential question is:  WHY should we take the Course seriously?   I mean, what proof do we have that this is all really the “Word” of Jesus?  Maybe Helen made it all up?  Maybe she did channel the words, but they were given to her by a discarnate entity that had some secret agenda of its own to delude humanity? (I heard this argument from a seasoned yogi whose opinion I respect.)  Or maybe Satan himself is once again orchestrated all of this in his mass plan to lead us like lambs to the slaughter?  Or how about this one: It’s all a CIA-hatched plot to control the minds of the many – A Course in Miracles as the opiate of the masses! (See further on for my take on this.)

 

Obviously you must know my answer to these questions, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here enthusiastically introducing the Course if I had such grave doubts about it (and you wouldn’t be here to keenly listen if you weren’t at least a little open to all of this).  But the truth is that, yes, even I have some lingering doubts about all of this because of one simple fact: I just don’t know, and how could I?  How can anybody?  And this is a key point that the Course makes: Only the ego asks questions and doubts, and so to the extent that we are still identified with the ego (and nearly everyone here is), we will be confused about all of this.  But the Course does not ask for or require perfect certainty, only, as it says, a “little willingness” to look at the contents of our mind in the light of perfect love and forgiveness.   So perfect faith is not required, nor even better-than-average faith!

 

Another way of saying this is: Have you experienced the miracle of unconditional love in your life?  Well, if yes, then it doesn’t matter where the Course came from, because its purpose is to help us to return that perfect, unconditional love that we have already experienced, if only fleetingly.

 

That said, I will still, briefly, attempt to answer some of those initial concerns that I mentioned…

 

So firstly, how do we know the Course really expresses the thoughts of Jesus?  Well, we don’t know, but many who have engaged with it, including myself, feel that it is the most loving, beautiful, wise and true expression of spirituality they have ever encountered.  So if Jesus is perfect love (and as the Course says, he does symbolize that) then we can say that yes, these are the words of Jesus.  And interestingly, the Course does not insist that you use the term “Jesus,” because all those who have attained the state of perfect love are ONE, and so call IT by any name you choose, because a rose is a rose is a rose.   Love by any other name is still Love.

 

Ok! So I realize that answer will not be satisfying for a lot of people; namely, the response that it doesn’t matter Who dictated the Course to Helen, because it’s freakin’ brilliant and it seems to be helping a lot of people, so who cares?  Well, YOU might care.  And don’t look at me, but I still care about this question.

 

Remember I mentioned that someone close to me, a veteran yogi whose opinion I respect, gave me a very forceful argument of why the Course is potentially dangerous if its source is a discarnate spirit seeking to delude humanity (or at the very least ACIM students!)?   While I did and do take this kind of issue with the Course very seriously, I also would posit that this is the very kind of controversial issue that the Course is wanting to tell us we will never truly be able to answer.  And thus it becomes a “delaying maneuver” on the part of the ego to keep us from actually practicing its teachings on forgiveness and watching the ego be “undone.”  (Oh yes, by the way, I forgot to mention that the Course’s practice of forgiveness does this: It undoes the ego, it dissolves it.  It’s actually a gradual, gentle process for most of us that requires quite a bit of patience and forgiveness… mainly for our own lack of patience and forgiveness!)

 

And yes, I realize that this, too, might not be the convincing argument to do the Course.  It seems to smack a little bit of cultish reasoning: Don’t ask questions because they can’t be answered, just do what we tell you to do and no one gets hurt!  Some people have actually called the Course a form of brainwashing, yet you can see from the very introduction that is says that while this is a required Course (namely, the return to Spirit will happen for all of us at some point), the time you take it is voluntary.  Not too many cults with brainwashing agendas will say that!  And the Course points out that any attempt at coercion of any kind will not work, that all spiritual work must be voluntary to really bear fruit.  So in other words: No one’s telling you to do anything, you’re here in this now moment considering all of this because you are truly seeking “another/better way” and are open to hearing how the Course might be of help to you. Verdad?

 

So at this point, let me talk about my own experience a bit more, because I feel it might help…

 

MY YOKE/YOGA IS EASY

 

“When you are tempted by the wrong voice, call on me to remind you how to heal by sharing my decision and making it stronger. As we share this goal, we increase its power to attract the whole Sonship, and to bring it back into the oneness in which it was created. Remember that ‘yoke’ means ‘join together’ and ‘burden’ means ‘message’. Let us restate ‘My yoke is easy and my burden light’ in this way; ‘Let us join together, for my message is light.” (ACIM T:5:II:11)

 

Wait, this section is perhaps better titled: “OF COURSE!” Which is also the name of this whole presentation. Because all of that heady stuff aside, what the Course did for me (and many of us, it seems) was appeal to the truth that I have always known. It was like what happened when I discovered yoga (or/and it discovered me), my thought was: “EUREKA! This is what I’ve been looking for all these years, it really exists!”

 

“This world you seem to live in is not home to you.

And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true.”

 

And in fact, my current understanding is that we’re all doing the Course, we just don’t know it yet, and we might even consciously resist it. So it doesn’t matter who its author was, whether Jesus or not, whoever it was is/was freaking brilliant.

 

I had this experience when I was 19 years old that I consider perhaps the most important one of my whole life: One night laying in bed I felt an energy surge up my body up to my heart, and suddenly, I was in bliss. The next morning, it (the bliss) was still there. Like many teens, I had had a very hard time coming of age and was dealing with a very heavy load of guilt, anger, and self-judgment to the point of extreme self-loathing. And in one night, with one fell stroke, it was all gone! Imagine that! And please note that it didn’t require accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior to happen! This exprience lasted for months, long enough to really make me realize that yes, it was really happening, and that THIS, not my old neurotic self, was my true nature, this state of unconditional love, joy, peace. And then it was gone, and thus began my search to bring it back… and so it is for so many spiritual seekers, yes? You, too?

 

And so I looked everywhere for the Beloved, and finally found “Her” again… in the yoga tradition. (Mind you, this is making a very long story very short!) And then I got into plant medicine, particularly ayahuasca, which ultimately led me to the Course, because there were things that were being revealed to me by the plants that were truly shocking… you know, little things like ego-death and tours of various hellish realms, strange meetings with demons of varying shapes and surprises. And the Course helped me make sense of those experiences, to see them in a more universal, less personal way. For example, with its help, I could begin to finally accept that there’s really nothing special about me, neither the abject misery that I’ve experienced, nor the transcendent bliss, neither the agony nor the ecstasy, the self-loathing or the delusions of grandeur. All of that is part of the one mind that we all share, it’s nothing personal, really. I am not, as I formerly thought (when I was clinging to my “specialness”) the “only lonely one” out there… no, there are, in the words of that old Police song, “a hundred million [other] castaways looking for a home.” Or 7+ billion, but who’s counting?

 

In other words, we’re all in the same boat; or, as the Course would put it: We’re all equal and integral parts of the one “Sonship.”

 

And here’s another thing to note here, and this also goes back to the “Of Course!” theme I’ve been playing on: The Golden Rule. Why is the Golden Rule what it is? Why should we, as the Hebrew Bible (Torah) commands, love our neighbor as ourselves? Deep down, we all know why, right? It’s because at our core essence we are part of the same One Self. And so to even think for a moment otherwise is to deny the truth of what we are. So imagine what it would feel to walk this earth and literally not have a second thought other than pure appreciation, compassion and forgiveness for everybody and everything? Imagine that? Well, that’s the “mind training” that the Course is leading us to, and though it might never be “perfect,” it will be far sight/cry better than what we’ve got going on right now!

 

 

THE COURSE AS A “Christian Vedanta”

 

Bill Thetford was Helen Schucman’s partner in crime in all of this, and far from being just Helen’s scribal helper, Bill also had a deep understanding of the message of the Course.  At one point, Bill referred to the Course as a “Christian Vedanta,” and this is something that has since been repeated often enough for me to bother repeating it here.

 

Bill was pretty accurate in his assessment, though what he says does require some clarification.

 

Let’s take the “Christian” part first: The Course is not actually Christian in the sense of following Church orthodoxy and dogma, but rather it is Christian in that it is Christ-centered.  In fact, in the Course Jesus says that as he foretold, his disciples did not fully understand what he was saying 2000 years ago, so the Course is a way of correcting the errors of Christianity by revealing the deeper, inner meaning of the gospel accounts.

 

Did you know there is actually a gospel that was never included in the New Testament canon, but which some scholars believe actually predated Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John?  It’s called the Gospel of Thomas and it really just a collection of sayings of Jesus without any storyline except for brief contextual clues.  The reason some scholars believe that the Gospel of Thomas (GOT) is older than the canonical gospels is because the gospel writers used sayings from the GOT in their accounts and pick up those little contextual clues in the GOT and create a story around them.

 

Now, if this is true, it’s quite ground-breaking to say the least – “earth-shattering” might be a better descriptive.  Because what Jesus says in the GOT is considerably more mystical than what we find in the canonical gospels.  Consider the following saying from the GOT:

 

“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so the male will not be male and the female will not be female…then you will enter the Kingdom.”

And also this one:

   The disciples said to him, “When will the Kingdom come?” He said, “It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, ‘Behold here,’ or ‘Behold there.’ Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.”

[Click HERE for the translation of the Gospel of Thomas that I would recommend.]

What I am getting at by bringing in the Gospel of Thomas and these passages is that Jesus appeared to have been teaching about “oneness,” or “non-duality,” something that is not so clearly evident in the canonical gospel accounts. These are the teachings that, in reality, there is only One reality, and we can call it God, or Source, or Spirit, or Love, or IT, or you name it, but it’s something pointing beyond the world of opposites and multiplicity that we currently seem to inhabit.  Now the word “non-duality” is an exact translation of the Sanskrit word “advaita” (literally “not two”), and this word generally goes hand-in-hand with another Sanskrit word: Vedanta.  Vedanta is actually one of 6 philosophical systems found in the Hindu tradition, and it essentially the essential teachings of the Vedas (literally, it translates as “the end of the Vedas”), and primarily is based in the teachings of the Upanishads.

Advaita Vedanta, the ancient Hindu philosophy of non-dualism, is actually becoming more and more well-known these days, partly due to teachers like Gangaji, Mooji, Ekhart Tolle, and Adyashanti who have been in a sense popularizing/translating this for a Western audience (they are sometimes called “neo-advaitins”).  This is actually the world that I inhabited for years before getting into the Course, and it was the Advaita philosophy that always seemed the highest and most profound for me.   So when I discovered the Course, to go back to the issue of doubt and skepticism about its message, I can’t tell you what a confirmation it was to see how very similar the Course is to Advaita Vedanta.  I mean, it’s uncanny.  It’s like, c’mon, how could this possibly be?

Now, even though these two traditions are so similar, and even though I was so grounded in the Advaita Vedanta tradition, currently the Course speaks to me more and it has helped me as much as Advaita has, if not more.   It might well be that this is so just because it’s all so new to me, but it could also be that I’ve finally found the one thing to lead me home, which is what it feels like.  I also sense that the Course will be easier for westerners to grasp, plus it’s all in one book, so I’ve found it useful to use it as an aid in the teaching of yoga, and nonduality in particular.

The thing about the Course is that there’s a bit of a learning curve involved, and it has to do with its language – again, the FORM in which its author chose to present the material.  Essentially, to use another term from the yoga tradition, the Course is presenting us with a form of Jnana Yoga.  What is Jnana Yoga?  Jnana Yoga is actually one of 7-8 major paths to God found in the yoga tradition.  Some of the other paths are: Karma Yoga (the path of selfless action), Raja Yoga (the meditative path), Bhakti Yoga (the devotional path), Tantra Yoga (the path of sacred ritual), and Hatha Yoga (the path of transcendence through the body).   Today in the West, it is really Hatha Yoga that has really caught on with the general population, but the other paths of yoga have also taken root, though to a far lesser extent, as well.   For example, the Hare Krishna movement has brought more of the Bhakti element to the fore, Bhakti being the devotional path.  And Transcendental Meditation (TM) has brought more of the Raja Yoga path, Raja being the meditative path.  Krishnamurti introduced many to the path of Jnana Yoga, etc.

So Jnana Yoga is often called the path for the thinkers, those who are more philosophically oriented.  After scribing the Course, Helen apparently said something to the effect, “Finally, there’s something for the thinkers!”   Yes, Helen was proud of the Course and even somewhat protective of it, even though she herself chose not to practice it and even apparently renounced it toward the end of her life.  Another interesting thing she said at one point was: “I know it’s all true, I just don’t believe it!”  I feel Ken Wapnick was correct in saying that Helen didn’t need to practice the Course, it wasn’t necessary for her to do so.  She had fulfilled her purpose in her lifetime by being a pure channel for the Course’s message, and that was enough.

Helen also apparently didn’t feel the Course was for everyone, just really for a small group of people who were truly ready for it.  This may very well be the case, yet it is true that as I said before, the Course is also for every body, and everyone can be helped by its message, even if they don’t accept all of its terms and conditions and go all the way with it.  My understanding is that the Course is saying that we all wake up to what the Course is saying on our own eventually anyway, with or without the help of the Course – in fact, it’s already happened, we just missed the memo and are currently in the process of remembering that accomplished fact.

Just to give you an idea of how we are all in this process, willy nilly (whether we know it or not), even my dad has been doing the Course. One thing dad has started to say in recent years (he’s in his mid-80s now) is “you can make yourself happy, or you can make yourself sad.”  Well, that’s the Course’s essential message right there – it’s all our choice, suffering is optional.  And my dad’s also started to say: “Would you rather be right or happy?”  Which is one of the Course’s brilliant lines that has really caught on.  My dad must have heard that somewhere because he doesn’t even know what A Course in Miracles is, nor do I think he would care much for it if he did.   But my point is that we either come to these things on our own (and then if we do pick up the Course, its like: “Of Course!”), or we learn them from the Course itself, or from the many spin-offs on the Course that are out there these days.

In any case, it’s the Jnana Yogis who I feel can appreciate the Course the most, because the Course is a completely worked-out and consistent “thought system,” a whole philosophy.  It’s very logical and it also points out the extent to which we can go with intellectual reasoning.  I personally was drawn to the Course because of this element, but not just that —  it has an authority about it that I still have not found any way to dismiss.  I want to add that my early training was in philosophy and psychology, and Plato/ Socrates were my greatest inspirations early on.

Jnana Yoga is also the path of discerning between the real and unreal in each and every moment.  Simply put for our purposes, this means making choices out of Love, not out of fear. The ego and all that spawns from its thought system is “unreal” according to the Course, and God, who is also Love, is the one and only reality.  So our return to God must be through a process of searching our mind and separating out our incorrect and misguided thinking, choosing to think only as God thinks (so to speak), aligning our will with God’s Will.  Again, though, in this process we are not adding anything, only removing what is not true.

Besides Jnana Yoga, the Course does contain elements of the other yogas, too, particularly Bhakti Yoga. In Bhakti Yoga we find the elements of trust, surrender, humility, faith and devotion. Essentially, the Course is asking that we surrender to its message, and follow it to a “t” (get it?)  But everything is voluntary, there is no coercion here, no fear of punishment.  Jesus, the symbol of the Perfect Love within all of us, is saying to us: You will have to do this sooner or later, my dear, so why not now?  So the Bhakti element here would be the extent to which we can let go and accept its perfect message of love and forgiveness. May we all have Godspeed with this!

forgiveness is still

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 6

ACIM Text Reading for September 6

Chapter 29 ~ The Awakening

I. The Closing of the Gap
There is no time, no place, no state where God is absent. There is nothing to be feared. There is no way in which a gap could be conceived of in the Wholeness that is His. The compromise the least and littlest gap would represent in His eternal love is quite impossible. For it would mean His Love could harbor just a hint of hate, His gentleness turn sometimes to attack, and His eternal patience sometimes fail. All this do you believe, when you perceive a gap between your brother and yourself. How could you trust Him, then? For He must be deceptive in His Love. Be wary, then; let Him not come too close, and leave a gap between you and His Love, through which you can escape if there be need for you to flee.

Here is the fear of God most plainly seen. For love is treacherous to those who fear, since fear and hate can never be apart. No one who hates but is afraid of love, and therefore must he be afraid of God. Certain it is he knows not what love means. He fears to love and loves to hate, and so he thinks that love is fearful; hate is love. This is the consequence the little gap must bring to those who cherish it, and think that it is their salvation and their hope.

The fear of God! The greatest obstacle that peace must flow across has not yet gone. The rest are past, but this one still remains to block your path, and make the way to light seem dark and fearful, perilous and bleak. You had decided that your brother is your enemy. Sometimes a friend, perhaps, provided that your separate interests made your friendship possible a little while. But not without a gap perceived between you and him, lest he turn again into an enemy. Let him come close to you, and you jumped back; as you approached, did he but instantly withdraw. A cautious friendship, and limited in scope and carefully restricted in amount, became the treaty that you had made with him. Thus you and your brother but shared a qualified entente, in which a clause of separation was a point you both agreed to keep intact. And violating this was thought to be a breach of treaty not to be allowed.

The gap between you and your brother is not one of space between two separate bodies. And this but seems to be dividing off your separate minds. It is the symbol of a promise made to meet when you prefer, and separate till you and he elect to meet again. And then your bodies seem to get in touch, and thereby signify a meeting place to join. But always is it possible for you and him to go your separate ways. Conditional upon the “right” to separate will you and he agree to meet from time to time, and keep apart in intervals of separation, which do protect you from the “sacrifice” of love. The body saves you, for it gets away from total sacrifice and gives to you the time in which to build again your separate self, which you truly believe diminishes as you and your brother meet.

The body could not separate your mind from your brother’s unless you wanted it to be a cause of separation and of distance seen between you and him. Thus do you endow it with a power that lies not within itself. And herein lies its power over you. For now you think that it determines when your brother and you meet, and limits your ability to make communion with your brother’s mind. And now it tells you where to go and how to go there, what is feasible for you to undertake, and what you cannot do. It dictates what its health can tolerate, and what will tire it and make it sick. And its “inherent” weaknesses set up the limitations on what you would do, and keep your purpose limited and weak.

The body will accommodate to this, if you would have it so. It will allow but limited indulgences in “love,” with intervals of hatred in between. And it will take command of when to “love,” and when to shrink more safely into fear. It will be sick because you do not know what loving means. And so you must misuse each circumstance and everyone you meet, and see in them a purpose not your own.

It is not love that asks a sacrifice. But fear demands the sacrifice of love, for in love’s presence fear cannot abide. For hate to be maintained, love must be feared; and only sometimes present, sometimes gone. Thus is love seen as treacherous, because it seems to come and go uncertainly, and offer no stability to you. You do not see how limited and weak is your allegiance, and how frequently you have demanded that love go away, and leave you quietly alone in “peace.”

The body, innocent of goals, is your excuse for variable goals you hold, and force the body to maintain. You do not fear its weakness, but its lack of strength or weakness. Would you know that nothing stands between you and your brother? Would you know there is no gap behind which you can hide? There is a shock that comes to those who learn their savior is their enemy no more. There is a wariness that is aroused by learning that the body is not real. And there are overtones of seeming fear around the happy message, “God is Love.”

Yet all that happens when the gap is gone is peace eternal. Nothing more than that, and nothing less. Without the fear of God, what could induce you to abandon Him? What toys or trinkets in the gap could serve to hold you back an instant from His Love? Would you allow the body to say “no” to Heaven’s calling, were you not afraid to find a loss of self in finding God? Yet can your self be lost by being found?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 6

Lesson 249
Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss.

Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible and anger makes no sense. Attack is gone, and madness has an end. What suffering is now conceivable? What loss can be sustained? The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects. And so the journey which the Son of God began has ended in the light from which he came.

Father, we would return our minds to You. We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death. Now would we rest again in You, as You created us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #190: A two-part question regarding the ‘script’ of our lives:

i: If I choose my parents, nationality, sex, time I live in before I’m born, what contingencies are there in my life? Many or none? Is it all spelled out beforehand so all I’m choosing at each moment is crucifixion or resurrection? What, in other words, is not written beforehand?

ii: What role does the right mind have in choosing all of the above beforehand?

A: We set certain seemingly unchangeable parameters for each lifetime, including those you list above. But even some of these can shift as the mind chooses: one learns as an adult that he or she was adopted; someone opts for a sex change operation, etc. Part of the ego’s seductive allurement is that we do have choice at the level of form and this is the great distraction. For we believe the problem of our guilt over separation, which remains buried in our mind, can be resolved “by making some sort of insane ‘arrangement’ with the world” (T.12.III.6:5) — what A Course in Miracles calls magic (M.16.8,9,11). So the ego maintains the illusion of choice at the level of form, keeping hidden from us the fact that we are always choosing the same content: separation and guilt. And we never address the real underlying problem of the guilt in our mind.

Now it is true that the Course teaches that everything has already happened and that linear time is not real — everything is already written beforehand (W.pI.158.3,4). But that does not mean that everything in an individual lifetime is predetermined. The pool of possible events is predetermined, but we have a moment-by-moment choice about which relationships and events we will access and review (for a more extended discussion of this, see Question #37).

Despite all these options, the most helpful frame of reference we can adopt is to remember that, regardless of the possibilities on the level of form, the only real choice we are confronted with in each moment is the one between crucifixion and resurrection.

Since we always have a right mind while we still believe in the reality of separation, we have the option of turning to our right mind about any decision we are making, including how to approach a new relationship, a new career, or a new lifetime. The distinction between before and during a lifetime is really an arbitrary one that our ego mind wishes to reinforce, making the state of our mind seem somehow qualitatively different during this lifetime from the state of the mind when this lifetime is still only an option being considered. And so, as with every choice, we can make it with either the ego or the Holy Spirit as our teacher. And as most of us do, we may vacillate between the wrong mind and the right mind, sometimes making choices based on our desire for specialness and sometimes choosing in order to learn our lessons of forgiveness. This is true, from the perspective of illusory linear time, both before and during each lifetime Again, whether we are choosing the parameters for an upcoming lifetime or the parameters within a current lifetime, the options and the process in the mind remain the same.

Q #191: I would like to know your opinion on “special relationships.” Is every relationship in which there is love a special one? The relationship with your children for instance? Is it enough that only one in the relationship have knowledge about A Course in Miracles?

A: The Course tells us that every relationship, whether we define it as a love or hate relationship, is special. The ego uses every relationship to project guilt onto another for our decision to separate from God. Using the relationship for purposes of projection is an attack, which the Course calls hate. Every special relationship is therefore actually a hate relationship, camouflaged in some cases as “love.” The ego identifies every person as a body, and relates to each one as a body, which according to the Course is another form of attack on the Son of God, who is not a body. The projection of guilt and perception of body identity are fundamental characteristics of the special relationship. Although we may be unaware of them, these are the dynamics at work in every relationship. It is difficult to apply this concept to our relationships with our children because the world has glorified parenthood, and we use children and family relationships to express “love” as defined by the ego. The care, concern, and attention that is given to children is not love as the Course defines it; they are part of the dynamic the ego has set up as “pseudo love,” which is actually a substitute for God’s love. This substitution is another important characteristic of the special relationship. Anyone or anything that is used in an attempt to fill the void left by our seeming separation from God is what the Course calls special. Children fit the ego’s plan perfectly because they come into the world totally dependent on the care of others, having been given “life” by parents who will hopefully meet all their needs for growth and sustenance. Part of the parenthood dysfunction is the belief, on the part of parents, that children will meet their needs as well. This mutual dependency, in which each agrees to sacrifice in order to have their own needs met, is the “bargain” that the ego claims will keep everyone safe and “happy.” It sometimes seems to work, frequently it is beset with great pain and conflict, driven by intense feelings of guilt. The Course gives us a vivid description: “All special relationships have sin as their goal. For they are bargains with reality, toward which the seeming union is adjusted. Forget not this; to bargain is to set a limit, and any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate. You may attempt to keep the bargain in the name of “fairness,” sometimes demanding payment of yourself, perhaps more often of the other. Thus in the “fairness” you attempt to ease the guilt that comes from the accepted purpose of the relationship. And that is why the Holy Spirit must change its purpose to make it useful to Him and harmless to you” (T.21.III.1).

In this, as with everything the Course teaches, it is enough that only one person in the relationship be a student of the Course. The practice of the Course’s teaching requires only that the individual look carefully at all the thoughts of judgment in any relationship, and recognize the ego’s purpose at work in all of them. The purpose is always to make the separation real, and strengthen our belief that we can make a world of our own that will meet our needs better than God ever could. We do not do this for anyone but ourselves. When we recognize the ego’s ploys, and begin to realize that our pain is actually coming from our alliance with the ego’s thought system of separation, guilt, and attack, we have the opportunity to turn to the Holy Spirit, whose thought system reinterprets everything the ego has made, and ask for help. The help is not to change anyone else in the dream, but for ourselves to accept His purpose. Although this may not bring about any change in form in our relationships, the purpose will be transformed: “…the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them. And all that is meant by that is that He will restore to them the function given them by God. The function you have given them is clearly not to make happy. But the holy relationship shares God’s purpose, rather than aiming to make a substitute for it. Every special relationship you have made is a substitute for God’s Will, and glorifies yours instead of His because of the illusion that they are different” (T.17.IV.2:3,4,5,6,7). Eventually, as this is practiced more and more the pain of special relationships will be replaced by the peace of the holy relationship.

kingdom of god