A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 20

ACIM Text Reading for February 20

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

VII. Creation and Communication

It is clear that while the content of any particular ego illusion does not matter, its correction is more helpful in a specific context. Ego illusions are quite specific, although the mind is naturally abstract. Part of the mind becomes concrete, however, when it splits. The concrete part believes in the ego, because the ego depends on the concrete. The ego is the part of the mind that believes your existence is defined by separation.

Everything the ego perceives is a separate whole, without the relationships that imply being. The ego is thus against communication, except insofar as it is utilised to establish separateness rather than to abolish it. The communication system of the ego is based on its own thought system, as is everything else it dictates. Its communication is controlled by its need to protect itself, and it will disrupt communication when it experiences threat. This disruption is a reaction to a specific person or persons. The specificity of the ego’s thinking, then, results in spurious generalisation which is really not abstract at all. It merely responds in certain specific ways to everything it perceives as related.

In contrast, spirit reacts in the same way to everything it knows is true, and does not respond at all to anything else. Nor does it make any attempt to establish what is true. It knows that what is true is everything that God created. It is in complete and direct communication with every aspect of creation, because it is in complete and direct communication with its Creator. This communication is the Will of God. Creation and communication are synonymous. God created every mind by communicating His Mind to it, thus establishing it forever as a channel for the reception of His Mind and Will. Since only beings of a like order can truly communicate, His creations naturally communicate with Him and like Him. This communication is perfectly abstract, since its quality is universal in application and not subject to any judgement, any exception or any alteration. God created you by this and for this. The mind can distort its function, but it cannot endow itself with functions it was not given. That is why the mind cannot totally lose the ability to communicate, even though it may refuse to utilise it on behalf of being.

Existence as well as being rest on communication. Existence, however, is specific in how, what and with whom communication is judged to be worth undertaking. Being is completely without these distinctions. It is a state in which the mind is in communication with everything that is real. To whatever extent you permit this state to be curtailed you are limiting your sense of your own reality, which becomes total only by recognising all reality in the glorious context of its real relationship to you. This is your reality. Do not desecrate it or recoil from it. It is your real home, your real temple and your real Self.

God, Who encompasses all being, created beings who have everything individually, but who want to share it to increase their joy. Nothing real can be increased except by sharing. That is why God created you. Divine Abstraction takes joy in sharing. That is what creation means. ‘How’, ‘what’ and ‘to whom’ are irrelevant, because real creation gives everything, since it can create only like itself. Remember that in the Kingdom there is no difference between having and being, as there is in existence. In the state of being the mind gives everything always.

The Bible repeatedly states that you should praise God. This hardly means that you should tell Him how wonderful He is. He has no ego with which to accept such praise, and no perception with which to judge it. But unless you take your part in the creation, His joy is not complete because yours is incomplete. And this He does know. He knows it in His Own Being and its experience of His Son’s experience. The constant going out of His Love is blocked when His channels are closed, and He is lonely when the minds He created do not communicate fully with Him.

God has kept your kingdom for you, but He cannot share His joy with you until you know it with your whole mind. Revelation is not enough, because it is only communication from God. God does not need revelation returned to Him, which would clearly be impossible, but He does want it brought to others. This cannot be done with the actual revelation; its content cannot be expressed, because it is intensely personal to the mind that receives it. It can, however, be returned by that mind to other minds, through the attitudes the knowledge from the revelation brings.

God is praised whenever any mind learns to be wholly helpful. This is impossible without being wholly harmless, because the two beliefs must coexist. The truly helpful are invulnerable, because they are not protecting their egos and so nothing can hurt them. Their helpfulness is their praise of God, and He will return their praise of Him because they are like Him, and they can rejoice together. God goes out to them and through them, and there is great joy throughout the Kingdom. Every mind that is changed adds to this joy with its individual willingness to share in it. The truly helpful are God’s miracle workers, whom I direct until we are all united in the joy of the Kingdom. I will direct you to wherever you can be truly helpful, and to whoever can follow my guidance through you.


***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 20

Lesson 36

My holiness envelops everything I see.

Today’s idea extends the idea for yesterday from the perceiver to the perceived. You are holy because your mind is part of God’s. And because you are holy, your sight must be holy as well. “Sinless” means without sin. You cannot be without sin a little. You are sinless or not. If your mind is part of God’s you must be sinless, or a part of His Mind would be sinful. Your sight is related to His Holiness, not to your ego, and therefore not to your body.

Four three-to-five-minute practice periods are required for today. Try to distribute them fairly evenly, and make the shorter applications frequently, to protect your protection throughout the day. The longer practice periods should take this form:

First, close your eyes and repeat the idea for today several times, slowly. Then open your eyes and look quite slowly about you, applying the idea specifically to whatever you note in your casual survey. Say, for example:

My holiness envelops that rug.
My holiness envelops that wall.
My holiness envelops these fingers.
My holiness envelops that chair.
My holiness envelops that body.
My holiness envelops this pen.

Several times during these practice periods, close your eyes and repeat the idea to yourself. Then open your eyes, and continue as before.

For the shorter exercise periods, close your eyes and repeat the idea; look about you as you repeat it again; and conclude with one more repetition with your eyes closed. All applications should, of course, be made quite slowly, as effortlessly and unhurriedly as possible.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #327: I would appreciate some clarification of the concept of oneness and the following excerpt from the text of A Course in Miracles: “God, Who encompasses all being, created beings who have everything individually” (W.4.VII.5:1).

A: Jesus is simply using the words of our symbolic, dualistic thought system to reassure us that releasing our investment and identification with the ego will not result in any real or meaningful loss. The concept of a hologram can be helpful here, for Jesus in essence is saying that the whole is contained in every part. In reality, any experience of oneness must be beyond all concepts we may employ to attempt to describe it. It is simply an experience of total love that knows no limits, no differences, no perception of an other. That it does not encompass individuality in any real sense becomes clear in Jesus’ words later in the Course:

“Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is” (W.pI.169.5).

But Jesus is also aware of our desperate desire to cling to a sense of a separate identity, and so he reassures us, “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T.16.VI.8:1). In other words, any shift towards releasing the ego is completely our choice. If it were not, we would be a victims of forces beyond our control, a situation totally antithetical to the Course’s gentle teachings on forgiveness.

See Question #17 for a related discussion on releasing our sense of individuality.

*

Q #395: “God, Who encompasses all being, created beings who have everything individually, but who want to share it to increase their joy. Nothing real can be increased except by sharing (T.4.VII.5:1,2). Does this mean that the Christ is actually a corporate being consisting of individual entities who share all their thoughts? The reason I pose this question is that the concept of sharing seems to be inherently dualistic, while A Course in Miracles is based on non-dualistic metaphysics. What am I missing?

A: This passage came early in the dictation of the Course, and Jesus was using words that reflect the Oneness of Heaven but come in a form that Helen and Bill, as well as all of us, might more easily be able to understand and accept. It is a correction for the ego’s foundational belief in separate interests. Any concept as we usually use it, including sharingextending and creating, will necessarily have a dualistic meaning, made as it was by a dualistic mind. But Jesus uses these words and gives them a different meaning from the ego’s, to help our limited minds begin to grasp what cannot truly be grasped and to begin to undo our faulty beliefs about where joy and happiness lie. So, despite the use of words that suggest multiple entities and individuality, we need to recognize Jesus’ intent here, and consider these words in the context of passages that come later in the Course that make it clear that the nature of God and Heaven is only perfect Oneness (e.g., T.25.I.5; W.pI.132.12:3,4; W.pI.169.5,6).

See also Questions #72 and #85 for further discussion of the Course’s use of dualistic language.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 19

ACIM Text Reading for February 19

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

 

VI. The Rewards of God

The ego does not recognise the real source of ‘threat’, and if you associate yourself with the ego, you do not understand the situation as it is. Only your allegiance to it gives the ego any power over you. I have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing, acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly, and must realise how much of your thinking is ego-directed. We cannot safely let it go at that, however, or you will regard yourself as necessarily conflicted as long as you are here, or as long as you believe that you are here. The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself. Your other life has continued without interruption, and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to dissociate it.

In learning to escape from illusions, your debt to your brother is something you must never forget. It is the same debt that you owe to me. Whenever you act egotistically towards another, you are throwing away the graciousness of your indebtedness and the holy perception it would produce. The term ‘holy’ can be used here because, as you learn how much you are indebted to the whole Sonship, which includes me, you come as close to knowledge as perception can. The gap is then so small that knowledge can easily flow across it and obliterate it forever.

You have very little trust in me as yet, but it will increase as you turn more and more often to me instead of to your ego for guidance. The results will convince you increasingly that this choice is the only sane one you can make. No one who learns from experience that one choice brings peace and joy while another brings chaos and disaster needs additional convincing. Learning through rewards is more effective than learning through pain, because pain is an ego illusion, and can never induce more than a temporary effect. The rewards of God, however, are immediately recognised as eternal. Since this recognition is made by you and not the ego, the recognition itself establishes that you and your ego cannot be identical. You may believe that you have already accepted this difference, but you are by no means convinced as yet. The fact that you believe you must escape from the ego shows this; but you cannot escape from the ego by humbling it or controlling it or punishing it.

The ego and the spirit do not know each other. The separated mind cannot maintain the separation except by dissociating. Having done this, it denies all truly natural impulses, not because the ego is a separate thing, but because you want to believe that youare. The ego is a device for maintaining this belief, but it is still only your decision to use the device that enables it to endure.

How can you teach someone the value of something he has deliberately thrown away? He must have thrown it away because he did not value it. You can only show him how miserable he is without it, and slowly bring it nearer so he can learn how his misery lessens as he approaches it. This teaches him to associate his misery with its absence, and the opposite of misery with its presence. It gradually becomes desirable as he changes his mind about its worth. I am teaching you to associate misery with the ego and joy with the spirit. You have taught yourself the opposite. You are still free to choose, but can you really want the rewards of the ego in the presence of the rewards of God?

My trust in you is greater than yours in me at the moment, but it will not always be that way. Your mission is very simple. You are asked to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego, and I do not choose God’s channels wrongly. The Holy One shares my trust, and accepts my Atonement decisions because my will is never out of accord with His. I have said before that I am in charge of the Atonement. This is only because I completed my part in it as a man, and can now complete it through others. My chosen channels cannot fail, because I will lend them my strength as long as theirs is wanting.

I will go with you to the Holy One, and through my perception He can bridge the little gap. Your gratitude to your brother is the only gift I want. I will bring it to God for you, knowing that to know your brother is to know God. If you are grateful to your brother, you are grateful to God for what He created. Through your gratitude you come to know your brother, and one moment of real recognition makes everyone your brother because each of them is of your Father. Love does not conquer all things, but it does set all things right. Because you are the Kingdom of God I can lead you back to your own creations. You do not recognise them now, but what has been dissociated is still there.

As you come closer to a brother you approach me, and as you withdraw from him I become distant to you. Salvation is a collaborative venture. It cannot be undertaken successfully by those who disengage themselves from the Sonship, because they are disengaging themselves from me. God will come to you only as you will give Him to your brothers. Learn first of them and you will be ready to hear God. That is because the function of Love is one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 19

Lesson 35

My mind is part of God’s. I am very holy.

Today’s idea does not describe the way you see yourself now. It does, however, describe what vision will show you. It is difficult for anyone who thinks he is in this world to believe this of himself. Yet the reason he thinks he is in this world is because he does not believe it.

You will believe that you are part of where you think you are. That is because you surround yourself with the environment you want. And you want it to protect the image of yourself that you have made. The image is part of this environment. What you see while you believe you are in it is seen through the eyes of the image. This is not vision. Images cannot see.

The idea for today presents a very different view of yourself. By establishing your Source it establishes your Identity, and it describes you as you must really be in truth. We will use a somewhat different kind of application for today’s idea because the emphasis for today is on the perceiver, rather than on what he perceives.

For each of the three five-minute practice periods today, begin by repeating today’s idea to yourself, and then close your eyes and search your mind for the various kinds of descriptive terms in which you see yourself. Include all the ego-based attributes which you ascribe to yourself, positive or negative, desirable or undesirable, grandiose or debased. All of them are equally unreal, because you do not look upon yourself through the eyes of holiness.

In the earlier part of the mind-searching period, you will probably emphasize what you consider to be the more negative aspects of your perception of yourself. Toward the latter part of the exercise period, however, more self-inflating descriptive terms may well cross your mind. Try to recognize that the direction of your fantasies about yourself does not matter. Illusions have no direction in reality. They are merely not true.

A suitable unselected list for applying the idea for today might be as follows:

I see myself as imposed on.
I see myself as depressed.
I see myself as failing.
I see myself as endangered.
I see myself as helpless.
I see myself as victorious.
I see myself as losing out.
I see myself as charitable.
I see myself as virtuous.

You should not think of these terms in an abstract way. They will occur to you as various situations, personalities and events in which you figure cross your mind. Pick up any specific situation that occurs to you, identify the descriptive term or terms you feel are applicable to your reactions to that situation, and use them in applying today’s idea. After you have named each one, add:

But my mind is part of God’s. I am very holy.

During the longer exercise periods, there will probably be intervals in which nothing specific occurs to you. Do not strain to think up specific things to fill the interval, but merely relax and repeat today’s idea slowly until something occurs to you. Although nothing that does occur should be omitted from the exercises, nothing should be “dug out” with effort. Neither force nor discrimination should be used.

As often as possible during the day, pick up a specific attribute or attributes you are ascribing to yourself at the time and apply the idea for today to them, adding the idea in the form stated above to each of them. If nothing particular occurs to you, merely repeat the idea to yourself, with closed eyes.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #192: “I do not choose God’s channels wrongly” (T.4.VI.6:3). This line has always had a strong emotional impact on me (it made me cry, boosted my confidence, etc.), but sometimes I think this line perhaps was meant only personally for Helen?

A: It must always be remembered that A Course in Miracles came for Helen and Bill in response to their joining together to find a better way of relating. Therefore, many of the comments — especially in the early chapters — were meant for them; but clearly they can be seen as applying to all of us who struggle with the same issues with which they struggled. The statement you refer to, therefore, in no way implies that they were special, a meaning our egos would immediately see in it, as the ego knows only of separation. Helen did not see herself as specially blessed in any way, and very quickly corrected anyone who regarded her as special.

Connecting this statement with two other key statements further clarifies the meaning: “All my brothers are special” and “All are called” (T.1.V.3; T.3.IV.7). While using the language of the Bible, Jesus clearly corrects the traditional view that singles out certain special people: “many are called, but few are chosen,” or groups of people: “the chosen people.” He is basically telling us that we are not mistaken in thinking that we are dear to him.

At the beginning of Lesson 93, he describes the horribly negative self-concept we harbor deep within our minds — sometimes not very far beneath the surface. And then he tells us that we are so convinced that this is the truth about us that it is difficult for him to help us see that it is all based on nothing (W.pI.93.1,2). That explains why we would tend to think that Jesus was referring only to Helen and Bill, not us, a trend of thought he later calls arrogant. When we think that way, we ought to stop and reflect on where those thoughts are coming from, and how in feeling unworthy we are really telling Jesus he is wrong about us.

Then, too, we must remember that although our experience at first may be that of being chosen, that is not the reality. As we get further up the ladder, our experience will be that we are really allowing ourselves to experience love more and more, and resisting it less and less.

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 18

ACIM Text Reading for February 18

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

V. The Ego-Body Illusion

All things work together for good. There are no exceptions except in the ego’s judgement. The ego exerts maximal vigilance about what it permits into awareness, and this is not the way a balanced mind holds together. The ego is thrown further off balance because it keeps its primary motivation from your awareness, and raises control rather than sanity to predominance. The ego has every reason to do this, according to the thought system which gave rise to it and which it serves. Sane judgement would inevitably judge against the ego, and must be obliterated by the ego in the interest of its self-preservation.

A major source of the ego’s off-balanced state is its lack of discrimination between the body and the Thoughts of God. Thoughts of God are unacceptable to the ego, because they clearly point to the non-existence of the ego itself. The ego therefore either distorts them or refuses to accept them. It cannot, however, make them cease to be. It therefore tries to conceal not only ‘unacceptable’ body impulses, but also the Thoughts of God, because both are threatening to it. Being concerned primarily with its own preservation in the face of threat, the ego perceives them as the same. By perceiving them as the same, the ego attempts to save itself from being swept away, as it would surely be in the presence of knowledge.

Any thought system that confuses God and the body must be insane. Yet this confusion is essential to the ego, which judges only in terms of threat or non-threat to itself. In one sense the ego’s fear of God is at least logical, since the idea of Him does dispel the ego. But fear of the body, with which the ego identifies so closely, makes no sense at all.

The body is the ego’s home by its own election. It is the only identification with which the ego feels safe, since the body’s vulnerability is its own best argument that you cannot be of God. This is the belief that the ego sponsors eagerly. Yet the ego hates the body, because it cannot accept it as good enough to be its home. Here is where the mind becomes actually dazed. Being told by the ego that it is really part of the body and that the body is its protector, the mind is also told that the body cannot protect it. Therefore, the mind asks, ‘Where can I go for protection?’ to which the ego replies, ‘Turn to me’. The mind, and not without cause, reminds the ego that it has itself insisted that it is identified with the body, so there is no point in turning to it for protection. The ego has no real answer to this because there is none, but it does have a typical solution. It obliterates the question from the mind’s awareness. Once out of awareness the question can and does produce uneasiness, but it cannot be answered because it cannot be asked.

This is the question that must be asked: ‘Where can I go for protection?’ ‘Seek and ye shall find’ does not mean that you should seek blindly and desperately for something you would not recognise. Meaningful seeking is consciously undertaken, consciously organised and consciously directed. The goal must be formulated clearly and kept in mind. Learning and wanting to learn are inseparable. You learn best when you believe what you are trying to learn is of value to you. However, not everything you may want to learn has lasting value. Indeed, many of the things you want to learn may be chosen because their value will not last.

The ego thinks it is an advantage not to commit itself to anything that is eternal, because the eternal must come from God. Eternalness is the one function the ego has tried to develop, but has systematically failed to achieve. The ego compromises with the issue of the eternal, just as it does with all issues touching on the real question in any way. By becoming involved with tangential issues, it hopes to hide the real question and keep it out of mind. The ego’s characteristic busyness with nonessentials is for precisely that purpose. Preoccupations with problems set up to be incapable of solution are favourite ego devices for impeding learning progress. In all these diversionary tactics, however, the one question that is never asked by those who pursue them is, ‘What for?’ This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything. What is the purpose? Whatever it is, it will direct your efforts automatically. When you make a decision of purpose, then, you have made a decision about your future effort; a decision that will remain in effect unless you change your mind.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 18

Lesson 34

I could see peace instead of this.

The idea for today begins to describe the conditions that prevail in the other way of seeing. Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward. It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.

Three longer practice periods are required for today’s exercises. One in the morning and one in the evening are advised, with an additional one to be undertaken at any time in between that seems most conducive to readiness. All applications should be done with your eyes closed. It is your inner world to which the applications of today’s idea should be made.

Some five minutes of mind searching are required for each of the longer practice periods. Search your mind for fear thoughts, anxiety-provoking situations, “offending” personalities or events, or anything else about which you are harboring unloving thoughts. Note them all casually, repeating the idea for today slowly as you watch them arise in your mind, and let each one go, to be replaced by the next.

If you begin to experience difficulty in thinking of specific subjects, continue to repeat the idea to yourself in an unhurried manner, without applying it to anything in particular. Be sure, however, not to make any specific exclusions.

The shorter applications are to be frequent, and made whenever you feel your peace of mind is threatened in any way. The purpose is to protect yourself from temptation throughout the day. If a specific form of temptation arises in your awareness, the exercise should take this form:

I could see peace in this situation instead of what I now see in it.

If the inroads on your peace of mind take the form of more generalized adverse emotions, such as depression, anxiety or worry, use the idea in its original form. If you find you need more than one application of today’s idea to help you change your mind in any specific context, try to take several minutes and devote them to repeating the idea until you feel some sense of relief. It will help you if you tell yourself specifically:

I can replace my feelings of depression, anxiety or worry [or my thoughts about this situation, personality or event] with peace.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1204Even though I studied Lessons 28-29 some years ago, I realize I’m still confused about illusions and the universe. If nothing I see means anything, and this is all an illusion (which I am embracing with time), how can a table, or anything else I see with my eyes,  share a purpose with the universe, which is also an illusion. And, how can any of this be shared with the purpose of God? Learning how to look on all things with love, appreciation and open-mindedness seems to make the illusion, and all things in it, a reality instead of a dream. Please explain the holy purpose talked about in the lesson. “Above all else I want to see things differently.”

A: The first 50 lessons of the workbook build on one another, contrasting the fundamental principles of the ego thought system with those of the Holy Spirit. All the metaphysical principles of the Course are contained in these lessons. They are the foundation for achieving the workbook’s goal of “… [training our minds] in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world” (W.in.4:1) . It is helpful to keep this in mind when reviewing the workbook. To see anything differently means to first see the meaning that has been given to it by the ego. For example: based on past experience, a table is seen as an object to place things on, although of itself the table has no meaning. In like manner, we think we know what everything in the universe is for. What we are not aware of, however, is the purposegiven to everything by the mind, depending on its decision to side with the ego’s goal — separation; or the Holy Spirit’s — healing the separation. Nothing means anything because nothing outside of Heaven exists in reality; however, everything shares the purpose the mind attributes to it. Its meaning supports belief in the ego thought system or the Holy Spirit’s, Who has a correction for every meaning given to anything by the ego. Thus, His plan for the illusory world shares the purpose of God, because it leads us back to Him. In the practice of the Course we are asked to recognize that we have given meaning to everything we perceive; justifying and defending this meaning (sometimes adamantly), and perhaps even refusing to question our interpretations. These are the blocks to allowing the Holy Spirit to transform the perception of illusion to the memory of reality so that we may awaken from the dream. All we are asked to do is have a little willingness to question our interpretation and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help: “The great Transformer of perception will undertake with you the careful searching of the mind that made this world, and uncover to you the seeming reasons for your making it” (T.17.II.5:2).

Accepting the Holy Spirit’s plan of forgiveness for everything does not make the illusion real; it makes it useful: “ Illusion makes illusion. Except one. Forgiveness is illusion that is answer to the rest” (W.pI.198.2:8, 9,10). The love and gratitude that is brought to everything is found in forgiveness. To see everything differently is to see it in its light, the core of which is to recognize that nothing outside of the mind has any effect on it. This shift in perception removes all blame from the universe of relationships, places, and situations for the feelings we experience. Forgiveness, therefore, serves as a bridge between the illusory dream and the reality of Heaven, giving everything in the illusion a holy purpose. The bridge is needed because of the belief that the dream is real, and it indeed seems to be. When every illusion has been forgiven, everything will be perceived through the eyes of the love that was always present in the mind, with no effort on our part.


Q #1205Ken conducted a workshop at A.R.E. in September 2005. Can you highlight some of the differences and similarities between the Edgar Cayce teachings and the Course?

A: Cayce’s work focused, for the most part, on helping individual people with their specific conditions. His readings, therefore, were not intended as a comprehensive philosophical or theological system, although there clearly are philosophical and theological aspects to the readings. He spoke of mind or thought as the builder, for example. In contrast, one of the purposes of A Course in Miracles is to provide us with a universal thought system that can be applied on the individual level of our everyday lives. In addition, reincarnation came up frequently in Cayce’s readings, whereas in the Course reincarnation is not central to its teachings.


Q #1206What I’ve learned so far in studying A Course in Miracles is that there is no real love in this world, and that forgiveness cannot change anything in the world, only our perception of it. We then can look on devastation and know it is false; but we would still be “seeing” the devastation, correct? How does that work? In the crucifixion, for example, was Jesus, as the observer, watching it all happen, as the apostles later reported “seeing it,” while at the same time untouched by it? No fear? No pain?

A: Yes, you are correct about there being no real love in this world. The reason is that this world was made by our minds (and remains in our minds, since ideas leave not their source ) to cover the guilt we felt over having destroyed the Love of God. Of course the Love of God cannot be destroyed, but we believed we did it and now are dealing with the consequences of that belief. But we always retain in our minds the memory of our true Identity as one with God, and by choosing to have Jesus be our teacher and model, we can learn to be reflections of that love by undoing all the barriers we have built to hide it — barriers made of judgment, specialness, hatred, and the wish to be separate. But the love is in our minds, not the world.

In your second point you appear to be referring to one of the Course’s definitions of the miracle, which emphasizes its role as a correction: “It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false” (W.pII.13.1:1,2). Jesus then speaks of forgiveness as “the home of miracles” (W.pII.13.3:1);therefore, it does not change anything in the world, only the perceptions in our minds. Remember, “There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempts to teach” (W.pI.132.6:2,3) ; so Jesus would not be teaching us how to change things in the world when he knows there is no world. But since we believe there is a world, he helps us see that it is but a projection of our own minds, and that we give it all the meaning it has, and that is what he wants us to focus on: the world “is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. . . . Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:5,7). We first accept the ego or Jesus as our teacher; then our perception or interpretation of what our eyes see reflects that choice: “Perception seems to teach you what you see. Yet it but witnesses to what you taught. It is the outward picture of a wish; an image that you wanted to be true” (T.24.VII.8:8,9,10; see also T.21.V.1:7; W.pII.304.1:3).

Your eyes could be looking at the twisted wreckage of cars and bodies on the highway, for example, but your perception/interpretation of this event would depend on whether you have chosen the ego or Jesus as your teacher. If you are perceiving with Jesus, your inner peace would not be affected by the outer events, which does not mean, however, that you might not stop and offer assistance if you could — we are talking only about the content in your mind, not behavior. The ego’s interpretation would always center on victims and victimizers, tragedy, loss, fear, anxiety — anything that would support the reality of separate bodies vulnerable to outside forces and conditions, making their peace and happiness dependent on these externals. (In this context, you might find it helpful to look at Questions 1111 and #1187.)

Jesus was the perfect manifestation of love. As a totally healed mind — no ego with guilt to be projected — he could not fearfully or angrily experience himself as a crucified body or an unfairly treated victim, as he explains in “The Message of the Crucifixion” (T.6.I.5:3; 9:1,2). His mind could do only one thing: love. We are the ones who give form to that love, as our fear and needs allow. The problem we have in comprehending this is that we usually try to understand it from our reference point as bodies. But it can never be understood on that level because our perception of ourselves as bodies is itself a choice to separate ourselves from our minds and from the truth. So our concentration should be on the process of forgiveness, which will undo the many ways in which we interfere with love’s communication in our minds. A clear understanding of these “theories” will then emerge.

Several other questions on this Service provide a comprehensive discussion of the crucifixion and Jesus’ life from the point of view of A Course in Miracles : see, for example, Questions #401b, #505, #510, and #563.

I Have Nothing Else

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 17

ACIM Text Reading for February 17

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

IV. This Need Not Be

If you cannot hear the Voice for God, it is because you do not choose to listen. That you do listen to the voice of your ego is demonstrated by your attitudes, your feelings and your behaviour. Yet this is what you want. This is what you are fighting to keep, and what you are vigilant to save. Your mind is filled with schemes to save the face of your ego, and you do not seek the face of Christ. The glass in which the ego seeks to see its face is dark indeed. How can it maintain the trick of its existence except with mirrors? But where you look to find yourself is up to you.

I have said that you cannot change your mind by changing your behaviour, but I have also said, and many times, that you canchange your mind. When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be. In every case you have thought wrongly about some brother God created, and are perceiving images your ego makes in a darkened glass. Think honestly what you have thought that God would not have thought, and what you have not thought that God would have you think. Search sincerely for what you have done and left undone accordingly, and then change your mind to think with God’s. This may seem hard to do, but it is much easier than trying to think against it. Your mind is one with God’s. Denying this and thinking otherwise has held your ego together, but has literally split your mind. As a loving brother I am deeply concerned with your mind, and urge you to follow my example as you look at yourself and at your brother, and see in both the glorious creations of a glorious Father.

When you are sad, know this need not be. Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise.

When you are anxious, realise that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego, and know this need not be. You can be as vigilant against the ego’s dictates as for them.

When you feel guilty, remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not. Leave the ‘sins’ of the ego to me. That is what Atonement is for. But until you change your mind about those whom your ego has hurt, the Atonement cannot release you. While you feel guilty your ego is in command, because only the ego can experience guilt. This need not be.

Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it. It offers you nothing. When you have given up this voluntary dis-spiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal. Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself. This need not be.

The habit of engaging with God and His creations is easily made if you actively refuse to let your mind slip away. The problem is not one of concentration; it is the belief that no one, including yourself, is worth consistent effort. Side with me consistently against this deception, and do not permit this shabby belief to pull you back. The disheartened are useless to themselves and to me, but only the ego can be disheartened.

Have you really considered how many opportunities you have had to gladden yourself, and how many of them you have refused? There is no limit to the power of a Son of God, but he can limit the expression of his power as much as he chooses. Your mind and mine can unite in shining your ego away, releasing the strength of God into everything you think and do. Do not settle for anything less than this, and refuse to accept anything but this as your goal. Watch your mind carefully for any beliefs that hinder its accomplishment, and step away from them. Judge how well you have done this by your own feelings, for this is the one right use of judgement. Judgement, like any other defence, can be used to attack or protect; to hurt or to heal. The ego should be brought to judgement and found wanting there. Without your own allegiance, protection and love, the ego cannot exist. Let it be judged truly and you must withdraw allegiance, protection and love from it.

You are a mirror of truth, in which God Himself shines in perfect light. To the ego’s dark glass you need but say, ‘I will not look there because I know these images are not true’. Then let the Holy One shine on you in peace, knowing that this and only this must be. His Mind shone on you in your creation and brought your mind into being. His Mind still shines on you and must shine through you. Your ego cannot prevent Him from shining on you, but it can prevent you from letting Him shine through you.

The First Coming of Christ is merely another name for the creation, for Christ is the Son of God. The Second Coming of Christ means nothing more than the end of the ego’s rule and the healing of the mind. I was created like you in the First, and I have called you to join me in the Second. I am in charge of the Second Coming, and my judgement, which is used only for protection, cannot be wrong because it never attacks. Yours may be so distorted that you believe I was mistaken in choosing you. I assure you this is a mistake of your ego. Do not mistake it for humility. Your ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not, because if I am real, I am no more real than you are. That knowledge, and I assure you that it is knowledge, means that Christ has come into your mind and healed it.

I do not attack your ego. I do work with your higher mind, the home of the Holy Spirit, whether you are asleep or awake, just as your ego does with your lower mind, which is its home. I am your vigilance in this, because you are too confused to recognise your own hope. I am not mistaken. Your mind will elect to join with mine, and together we are invincible. You and your brother will yet come together in my name, and your sanity will be restored. I raised the dead by knowing that life is an eternal attribute of everything that the living God created. Why do you believe it is harder for me to inspire the dis-spirited or to stabilise the unstable? I do not believe that there is an order of difficulty in miracles; you do. I have called and you will answer. I understand that miracles are natural, because they are expressions of love. My calling you is as natural as your answer, and as inevitable.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 17

Lesson 33

There is another way of looking at the world.

Today’s idea is an attempt to recognize that you can shift your perception of the world in both its outer and inner aspects. A full five minutes should be devoted to the morning and evening applications. In these practice periods, the idea should be repeated as often as you find comfortable, though unhurried applications are essential. Alternate between surveying your outer and inner perceptions, but without an abrupt sense of shifting.

Merely glance casually around the world you perceive as outside yourself, then close your eyes and survey your inner thoughts with equal casualness. Try to remain equally uninvolved in both, and to maintain this detachment as you repeat the idea throughout the day.

The shorter exercise periods should be as frequent as possible. Specific applications of today’s idea should also be made immediately, when any situation arises which tempts you to become disturbed. For these applications, say:

There is another way of looking at this.

Remember to apply today’s idea the instant you are aware of distress. It may be necessary to take a minute or so to sit quietly and repeat the idea to yourself several times. Closing your eyes will probably help in this form of application.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1026“Your ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not, because if I am real, I am no more real than you are” (T.4.IV.10.8). Would you comment on this sentence? It confuses me. I am not sure what Jesus is saying here.

A: There are two parts to this statement. The first part — “The ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not” — is what we would expect of the ego, that it would try to convince us that separation, which the ego symbolizes, is reality, and oneness, which Jesus symbolizes, is not. The purpose of A Course in Miracles is to lead us to accept the Atonement for ourselves, which means that we come to recognize that the separation never happened. So if Jesus, as the symbol of oneness, is real, then the ego is not. Since the ego’s only purpose is self-preservation, regardless of the truth, it must make every effort to persuade us that the Jesus of the Course is not real.

The second part of the statement — “because if I am real, I am no more real than you are” — is another way of saying that if Jesus is real, we are all the same, and ultimately we are all one. The ego, confronted with the reality of Jesus, can only hope to persuade us that he is very different from us — God’s only Son, divine, innocent while we are guilty, existing before us through all of eternity. If the Jesus the ego is willing for us to embrace were real, the ego could remain in business, for the separation would be confirmed. That is what has made Christianity and its central figure Jesus so popular across the centuries — they affirm the reality of separation and differences and sin, as well as attack and victimization.

But the Course’s message is that we are all the same because we are all one. There are no differences that mean anything. If the Jesus who is like us is real and exists, then the ego and all its perceived differences are meaningless. And sin and guilt are nothing but idle fantasies with no effects. And all of this, to the ego, is blasphemous.


Q #1027I have a compulsion to make to-do lists and set goals. Is this an ego thing? How do I let go of it? I feel like I’m supposed to surrender my will and life over to the Holy Spirit and let Him run the show, but every time I try, I end up back making lists. I feel like I’m doing something wrong and it’s creating a lot of tension in my life.

A: Fortunately, nowhere in A Course in Miracles does it say you cannot make to-do lists. Nor does it tell us to change our behavior or personality traits in any way. The Holy Spirit has indeed come to help us, but He will not pay the bills, wash the dishes or clean the garage. Putting ourselves under the Holy Spirit’s guidance means becoming mindful of the thoughts of judgment about ourselves and others that continually re-cycle the guilt in the mind for not choosing the Holy Spirit. The true source of tension is in the split mind that is in conflict between choosing the ego and the Holy Spirit. That is the real problem. The first thing on the Holy Spirit’s list is to see the problem where it is (in the mind), not where it has been projected ( making or not making lists).

As long as we believe the world is real, there is a place for making lists and setting goals. Things need to be done. Jesus acknowledges this in The Song of Prayer There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not (S.1.I.2:4) The important question to ask is with whom the decisions are made (See: Rules for Decision T.30.I) . Guided by the ego, making lists and setting goals are activities driven by compulsion and need. The underlying belief is that salvation lies in the security of having lists and accomplishing tasks, and peace is lost when task goals are not set and met. They are thus used as attacks against peace. The Holy Spirit’s goal is the healing of the mind, and the only task needed to achieve this goal is forgiveness. His help is not directed toward behavior of any kind, but with the mind that chooses to believe that certain behaviors are valuable and then judges that decision as sinful. Lists cannot keep you from Heaven any more than they can get you in, unless, of course, returning to Heaven is on the list. In that case, the work to be done is the practice of forgiveness, which begins with awareness of the judgments against oneself and others. Looking at these judgments with the Holy Spirit means seeing that their true purpose is to keep Him away. That is how we beat the ego at its own game, so to speak, and invite the Holy Spirit to be in charge. It is a process of learning to see everything, from making lists to accomplishing the tasks on the lists, as opportunities for forgiveness. If that is at the top of the list, everything will serve the Holy Spirit’s purpose of healing, thereby putting Him in charge, rather than the ego.

jesus there is no death

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 16

ACIM Text Reading for February 16

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

III. Love Without Conflict

It is hard to understand what ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within you’ really means. This is because it is not understandable to the ego, which interprets it as if something outside is inside, and this does not mean anything. The word ‘within’ is unnecessary. The Kingdom of Heaven is you. What else but you did the Creator create, and what else but you is His Kingdom? This is the whole message of the Atonement; a message which in its totality transcends the sum of its parts. You, too, have a Kingdom that your spirit created. It has not ceased to create because of the ego’s illusions. Your creations are no more fatherless than you are. Your ego and your spirit will never be co-creators, but your spirit and your Creator will always be. Be confident that your creations are as safe as you are.

The Kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it. Amen.

This is written in the form of a prayer because it is useful in moments of temptation. It is a declaration of independence. You will find it very helpful if you understand it fully. The reason you need my help is because you have denied your own Guide and therefore need guidance. My role is to separate the true from the false, so truth can break through the barriers the ego has set up and can shine into your mind. Against our united strength the ego cannot prevail.

It is surely apparent by now why the ego regards spirit as its ‘enemy’. The ego arose from the separation, and its continued existence depends on your continuing belief in the separation. The ego must offer you some sort of reward for maintaining this belief. All it can offer is a sense of temporary existence, which begins with its own beginning and ends with its own ending. It tells you this life is your existence because it is its own. Against this sense of temporary existence spirit offers you the knowledge of permanence and unshakeable being. No one who has experienced the revelation of this can ever fully believe in the ego again. How can its meagre offering to you prevail against the glorious gift of God?

You who identify with your ego cannot believe God loves you. You do not love what you made, and what you made does not love you. Being made out of the denial of the Father, the ego has no allegiance to its maker. You cannot conceive of the real relationship that exists between God and His creations because of your hatred for the self you made. You project onto the ego the decision to separate, and this conflicts with the love you feel for the ego because you made it. No love in this world is without this ambivalence, and since no ego has experienced love without ambivalence the concept is beyond its understanding. Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly. This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s ‘drive to get’.

There is a kind of experience so different from anything the ego can offer that you will never want to cover or hide it again. It is necessary to repeat that your belief in darkness and hiding is why the light cannot enter. The Bible gives many references to the immeasurable gifts which are for you, but for which you must ask. This is not a condition as the ego sets conditions. It is the glorious condition of what you are.

No force except your own will is strong enough or worthy enough to guide you. In this you are as free as God, and must remain so forever. Let us ask the Father in my name to keep you mindful of His Love for you and yours for Him. He has never failed to answer this request, because it asks only for what He has already willed. Those who call truly are always answered. Thou shalt have no other gods before Him because there are none.

It has never really entered your mind to give up every idea you ever had that opposes knowledge. You retain thousands of little scraps of fear that prevent the Holy One from entering. Light cannot penetrate through the walls you make to block it, and it is forever unwilling to destroy what you have made. No one can see through a wall, but I can step around it. Watch your mind for the scraps of fear, or you will be unable to ask me to do so. I can help you only as our Father created us. I will love you and honour you and maintain complete respect for what you have made, but I will not uphold it unless it is true. I will never forsake you any more than God will, but I must wait as long as you choose to forsake yourself. Because I wait in love and not in impatience, you will surely ask me truly. I will come in response to a single unequivocal call.

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. If you will really try to do this, you have taken the first step toward preparing your mind for the Holy One to enter. We will prepare for this together, for once He has come, you will be ready to help me to make other minds ready for Him. How long will you deny Him His Kingdom?

In your own mind, though denied by the ego, is the declaration of your release. God has given you everything. This one fact means the ego does not exist, and this makes it profoundly afraid. In the ego’s language, ‘to have’ and ‘to be’ are different, but they are identical to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows that you both have everything and are everything. Any distinction in this respect is meaningful only when the idea of ‘getting’, which implies a lack, has already been accepted. That is why we make no distinction between having the Kingdom of God and being the Kingdom of God.

The calm being of God’s Kingdom, which in your sane mind is perfectly conscious, is ruthlessly banished from the part of the mind the ego rules. The ego is desperate because it opposes literally invincible odds, whether you are asleep or awake. Consider how much vigilance you have been willing to exert to protect your ego, and how little to protect your right mind. Who but the insane would undertake to believe what is not true, and then protect this belief at the cost of truth?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 16

Lesson 32

I have invented the world I see.

Today we are continuing to develop the theme of cause and effect. You are not the victim of the world you see because you invented it. You can give it up as easily as you made it up. You will see it or not see it, as you wish. While you want it you will see it; when you no longer want it, it will not be there for you to see.

The idea for today, like the preceding ones, applies to your inner and outer worlds, which are actually the same. However, since you see them as different, the practice periods for today will again include two phases, one involving the world you see outside you, and the other the world you see in your mind. In today’s exercises, try to introduce the thought that both are in your own imagination.

Again we will begin the practice periods for the morning and evening by repeating the idea for today two or three times while looking around at the world you see as outside yourself. Then close your eyes and look around your inner world. Try to treat them both as equally as possible. Repeat the idea for today unhurriedly as often as you wish, as you watch the images your imagination presents to your awareness.

For the two longer practice periods three to five minutes are recommended, with not less than three required. More than five can be utilized, if you find the exercise restful. To facilitate this, select a time when few distractions are anticipated, and when you yourself feel reasonably ready.

These exercises are also to be continued during the day, as often as possible. The shorter applications consist of repeating the idea slowly, as you survey either your inner or outer world. It does not matter which you choose.

The idea for today should also be applied immediately to any situation that may distress you. Apply the idea by telling yourself:

I have invented this situation as I see it.

***
ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #282: In addition to being a student of A Course in Miracles, I am also a Buddhist. I find that Buddhism and the Course fit very well together. I am considering taking up robes and becoming a Buddhist nun, in order to further my spiritual understanding. By letting go of a “normal” lifestyle of having a job, paying bills, etc., am I postponing lessons that I will need to learn, or is the adoption of a monastic lifestyle a great step forward in letting go of my attachment (forgive my Buddhist terminology) to the world of illusions that my ego has created?

A: A Course in Miracles focuses only on the content in our minds, not form or behavior. And that content is either of the ego or Holy Spirit. So whether you are in a monastery or in a corporate office makes no difference from that point of view. What makes a difference, spiritually, is whether you see your interests as different from everyone else’s or as the same. The Course encourages us to see our life circumstances and settings as classrooms in which we can choose to learn either the ego’s curriculum, which is based on separation, or the Holy Spirit’s curriculum, which is based on the undoing of separation. It teaches us to think always in terms of purpose: Are we using the world and our relationships to reinforce our belief in separation or to undo it? The world and the body, thus, are not the problem; the way we use them is the problem. And that always is the result of the choice we make in our minds to be taught by the ego or by Jesus. Thus, what would be most helpful in your situation is to ask for help in undoing any specialness that might be involved in the decision you are making. That would go a long way toward removing the doubts and conflicts you experience.

Q #283: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for six years now and practice at it daily. Every time I have a questions to ask it gets answered in some form by you. so thank you for all the help. Now I am a little confused on how to handle this situation. The last eight years I have gained 30 lbs and being 69 years of age it is a concern because the additional weight can lead to many diseases and I am not comfortable with it. So I went on a diet of healthy eating and exercises. I am comfortable with my game plan but I am confused because I know that all the illnesses, aches and pains are only my own guilt about the choice I made on leaving God and that guilt is projected on to my body.  So, if I stay aware of this fact and continue on my plan will that be OK? How do we handle following the Course and doing what we think is necessary in this world. This question could be used in many different situations. Again thank you for all your help.

A: You are correct. This question can be applied to many different situations regarding behavior.

As you undoubtedly know, the focus of A Course in Miracles is not on changing our behavior, but rather on changing the teacher who will guide us through our daily lives. And yet, we have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is basically where we find ourselves right now. It doesn’t matter that yesterday I was practically sitting at the right hand of God when today I’m a hateful, spiteful, blankety-blank!

So, we start where we are. As you stated, you know your ailments come from your guilt. This recognition alone gives you more knowledge than 99.9% of the population. You are off to a good start right there! You want to lose weight to live a longer and healthier life, and as an aside, to perhaps feel better about your looks as well (although you didn’t say so). You have a plan, which seems complete and well thought out. You imply that you have implemented your plan, at least for a little while, and then you became confused — about your plan, about your guilt, etc.

Sounds like you made a right-minded decision to take better care of yourself, to love yourself a little more, to “let go” of some of your guilt, and to be worthy of good health and happiness. It also sounds like once you started implementing your plan, a tiny voice began to whisper in your ear — the content of its message, no matter what the words, being “who will I be without my guilt?” Once heard, you began to get confused. Should I? Would I? Could I? All of this a direct response to your right-minded decision.

This is a perfect example of what we all do in various aspects of our lives. We make right-minded decisions, become afraid of them (and their implications) and jump right back into the arms of the ego until we tire of its insanity and begin the entire process again — over, and over, and over. We continue this way until our fear is totally diminished and we make the final right-minded choice, at which point we are in the real world, and the tiny voice of the ego is heard no more. And, if you can generalize this process to your entire life, you’ll be able to more quickly and easily recognize signs of fear as they creep into your thoughts, no matter what form they take. This will help you take your doubt and self-sabotage less seriously than you have in the past, simply stating:: “Of course, I’ve gotten afraid again. So what else is new?”

Peace of God

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 15

ACIM Text Reading for February 15

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

II. The Ego and False Autonomy

It is reasonable to ask how the mind could ever have made the ego. In fact, it is the best question you could ask. There is, however, no point in giving an answer in terms of the past because the past does not matter, and history would not exist if the same errors were not being repeated in the present. Abstract thought applies to knowledge because knowledge is completely impersonal, and examples are irrelevant to its understanding. Perception, however, is always specific, and therefore quite concrete.

Everyone makes an ego or a self for himself, which is subject to enormous variation because of its instability. He also makes an ego for everyone else he perceives, which is equally variable. Their interaction is a process that alters both, because they were not made by or with the Unalterable. It is important to realise that this alteration can and does occur as readily when the interaction takes place in the mind as when it involves physical interaction. Thinking about another ego is as effective in changing relative perception as is physical interaction. There could be no better example that the ego is only an idea and not a fact.

Your own state of mind is a good example of how the ego was made. When you threw knowledge away it is as if you never had it. This is so apparent that one need only recognise it to see that it does happen. If this occurs in the present, why is it surprising that it occurred in the past? Surprise is a reasonable response to the unfamiliar, though hardly to something that occurs with such persistence. But do not forget that the mind need not work that way, even though it does work that way now.

Think of the love of animals for their offspring, and the need they feel to protect them. That is because they regard them as part of themselves. No one dismisses something he considers part of himself. You react to your ego much as God does to His creations,—with love, protection and charity. Your reactions to the self you made are not surprising. In fact, they resemble in many ways how you will one day react to your real creations, which are as timeless as you are. The question is not how you respond to the ego, but what you believe you are. Belief is an ego function, and as long as your origin is open to belief you are regarding it from an ego viewpoint. When teaching is no longer necessary you will merely know God. Belief that there is another way of perceiving is the loftiest idea of which ego thinking is capable. That is because it contains a hint of recognition that the ego is not the Self.

Undermining the ego’s thought system must be perceived as painful, even though this is anything but true. Babies scream in rage if you take away a knife or scissors, although they may well harm themselves if you do not. In this sense you are still a baby. You have no sense of real self-preservation, and are likely to decide that you need precisely what would hurt you most. Yet whether or not you recognise it now, you have agreed to co-operate in the effort to become both harmless and helpful, attributes that go together. Your attitudes even toward this are necessarily conflicted, because all attitudes are ego-based. This will not last. Be patient a while and remember that the outcome is as certain as God.

Only those who have a real and lasting sense of abundance can be truly charitable. This is obvious when you consider what is involved. To the ego, to give anything implies that you will have to do without it. When you associate giving with sacrifice, you give only because you believe that you are somehow getting something better, and can therefore do without the thing you give. ‘Giving to get’ is an inescapable law of the ego, which always evaluates itself in relation to other egos. It is therefore continually preoccupied with the belief in scarcity that gave rise to it. Its whole perception of other egos as real is only an attempt to convince itself that it is real. ‘Self-esteem’ in ego terms means nothing more than that the ego has deluded itself into accepting its reality, and is therefore temporarily less predatory. This ‘self-esteem’ is always vulnerable to stress, a term which refers to any perceived threat to the ego’s existence.

The ego literally lives by comparisons. Equality is beyond its grasp, and charity becomes impossible. The ego never gives out of abundance, because it was made as a substitute for it. That is why the concept of ‘getting’ arose in the ego’s thought system. Appetites are ‘getting’ mechanisms, representing the ego’s need to confirm itself. This is as true of body appetites as it is of the so-called ‘higher ego needs’. Body appetites are not physical in origin. The ego regards the body as its home, and tries to satisfy itself through the body. But the idea that this is possible is a decision of the mind, which has become completely confused about what is really possible.

The ego believes it is completely on its own, which is merely another way of describing how it thinks it originated. This is such a fearful state that it can only turn to other egos and try to unite with them in a feeble attempt at identification, or attack them in an equally feeble show of strength. It is not free, however, to open the premise to question, because the premise is its foundation. The ego is the mind’s belief that it is completely on its own. The ego’s ceaseless attempts to gain the spirit’s acknowledgement and thus establish its own existence are useless. Spirit in its knowledge is unaware of the ego. It does not attack it; it merely cannot conceive of it at all. While the ego is equally unaware of spirit, it does perceive itself as being rejected by something greater than itself. This is why self-esteem in ego terms must be delusional. The creations of God do not create myths, although creative effort can be turned to mythology. It can do so, however, only under one condition; what it makes is then no longer creative. Myths are entirely perceptual, and so ambiguous in form and characteristically good-and-evil in nature that the most benevolent of them is not without fearful connotations.

Myths and magic are closely associated, since myths are usually related to ego origins, and magic to the powers the ego ascribes to itself. Mythological systems generally include some account of ‘the creation’, and associate this with its particular form of magic. The so-called ‘battle for survival’ is only the ego’s struggle to preserve itself, and its interpretation of its own beginning. This beginning is usually associated with physical birth, because it is hard to maintain that the ego existed before that point in time. The more ‘religiously’ ego-oriented may believe that the soul existed before, and will continue to exist after a temporary lapse into ego life. Some even believe that the soul will be punished for this lapse. However, salvation does not apply to spirit, which is not in danger and does not need to be salvaged.

Salvation is nothing more than ‘right-mindedness’, which is not the One-mindedness of the Holy Spirit, but which must be achieved before One-mindedness is restored. Right-mindedness leads to the next step automatically, because right perception is uniformly without attack, and therefore wrong-mindedness is obliterated. The ego cannot survive without judgement, and is laid aside accordingly. The mind then has only one direction in which it can move. Its direction is always automatic, because it cannot but be dictated by the thought system to which it adheres.

It cannot be emphasised too often that correcting perception is merely a temporary expedient. It is necessary only because misperception is a block to knowledge, while accurate perception is a stepping-stone towards it. The whole value of right perception lies in the inevitable realisation that all perception is unnecessary. This removes the block entirely. You may ask how this is possible as long as you appear to be living in this world. That is a reasonable question. You must be careful, however, that you really understand it. Who is the ‘you’ who are living in this world? Spirit is immortal, and immortality is a constant state. It is as true now as it ever was or ever will be, because it implies no change at all. It is not a continuum, nor is it understood by being compared to an opposite. Knowledge never involves comparisons. That is its main difference from everything else the mind can grasp.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 15

Lesson 31

I am not the victim of the world I see.

Today’s idea is the introduction to your declaration of release. Again, the idea should be applied to both the world you see without and the world you see within. In applying the idea, we will use a form of practice which will be used more and more, with changes as indicated. Generally speaking, the form includes two aspects, one in which you apply the idea on a more sustained basis, and the other consisting of frequent applications of the idea throughout the day.

Two longer periods of practice with the idea for today are needed, one in the morning and one at night. Three to five minutes for each of these are recommended. During that time, look about you slowly while repeating the idea two or three times. Then close your eyes, and apply the same idea to your inner world. You will escape from both together, for the inner is the cause of the outer.

As you survey your inner world, merely let whatever thoughts cross your mind come into your awareness, each to be considered for a moment, and then replaced by the next. Try not to establish any kind of hierarchy among them. Watch them come and go as dispassionately as possible. Do not dwell on any one in particular, but try to let the stream move on evenly and calmly, without any special investment on your part. As you sit and quietly watch your thoughts, repeat today’s idea to yourself as often as you care to, but with no sense of hurry.

In addition, repeat the idea for today as often as possible during the day. Remind yourself that you are making a declaration of independence in the name of your own freedom. And in your freedom lies the freedom of the world.

The idea for today is also a particularly useful one to use as a response to any form of temptation that may arise. It is a declaration that you will not yield to it, and put yourself in bondage.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #318: In C.1.3:2 it says that the term “soul” is only used in direct biblical quotations. Yet I’ve found that Jesus does use the term several times throughout A Course in Miracles without directly quoting the Bible. “The more ‘religiously’ ego-oriented may believe that the soul existed before, and will continue to exist after a temporary laps into ego life” (T.4.II.9:5).

A: You are right in pointing out that the references to the term “soul” in the Course are not direct quotations. All but one of the references, however, do refer to well known Biblical statements regarding the soul, such as “losing your soul” (T.12.VI.1). In the Clarification of Terms it is used to contrast the Course’s use of the term “spirit.” In this section it is not referring to any specific Biblical passage, but reflects traditional religious views of the soul, including Christian belief which is based on the Bible’s teaching. Hopefully, finding these imperfections is not an impediment to learning the message of the Course and practicing its teachings. That would certainly not profit the man or the soul.


Q #319: In “Jesus: the Manifestation of the Holy Spirit” excerpt, on page 6, you state “The goal however is ultimately to realize the hand we hold is our Own.” And, later, “Eventually we would realize that when we reach out for help, we are really reaching out to ourselves.” Could you please elaborate on these statements?

A: A Course in Miracles teaches that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are symbols which represent the part of our minds which holds the memory of God and reflects His love. When it speaks of taking Jesus’ hand, or asking for help, it is making use of these symbols because we, who have dissociated ourselves from our minds and are mistakenly identified with the body, need them. This is best described when the Course tells us: “You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T.18.VIII.1:7).

Since we believe we are bodies living in a world of form, the Course uses form to make its message personal and relevant to us. It meets us on the level of form because that is where we think we are. It is also more direct, i.e., in passages that clearly describe the nature of the mind and our true identity (See: T.18.VI.8). There is nothing outside the mind, and therefore, no hand to take (neither ours nor Jesus’), and nothing but the mind itself to choose the truth or the ego’s lie of separation.

Both of the statements you mention are based on this level of the Course’s teaching. Key words in the statements are “ultimately” and “eventually.” They point to the time when we will have learned that our true identity is the mind. Only then will we realize that the power of choice is ours, and all of our asking has been a reminder to ourselves that we can return to the mind to choose our oneness with God rather than separation. Until then, we need to use any symbol that is helpful to us, such as holding Jesus’ hand and asking the Holy Spirit’s help, to let go of the fear of the power of our minds.

guiltless mind

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 14

ACIM Text Reading for February 14

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

I. Right Teaching and Right Learning

A good teacher clarifies his own ideas and strengthens them by teaching them. Teacher and pupil are alike in the learning process. They are in the same order of learning, and unless they share their lessons conviction will be lacking. A good teacher must believe in the ideas he teaches, but he must meet another condition; he must believe in the student to whom he offers the ideas.

Many stand guard over their ideas because they want to protect their thought systems as they are, and learning means change. Change is always fearful to the separated, because they cannot conceive of it as a move towards healing the separation. They always perceive it as a move toward further separation, because the separation was their first experience of change. You believe that if you allow no change to enter into your ego you will find peace. This profound confusion is possible only if you maintain that the same thought system can stand on two foundations. Nothing can reach spirit from the ego, and nothing can reach the ego from spirit. Spirit can neither strengthen the ego nor reduce the conflict within it. The ego is a contradiction. Your self and God’s Self are in opposition. They are opposed in source, in direction and in outcome. They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive and the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication. Nevertheless, the ego can learn, even though its maker can be misguided. He cannot, however, make the totally lifeless out of the life-given.

Spirit need not be taught, but the ego must be. Learning is ultimately perceived as frightening because it leads to the relinquishment, not the destruction, of the ego to the light of spirit. This is the change the ego must fear, because it does not share my charity. My lesson was like yours, and because I learned it I can teach it. I will never attack your ego, but I am trying to teach you how its thought system arose. When I remind you of your true creation, your ego cannot but respond with fear.

Teaching and learning are your greatest strengths now, because they enable you to change your mind and help others to change theirs. Refusing to change your mind will not prove that the separation has not occurred. The dreamer who doubts the reality of his dream while he is still dreaming is not really healing his split mind. You dream of a separated ego and believe in a world that rests upon it. This is very real to you. You cannot undo it by not changing your mind about it. If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.

Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will one day no longer need him. This is the one true goal of the teacher. It is impossible to convince the ego of this, because it goes against all of its own laws. But remember that laws are set up to protect the continuity of the system in which the lawmaker believes. It is natural for the ego to try to protect itself once you have made it, but it is not natural for you to want to obey its laws unless you believe them. The ego cannot make this choice because of the nature of its origin. You can, because of the nature of yours.

Egos can clash in any situation, but spirit cannot clash at all. If you perceive a teacher as merely ‘a larger ego’ you will be afraid, because to enlarge an ego would be to increase anxiety about separation. I will teach with you and live with you if you will think with me, but my goal will always be to absolve you finally from the need for a teacher. This is the opposite of the ego-oriented teacher’s goal. He is concerned with the effect of his ego on other egos, and therefore interprets their interaction as a means of ego preservation. I would not be able to devote myself to teaching if I believed this, and you will not be a devoted teacher as long as you believe it. I am constantly being perceived as a teacher either to be exalted or rejected, but I do not accept either perception for myself.

Your worth is not established by teaching or learning. Your worth is established by God. As long as you dispute this everything you do will be fearful, particularly any situation that lends itself to the belief in superiority and inferiority. Teachers must be patient and repeat their lessons until they are learned. I am willing to do this, because I have no right to set your learning limits for you. Again, – nothing you do or think or wish or make is necessary to establish your worth. This point is not debatable except in delusions. Your ego is never at stake because God did not create it. Your spirit is never at stake because He did. Any confusion on this point is delusional, and no form of devotion is possible as long as this delusion lasts.

The ego tries to exploit all situations into forms of praise for itself in order to overcome its doubts. It will remain doubtful as long as you believe in its existence. You who made it cannot trust it, because in your right mind you realise it is not real. The only sane solution is not to try to change reality, which is indeed a fearful attempt, but to accept it as it is. You are part of reality, which stands unchanged beyond the reach of your ego but within easy reach of spirit. When you are afraid, be still and know that God is real, and you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. Do not let your ego dispute this, because the ego cannot know what is as far beyond its reach as you are.

God is not the author of fear. You are. You have chosen to create unlike Him, and have therefore made fear for yourself. You are not at peace because you are not fulfilling your function. God gave you a very lofty function that you are not meeting. Your ego has chosen to be afraid instead of meeting it. When you awaken you will not be able to understand this, because it is literally incredible. Do not believe the incredible now. Any attempt to increase its believable-ness is merely to postpone the inevitable. The word ‘inevitable’ is fearful to the ego, but joyous to the spirit. God is inevitable, and you cannot avoid Him any more than He can avoid you.

The ego is afraid of the spirit’s joy, because once you have experienced it you will withdraw all protection from the ego, and become totally without investment in fear. Your investment is great now because fear is a witness to the separation, and your ego rejoices when you witness to it. Leave it behind! Do not listen to it and do not preserve it. Listen only to God, Who is as incapable of deception as is the spirit He created. Release yourself and release others. Do not present a false and unworthy picture of yourself to others, and do not accept such a picture of them yourself.

The ego has built a shabby and un-sheltering home for you, because it cannot build otherwise. Do not try to make this impoverished house stand. Its weakness is your strength. Only God could make a home that is worthy of His creations, who have chosen to leave it empty by their own dispossession. Yet His home will stand forever, and is ready for you when you choose to enter it. Of this you can be wholly certain. God is as incapable of creating the perishable as the ego is of making the eternal.

Of your ego you can do nothing to save yourself or others, but of your spirit you can do everything for the salvation of both. Humility is a lesson for the ego, not for the spirit. Spirit is beyond humility, because it recognises its radiance and gladly sheds its light everywhere. The meek shall inherit the earth because their egos are humble, and this gives them truer perception. The Kingdom of Heaven is the spirit’s right, whose beauty and dignity are far beyond doubt, beyond perception, and stand forever as the mark of the Love of God for His creations, who are wholly worthy of Him and only of Him. Nothing else is sufficiently worthy to be a gift for a creation of God Himself.

I will substitute for your ego if you wish, but never for your spirit. A father can safely leave a child with an elder brother who has shown himself responsible, but this involves no confusion about the child’s origin. The brother can protect the child’s body and his ego, but he does not confuse himself with the father because he does this. I can be entrusted with your body and your ego only because this enables you not to be concerned with them, and lets me teach you their unimportance. I could not understand their importance to you if I had not once been tempted to believe in them myself. Let us undertake to learn this lesson together so we can be free of them together. I need devoted teachers who share my aim of healing the mind. Spirit is far beyond the need of your protection or mine. Remember this:

In this world you need not have tribulation because I have overcome the world. That is why you should be of good cheer.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 14

Lesson 30

God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.

The idea for today is the springboard for vision. From this idea will the world open up before you, and you will look upon it and see in it what you have never seen before. Nor will what you saw before be even faintly visible to you.

Today we are trying to use a new kind of “projection.” We are not attempting to get rid of what we do not like by seeing it outside. Instead, we are trying to see in the world what is in our minds, and what we want to recognize is there. Thus, we are trying to join with what we see, rather than keeping it apart from us. That is the fundamental difference between vision and the way you see.

Today’s idea should be applied as often as possible throughout the day. Whenever you have a moment or so, repeat it to yourself slowly, looking about you, and trying to realize that the idea applies to everything you do see now, or could see now if it were within the range of your sight.

Real vision is not limited to concepts such as “near” and “far.” To help you begin to get used to this idea, try to think of things beyond your present range as well as those you can actually see, as you apply today’s idea.

Real vision is not only unlimited by space and distance, but it does not depend on the body’s eyes at all. The mind is its only source. To aid in helping you to become more accustomed to this idea as well, devote several practice periods to applying today’s idea with your eyes closed, using whatever subjects come to mind, and looking within rather than without. Today’s idea applies equally to both.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

iii. In “Right Teaching and Right Learning” I would like clarification on the following: “a good teacher….must meet another condition; he must believe in the students to whom he offers the ideas.” On one level, I understand Jesus is telling us he believes in us. How does this relate to someone teaching the Course? Does it refer to a non-judgmental attitude?

A: The Course tells us that in all our relationships we are both teaching and learning/teacher and student. The passage you quote is not referring exclusively to a teacher actually teaching the Course to students. It applies to each encounter we have with others. One of the most important goals of the Course is to teach us that we are minds with the power to choose, and are therefore responsible for our choice. This is the lesson we are asked to learn for ourselves and apply to everyone, whether or not they are students of the Course. It is the foundation of the forgiveness process, whereby we recognize that every experience in the dream, as well as every judgment concerning others, is the result of a choice in the mind to listen either to the voice of the ego, or the Voice of the Holy Spirit. The ego tells us we are bodies, and are guilty sinners deserving of punishment for believing this. The Holy Spirit tells us we are God’s innocent Son. What we choose determines what we believe about ourselves and others. We then teach it by the mere fact of believing it: “Remember always that what you believe you will teach. Believe with me, and we will become equal as teachers” (T.6.I.6:10,11).

When we perceive others as anything less than wholly deserving of God’s Love and ours, it is because we have believed the ego’s lie about our identity, judged ourselves as sinful, and believe the same about everyone else. We believe in students [others] by recognizing that they are not victims imprisoned in bodies; they are minds with the power to choose, just as we are.

*

Q #591: I have been doing a lot of reading on the conditions for learning A Course in Miracles. What I am stuck on is: “A good teacher must believe in the ideas he teaches; but he must meet another condition; he must believe in the students to whom he offers the ideas” (T.4.I.1:4). To me this means that if I believe in this Course it then becomes an “idea” in my mind, and I teach this idea. I interpret the second part to mean: (1) Jesus believes in us and is teaching us; and (2) at the level of the world we are all teachers and students. If I (the Son of God) am doing the teaching, would the student be anyone I meet, knew (in the past), or will know (in the future), or those I just think about? And would this mean that we have given up all judgment of these students or everything? Or do we not know when we are teaching?

A: Jesus is saying that to be a good teacher, not only must you believe in what you are teaching, you must also know that your students are capable of learning, and that in a very real sense they are ultimately the same as you. If you believe in the Course, you teach more than ideas. Teaching ideas is a good starting point, but if the content behind the ideas is not at some point conveyed through you, then you are not really teaching it. This comes through in paragraph 6, when Jesus lovingly reassures us: “I will teach with you and live with you if you will think with me, but my goal will always be to absolve you finally from the need for a teacher” (T.4.I.6:3). In other words, he is inviting us to become like him so that eventually there would be no difference between him and us, and he asks that we do this with each other. So as you are teaching others the ideas in the Course, you are learning that, on the only level that counts, you are not different from those you are teaching: all separation is an illusion, which makes judgment meaningless. That is the content that would eventually be expressed through your words as your practice of forgiveness progresses. You do not have to be in a formal teacher-student setting to do this. We teach all the time because we are always “broadcasting” in some way or other the decision we have made in our minds to identify with the ego’s thought system of separation or the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness, and others are always “scanning” for a signal that will somehow tell them that they are wrong in their self-condemnation and the projection of that on to others through judgment.

to hold and share

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 13

ACIM Text Reading for February 13

Chapter 4 ~ THE ILLUSIONS OF THE EGO

Introduction

The Bible says that you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks. It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey. Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either. It can lead only to mutual progress. The result of genuine devotion is inspiration, a word which properly understood is the opposite of fatigue. To be fatigued is to be dis-spirited, but to be inspired is to be in the spirit. To be egocentric is to be dis-spirited, but to be Self-centred in the right sense is to be inspired or in spirit. The truly inspired are enlightened and cannot abide in darkness.

You can speak from the spirit or from the ego, as you choose. If you speak from spirit you have chosen to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. These words are inspired because they reflect knowledge. If you speak from the ego you are disclaiming knowledge instead of affirming it, and are thus dis-spiriting yourself. Do not embark on useless journeys, because they are indeed in vain. The ego may desire them, but spirit cannot embark on them because it is forever unwilling to depart from its Foundation.

The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey’. Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. If you can accept it as your own last useless journey, you are also free to join my resurrection. Until you do so your life is indeed wasted. It merely re-enacts the separation, the loss of power, the futile attempts of the ego at reparation, and finally the crucifixion of the body, or death. Such repetitions are endless until they are voluntarily given up. Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross’. The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. This is not the Gospel I intended to offer you. We have another journey to undertake, and if you will read these lessons carefully they will help prepare you to undertake it.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 13

Lesson 29

God is in everything I see.

The idea for today explains why you can see all purpose in everything. It explains why nothing is separate, by itself or in itself. And it explains why nothing you see means anything. In fact, it explains every idea we have used thus far, and all subsequent ones as well. Today’s idea is the whole basis for vision.

You will probably find this idea very difficult to grasp at this point. You may find it silly, irreverent, senseless, funny and even objectionable. Certainly God is not in a table, for example, as you see it. Yet we emphasized yesterday that a table shares the purpose of the universe. And what shares the purpose of the universe shares the purpose of its Creator.

Try then, today, to begin to learn how to look on all things with love, appreciation and open-mindedness. You do not see them now. Would you know what is in them? Nothing is as it appears to you. Its holy purpose stands beyond your little range. When vision has shown you the holiness that lights up the world, you will understand today’s idea perfectly. And you will not understand how you could ever have found it difficult.

Our six two-minute practice periods for today should follow a now familiar pattern: Begin with repeating the idea to yourself, and then apply it to randomly chosen subjects about you, naming each one specifically. Try to avoid the tendency toward self-directed selection, which may be particularly tempting in connection with today’s idea because of its wholly alien nature. Remember that any order you impose is equally alien to reality.

Your list of subjects should therefore be as free of self-selection as possible. For example, a suitable list might include:

God is in this coat hanger.
God is in this magazine.
God is in this finger.
God is in this lamp.
God is in that body.
God is in that door.
God is in that waste basket.

In addition to the assigned practice periods, repeat the idea for today at least once an hour, looking slowly about you as you say the words unhurriedly to yourself. At least once or twice, you should experience a sense of restfulness as you do this.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #507: Am I correct in saying that every judgment, every instance of anger…every time we turn to the ego (the wrong mind), is a cry for pain and suffering and identically a cover against a cry for love, of going to the right mind?

A: Yes, anger, judgment, and choosing the wrong mind are all attacks; and yes, each one is a call for love. They are the effects of having chosen the separation, thereby identifying with the ego, which is the ultimate attack on the Son of God because it is a denial of our true Identity. What inevitably follows is a profound sense of loss and emptiness. What is lost is awareness of love’s presence. This loss is experienced in the feelings of deprivation, scarcity, need, and incompleteness that are at the root of every attack, whereby we seek to take from others what we think we lack. It is a desperate attempt to get back the love that was lost in the choice to separate. The choice is forgotten and denied, while the guilt for having made it is buried and projected out to everyone who is now perceived as having stolen the love and wholeness that are rightfully ours. Born of a deep sense of deprivation, attack is believed to be the only way to get what we need from everyone and everything outside of ourselves. In this search, whether it takes the form of special love or special hate, the ego seeks to fill the void left by the separation. Attack expresses the fear that what was lost will never again be found. It is therefore, an expression of fear.

By thus reinterpreting attack, A Course in Miracles teaches us a new way of perceiving it. It can now be seen as a way of “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the song goes. The attacker is desperately seeking the “lost love.” However, no matter how perverse an attack may seem to be, it has not obliterated the part of the mind that holds the memory of God’s Love. If we are willing to let go of the ego’s judgment and accept the Holy Spirit’s interpretation, we acknowledge the right mind of the attacker and allow the Holy Spirit to respond with love. Thus the wrong mind is not reinforced, the attack is not perpetuated, and the love that was sought is found in the right place: the part of the mind of the attacker that remembers love, whenever he or she is ready to accept it.

As Jesus tells us in the text: “This is what recognizing fear really means. If you do not protect it, He [the Holy Spirit] will reinterpret it. That is the ultimate value in learning to perceive attack as a call for love” (T.12.I.8:8,9,10).

ghost-mirror copy

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 12

A Course in Miracles Text Reading for February 12

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

VII. Creating versus the Self-Image

Every system of thought must have a starting point. It begins with either a making or a creating, a difference we have already discussed. Their resemblance lies in their power as foundations. Their difference lies in what rests upon them. Both are cornerstones for systems of belief by which one lives. It is a mistake to believe that a thought system based on lies is weak. Nothing made by a child of God is without power. It is essential to realise this, because otherwise you will be unable to escape from the prison you have made.

You cannot resolve the authority problem by depreciating the power of your mind. To do so is to deceive yourself, and this will hurt you because you really understand the strength of the mind. You also realise that you cannot weaken it, any more than you can weaken God. The ‘devil’ is a frightening concept because he seems to be extremely powerful and extremely active. He is perceived as a force in combat with God, battling Him for possession of His creations. The devil deceives by lies, and builds kingdoms in which everything is in direct opposition to God. Yet he attracts men rather than repels them, and they are willing to ‘sell’ him their souls in return for gifts of no real worth. This makes absolutely no sense.

We have discussed the fall or separation before, but its meaning must be clearly understood. The separation is a system of thought real enough in time, though not in eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer. The fruit of only one tree was ‘forbidden’ in the symbolic garden. But God could not have forbidden it, or it could not have been eaten. If God knows His children, and I assure you that He does, would He have put them in a position where their own destruction was possible? The ‘forbidden tree’ was named the ‘tree of knowledge’. Yet God created knowledge and gave it freely to His creations. The symbolism here has been given many interpretations, but you may be sure that any interpretation that sees either God or His creations as capable of destroying Their Own purpose is in error.

Eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a symbolic expression for usurping the ability for self-creating. This is the only sense in which God and His creations are not co-creators. The belief that they are is implicit in the ‘self-concept’, or the tendency of the self to make an image of itself. Images are perceived, not known. Knowledge cannot deceive, but perception can. You can perceive yourself as self-creating, but you cannot do more than believe it. You cannot make it true. And, as I said before, when you finally perceive correctly you can only be glad that you cannot. Until then, however, the belief that you can is the foundation stone in your thought system, and all your defences are used to attack ideas that might bring it to light. You still believe you are an image of your own making. Your mind is split with the Holy Spirit on this point, and there is no resolution while you believe the one thing that is literally inconceivable. That is why you cannot create and are filled with fear about what you make.

The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the ‘devil’. It is powerful, active, destructive and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Look at your life and see what the devil has made. But realise that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth, because its foundation is a lie. Your creation by God is the only Foundation that cannot be shaken, because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning. Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. Your Self s still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death.

The branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of life, and your own thought system will stand corrected. It cannot stand otherwise. You who fear salvation are choosing death. Life and death, light and darkness, knowledge and perception, are irreconcilable. To believe that they can be reconciled is to believe that God and His Son can not. Only the oneness of knowledge is free of conflict. Your kingdom is not of this world because it was given you from beyond this world. Only in this world is the idea of an authority problem meaningful. The world is not left by death but by truth, and truth can be known by all those for whom the Kingdom was created, and for whom it waits.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 12

Lesson 28

Above all else I want to see things differently.

Today we are really giving specific application to the idea for yesterday. In these practice periods, you will be making a series of definite commitments. The question of whether you will keep them in the future is not our concern here. If you are willing at least to make them now, you have started on the way to keeping them. And we are still at the beginning.

You may wonder why it is important to say, for example, “Above all else I want to see this table differently.” In itself it is not important at all. Yet what is by itself? And what does “in itself” mean? You see a lot of separate things about you, which really means you are not seeing at all. You either see or not. When you have seen one thing differently, you will see all things differently. The light you will see in any one of them is the same light you will see in them all.

When you say, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are making a commitment to withdraw your preconceived ideas about the table, and open your mind to what it is, and what it is for. You are not defining it in past terms. You are asking what it is, rather than telling it what it is. You are not binding its meaning to your tiny experience of tables, nor are you limiting its purpose to your little personal thoughts.

You will not question what you have already defined. And the purpose of these exercises is to ask questions and receive the answers. In saying, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are committing yourself to seeing. It is not an exclusive commitment. It is a commitment that applies to the table just as much as to anything else, neither more nor less.

You could, in fact, gain vision from just that table, if you would withdraw all your own ideas from it, and look upon it with a completely open mind. It has something to show you; something beautiful and clean and of infinite value, full of happiness and hope. Hidden under all your ideas about it is its real purpose, the purpose it shares with all the universe.

In using the table as a subject for applying the idea for today, you are therefore really asking to see the purpose of the universe. You will be making this same request of each subject that you use in the practice periods. And you are making a commitment to each of them to let its purpose be revealed to you, instead of placing your own judgment upon it.

We will have six two-minute practice periods today, in which the idea for the day is stated first, and then applied to whatever you see about you. Not only should the subjects be chosen randomly, but each one should be accorded equal sincerity as today’s idea is applied to it, in an attempt to acknowledge the equal value of them all in their contribution to your seeing.

As usual, the applications should include the name of the subject your eyes happen to light on, and you should rest your eyes on it while saying

Above all else I want to see this ______ differently.

Each application should be made quite slowly, and as thoughtfully as possible. There is no hurry.

 

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #45: My question refers to the process of helping others. In studying the Course, I realize that the world’s salvation and my own is my only function. However, is there an accredited program or some kind of certification based on the Course that could be pursued, in a field such as psychotherapy or counseling.

A: To address the second part of your question first, sorry, but there can be no formal training based on the Course to prepare someone for the role of therapist or counselor because the Course has nothing to say about specific forms or roles. This does not mean that there may not be those who offer such a curriculum, but it is not really in line with the intentions of the Course as a spiritual teaching. You could be trained, for example, in psychoanalysis or behavioral therapy or Rogerian counseling, each of which employs a very different theoretical model and different techniques and practices from the other approaches, and still utilize the principles of the Course in your work with patients. This is because the Course is intended to help you change how you perceive situations and relationships within your own mind and has nothing to say about how you behave or act with others. And so any form of therapeutic practice, even if it may have initially been made to maintain separation, can be used for a truly healing outcome when it is placed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The pamphlet, Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice, does provide a helpful application of Course principles in a therapeutic context, but a careful reading of it makes it very clear that Jesus is only talking about what is going on within the mind of the therapist and is never making recommendations for how the therapist should act with the patient or client. The insights a therapist develops from the Course about the nature of reality and the purpose of the world and the self — first from the ego’s perspective of the reality of sin and guilt, and then from the perspective of the Holy Spirit’s healed perception — may or may not be things that would be appropriate to discuss with a patient. But it would always be the content of forgiveness and not any specific words or concepts that the therapist would want to share with the patient. And the content is shared in any instant when the therapist has released all the judgments he may be holding in his own mind against the patient, which are nothing more than the projections of judgments he is holding against himself. The pamphlet describes this process: “The therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself, and is thus given another chance to look at it, open it to reevaluation and forgive it. When this occurs, he sees his sins as gone into a past that is no longer here….The patient is his screen for the projections of his sins, enabling him to let them go” (P.2.VI.6:3,4,6,7).

And to turn to your opening comments with just a few clarifications. When you speak of helping others, and observe that the Course speaks of the world’s salvation and our own as our only function, you want to be sure that you understand what the world’s salvation means. The workbook says that “salvation of the world depends on me” (W.pI.186.h). But the world’s salvation does not refer to doing anything in the world or to having an effect on anything external, including others, in the world. The salvation of the world depends on my withdrawing the projections of guilt that I have placed upon the world, and then releasing those judgments from myself as well – – the same process that we have just read from the Psychotherapy pamphlet. In the end, having no further purpose, the external world will disappear, just as the guilt we have projected on to it vanishes in the light of forgiveness. In other words, “there is no world” to save (W.pI.132.6:2).

And so, in the meantime, before our mind is completely healed, we would not want any actions we take in the world to come from our own perception of what help others need — we do not know. All of our perceptions are based on a belief in the reality of separation, scarcity, lack and loss, so our own interventions will only serve to reinforce that belief in ourselves and others. We cannot possibly know or understand what real help is, in a separated state of mind. But when we release our own judgments, grievances and guilt, then the part of our mind — the Holy Spirit — that does know is free to express Itself through us. And the help will then always be a reminder that sin and guilt and separation are not real, expressed in a form that can be accepted in another without increasing fear (T.2.IV.5). But we will have not made the decision on our own about how that is best done. As Jesus not so subtly observes, “Your function here is only to decide against deciding what you want, in recognition that you do not know. How, then, can you decide what you should do? Leave all decisions to the One Who speaks for God, and for your function as He knows it” (T.14.IV.5:2,3,4).


Q #46: What does the course say about feelings??? I know it says we shouldn’t deny our feelings. Could you say more on this. Are we to listen to what our feelings are telling us?

A: Feelings is not used very often in the Course, since it’s focus is on thoughts. But in order to access our thoughts, it is very important that we be in touch with our feelings. If we are not aware of how we feel, then we are that much farther removed from our thoughts. So one of the first practical steps a student of the Course may take is that of becoming more and more aware of how they feel. This can often times be a painful process, since more often than not, our painful feelings are denied. Once we allow these feelings to arise within us, we are tempted to shove them back down again because they are unpleasant. For some of us, we may only deny particular feelings, such as anger, grief, or jealousy, etc. Society teaches us what we “should” and “should not” feel, and then the Course comes along, and as spiritual seekers, we impose additional “shoulds” and “should nots.” It is no wonder no one knows how they feel!

Once we are in touch we how we feel, we can then begin the process of discovering what thought caused the feeling. We do not have to don our Sherlock Holmes hats and search and search for these thoughts, as over-intellectualizing the process simply becomes another obstacle. Search your mind as best you can, but more importantly, give Jesus or the Holy Spirit your willingness to know what the thought is. And in most instances, even those having to do with anger, you will find that your thoughts have to do with loss of some kind. Once you are aware of the thought you then have the choice to change the thought, or not. But at least you have found the true source of your pain. It is not anything outside of you, but rather the thoughts you hold within.

As Jesus tells us in the text:

This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:

I am responsible for what I see.

I choose the [thoughts and] feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.

And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear (T.21.II.2:1,2,3,4,5,6,7).


Q #47: Seven months ago, I thought I made a decision in a peaceful and loving way. I had advice and support in my decision. Now, I have recently been given information that has made me question the action. At the time, I felt this was the most loving and kind thing. I find this very disturbing and have revisited the tapes on “Rules for Decision.” I think I’ve never given up the guilt or the blame for taking the action. I know the Course is a process; I’ve been a student for 12 years, but when this happened I questioned that I’ve made any progress. I know that the Course is not about doing things in this world. Am I dealing with 2 different situations or am I still in the original one problem?

A: If you felt you did the most loving and kind thing, then you should stay with that. You know, we have limited ourselves so much, and have erected so many layers of defenses by choosing to think we are bodies, that we simply are not in touch with what is going on beneath the surface of our conscious awareness. We cannot see the larger picture at all; therefore, we do not know where we are on our Atonement path. So it is not helpful to question our progress. That is where having Jesus as our teacher is so helpful. By following his directions in his Course, we are led deeper and deeper into our minds, and we slowly begin to get in touch with the underlying motivations for our actions and thought patterns.

So the experience you had is not at all uncommon. We all can look back at decisions we’ve made that seem to have been the right ones, but now, because we have uncovered more of what we had kept hidden about ourselves in our minds, we realize that we had overlooked something or had simply deceived ourselves. That is to be expected as we go along, but feeling guilty over it is not helpful. Feeling guilty will only reinforce the problem and keep the solution concealed.

The “proper” response is to feel grateful that you have learned something more about how your ego operates, so that you now can be more vigilant for those kinds of ploys. It is a humbling experience, but if you accept that your purpose is to journey — with Jesus’ love guiding you — into the darkness in your mind, you will not be so surprised to discover these instances of self-deception. Ultimately, you will recognize that the whole thing is a defense against the light and the love that is there, and that is our true reality.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 11

ACIM Text Reading for February 11

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

VI. Judgement and the Authority Problem

We have already discussed the Last Judgement, but in insufficient detail. After the Last Judgement there will be no more. Judgement is symbolic because beyond perception there is no judgement. When the Bible says ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’, it means that if you judge the reality of others you will be unable to avoid judging your own.

The choice to judge rather than to know is the cause of the loss of peace. Judgement is the process on which perception but not knowledge rests. I have discussed this before in terms of the selectivity of perception, pointing out that evaluation is its obvious prerequisite. Judgement always involves rejection. It never emphasises only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether in you or in others. What has been perceived and rejected, or judged and found wanting, remains in your mind because it has been perceived. One of the illusions from which you suffer is the belief that what you judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless you also believe that what you judged against does not exist. You evidently do not believe this, or you would not have judged against it. In the end it does not matter whether your judgement is right or wrong. Either way you are placing your belief in the unreal. This cannot be avoided in any type of judgement, because it implies the belief that reality is yours to select from.

You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgement. When you recognise what you are and what your brothers are, you will realise that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from the belief that you are under the coercion of judgement. You do not need judgement to organise your life, and you certainly do not need it to organise yourself. In the presence of knowledge all judgement is automatically suspended, and this is the process that enables recognition to replace perception.

You are very fearful of everything you have perceived but have refused to accept. You believe that, because you have refused to accept it, you have lost control over it. This is why you see it in nightmares, or in pleasant disguises in what seem to be your happier dreams. Nothing that you have refused to accept can be brought into awareness. It is not dangerous in itself, but you have made it seem dangerous to you.

When you feel tired, it is because you have judged yourself as capable of being tired. When you laugh at someone, it is because you have judged him as unworthy. When you laugh at yourself you must laugh at others, if only because you cannot tolerate the idea of being more unworthy than they are. All this makes you feel tired because it is essentially disheartening. You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourself. The strain of constant judgement is virtually intolerable. It is curious that an ability so debilitating would be so deeply cherished. Yet if you wish to be the author of reality, you will insist on holding on to judgement. You will also regard judgement with fear, believing that it will someday be used against you. This belief can exist only to the extent that you believe in the efficacy of judgement as a weapon of defence for your own authority.

God offers only mercy. Your words should reflect only mercy, because that is what you have received and that is what you should give. Justice is a temporary expedient, or an attempt to teach you the meaning of mercy. It is judgemental only because you are capable of injustice.

I have spoken of different symptoms, and at that level there is almost endless variation. There is, however, only one cause for all of them: the authority problem. This is ‘the root of all evil’. Every symptom the ego makes involves a contradiction in terms, because the mind is split between the ego and the Holy Spirit, so that whatever the ego makes is incomplete and contradictory. This untenable position is the result of the authority problem which, because it accepts the one inconceivable thought as its premise, can produce only ideas that are inconceivable.

The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When you have an authority problem, it is always because you believe you are the author of yourself and project your delusion onto others. You then perceive the situation as one in which others are literally fighting you for your authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God. This belief is very frightening to them, but hardly troubles God. He is, however, eager to undo it, not to punish His children, but only because He knows that it makes them unhappy. God’s creations are given their true Authorship, but you prefer to be anonymous when you choose to separate yourself from your Author. Being uncertain of your true Authorship, you believe that your creation was anonymous. This leaves you in a position where it sounds meaningful to believe that you created yourself. The dispute over authorship has left such uncertainty in your mind that it may even doubt whether you really exist at all.

Only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible. You have not usurped the power of God, but you have lost it. Fortunately, to lose something does not mean that it has gone. It merely means that you do not remember where it is. Its existence does not depend on your ability to identify it, or even to place it. It is possible to look on reality without judgement and merely know that it is there.

Peace is a natural heritage of spirit. Everyone is free to refuse to accept his inheritance, but he is not free to establish what his inheritance is. The problem everyone must decide is the fundamental question of authorship. All fear comes ultimately, and sometimes by way of very devious routes, from the denial of Authorship. The offence is never to God, but only to those who deny Him. To deny His Authorship is to deny yourself the reason for your peace, so that you see yourself only in segments. This strange perception is the authority problem.

There is no one who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way. If this is the result of his own free will he must regard his will as not free, or the circular reasoning in this position would be quite apparent. Free will must lead to freedom. Judgement always imprisons because it separates segments of reality by the unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one in his right mind believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed. Instead of ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven’ say, ‘Will ye first the Kingdom of Heaven’, and you have said, ‘I know what I am and I accept my own inheritance’.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 11

Lesson 27

Above all else I want to see.

Today’s idea expresses something stronger than mere determination. It gives vision priority among your desires. You may feel hesitant about using the idea, on the grounds that you are not sure you really mean it. This does not matter. The purpose of today’s exercises is to bring the time when the idea will be wholly true a little nearer.

There may be a great temptation to believe that some sort of sacrifice is being asked of you when you say you want to see above all else. If you become uneasy about the lack of reservation involved, add:

Vision has no cost to anyone.

If fear of loss still persists, add further:

It can only bless.

The idea for today needs many repetitions for maximum benefit. It should be used at least every half hour, and more if possible. You might try for every fifteen or twenty minutes. It is recommended that you set a definite time interval for using the idea when you wake or shortly afterwards, and attempt to adhere to it throughout the day. It will not be difficult to do this, even if you are engaged in conversation, or otherwise occupied at the time. You can still repeat one short sentence to yourself without disturbing anything.

The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today’s idea to be true? Answer one of these questions, and you have answered the other. You will probably miss several applications, and perhaps quite a number. Do not be disturbed by this, but do try to keep on your schedule from then on. If only once during the day you feel that you were perfectly sincere while you were repeating today’s idea, you can be sure that you have saved yourself many years of effort.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1333I read your reply to Question #913 with great interest. I have also noticed the Course making people more assertive and aggressive, even unbalancing otherwise rather “normal” and friendly people by perhaps influencing them subconsciously. You/the Course seem to say that this is simply the ego fighting back, but I wonder whether Course in Miracles , in itself, is very assertive in the way it presents its “truth,” and therefore (deliberately?) causes these emotional storms, aggressive behavior, and hateful thoughts to come forth. Is the Course some sort of “provocative therapy” much like homoeopathy only in much more powerful degrees? It uses sentences like “I told you” and “do this,” which sound very authoritative. As justification of its authoritative way of presenting its point of view, it says it comes directly from Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or even God. Is my interpretation correct?

A: Your interpretation is not quite right. To explain why, let us address your final point first. The Course does not claim to have come from God. It is written in Jesus’ authoritative voice, but this is not the result of a calculated attempt to justify a point of view. Rather, it is a reflection of the fact that it was inspired by a source of love from outside this dream of time and space — one which many of us within this dream, including the Course’s scribe, experience as coming through the voice of Jesus.

The Course teaches that until now we have been listening to the voice of the ego, and it asks us to look honestly at the misery this has caused us. It informs us that we have access to another internal Teacher, the Holy Spirit, and that we would be much happier if we dropped the ego’s hand and took the Holy Spirit’s hand instead. It is unequivocal about the fact that this world is an illusion born from guilt and that therefore, we will never find lasting happiness or peace from anything within this world — we will only find it by changing our mind. The difficulty is that, “To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold” (T.24.in.2:1).

As long as we are listening to the ego, it is very difficult to hear that we are wrong about everything and should question all our values. Indeed, under the ego’s guidance, it is virtually impossible not to hear that as an attack and react with emotional storms, aggressive behavior, and hateful thoughts. It is not the Course’s goal that we experience these things, but Jesus realizes that it is almost inevitable that we will. He knows this because he recognizes that as long as we believe we are here, we merely reenact the original instant in which we stormed against God, insisting that we were right and God was wrong. Thus, when Course students seem to become overly assertive or aggressive as a result of what they are learning, it is not because they are fulfilling part of the Course’s curriculum, but rather that they are reacting to the fear it has engendered.

Jesus is not out to provoke us, but neither does he try to protect us from feeling provoked by his message. He simply tells us that what is true is true, what is false is false, and asks us to watch our own internal process as we learn to distinguish between the two.

shine it away