ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 21

ACIM Reading for October 21

Manual for Teachers

18. How Is Correction Made?

Correction of a lasting nature, — and only this is true correction, — cannot be made until the teacher of God has ceased to confuse interpretation with fact, or illusion with truth. If he argues with his pupil about a magic thought, attacks it, tries to establish its error or demonstrate its falsity, he is but witnessing to its reality. Depression is then inevitable, for he has “proved,” both to his pupil and himself, that it is their task to escape from what is real. And this can only be impossible. Reality is changeless. Magic thoughts are but illusions. Otherwise salvation would be only the same age-old impossible dream in but another form. Yet the dream of salvation has new content. It is not the form alone in which the difference lies.

God’s teachers’ major lesson is to learn how to react to magic thoughts wholly without anger. Only in this way can they proclaim the truth about themselves. Through them, the Holy Spirit can now speak of the reality of the Son of God. Now He can remind the world of sinlessness, the one unchanged, unchangeable condition of all that God created. Now He can speak the Word of God to listening ears, and bring Christ’s vision to eyes that see. Now is He free to teach all minds the truth of what they are, so they will gladly be returned to Him. And now is guilt forgiven, overlooked completely in His sight and in God’s Word.

Anger but screeches, “Guilt is real!” Reality is blotted out as this insane belief is taken as replacement for God’s Word. The body’s eyes now “see”; its ears alone can “hear.” Its little space and tiny breath become the measure of reality. And truth becomes diminutive and meaningless. Correction has one answer to all this, and to the world that rests on this:

“You but mistake interpretation for the truth. And you are wrong. But a mistake is not a sin, nor has reality been taken from its throne by your mistakes. God reigns forever, and His laws alone prevail upon you and upon the world. His Love remains the only thing there is. Fear is illusion, for you are like Him.”

In order to heal, it thus becomes essential for the teacher of God to let all his own mistakes be corrected. If he senses even the faintest hint of irritation in himself as he responds to anyone, let him instantly realize that he has made an interpretation that is not true. Then let him turn within to his eternal Guide, and let Him judge what the response should be. So is he healed, and in his healing is his pupil healed with him. The sole responsibility of God’s teacher is to accept the Atonement for himself. Atonement means correction, or the undoing of errors. When this has been accomplished, the teacher of God becomes a miracle worker by definition. His sins have been forgiven him, and he no longer condemns himself. How can he then condemn anyone? And who is there whom his forgiveness can fail to heal?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 21

Lesson 294

My body is a wholly neutral thing.

I am a Son of God. And can I be another thing as well? Did God create the mortal and corruptible? What use has God’s beloved Son for what must die? And yet a neutral thing does not see death, for thoughts of fear are not invested there, nor is a mockery of love bestowed upon it. Its neutrality protects it while it has a use. And afterwards, without a purpose, it is laid aside. It is not sick nor old nor hurt. It is but functionless, unneeded and cast off. Let me not see it more than this today; of service for a while and fit to serve, to keep its usefulness while it can serve, and then to be replaced for greater good.

My body, Father, cannot be Your Son. And what is not created cannot be sinful nor sinless; neither good nor bad. Let me, then, use this dream to help Your plan that we awaken from all dreams we made.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #438: I have been wondering about a passage in A Course in Miracles that says that a conflict arises because a voice demands we obey. If we do obey, rage will follow because we will feel coerced, and if we don’t, that part of the mind will be outraged. Either way, rage will result. The Course says that this state is caused by a lack of love. My question regards my own experience. I have usually disobeyed that voice because of its cruel demanding way. I feel intense guilt because this voice reminds me that I hurt someone because I didn’t follow its instructions. So how should I feel about this voice that tells me I am wrong or I don’t deserve what I have because I didn’t follow its decree? I really need to know if I need to do anything to right the wrong because I really desperately want to get rid of all this and replace it with forgiveness.

A: The only voice that would cruelly demand obedience, or judge you in any way belongs to the ego. It is a voice that will always reflect the painful effects of having chosen to believe that the separation is real, that such a belief is a sin, guilt is justified, and punishment is inevitable. There is no resolution to this through retribution, or behavior of any kind. For a student of the Course, the only way out of its circuitous system of judgment and condemnation is to apply its principles as carefully and consistently as possible. There is no need to “do” anything else. That is how to listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit in a practical way, and only this will lead to freedom from guilt.

The passage you refer to, T.2.VI.5, is speaking about the conflict in the wrong mind. It is not contrasting the wrong mind with the right mind. It describes the insanity that follows a choice to identify with the ego thought system, and then to attempt to assuage the inevitable fear by controlling behavior, without making another choice in the mind. It is one of the ways the ego tries to have its cake and eat it, too: keep the thought of separation real, but get rid of the guilt and fear that go with it.

The passage says that “conflict is an expression of fear” (T.2.VI.7:1, italics ours); in other words, conflict is telling us that we have become afraid. In the same paragraph the Course goes on to say: “Fear arises from lack of love”(T.2.VI.7:6). Thus, fear is the result of the choice to be separate from love. Conflicted behavior and rage are the outcome when we choose separation, and then try to behave in a way that seems loving, convinced that in this way we will appease a punishing god. The bottom line in all of this is that it doesn’t work. The only thing that does work is to be honest about what we want. The process the Course leads us through can be effective only if learn to recognize all the ways our thoughts, beliefs, and acts show us the choice we have made in the mind to be separate, and then recognize the heavy price we pay (all the pain, anguish, and conflict experienced in our individual lives, and in the world). Jesus invites us to ask ourselves if we really want to pay this price for our individual, separate, and meaningless existence in the world. The process takes practice because we are so strongly attached to belief in our identity as bodies.

The Course is clear and uncompromising, but coercion of any kind is completely inconsistent with the gentleness and love of Jesus’ message. When the Course speaks of “obeying” the laws of the mind, it is not referring to a choice to be obedient or not, especially not forced obedience. It means that because “ideas leave not their source” (T.27.VII.13), a choice in the mind will have certain inevitable effects. In other words, the effect “obeys” the cause. The choice for separation always produces guilt and fear. It reinforces the ego thought system and belief in the identity of the body. The choice for the Holy Spirit’s correction (not coercion) results in peace, and allows the extension of love, which reinforces the truth of who we are. Eventually this will be all we truly want.

not his will you be crucified

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ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 20

ACIM Reading for October 20

Manual for Teachers

17. How Do God’s Teachers Deal with Magic Thoughts?

This is a crucial question both for teacher and pupil. If this issue is mishandled, the teacher of God has hurt himself and has also attacked his pupil. This strengthens fear, and makes the magic seem quite real to both of them. How to deal with magic thus becomes a major lesson for the teacher of God to master. His first responsibility in this is not to attack it. If a magic thought arouses anger in any form, God’s teacher can be sure that he is strengthening his own belief in sin and has condemned himself. He can be sure as well that he has asked for depression, pain, fear and disaster to come to him. Let him remember, then, it is not this that he would teach, because it is not this that he would learn.

There is, however, a temptation to respond to magic in a way that reinforces it. Nor is this always obvious. It can, in fact, be easily concealed beneath a wish to help. It is this double wish that makes the help of little value, and must lead to undesired outcomes. Nor should it be forgotten that the outcome that results will always come to teacher and to pupil alike. How many times has it been emphasized that you give but to yourself? And where could this be better shown than in the kinds of help the teacher of God gives to those who need his aid? Here is his gift most clearly given him. For he will give only what he has chosen for himself. And in this gift is his judgment upon the holy Son of God.

It is easiest to let error be corrected where it is most apparent, and errors can be recognized by their results. A lesson truly taught can lead to nothing but release for teacher and pupil, who have shared in one intent. Attack can enter only if perception of separate goals has entered. And this must indeed have been the case if the result is anything but joy. The single aim of the teacher turns the divided goal of the pupil into one direction, with the call for help becoming his one appeal. This then is easily responded to with just one answer, and this answer will enter the teacher’s mind unfailingly. From there it shines into his pupil’s mind, making it one with his.

Perhaps it will be helpful to remember that no one can be angry at a fact. It is always an interpretation that gives rise to negative emotions, regardless of their seeming justification by what appears as facts. Regardless, too, of the intensity of the anger that is aroused. It may be merely slight irritation, perhaps too mild to be even clearly recognized. Or it may also take the form of intense rage, accompanied by thoughts of violence, fantasied or apparently acted out. It does not matter. All of these reactions are the same. They obscure the truth, and this can never be a matter of degree. Either truth is apparent, or it is not. It cannot be partially recognized. Who is unaware of truth must look upon illusions.

Anger in response to perceived magic thoughts is a basic cause of fear. Consider what this reaction means, and its centrality in the world’s thought system becomes apparent. A magic thought, by its mere presence, acknowledges a separation from God. It states, in the clearest form possible, that the mind which believes it has a separate will that can oppose the Will of God, also believes it can succeed. That this can hardly be a fact is obvious. Yet that it can be believed as fact is equally obvious. And herein lies the birthplace of guilt. Who usurps the place of God and takes it for himself now has a deadly “enemy.” And he must stand alone in his protection, and make himself a shield to keep him safe from fury that can never be abated, and vengeance that can never be satisfied.

How can this unfair battle be resolved? Its ending is inevitable, for its outcome must be death. How, then, can one believe in one’s defenses? Magic again must help. Forget the battle. Accept it as a fact, and then forget it. Do not remember the impossible odds against you. Do not remember the immensity of the “enemy,” and do not think about your frailty in comparison. Accept your separation, but do not remember how it came about. Believe that you have won it, but do not retain the slightest memory of Who your great “opponent” really is. Projecting your “forgetting” onto Him, it seems to you He has forgotten, too.

But what will now be your reaction to all magic thoughts? They can but reawaken sleeping guilt, which you have hidden but have not let go. Each one says clearly to your frightened mind, “You have usurped the place of God. Think not He has forgotten.” Here we have the fear of God most starkly represented. For in that thought has guilt already raised madness to the throne of God Himself. And now there is no hope. Except to kill. Here is salvation now. An angry father pursues his guilty son. Kill or be killed, for here alone is choice. Beyond this there is none, for what was done cannot be done without. The stain of blood can never be removed, and anyone who bears this stain on him must meet with death.

Into this hopeless situation God sends His teachers. They bring the light of hope from God Himself. There is a way in which escape is possible. It can be learned and taught, but it requires patience and abundant willingness. Given that, the lesson’s manifest simplicity stands out like an intense white light against a black horizon, for such it is. If anger comes from an interpretation and not a fact, it is never justified. Once this is even dimly grasped, the way is open. Now it is possible to take the next step. The interpretation can be changed at last. Magic thoughts need not lead to condemnation, for they do not really have the power to give rise to guilt. And so they can be overlooked, and thus forgotten in the truest sense.

Madness but seems terrible. In truth it has no power to make anything. Like the magic which becomes its servant, it neither attacks nor protects. To see it and to recognize its thought system is to look on nothing. Can nothing give rise to anger? Hardly so. Remember, then, teacher of God, that anger recognizes a reality that is not there; yet is the anger certain witness that you do believe in it as fact. Now is escape impossible, until you see you have responded to your own interpretation, which you have projected on an outside world. Let this grim sword be taken from you now. There is no death. This sword does not exist. The fear of God is causeless. But His Love is Cause of everything beyond all fear, and thus forever real and always true.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 20

Lesson 293

All fear is past and only love is here.

All fear is past, because its source is gone, and all its thoughts gone with it. Love remains the only present state, whose Source is here forever and forever. Can the world seem bright and clear and safe and welcoming, with all my past mistakes oppressing it, and showing me distorted forms of fear? Yet in the present love is obvious, and its effects apparent. All the world shines in reflection of its holy light, and I perceive a world forgiven at last.

Father, let not Your holy world escape my sight today. Nor let my ears be deaf to all the hymns of gratitude the world is singing underneath the sounds of fear. There is a real world which the present holds safe from all past mistakes. And I would see only this world before my eyes today.

***

 

ACIM Q & A

Q #124: What does the term “magic” mean when used in A Course in Miracles?

A: Magic is “an attempt to solve a problem where it is not….guilt is projected outside our minds onto others (attack) or our bodies (sickness) and sought to be corrected there, rather than being undone in our minds by bringing it to the Holy Spirit…” (Glossary-Index for A Course in Miracles, p.143, Kenneth Wapnick). The ego uses magic in its interpretation of any problem or conflict; it sees the problem as outside of the mind, and seeks to solve it by external means. When we choose to believe this ego version, and identify with the ego thought system, we use magic to solve our problems, and it does seem to work. For example, when we take an aspirin for a headache and the pain goes away, we believe the aspirin took the headache away. The Course is telling us that what actually happens is that there is a decision in the mind to experience pain in the form of a headache, and then a decision in the mind against pain, which is symbolized by taking an aspirin: “Special agents [i.e., medicine] seem to be ministering to him, yet they but give form to his own choice. He chooses them in order to bring tangible form to his desires. And it is this they do, and nothing else. They are not actually needed at all” (M.5.II.2.8,9,10,11). Of course, there is nothing wrong with using “magic” forms — money, clothing, social contacts, medicine, etc. In fact, we cannot function in this world without them, and we should not feel guilty or “unspiritual” when as we use them. But we can do so without endowing them with the power to make us truly happy or meet our real need, which is joining with the Holy Spirit, the memory of God, in the mind.

The same magic principle is at work whenever we think we can effect change in the world by resolving conflicts through changes in behavior, never realizing that the conflict originates in our mind and only there can it truly be solved. The Course asks us to learn to recognize the problem where it is, in the mind, so it can be healed: “…decisions are of the mind, not of the body. If sickness is but a faulty problem-solving approach, it is a decision. And if it is a decision, it is the mind and not the body that makes it” (M.5.11:4,5,6).

A Course in Miracles also tells us there is only one problem — the thought of separation from God. Believing this thought is the cause of tremendous guilt and feelings of emptiness, despair, and need. This drives us to seek to fill our need and assuage our pain externally through magic, making the whole world a “magic show”: “In this world, you believe you are sustained by everything but God. Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols; pills, money, ‘protective’ clothing, influence, prestige, being liked, knowing the ‘right’ people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness that you endow with magical powers” (W.p.I.50.1:2,3). Whatever form of magic we choose it will not truly work. The Course is asking us to undo our belief in magic by recognizing the problem: “If you could recognize that your only problem is separation, no matter what form it takes, you could accept the answer because you would see its relevance. Perceiving the underlying constancy in all the problems that seem to confront you, you would understand that you have the means to solve them all. And you would use the means, because you recognize the problem” (W.p.I.79.6:2,3,4). The “means” we have is the power of our mind to choose, and our choice is always between magic or the miracle; between seeking outside ourselves in the illusion, or going within to the mind where our decisions can be changed.


Q #125: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for about 3 years. I have two questions. First, where are you at, as far as the Course goes, in other words, is there a point at which it all comes together? Second, I feel as if I am and have always been in “a waiting mode” — I want to say a state of anticipation, but not really. I’m tired of “waiting” my life away. Can you give me some advice on this?

A: We are not quite sure of what you mean by “a point where it all comes together.” The Course works, if that is what you mean. It is an individualized curriculum(M.9.1:5), and therefore the specifics of the process vary from student to student. Our learning is always in the context of the relationships and circumstances in our lives, and the goal of the exercises in the workbook is generalization, so that as we go along, we would gradually learn to apply the principles every minute of every day, without getting stuck in specifics. That is when “it all comes together.” Our habitual response to all happenings in our daily lives would be to bring our ego thoughts to the love of Jesus in our minds; and then as our resistance is brought to light and relinquished, we would choose against the ego and allow our minds to be healed, thus restoring to them the awareness of love’s presence that we had banished. Our lives then would be directed from this quiet center of peace: “And you will be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it” (T.18.VII.8:2,3,4,5).

It is difficult to respond to your second question without knowing more about you. So we will just speak in general about the pattern you describe, which is not all that uncommon. The Course speaks a great deal about fear — and even terror — that is the consequence of our having listened to the ego instead of the Holy Spirit. We are not consciously aware of the fear at this level of our minds, and the fear of which we are aware is always attributed to something in the world or in our physical/ psychological experience, both of which are outside the mind. But the fear that Jesus talks about accounts, in part, for the different patterns our lives take. The fear is related to our expectation of punishment by God for having separated from Him, and is also related to the promise we made to the ego to be faithful to it no matter what. Our very existence as individuals, therefore, is associated in our minds with fear and dread on a scale that nothing in the world can approximate.

Instead of bringing the fear to Jesus who would help us realize that it is totally unjustified, we listen to the ego who warns us that we had better do something about it. Then our lives are essentially constructed as a defense against this fear. This manifests in different ways; but one way would be to never get your life going — like waiting at a traffic light that never turns green. Unconsciously, the fear would be that no matter what you do, you are doomed. The maladaptive solution to that fear is to stay in neutral so that you never have to take responsibility for anything, because deep within your mind is the thought “I set out on my own once before, and look what I did. I killed love off so that I could exist. I’m a terrible person, so I’ll see to it that I never make anything of my life, so that I will not be caught and held to account for the awful thing I did.”

Nothing can change in such a situation until the internal state of terror is acknowledged and looked at. Sometimes this requires the assistance of a compassionate therapist, but not always. Jesus encourages us to take this step with him by our side: “We are ready to look more closely at the ego’s thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realize you do not want it, you must be ready. Let us be very calm in doing this, for we are merely looking honestly for truth” (T.11.V.1:3,4). We need the help of someone outside this thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, who sees its unreality, but who sees as well the destructive effect is has had in the minds of those who have forgotten that it is all just a made-up fable.

all fear is past

ACIM Text & Workbook Lesson for October 19

ACIM Text for October 19

Manual for Teachers

16. How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day?

To the advanced teacher of God this question is meaningless. There is no program, for the lessons change each day. Yet the teacher of God is sure of but one thing; they do not change at random. Seeing this and understanding that it is true, he rests content. He will be told all that his role should be, this day and every day. And those who share that role with him will find him, so they can learn the lessons for the day together. Not one is absent whom he needs; not one is sent without a learning goal already set, and one which can be learned that very day. For the advanced teacher of God, then, this question is superfluous. It has been asked and answered, and he keeps in constant contact with the Answer. He is set, and sees the road on which he walks stretch surely and smoothly before him.

But what about those who have not reached his certainty? They are not yet ready for such lack of structuring on their own part. What must they do to learn to give the day to God? There are some general rules which do apply, although each one must use them as best he can in his own way. Routines as such are dangerous, because they easily become gods in their own right, threatening the very goals for which they were set up. Broadly speaking, then, it can be said that it is well to start the day right. It is always possible to begin again, should the day begin with error. Yet there are obvious advantages in terms of saving time.

At the beginning, it is wise to think in terms of time. This is by no means the ultimate criterion, but at the outset it is probably the simplest to observe. The saving of time is an essential early emphasis which, although it remains important throughout the learning process, becomes less and less emphasized. At the outset, we can safely say that time devoted to starting the day right does indeed save time. How much time should be so spent? This must depend on the teacher of God himself. He cannot claim that title until he has gone through the workbook, since we are learning within the framework of our course. After completion of the more structured practice periods, which the workbook contains, individual need becomes the chief consideration.

This course is always practical. It may be that the teacher of God is not in a situation that fosters quiet thought as he awakes. If this is so, let him but remember that he chooses to spend time with God as soon as possible, and let him do so. Duration is not the major concern. One can easily sit still an hour with closed eyes and accomplish nothing. One can as easily give God only an instant, and in that instant join with Him completely. Perhaps the one generalization that can be made is this; as soon as possible after waking take your quiet time, continuing a minute or two after you begin to find it difficult. You may find that the difficulty will diminish and drop away. If not, that is the time to stop.

The same procedures should be followed at night. Perhaps your quiet time should be fairly early in the evening, if it is not feasible for you to take it just before going to sleep. It is not wise to lie down for it. It is better to sit up, in whatever position you prefer. Having gone through the workbook, you must have come to some conclusions in this respect. If possible, however, just before going to sleep is a desirable time to devote to God. It sets your mind into a pattern of rest, and orients you away from fear. If it is expedient to spend this time earlier, at least be sure that you do not forget a brief period,–not more than a moment will do,–in which you close your eyes and think of God.

There is one thought in particular that should be remembered throughout the day. It is a thought of pure joy; a thought of peace, a thought of limitless release, limitless because all things are freed within it. You think you made a place of safety for yourself. You think you made a power that can save you from all the fearful things you see in dreams. It is not so. Your safety lies not there. What you give up is merely the illusion of protecting illusions. And it is this you fear, and only this. How foolish to be so afraid of nothing! Nothing at all! Your defenses will not work, but you are not in danger. You have no need of them. Recognize this, and they will disappear. And only then will you accept your real protection.

How simply and how easily does time slip by for the teacher of God who has accepted His protection! All that he did before in the name of safety no longer interests him. For he is safe, and knows it to be so. He has a Guide Who will not fail. He need make no distinctions among the problems he perceives, for He to Whom he turns with all of them recognizes no order of difficulty in resolving them. He is as safe in the present as he was before illusions were accepted into his mind, and as he will be when he has let them go. There is no difference in his state at different times and different places, because they are all one to God. This is his safety. And he has no need for more than this.

Yet there will be temptations along the way the teacher of God has yet to travel, and he has need of reminding himself throughout the day of his protection. How can he do this, particularly during the time when his mind is occupied with external things? He can but try, and his success depends on his conviction that he will succeed. He must be sure success is not of him, but will be given him at any time, in any place and circumstance he calls for it. There are times his certainty will waver, and the instant this occurs he will return to earlier attempts to place reliance on himself alone. Forget not this is magic, and magic is a sorry substitute for true assistance. It is not good enough for God’s teacher, because it is not enough for God’s Son.

The avoidance of magic is the avoidance of temptation. For all temptation is nothing more than the attempt to substitute another will for God’s. These attempts may indeed seem frightening, but they are merely pathetic. They can have no effects; neither good nor bad, neither rewarding nor demanding sacrifice, healing nor destructive, quieting nor fearful. When all magic is recognized as merely nothing, the teacher of God has reached the most advanced state. All intermediate lessons will but lead to this, and bring this goal nearer to recognition. For magic of any kind, in all its forms, simply does nothing. Its powerlessness is the reason it can be so easily escaped. What has no effects can hardly terrify.

There is no substitute for the Will of God. In simple statement, it is to this fact that the teacher of God devotes his day. Each substitute he may accept as real can but deceive him. But he is safe from all deception if he so decides. Perhaps he needs to remember, “God is with me. I cannot be deceived.” Perhaps he prefers other words, or only one, or none at all. Yet each temptation to accept magic as true must be abandoned through his recognition, not that it is fearful, not that it is sinful, not that it is dangerous, but merely that it is meaningless. Rooted in sacrifice and separation, two aspects of one error and no more, he merely chooses to give up all that he never had. And for this “sacrifice” is Heaven restored to his awareness.

Is not this an exchange that you would want? The world would gladly make it, if it knew it could be made. It is God’s teachers who must teach it that it can. And so it is their function to make sure that they have learned it. No risk is possible throughout the day except to put your trust in magic, for it is only this that leads to pain. “There is no will but God’s.” His teachers know that this is so, and have learned that everything but this is magic. All belief in magic is maintained by just one simple-minded illusion;–that it works. All through their training, every day and every hour, and even every minute and second, must God’s teachers learn to recognize the forms of magic and perceive their meaninglessness. Fear is withdrawn from them, and so they go. And thus the gate of Heaven is reopened, and its light can shine again on an untroubled mind.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 19

Lesson 292

A happy outcome to all things is sure.

God’s promises make no exceptions. And He guarantees that only joy can be the final outcome found for everything. Yet it is up to us when this is reached; how long we let an alien will appear to be opposing His. And while we think this will is real, we will not find the end He has appointed as the outcome of all problems we perceive, all trials we see, and every situation that we meet. Yet is the ending certain. For God’s Will is done in earth and Heaven. We will seek and we will find according to His Will, which guarantees that our will is done.

We thank You, Father, for Your guarantee of only happy outcomes in the end. Help us not interfere, and so delay the happy endings You have promised us for every problem that we can perceive; for every trial we think we still must meet.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1017In the manual we are told: “It is better to sit up, in whatever position you prefer. Having gone through the workbook, you must have come to some conclusions in this respect” (M.16.5:4,5). I have gone through the workbook, and I missed it. Could you please elaborate on the importance/significance of sitting up.

A: In this passage in the manual, Jesus is giving us specific instructions as guidelines for our practice. Quite simply, it is likely that lying down at the end of the day or just before going to bed will induce sleep, which then prevents one from spending the quiet time he is recommending. It is also probably more comfortable than standing up. This is a very clear example of how Jesus takes into consideration our resistance, the nature of the ego, and the body’s needs. He is helping us to find ways to make our best effort at complying with the structure set up in the workbook and reinforced here in the manual.

Jesus knows that we are not always eager to learn what he is teaching us in A Course in Miracles . One of the ways our resistance is expressed is by falling asleep while reading it. He assumes that we must have noticed that we come up with all kinds of excuses and distractions for not doing the workbook lessons. Sleep is just one of them. He also assumes we are serious about our commitment to the practice of forgiveness, and so he gives us these helpful tips. That is all that is meant in this passage.

present love

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 18

ACIM Reading for October 18
Manual for Teachers
15. Is Each One to Be Judged in the End?

Indeed, yes! No one can escape God’s Final Judgment. Who could flee forever from the truth? But the Final Judgment will not come until it is no longer associated with fear. One day each one will welcome it, and on that very day it will be given him. He will hear his sinlessness proclaimed around and around the world, setting it free as God’s Final Judgment on him is received. This is the Judgment in which salvation lies. This is the Judgment that will set him free. This is the Judgment in which all things are freed with him. Time pauses as eternity comes near, and silence lies across the world that everyone may hear this Judgment of the Son of God:

“Holy are you, eternal, free and whole,
At peace forever in the Heart of God.
Where is the world, and where is sorrow now?”

Is this your judgment on yourself, teacher of God? Do you believe that this is wholly true? No; not yet, not yet. But this is still your goal; why you are here. It is your function to prepare yourself to hear this Judgment and to recognize that it is true. One instant of complete belief in this, and you will go beyond belief to Certainty. One instant out of time can bring time’s end. Judge not, for you but judge yourself, and thus delay this Final Judgment. What is your judgment of the world, teacher of God? Have you yet learned to stand aside and hear the Voice of Judgment in yourself? Or do you still attempt to take His role from Him? Learn to be quiet, for His Voice is heard in stillness. And His Judgment comes to all who stand aside in quiet listening, and wait for Him.

You who are sometimes sad and sometimes angry; who sometimes feel your just due is not given you, and your best efforts meet with lack of appreciation and even contempt; give up these foolish thoughts! They are too small and meaningless to occupy your holy mind an instant longer. God’s Judgment waits for you to set you free. What can the world hold out to you, regardless of your judgments on its gifts, that you would rather have? You will be judged, and judged in fairness and in honesty. There is no deceit in God. His promises are sure. Only remember that. His promises have guaranteed His Judgment, and His alone, will be accepted in the end. It is your function to make that end be soon. It is your function to hold it to your heart, and offer it to all the world to keep it safe.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 18

Lesson 291

Section 8. What is the Real World?

The real world is a symbol, like the rest of what perception offers. Yet it stands for what is opposite to what you made. Your world is seen through eyes of fear, and brings the witnesses of terror to your mind. The real world cannot be perceived except through eyes forgiveness blesses, so they see a world where terror is impossible, and witnesses to fear can not be found.

The real world holds a counterpart for each unhappy thought reflected in your world; a sure correction for the sights of fear and sounds of battle which your world contains. The real world shows a world seen differently, through quiet eyes and with a mind at peace. Nothing but rest is there. There are no cries of pain and sorrow heard, for nothing there remains outside forgiveness. And the sights are gentle. Only happy sights and sounds can reach the mind that has forgiven itself.

What need has such a mind for thoughts of death, attack and murder? What can it perceive surrounding it but safety, love and joy? What is there it would choose to be condemned, and what is there that it would judge against? The world it sees arises from a mind at peace within itself. No danger lurks in anything it sees, for it is kind, and only kindness does it look upon.

The real world is the symbol that the dream of sin and guilt is over, and God’s Son no longer sleeps. His waking eyes perceive the sure reflection of his Father’s Love; the certain promise that he is redeemed. The real world signifies the end of time, for its perception makes time purposeless.

The Holy Spirit has no need of time when it has served His purpose. Now He waits but that one instant more for God to take His final step, and time has disappeared, taking perception with it as it goes, and leaving but the truth to be itself. That instant is our goal, for it contains the memory of God. And as we look upon a world forgiven, it is He Who calls to us and comes to take us home, reminding us of our Identity which our forgiveness has restored to us.


Lesson 291

This is a day of stillness and of peace.

Christ’s vision looks through me today. His sight shows me all things forgiven and at peace, and offers this same vision to the world. And I accept this vision in its name, both for myself and for the world as well. What loveliness we look upon today! What holiness we see surrounding us! And it is given us to recognize it is a holiness in which we share; it is the Holiness of God Himself.

This day my mind is quiet, to receive the Thoughts You offer me. And I accept what comes from You, instead of from myself. I do not know the way to You. But You are wholly certain. Father, guide Your Son along the quiet path that leads to You. Let my forgiveness be complete, and let the memory of You return to me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #976I have read that the goal of A Course in Miracles is not Heaven but the real world – – the state of mind in which we have forgiven everything and everyone. That must include forgiveness for ourselves — forgiveness of the self-image (the ego or “I”) that we made as part of our separation from God. But if we completely forgave the world and ourselves, wouldn’t the ego disappear too and along with it, any kind of separateness that made reflection possible? Who would be left to notice that there was a real world (consisting only of forgiveness) if there were no “I”? In other words, if I forgave the world totally, wouldn’t it simply disappear? Is this why the Course says it is very easy for God “to take the last step” — because basically we will have already taken it?

A: One of the difficulties in trying to understand A Course in Miracles is that we use our linear brains to analyze a process that is not linear. Basically, the Course speaks to us as if the process of awakening consisted of discrete steps because that is the only way we can conceptualize it. But in reality, it does not work that way. And from our perspective, within this dream of separation, we cannot even begin to comprehend the final step or what it means to be fully awake. Jesus lets us know this is so when he states “while you think that part of you is separate, the concept of a Oneness joined as One is meaningless” (T.25.I.7:1).

For this reason, the Course does not aim to get us back home. Rather, it strives to help us set up the conditions in our mind that will facilitate our return — conditions the Course refers to as the real world . That means returning our mind to a state of total forgiveness. Having taken back all our projections of guilt, we will be free from the fear that compelled us to fall asleep and will have no more need of this world. At that point, it will no longer matter to us whether we seem to be here or elsewhere because outer conditions will have no effect on our inner peace. The world will not have disappeared but its ability to affect us in any way will. What happens from there — our awakening — will involve no effort on our part. And so, happily, we need not concern ourselves with it. Jesus states this symbolically by telling us that God will take this final step — a poetic way of putting our mind at ease about it (T.17.II.4:4-5) .

We could think of the real world as coming just before our total awakening and being similar to a lucid dream. While we will still experience ourselves as here in form, we will know that it is just a dream and that we are not the I we thought we were but rather the dreamer of the dream. This awareness will have allowed us to choose the dream’s content. Thus, we will have chosen to make it one of love and forgiveness. We may still see all the cruelty and pain in this world, but we will see it through eyes that extend a continuous blessing. From that point, our awakening will be as easy and natural as waking up spontaneously after a good night of sleep.

secret of salvation

 

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 17

ACIM Reading for October 17

Manual for Teachers

14. How Will the World End?

Can what has no beginning really end? The world will end in an illusion, as it began. Yet will its ending be an illusion of mercy. The illusion of forgiveness, complete, excluding no one, limitless in gentleness, will cover it, hiding all evil, concealing all sin and ending guilt forever. So ends the world that guilt had made, for now it has no purpose and is gone. The father of illusions is the belief that they have a purpose; that they serve a need or gratify a want. Perceived as purposeless, they are no longer seen. Their uselessness is recognized, and they are gone. How but in this way are all illusions ended? They have been brought to truth, and truth saw them not. It merely overlooked the meaningless.

Until forgiveness is complete, the world does have a purpose. It becomes the home in which forgiveness is born, and where it grows and becomes stronger and more all-embracing. Here is it nourished, for here it is needed. A gentle Savior, born where sin was made and guilt seemed real. Here is His home, for here there is need of Him indeed. He brings the ending of the world with Him. It is His Call God’s teachers answer, turning to Him in silence to receive His Word. The world will end when all things in it have been rightly judged by His judgment. The world will end with the benediction of holiness upon it. When not one thought of sin remains, the world is over. It will not be destroyed nor attacked nor even touched. It will merely cease to seem to be.

Certainly this seems to be a long, long while away. “When not one thought of sin remains” appears to be a long-range goal indeed. But time stands still, and waits on the goal of God’s teachers. Not one thought of sin will remain the instant any one of them accepts Atonement for himself. It is not easier to forgive one sin than to forgive all of them. The illusion of orders of difficulty is an obstacle the teacher of God must learn to pass by and leave behind. One sin perfectly forgiven by one teacher of God can make salvation complete. Can you understand this? No; it is meaningless to anyone here. Yet it is the final lesson in which unity is restored. It goes against all the thinking of the world, but so does Heaven.

The world will end when its thought system has been completely reversed. Until then, bits and pieces of its thinking will still seem sensible. The final lesson, which brings the ending of the world, cannot be grasped by those not yet prepared to leave the world and go beyond its tiny reach. What, then, is the function of the teacher of God in this concluding lesson? He need merely learn how to approach it; to be willing to go in its direction. He need merely trust that, if God’s Voice tells him it is a lesson he can learn, he can learn it. He does not judge it either as hard or easy. His Teacher points to it, and he trusts that He will show him how to learn it.

The world will end in joy, because it is a place of sorrow. When joy has come, the purpose of the world has gone. The world will end in peace, because it is a place of war. When peace has come, what is the purpose of the world? The world will end in laughter, because it is a place of tears. Where there is laughter, who can longer weep? And only complete forgiveness brings all this to bless the world. In blessing it departs, for it will not end as it began. To turn hell into Heaven is the function of God’s teachers, for what they teach are lessons in which Heaven is reflected. And now sit down in true humility, and realize that all God would have you do you can do. Do not be arrogant and say you cannot learn His Own curriculum. His Word says otherwise. His Will be done. It cannot be otherwise. And be you thankful it is so.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 17

Lesson 290

My present happiness is all I see.

Unless I look upon what is not there, my present happiness is all I see. Eyes that begin to open see at last. And I would have Christ’s vision come to me this very day. What I perceive without God’s Own Correction for the sight I made is frightening and painful to behold. Yet I would not allow my mind to be deceived by the belief the dream I made is real an instant longer. This the day I seek my present happiness, and look on nothing else except the thing I seek.

With this resolve I come to You, and ask Your strength to hold me up today, while I but seek to do Your Will. You cannot fail to hear me, Father. What I ask have You already given me. And I am sure that I will see my happiness today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1003I work in a bookshop that carries all sorts of new age/spiritual books. We have had books about demons, vampires, werewolves, ancient Egyptian gods, and so forth. The authors usually claim to have seen and experienced these entities and to have evidence that proves they exist. I’ve seen so many of these books that I’m starting to believe them. But even if these things do exist, according to the Course, wouldn’t they still be illusory just like the rest of the world of form, having all been created by the ego? Wouldn’t it say that the real God has nothing to do with any of them, despite whatever seeming power they may have, and that their belief in their own power represents a failure to realize they are just ego fragments?

A: Yes, everything you have said is correct. A Course in Miracles tells us that form is not reality, it is an illusion, and “if you see it you must be mistaken” (T.III.27:4,5). From a Course perspective, it does not matter whether we see the entities you mentioned with our physical eyes or only in our thoughts. Either way, if we perceive them as individual beings, separate from ourselves and from God, they are illusory. As a Course student, it could be very helpful to realize that whether they exist only in stories someone made up or in this physical world we all made up, vampires and werewolves are no more or less real than any of the other people who seem to inhabit our lives or even than our own individual identity.

As you stated; people, animals, or combinations thereof who believe in their own power fail to recognize that they are split off fragments of God — the only true source of power. But remember: It is only you who needs to recognize this. Generally, vampires and werewolves find the Course a bit too threatening .


Q #1004I have been emotionally disturbed all my life. I was not liked, and learned to avoid people to avoid being rejected. Now I am 55, alone, and no idea how to connect to people. I study and practice A Course in Miracles and the Holy Spirit says I can be free of this miserable ego any time. I am so lonely! Jesus says I could see peace instead of this. What would he have me hear? What would he have me to do? What am I doing wrong?

A: Jesus is teaching us all that we can be peaceful regardless of our limitations. Thus he says in the manual, “Do not despair, then, because of limitations. It is your function to escape from them, but not to be without them” (M.26.4:1,2) . Escaping from our limitations means not giving them power to take away the inner peace that is always present in our split minds. If we follow the ego part of our minds, we will see our limitations as a prison and then compare ourselves with others, winding up in the painful jaws of judgment. If we choose against the ego, however, we will see our limitations as a classroom, and as we take Jesus’ hand instead of the ego’s, we will develop compassion toward ourselves and others, and learn how to smile gently at the ego and not take it as seriously as we once did. The key is to be able to distinguish between form and content. Anything of the body — including emotional conditions — is the form. The content is the decision you make in your mind as to how you will interpret the form. Choosing the ego results in feelings of victimization, guilt, judgment, anger, despair, and hatred of the body. Choosing Jesus or the Holy Spirit results in patience, compassion, and kindness towards yourself and others, and acceptance of the world and body as the curriculum Jesus or the Holy Spirit can use to help your mind be healed of its thoughts of sin, guilt, and fear. These themes are developed in our book, The Healing Power of Kindness — Volume Two: Forgiving Our Limitations .

You did not say anything about having sought help from a therapist; that would not conflict with your work with the Course and might in fact help free you from the ego’s uses of your limitations.

jesus there is no death

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 16

ACIM Reading for October 16

Manual for Teachers

What Is the Real Meaning of Sacrifice?

Although in truth the term sacrifice is altogether meaningless, it does have meaning in the world. Like all things in the world, its meaning is temporary and will ultimately fade into the nothingness from which it came when there is no more use for it. Now its real meaning is a lesson. Like all lessons it is an illusion, for in reality there is nothing to learn. Yet this illusion must be replaced by a corrective device; another illusion that replaces the first, so both can finally disappear. The first illusion, which must be displaced before another thought system can take hold, is that it is a sacrifice to give up the things of this world. What could this be but an illusion, since this world itself is nothing more than that?

It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact that the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean? It cannot mean that you have less because of it. There is no sacrifice in the world’s terms that does not involve the body. Think a while about what the world calls sacrifice. Power, fame, money, physical pleasure; who is the “hero” to whom all these things belong? Could they mean anything except to a body? Yet a body cannot evaluate. By seeking after such things the mind associates itself with the body, obscuring its Identity and losing sight of what it really is.

Once this confusion has occurred, it becomes impossible for the mind to understand that all the “pleasures” of the world are nothing. But what a sacrifice,–and it is sacrifice indeed!–all this entails. Now has the mind condemned itself to seek without finding; to be forever dissatisfied and discontented; to know not what it really wants to find. Who can escape this self-condemnation? Only through God’s Word could this be possible. For self-condemnation is a decision about identity, and no one doubts what he believes he is. He can doubt all things, but never this.

God’s teachers can have no regret on giving up the pleasures of the world. Is it a sacrifice to give up pain? Does an adult resent the giving up of children’s toys? Does one whose vision has already glimpsed the face of Christ look back with longing on a slaughter house? No one who has escaped the world and all its ills looks back on it with condemnation. Yet he must rejoice that he is free of all the sacrifice its values would demand of him. To them he sacrifices all his peace. To them he sacrifices all his freedom. And to possess them must he sacrifice his hope of Heaven and remembrance of his Father’s Love. Who in his sane mind chooses nothing as a substitute for everything?

What is the real meaning of sacrifice? It is the cost of believing in illusions. It is the price that must be paid for the denial of truth. There is no pleasure of the world that does not demand this, for otherwise the pleasure would be seen as pain, and no one asks for pain if he recognizes it. It is the idea of sacrifice that makes him blind. He does not see what he is asking for. And so he seeks it in a thousand ways and in a thousand places, each time believing it is there, and each time disappointed in the end. “Seek but do not find” remains this world’s stern decree, and no one who pursues the world’s goals can do otherwise.

You may believe this course requires sacrifice of all you really hold dear. In one sense this is true, for you hold dear the things that crucify God’s Son, and it is the course’s aim to set him free. But do not be mistaken about what sacrifice means. It always means the giving up of what you want. And what, O teacher of God, is it that you want? You have been called by God, and you have answered. Would you now sacrifice that Call? Few have heard it as yet, and they can but turn to you. There is no other hope in all the world that they can trust. There is no other voice in all the world that echoes God’s. If you would sacrifice the truth, they stay in hell. And if they stay, you will remain with them.

Do not forget that sacrifice is total. There are no half sacrifices. You cannot give up Heaven partially. You cannot be a little bit in hell. The Word of God has no exceptions. It is this that makes it holy and beyond the world. It is its holiness that points to God. It is its holiness that makes you safe. It is denied if you attack any brother for anything. For it is here the split with God occurs. A split that is impossible. A split that cannot happen. Yet a split in which you surely will believe, because you have set up a situation that is impossible. And in this situation the impossible can seem to happen. It seems to happen at the “sacrifice” of truth.

Teacher of God, do not forget the meaning of sacrifice, and remember what each decision you make must mean in terms of cost. Decide for God, and everything is given you at no cost at all. Decide against Him, and you choose nothing, at the expense of the awareness of everything. What would you teach? Remember only what you would learn. For it is here that your concern should be. Atonement is for you. Your learning claims it and your learning gives it. The world contains it not. But learn this course and it is yours. God holds out His Word to you, for He has need of teachers. What other way is there to save His Son?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 16

Lesson 289

The past is over. It can touch me not.

Unless the past is over in my mind, the real world must escape my sight. For I am really looking nowhere; seeing but what is not there. How can I then perceive the world forgiveness offers? This the past was made to hide, for this the world that can be looked on only now. It has no past. For what can be forgiven but the past, and if it is forgiven it is gone.

Father, let me not look upon a past that is not there. For You have offered me Your Own replacement, in a present world the past has left untouched and free of sin. Here is the end of guilt. And here am I made ready for Your final step. Shall I demand that You wait longer for Your Son to find the loveliness You planned to be the end of all his dreams and all his pain?

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #917The Course’s separation myth emphasizes the making of the world as a defense mechanism against the guilt and fear that God would take away the separate existence the Son desired (and the result is billions of fragments). I don’t see how this relates to what I think is the most basic fear: the fear of death. And I wonder why this separateness didn’t produce individuals that could last forever.

A: From our perspective as separate bodies in the world, it does seem that the fear of death is one of our most basic fears. And yet, from Jesus’ perspective, our problem is not our fear of death but our attraction to it, as discussed in great detail in the third obstacle to peace (T.19.IV.C) . For the belief in death is the cornerstone of the ego’s thought system — our seeming separate life came at God’s expense, requiring His death, the destruction of Oneness, according to the ego myth. And the belief that God eventually is going to steal back the life we stole from Him, culminating in our death and the end of our individual existence, is simply further proof that the separation is real, a sin punishable by God.

The irony of all of the ego’s defenses, including the fragmenting of the mind and the seeming projection of those fragments out into a world of form, is that none of them works, in terms of the purpose the ego has promised us they will serve. While we remain identified with the ego, nothing can make us safe, nothing can protect us from God’s wrath, except temporarily, for in the end death is inevitable, and it is this we believe we fear.

But what the ego defenses in fact do accomplish, which we do not allow ourselves to see or accept, is to keep our focus outside ourselves, on the world and the body and death, so that we do not see that we have made up the entire situation, from the beginning to the end in death, and none of it is true. Bodies may seem to die, but we are mind, created eternal by God, and the death of the body has nothing to do with us, unless we want to believe that it does. And we only want to believe that it does if we want the thought of separation and death to be real and we want to remain identified with the ego — which we do! And so that is why Jesus speaks of our attraction to death, conveniently hidden by our apparent fear of death.

Nearly all of our conscious thinking is upside down and backwards, and our conclusions seem quite justifiable because they seem to be all that we know. And so Jesus, through A Course in Miracles , is attempting very gently to peel back the layers of defense that we have embraced to keep our real attraction to death out of our awareness, so that we can see what we really believe and are choosing. As it becomes clearer to us that we are really choosing to believe in death, Jesus knows that we will be willing to make a different choice — for life, which has no opposite in death (W.pI.167.1) and has nothing to do with bodies.

Regarding your final question, while there are many different forms and stories that the ego could have produced, individuals who live forever is not among them. For the separation was made to be the opposite of God and Heaven, which alone are eternal, and so the ego can only attempt to mimic infinity and eternity e.g.,T.4.I.11; T.4.V.6:1,2) . Even today’s scientists see its apparently most impressive accomplishment, the expanding universe of time and space, as eventually collapsing back upon itself.

you cannot lose your soul

 

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 15

ACIM Text Reading for October 15

Manual for Teachers

12. How Many Teachers of God Are Needed To Save the World?

The answer to this question is–one. One wholly perfect teacher, whose learning is complete, suffices. This one, sanctified and redeemed, becomes the Self Who is the Son of God. He who was always wholly spirit now no longer sees himself as a body, or even as in a body. Therefore he is limitless. And being limitless, his thoughts are joined with God’s forever and ever. His perception of himself is based upon God’s Judgment, not his own. Thus does he share God’s Will, and bring His Thoughts to still deluded minds. He is forever one, because he is as God created him. He has accepted Christ, and he is saved.

Thus does the son of man become the Son of God. It is not really a change; it is a change of mind. Nothing external alters, but everything internal now reflects only the Love of God. God can no longer be feared, for the mind sees no cause for punishment. God’s teachers appear to be many, for that is what is the world’s need. Yet being joined in one purpose, and one they share with God, how could they be separate from each other? What does it matter if they then appear in many forms? Their minds are one; their joining is complete. And God works through them now as one, for that is what they are.

Why is the illusion of many necessary? Only because reality is not understandable to the deluded. Only very few can hear God’s Voice at all, and even they cannot communicate His messages directly through the Spirit which gave them. They need a medium through which communication becomes possible to those who do not realize that they are spirit. A body they can see. A voice they understand and listen to, without the fear that truth would encounter in them. Do not forget that truth can come only where it is welcomed without fear. So do God’s teachers need a body, for their unity could not be recognized directly.

Yet what makes God’s teachers is their recognition of the proper purpose of the body. As they advance in their profession, they become more and more certain that the body’s function is but to let God’s Voice speak through it to human ears. And these ears will carry to the mind of the hearer messages that are not of this world, and the mind will understand because of their Source. From this understanding will come the recognition, in this new teacher of God, of what the body’s purpose really is; the only use there really is for it. This lesson is enough to let the thought of unity come in, and what is one is recognized as one. The teachers of God appear to share the illusion of separation, but because of what they use the body for, they do not believe in the illusion despite appearances.

The central lesson is always this; that what you use the body for it will become to you. Use it for sin or for attack, which is the same as sin, and you will see it as sinful. Because it is sinful it is weak, and being weak, it suffers and it dies. Use it to bring the Word of God to those who have it not, and the body becomes holy. Because it is holy it cannot be sick, nor can it die. When its usefulness is done it is laid by, and that is all. The mind makes this decision, as it makes all decisions that are responsible for the body’s condition. Yet the teacher of God does not make this decision alone. To do that would be to give the body another purpose from the one that keeps it holy. God’s Voice will tell him when he has fulfilled his role, just as It tells him what his function is. He does not suffer either in going or remaining. Sickness is now impossible to him.

Oneness and sickness cannot coexist. God’s teachers choose to look on dreams a while. It is a conscious choice. For they have learned that all choices are made consciously, with full awareness of their consequences. The dream says otherwise, but who would put his faith in dreams once they are recognized for what they are? Awareness of dreaming is the real function of God’s teachers. They watch the dream figures come and go, shift and change, suffer and die. Yet they are not deceived by what they see. They recognize that to behold a dream figure as sick and separate is no more real than to regard it as healthy and beautiful. Unity alone is not a thing of dreams. And it is this God’s teachers acknowledge as behind the dream, beyond all seeming and yet surely theirs.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 15

Lesson 288

Let me forget my brother’s past today.

This is the thought that leads the way to You, and brings me to my goal. I cannot come to You without my brother. And to know my Source, I first must recognize what You created one with me. My brother’s is the hand that leads me on the way to You. His sins are in the past along with mine, and I am saved because the past is gone. Let me not cherish it within my heart, or I will lose the way to walk to You. My brother is my savior. Let me not attack the savior You have given me. But let me honor him who bears Your Name, and so remember that It is my own.

Forgive me, then, today. And you will know you have forgiven me if you behold your brother in the light of holiness. He cannot be less holy than can I, and you can not be holier than he.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #198: Why did God create the Oneness in the first place?

A: It’s not so much that God created Oneness, but that Oneness is the nature of God. In other words, He couldn’t help Himself. And this is impossible to understand by a brain programmed by the ego to only understand duality. The only way to understand God is through experience, and that will come in time as you practice more and more your lessons of forgiveness.

Q #199: Yesterday I experienced something that probably could be termed existential fear; fear without any external cause, but so intensive that it made me physically sick. I was able to look at it for a second or two and go beyond it and sense a great release. These brief moments brought a lot of pain followed by a feeling of freedom, so that I tried to evoke this cycle again and again. Today I realized that sensing this fear was very important, but I cannot do it myself any more, I cannot go through this threshold alone. Also, I realized that I never seriously asked Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help. They do not exist within my reach. How can I ask for help if I see them as total abstractions (opposed to how I see myself — specific individual!)? I wonder if in such situations it would be possible to seek for help from other people without getting my ego involved?

A: The experience you describe, especially since it included a release from the fear, is a helpful one. And the fact that you experienced release means you were not going through this process alone, whether or not you consciously invoked the Holy Spirit or Jesus for help. Your ego mind will want you to dismiss their accessibility to you, especially after such experiences as you describe, so that you will not trust that you have help already available. You may see Jesus and the Holy Spirit as total abstractions, but they can be as specific in your mind as you want and need them to be. You only need to ask them. Jesus himself, at the end of the workbook, assures us, “Of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless” (W.pII.ep.6:8).

There is also nothing wrong with seeking help and support from another specific individual person as long as that is how you perceive yourself. You would want to be sure you ask someone who is open-minded and nonjudgmental and who can recognize the value of what you are experiencing — and that need not be a student of A Course in Miracles.

But a caution to consider, that you don’t make repetition of the experience a goal in itself. The lessons of forgiveness can take many different forms, and this kind of experience is only one of them. If it will be helpful and you are willing, more opportunities will present themselves. But in the meantime, any of the more specific forms of fear — which may show up as anxiety, anger, pain, stress, depression, etc. — are just as valuable in the process of healing your mind and releasing the fear.


total commitment

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 14

ACIM Reading for October 14

Manual for Teachers

11. How Is Peace Possible in this World?

This is a question everyone must ask. Certainly peace seems to be impossible here. Yet the Word of God promises other things that seem impossible, as well as this. His Word has promised peace. It has also promised that there is no death, that resurrection must occur, and that rebirth is man’s inheritance. The world you see cannot be the world God loves, and yet His Word assures us that He loves the world. God’s Word has promised that peace is possible here, and what He promises can hardly be impossible. But it is true that the world must be looked at differently, if His promises are to be accepted. What the world is, is but a fact. You cannot choose what this should be. But you can choose how you would see it. Indeed, you must choose this.

Again we come to the question of judgment. This time ask yourself whether your judgment or the Word of God is more likely to be true. For they say different things about the world, and things so opposite that it is pointless to try to reconcile them. God offers the world salvation; your judgment would condemn it. God says there is no death; your judgment sees but death as the inevitable end of life. God’s Word assures you that He loves the world; your judgment says it is unlovable. Who is right? For one of you is wrong. It must be so.

The text explains that the Holy Spirit is the Answer to all problems you have made. These problems are not real, but that is meaningless to those who believe in them. And everyone believes in what he made, for it was made by his believing it. Into this strange and paradoxical situation, — one without meaning and devoid of sense, yet out of which no way seems possible, — God has sent His Judgment to answer yours. Gently His Judgment substitutes for yours. And through this substitution is the un-understandable made understandable. How is peace possible in this world? In your judgment it is not possible, and can never be possible. But in the Judgment of God what is reflected here is only peace.

Peace is impossible to those who look on war. Peace is inevitable to those who offer peace. How easily, then, is your judgment of the world escaped! It is not the world that makes peace seem impossible. It is the world you see that is impossible. Yet has God’s Judgment on this distorted world redeemed it and made it fit to welcome peace. And peace descends on it in joyous answer. Peace now belongs here, because a Thought of God has entered. What else but a Thought of God turns hell to Heaven merely by being what it is? The earth bows down before its gracious Presence, and it leans down in answer, to raise it up again. Now is the question different. It is no longer, “Can peace be possible in this world?” but instead, “Is it not impossible that peace be absent here?”

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 14

Lesson 287

You are my goal, my Father. Only You.

Where would I go but Heaven? What could be a substitute for happiness? What gift could I prefer before the peace of God? What treasure would I seek and find and keep that can compare with my Identity? And would I rather live with fear than love?

You are my goal, my Father. What but You could I desire to have? What way but that which leads to You could I desire to walk? And what except the memory of You could signify to me the end of dreams and futile substitutions for the truth? You are my only goal. Your Son would be as You created him. What way but this could I expect to recognize my Self, and be at one with my Identity?

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1000From “There is no world!” (W.pI.132.6:2), to “What the world is, is but a fact” (M.11.1:9). Certainly in the illusion the world seems to us a fact and we experience it as a fact. I was surprised to find this reference to the world as a fact in the manual. Is this a reference merely to the natural world (grass, mountains, trees, etc.)? After all the references in A Course in Miracles to the world as an illusion, is this but one more example of another contradiction in words in the Course? Or is it an emphasis on informing us we must deal with the world we made as a fact? I am thinking here of: “There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not” (S.I.1:2:4). I found myself rather unsettled and somewhat confused after reading the statement in the manual.

A: Yes, Jesus is making different points about the world in different places in the Course. This is why we stress the need to distinguish between the two levels on which the Course is written. Level One contrasts truth and illusion, wherein only God and Heaven are real (including His Son, Christ and the creations of Christ). All else is illusory and not real: “There is no world!” But since we are too fearful of accepting that and living accordingly, Jesus talks to us about the world as though it were real — because we think it is. This is not really contradictory, as the sentences preceding and following the one you cite about decisions explain: “You have been told to ask the Holy Spirit for the answer to any specific problem, and that you will receive a specific answer if such be your need. You have also been told that there is only one problem and one answer. In prayer this is not contradictory. . . . You cannot be asked to accept answers which are beyond the level of need that you can recognize” (S.1.I.2:1,2,3,5) . Jesus is letting us know that this is a process — like climbing a ladder. He thus gently and gradually helps us change our minds about the reality of the world by having us see that our perceptions are really interpretations emanating from the prior choice we make in our minds to take either the ego’s hand or his as we go through our day. This is the other level on which the Course is written — Level Two, which contrasts the wrong-minded (the ego’s) and right-minded (the Holy Spirit’s) ways of looking at the world.

The process involves bringing our wrong-minded perceptions to the truth of Heaven reflected in our right minds. And when at last our perceptions are all right-minded — meaning we listen only to the Voice of the Holy Spirit — our minds will no longer be split, and then love will just flow through us directing us in all we think and do. In that state of mind — what the Course calls the real world — we know the world is illusory and we will see all people as either calling out for love or expressing it. Jesus is gently leading us in that direction in all of his teachings and lessons.

complete forgiveness

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 13

ACIM Reading for October 13

Manual for Teachers

10. How Is Judgment Relinquished?

Judgment, like other devices by which the world of illusions is maintained, is totally misunderstood by the world. It is actually confused with wisdom, and substitutes for truth. As the world uses the term, an individual is capable of “good” and “bad” judgment, and his education aims at strengthening the former and minimizing the latter. There is, however, considerable confusion about what these categories mean. What is “good” judgment to one is “bad” judgment to another. Further, even the same person classifies the same action as showing “good” judgment at one time and “bad” judgment at another time. Nor can any consistent criteria for determining what these categories are be really taught. At any time the student may disagree with what his would-be teacher says about them, and the teacher himself may well be inconsistent in what he believes. “Good” judgment, in these terms, does not mean anything. No more does “bad.”

It is necessary for the teacher of God to realize, not that he should not judge, but that he cannot. In giving up judgment, he is merely giving up what he did not have. He gives up an illusion; or better, he has an illusion of giving up. He has actually merely become more honest. Recognizing that judgment was always impossible for him, he no longer attempts it. This is no sacrifice. On the contrary, he puts himself in a position where judgment through him rather than by him can occur. And this judgment is neither “good” nor “bad.” It is the only judgment there is, and it is only one: “God’s Son is guiltless, and sin does not exist.”

The aim of our curriculum, unlike the goal of the world’s learning, is the recognition that judgment in the usual sense is impossible. This is not an opinion but a fact. In order to judge anything rightly, one would have to be fully aware of an inconceivably wide range of things; past, present and to come. One would have to recognize in advance all the effects of his judgments on everyone and everything involved in them in any way. And one would have to be certain there is no distortion in his perception, so that his judgment would be wholly fair to everyone on whom it rests now and in the future. Who is in a position to do this? Who except in grandiose fantasies would claim this for himself?

Remember how many times you thought you knew all the “facts” you needed for judgment, and how wrong you were! Is there anyone who has not had this experience? Would you know how many times you merely thought you were right, without ever realizing you were wrong? Why would you choose such an arbitrary basis for decision making? Wisdom is not judgment; it is the relinquishment of judgment. Make then but one more judgment. It is this: There is Someone with you Whose judgment is perfect. He does know all the facts; past, present and to come. He does know all the effects of His judgment on everyone and everything involved in any way. And He is wholly fair to everyone, for there is no distortion in His perception.

Therefore lay judgment down, not with regret but with a sigh of gratitude. Now are you free of a burden so great that you could merely stagger and fall down beneath it. And it was all illusion. Nothing more. Now can the teacher of God rise up unburdened, and walk lightly on. Yet it is not only this that is his benefit. His sense of care is gone, for he has none. He has given it away, along with judgment. He gave himself to Him Whose judgment he has chosen now to trust, instead of his own. Now he makes no mistakes. His Guide is sure. And where he came to judge, he comes to bless. Where now he laughs, he used to come to weep.

It is not difficult to relinquish judgment. But it is difficult indeed to try to keep it. The teacher of God lays it down happily the instant he recognizes its cost. All of the ugliness he sees about him is its outcome. All of the pain he looks upon is its result. All of the loneliness and sense of loss; of passing time and growing hopelessness; of sickening despair and fear of death; all these have come of it. And now he knows that these things need not be. Not one is true. For he has given up their cause, and they, which never were but the effects of his mistaken choice, have fallen from him. Teacher of God, this step will bring you peace. Can it be difficult to want but this?

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 13

Lesson 286

The hush of Heaven holds my heart today.

Father, how still today! How quietly do all things fall in place! This is the day that has been chosen as the time in which I come to understand the lesson that there is no need that I do anything. In You is every choice already made. In You has every conflict been resolved. In You is everything I hope to find already given me. Your peace is mine. My heart is quiet, and my mind at rest. Your Love is Heaven, and Your Love is mine.

The stillness of today will give us hope that we have found the way, and travelled far along it to a wholly certain goal. Today we will not doubt the end which God Himself has promised us. We trust in Him, and in our Self, Who still is One with Him.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #206: A Course in Miracles seems to suggest that we watch our thoughts every day. Can you give examples of how to put into practice forgiveness on a daily basis?

A: In general, practicing forgiveness involves looking at your ego thoughts without judgment, and becoming increasingly aware of the price you are paying to hold onto these ego/wrong-minded thoughts. The kinds of thoughts Jesus asks you to watch for are thoughts of judgment or condemnation; thoughts of anger/rage/annoyance; thoughts of vulnerability, victimization, fear, guilt, anxiety, depression; special love or special hate thoughts; any specific thoughts that keep you feeling separate from others. The lessons in the workbook give specific instructions about how to practice searching your mind for these thoughts, and then what to do once you become aware of them — this varies according to the theme of the day’s lesson.

Some examples(1) If you are angry or annoyed with someone, you might simply remind yourself that your anger is not really about what you think it’s about — “I am never upset for the reason I think” (Lesson 5). Then you might continue with: I rejected the love of Jesus again, judged myself for it, felt guilty over it, and then rather than smile at such foolishness, I listened to my ego and projected the guilt onto X. That is why I am feeling angry. Regardless of what this other person has done, my anger is an interpretation. Now I have a choice. I can simply ask for help to let go of my guilt and strive to see shared interests, or I can continue to blame this person for my being upset and feel that my anger is justified. And if I choose to continue to judge and blame, that’s okay. I will never feel peaceful or happy for very long if I do that, but that does not make me sinful or unworthy of Heaven’s Love. In Lesson 134, Jesus asks us to “briefly consider all the evil things you thought of him [the person at whom your anger is directed], and each time ask yourself, ‘Would I accuse myself for doing this?’” (W.pI.134.15:3).

(2) If you find yourself anxious or fearful about your own or a loved one’s well-being (e.g., physical, psychological, financial problems, or any form of victimization), ask for help from the Holy Spirit or Jesus to see the problem as it is, not the way you have set it up (T.27.VII.2:2). In other words, you could remind yourself again that you must be looking through the ego’s eyes, which are programmed to see innocent victims; because if you had chosen the Holy Spirit or Jesus as your Teacher, you would not be anxious or fearful, regardless of what is going on. Perception is always interpretation. The miracle“merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false” (W.pII.13.1:3). So you look on devastation — you do not deny what your eyes are seeing nor how you are feeling — but then you just remind yourself that you have chosen to ask the ego instead of Jesus to interpret what you are looking on. A wonderful way of going about this is described in the last paragraph of Chapter 5 in the text, which concludes with a series of statements Jesus asks us to think of whenever we are not wholly joyous. It begins with “I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace” (T.5.VII.6).Forgiveness always involves our admitting that we are wrong, and that we are willing to make a different choice. We need not make the other choice; but we must at least acknowledge that we are wrong in how we are seeing things. When our fear lessens over a period of time, we will gladly and quickly make the right choice as soon as we become aware of our wrong-minded thinking.

(3) If you are caught in a special relationship, feeling completely dependent on something or someone, and terrified of being without this source of comfort, pleasure, assurance, companionship, conflict, etc., then once again you can start by being honest about what is going on. Jesus asks for complete honesty with ourselves and with him: “Watch carefully and see what it is you are really asking for. Be very honest with yourself in this, for we must hide nothing from each other” (T.4.IV.8:1,2). The honesty would come in your acknowledging that you are not yet ready to accept the love of Jesus in your mind as your only reality; and therefore you have latched on to something outside your mind to supply the lack, and satisfy your needs as you have defined them. Not judging yourself for doing so would help you move along in your process of undoing your guilt. Being completely honest with yourself about the purpose of the relationship with the other person, object, or conditions is an essential part of the forgiveness process. When you focus on the purpose of the relationship, you are helping yourself prepare for the shift in purpose from the ego to the Holy Spirit, when you are ready to ask for His help. In other words, right now you are seeing yourself as limited and needy — not as God created you — and you are seeing this other person, substance, etc., as there to fulfill your needs, which constitutes an attack. The separation is thereby being reinforced. That is the purpose of the ego; so whenever you identify with the ego, because you are too fearful of the Love of God, that is what you will do. That does not make you a sinner, however! Heaven’s Love cannot be changed by our insanity.

ghost-mirror copy

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 12

ACIM Reading for October 12

Manual for Teachers

9. Are Changes Required in the Life Situation of God’s Teachers?

Changes are required in the minds of God’s teachers. This may or may not involve changes in the external situation. Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God’s plan. It is most unlikely that changes in attitudes would not be the first step in the newly made teacher of God’s training. There is, however, no set pattern, since training is always highly individualized. There are those who are called upon to change their life situation almost immediately, but these are generally special cases. By far the majority are given a slowly evolving training program, in which as many previous mistakes as possible are corrected. Relationships in particular must be properly perceived, and all dark cornerstones of unforgiveness removed. Otherwise the old thought system still has a basis for return.

As the teacher of God advances in his training, he learns one lesson with increasing thoroughness. He does not make his own decisions; he asks his Teacher for His answer, and it is this he follows as his guide for action. This becomes easier and easier, as the teacher of God learns to give up his own judgment. The giving up of judgment, the obvious prerequisite for hearing God’s Voice, is usually a fairly slow process, not because it is difficult, but because it is apt to be perceived as personally insulting. The world’s training is directed toward achieving a goal in direct opposition to that of our curriculum. The world trains for reliance on one’s judgment as the criterion for maturity and strength. Our curriculum trains for the relinquishment of judgment as the necessary condition of salvation.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 12

Lesson 285

My holiness shines bright and clear today.

Today I wake with joy, expecting but the happy things of God to come to me. I ask but them to come, and realize my invitation will be answered by the thoughts to which it has been sent by me. And I will ask for only joyous things the instant I accept my holiness. For what would be the use of pain to me, what purpose would my suffering fulfill, and how would grief and loss avail me if insanity departs from me today, and I accept my holiness instead?

Father, my holiness is Yours. Let me rejoice in it, and through forgiveness be restored to sanity. Your Son is still as You created him. My holiness is part of me, and also part of You. And what can alter Holiness Itself?

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #250: In Kenneth Wapnick’s book Forgiveness & Jesus, he says on page xv in the Preface: “Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not operate in the world, and certainly do not send people as if they were operating a giant chess board, moving us around according to the evolution of the plan of salvation.” However, the manual for teachers of A Course in Miracles says: “There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship” (M.3.1:6,7); and then later it says, “Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God’s plan” (M.9.1:3). This indicates that meeting certain people is part of God’s plan, and as I have understood the Course, the Holy Spirit is operating in the illusion to help us, just as the Course is made within the framework of the illusion. Meetings are part of God’s plan — there are no accidents — so how can this be interpreted?

A: There are no accidents because everything has already happened, and we are simply reviewing mentally what has already gone by: “The script is written.…we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.4:3,5). In “The Little Hindrance” Jesus tells us: “To you who still believe you live in time and know not it is gone, the Holy Spirit still guides you through the infinitely small and senseless maze you still perceive in time, though it has long since gone. You think you live in what is past” (T.26.V.4:1,2). So people are in our lives only because that is what our scripts involve. We have no recollection of our having written these scripts (a metaphor, of course), which is part of the ego’s strategy to keep us from remembering that we are decision-making minds. You might wish to consult Kenneth’s A Vast Illusion: Time According to “A Course in Miracles,” which is an in-depth study of this intriguing part of the Course’s theory.

We are inclined to view what the Course says from our perspective, which is that the world and linear time are real. And that is why we would think that the Holy Spirit and Jesus actually do things, such as direct us to specific people so that we can learn our lessons of forgiveness. But that could not be, since there is no world, and time is not real, either. It is helpful to review the levels of language in the Course, and why Jesus speaks to us as if our experience in the world and linear time were real. Earlier answers to questions have developed these topics, and we refer you to them for further study: Questions #72 and #116.

infinite patience