A Course in Miracles Text Reading and Workbook Lesson for February 10

A Course in Miracles Text Reading for February 10

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

V. Beyond Perception

I have said that the abilities you possess are only shadows of your real strength, and that perception, which is inherently judgemental, was introduced only after the separation. No one has been sure of anything since. I have also made it clear that the resurrection was the means for the return to knowledge, which was accomplished by the union of my will with the Father’s. We can now establish a distinction that will clarify some of our subsequent statements.

Since the separation, the words ‘create’ and ‘make’ have become confused. When you make something, you do so out of a specific sense of lack or need. Anything made for a specific purpose has no true generalisability. When you make something to fill a perceived lack, you are tacitly implying that you believe in separation. The ego has invented many ingenious thought systems for this purpose. None of them is creative. Inventiveness is wasted effort even in its most ingenious form. The highly specific nature of invention is not worthy of the abstract creativity of God’s creations.

Knowing, as we have already observed, does not lead to doing. The confusion between your real creation and what you have made of yourself is so profound that it has become literally impossible for you to know anything. Knowledge is always stable, and it is quite evident that you are not. Nevertheless, you are perfectly stable as God created you. In this sense, when your behaviour is unstable, you are disagreeing with God’s idea of your creation. You can do this if you choose, but you would hardly want to do it if you were in your right mind.

The fundamental question you continually ask yourself cannot properly be directed to yourself at all. You keep asking what it is you are. This implies that the answer is not only one you know, but is also one that is up to you to supply. Yet you cannot perceive yourself correctly. You have no image to be perceived. The word ‘image’ is always perception-related, and not a part of knowledge. Images are symbolic and stand for something else. The idea of ‘changing your image’ recognises the power of perception, but also implies that there is nothing stable to know.

Knowing is not open to interpretation. You may try to ‘interpret’ meaning, but this is always open to error because it refers to the perception of meaning. Such incongruities are the result of attempts to regard yourself as separated and unseparated at the same time. It is impossible to make so fundamental a confusion without increasing your overall confusion still further. Your mind may have become very ingenious, but as always happens when method and content are separated, it is utilised in a futile attempt to escape from an inescapable impasse. Ingenuity is totally divorced from knowledge, because knowledge does not require ingenuity. Ingenious thinking is not the truth that shall set you free, but you are free of the need to engage in it when you are willing to let it go.

Prayer is a way of asking for something. It is the medium of miracles. But the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless. The prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that you may be able to recognise what you already have. In electing perception instead of knowledge, you placed yourself in a position where you could resemble your Father only by perceiving miraculously. You have lost the knowledge that you yourself are a miracle of God. Creation is your Source and your only real function.

The statement ‘God created man in his own image and likeness’ needs reinterpretation. ‘Image’ can be understood as ‘thought’, and ‘likeness’ as ‘of a like quality’. God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There is nothing else. Perception, on the other hand, is impossible without a belief in ‘more’ and ‘less’.. At every level it involves selectivity. Perception is a continual process of accepting and rejecting, organising and reorganising, shifting and changing. Evaluation is an essential part of perception, because judgements are necessary in order to select.

What happens to perceptions if there are no judgements and nothing but perfect equality? Perception becomes impossible. Truth can only be known. All of it is equally true, and knowing any part of it is to know all of it. Only perception involves partial awareness. Knowledge transcends the laws governing perception, because partial knowledge is impossible. It is all one and has no separate parts. You who are really one with it need but know yourself and your knowledge is complete. To know God’s miracle is to know Him.

Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation. Correct perception of your brother is necessary, because minds have chosen to see themselves as separate. Spirit knows God completely. That is its miraculous power. The fact that each one has this power completely is a condition entirely alien to the world’s thinking. The world believes that if anyone has everything, there is nothing left. But God’s miracles are as total as His Thoughts because they are His Thoughts.

As long as perception lasts prayer has a place. Since perception rests on lack, those who perceive have not totally accepted the Atonement and given themselves over to truth. Perception is based on a separated state, so that anyone who perceives at all needs healing. Communion, not prayer, is the natural state of those who know. God and His miracle are inseparable. How beautiful indeed are the Thoughts of God who live in His Light! Your worth is beyond perception because it is beyond doubt. Do not perceive yourself in different lights. Know yourself in the One Light where the miracle that is you is perfectly clear.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 10

Lesson 26

My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

It is surely obvious that if you can be attacked you are not invulnerable. You see attack as a real threat. That is because you believe that you can really attack. And what would have effects through you must also have effects on you. It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now. You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests, rather than against them.

Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack. And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable. Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are. Attack thoughts and invulnerability cannot be accepted together. They contradict each other.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first. If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes. Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself. And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself. A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.

Practice with today’s idea will help you to understand that vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of your own thoughts. Nothing except your thoughts can attack you. Nothing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulnerable. And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so.

Six practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. A full two minutes should be attempted for each of them, although the time may be reduced to a minute if the discomfort is too great. Do not reduce it further.

The practice period should begin with repeating the idea for today, then closing your eyes and reviewing the unresolved questions whose outcomes are causing you concern. The concern may take the form of depression, worry, anger, a sense of imposition, fear, foreboding or preoccupation. Any problem as yet unsettled that tends to recur in your thoughts during the day is a suitable subject. You will not be able to use very many for any one practice period, because a longer time than usual should be spent with each one. Today’s idea should be applied as follows:

First, name the situation:

I am concerned about ______.

Then go over every possible outcome that has occurred to you in that connection and which has caused you concern, referring to each one quite specifically, saying:

I am afraid ______ will happen.

If you are doing the exercises properly, you should have some five or six distressing possibilities available for each situation you use, and quite possibly more. It is much more helpful to cover a few situations thoroughly than to touch on a larger number. As the list of anticipated outcomes for each situation continues, you will probably find some of them, especially those that occur to you toward the end, less acceptable to you. Try, however, to treat them all alike to whatever extent you can.

After you have named each outcome of which you are afraid, tell yourself:

That thought is an attack upon myself.

Conclude each practice period by repeating today’s idea to yourself once more.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #884Is extending gratitude to the ideas which joined me in my physical, illusory play in the form of body cells and tissues, trees, animals, insects etc., bringing truth to illusions? Or does keeping in mind that the reality of everything is a loving idea, if seen from the Holy Spirit’s vantage point, allow the illusion to be brought to Truth? Is focusing on the ideas beyond the form the way to remember, that “God is in everything I see” (W.pI.29)?

A: Guilt for having chosen the separation and identity with the ego are the thoughts that made the body. These are certainly not thoughts for which to be grateful. The body is nothing to be grateful for, because of itself it is nothing (T19.IV.C.5:5) . In fact, there is nothing in the illusion of form that merits gratitude, precisely because it is illusion, not reality. Moreover, the world is the projection of the insane thought that the Son of God can be separate from his Source. Therefore, there is nothing inherently loving about it.

What’s more, in A Course in Miracles, Jesus tells us: we do not know what anything is for (W.pI.25) , we do not know who we are (T.9.I.2:5), what we really want (T.11.II.3:7), or what love is (T12.V.6:1) . In this state of confusion, how could we possibly know what to be grateful for? Hope lies in accepting what Jesus tells us: “ You do not know the meaning of anything you perceive. Not one thought you hold is wholly true. The recognition of this is your firm beginning” (T.11.VIII.3:1,2,3). The beginning is willingness to be taught to see everything differently by looking through the eyes of forgiveness.

The practice of forgiveness, whereby every judgment is recognized as the projection of a choice in the mind, is the only way to bring illusion to truth. The important focus in this process is being willing to remember that nothing external to the mind has any effect on it. This is the foundation of forgiveness and the perspective the Holy Spirit brings to every experience in the dream. We can then be grateful to everything and everyone by acknowledging that none of them is responsible for anything we feel. That is what is meant by the workbook lesson, “I am not the victim of the world I see” (W.pI.31) . This gratitude extends to oneself as well, in recognition of the mind’s power to choose the Holy Spirit or the ego as interpreter of every experience in the dream. We can be thankful that our happiness does not depend on anything outside our minds, and requires only that we choose it, by choosing the Holy Spirit.

The first step is learning that the “happiness” we seem to experience in the world is the ego’s specialness, not true happiness. This means looking honestly at all the things we think make us happy, and seeing them as tawdry substitutes for the real happiness we seek. As mentioned earlier, we don’t know what that is, but we can learn that it is not anything the world offers. This requires a little willingness to question every value that we hold (T.24.in.2:1) . Every value means “…all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. …everything [the mind] thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed” (W.pI.189.7:1,2). To question these values we must first recognize them, and so our function is only to: “…seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against [Him] ” (T.16.IV.6:1). We need not strive to see God in everything. When every value is questioned and found wanting, nothing will be held up to block the memory of God’s Love in our minds, and then He will be in everything we see. This does not mean that He is present in the dream in any way. It means that when the memory of His Love is not blocked by the ego’s specialness, everything is perceived through the lens of love’s reflection.


Q #885Why do I sometimes feel that the words spoken in A Course in Miracles are unkind? Is this a projection of the ego which is trying to steer me subtly away from the Course’s purpose? What is the Course’s purpose anyhow?

A: The goal of A Course in Miracles is to uncover what lies hidden within the ego thought system, so that it can be exposed to the light of truth to be healed. Exposure of the ugliness of the ego may seem unkind, just as patients cringe when the dentist probes to examine an aching tooth. The pain of the infected tooth is unbearable, but the helping hands of the dentist may be perceived as yet more painful. Careful examination of the Course’s graphic descriptions of the ego reveals Jesus’ kind and comforting diagnosis: we are not the gruesome ego in need of a root canal, we only think we are. He introduces descriptions of the ego’s insanity with phrases such as: “you think you are….” “you believe you are….,” “you see yourself…”. Never does he say these beliefs are true. In fact, the only purpose for exposing these thoughts is to teach us that they are not true, and that we believe them because we have chosen them to support belief in the reality of separation and sin. The sickness of separation must first be exposed in order for it to be healed. The goal of the Course is healing the mind of the thought of separation, which Jesus helps us do by teaching us that just as we chose the ego, we can choose against it by choosing the Holy Spirit.

Yes, focusing on the Course’s strong negative words in reference to the ego is a wonderful way for to halt progress in your study of the Course. The truth is, we have no problem believing that we are egos living and dying in bodies, with no hope of ever returning to our true state of oneness with God; the most unkind thing the Son of God could believe about himself. But we do have tremendous resistance to believing the message Jesus offers: we are God’s innocent Son (W.pI.95.12:2,3) , the separation never happened (T.6.II.10:7) , the world is an illusion (W.pI.155.2:1) , and “At no single instant does the body exist at all” (T.18.VII.3:1) . Jesus adds insult to injury by telling us that this world is hell (W.pI.182.3) , every attack is murder (T.23.III.1) , guilt is projected from the mind in the form of hate (T.18.VI.2) , and finally, “…a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury” (W.pI.21.2:5) . To the part of the mind that identifies with the ego/body these words are indeed unkind; certainly not things we want to hear. In fact, the ego works very hard at keeping these thoughts from awareness, thereby defending the mind’s continued choice for separation. The devastating consequences of choosing separation are hidden behind the world’s seeming loveliness. In the text, Jesus uses the example of a framed picture to show us the ego’s use of denial and deception. The ugly picture of the ego’s specialness is “…surrounded by a frame so heavy and so elaborate that the picture is almost obliterated by its imposing structure” (T.17.IV.8:2) . The ego uses both the positive and negative experiences of the world in fabricating its frame of deception. The positive experiences are diversions meant to convince us that the world is not such a bad place. The pain and misery of negative experiences prove the world is real. We have so overlearned the ego’s message and adjusted to the heavy layers of denial, that Jesus spells things out using striking contrast between the ego’s darkness and the loving message of the Holy Spirit’s truth. Jesus urges us to “look at the picture ” (T.17.IV.9:1) , not the frame. Unless we see that choosing the ego is the source of all the world’s anguish, we will not move beyond the veil of illusion to awaken to the light of truth. That is the ultimate goal of the Course.

health is inner peace

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 9

A Course in Miracles for February 9

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

IV. Error and the Ego

The abilities you now possess are only shadows of your real strength. All of your present functions are divided and open to question and doubt. This is because you are not certain how you will use them, and are therefore incapable of knowledge. You are also incapable of knowledge because you can still perceive lovelessly. Perception did not exist until the separation introduced degrees, aspects and intervals. Spirit has no levels, and all conflict arises from the concept of levels. Only the Levels of the Trinity are capable of Unity. The levels created by the separation cannot but conflict. This is because they are meaningless to each other.

Consciousness, the level of perception, was the first split introduced into the mind after the separation, making the mind a perceiver rather than a creator. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego. The ego is a wrong-minded attempt to perceive yourself as you wish to be, rather than as you are. Yet you can know yourself only as you are, because that is all you can be sure of. Everything else is open to question.

The ego is the questioning aspect of the post-separation self, which was made rather than created. It is capable of asking questions but not of perceiving meaningful answers, because these would involve knowledge and cannot be perceived. The mind is therefore confused, because only One-mindedness can be without confusion. A separated or divided mind must be confused. It is necessarily uncertain about what it is. It has to be in conflict because it is out of accord with itself. This makes its aspects strangers to each other, and this is the essence of the fear-prone condition, in which attack is always possible. You have every reason to feel afraid as you perceive yourself. This is why you cannot escape from fear until you realise that you did not and could not create yourself. You can never make your misperceptions true, and your creation is beyond your own error. That is why you must eventually choose to heal the separation.

Right-mindedness is not to be confused with the knowing mind, because it is applicable only to right perception. You can be right-minded or wrong-minded, and even this is subject to degrees, clearly demonstrating that knowledge is not involved. The term ‘right-mindedness’ is properly used as the correction for ‘wrong- mindedness’, and applies to the state of mind that induces accurate perception. It is miracle-minded because it heals misperception, and this is indeed a miracle in view of how you perceive yourself.

Perception always involves some misuse of mind, because it brings the mind into areas of uncertainty. The mind is very active. When it chooses to be separated it chooses to perceive. Until then it wills only to know. Afterwards it can only choose ambiguously, and the only way out of ambiguity is clear perception. The mind returns to its proper function only when it wills to know. This places it in the service of spirit, where perception is changed. The mind chooses to divide itself when it chooses to make its own levels. But it could not entirely separate itself from spirit, because it is from spirit that it derives its whole power to make or create. Even in miscreation the mind is affirming its Source, or it would merely cease to be. This is impossible, because the mind belongs to spirit which God created and which is therefore eternal.

The ability to perceive made the body possible, because you must perceive something and with something. That is why perception involves an exchange or translation, which knowledge does not need. The interpretative function of perception, a distorted form of creation, then permits you to interpret the body as yourself in an attempt to escape from the conflict you have induced. Spirit, which knows, could not be reconciled with this loss of power, because it is incapable of darkness. This makes spirit almost inaccessible to the mind and entirely inaccessible to the body. Thereafter, spirit is perceived as a threat, because light abolishes darkness merely by showing you it is not there. Truth will always overcome error in this way. This cannot be an active process of correction because, as I have already emphasised, knowledge does not do anything. It can be perceived as an attacker, but it cannot attack. What you perceive as its attack is your own vague recognition that knowledge can always be remembered, never having been destroyed.

God and His creations remain in surety, and therefore know that no miscreation exists. Truth cannot deal with errors that you want. I was a man who remembered spirit and its knowledge. As a man I did not attempt to counteract error with knowledge, but to correct error from the bottom up. I demonstrated both the powerlessness of the body and the power of the mind. By uniting my will with that of my Creator, I naturally remembered spirit and its real purpose. I cannot unite your will with God’s for you, but I can erase all misperceptions from your mind if you will bring it under my guidance. Only your misperceptions stand in your way. Without them your choice is certain. Sane perception induces sane choosing. I cannot choose for you, but I can help you make your own right choice. ‘Many are called but few are chosen’ should be, ‘All are called but few choose to listen’. Therefore, they do not choose right. The ‘chosen ones’ are merely those who choose right sooner. Right minds can do this now, and they will find rest unto their souls. God knows you only in peace, and this is your reality.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 9

Lesson 25

I do not know what anything is for.

Purpose is meaning. Today’s idea explains why nothing you see means anything. You do not know what it is for. Therefore, it is meaningless to you. Everything is for your own best interests. That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means. It is in recognizing this that your goals become unified. It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning.

You perceive the world and everything in it as meaningful in terms of ego goals. These goals have nothing to do with your own best interests, because the ego is not you. This false identification makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for. As a result, you are bound to misuse it. When you believe this, you will try to withdraw the goals you have assigned to the world, instead of attempting to reinforce them.

Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with “personal” interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all. And thus you do not know what anything is for.

Before you can make any sense out of the exercises for today, one more thought is necessary. At the most superficial levels, you do recognize purpose. Yet purpose cannot be understood at these levels. For example, you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity. What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for. And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.

It is crucial to your learning to be willing to give up the goals you have established for everything. The recognition that they are meaningless, rather than “good” or “bad,” is the only way to accomplish this. The idea for today is a step in this direction.

Six practice periods, each of two-minutes duration, are required. Each practice period should begin with a slow repetition of the idea for today, followed by looking about you and letting your glance rest on whatever happens to catch your eye, near or far, “important” or “unimportant,” “human” or “nonhuman.” With your eyes resting on each subject you so select, say, for example:

I do not know what this chair is for.
I do not know what this pencil is for.
I do not know what this hand is for.

Say this quite slowly, without shifting your eyes from the subject until you have completed the statement about it. Then move on to the next subject, and apply today’s idea as before.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #503: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for about 90 lessons, and sometimes I get the feeling that I’m missing something. I think I should have had a revelatory experience in the previous lessons as part of my learning process. So I feel like I’m missing part of the foundation of the learning plan. When the Course instructs me to listen or let me be guided to my Self, I have absolutely no idea what to do. I sit quietly trying to clear my mind and listen to something that could indicate I’m doing the exercise correctly. But I don’t hear/feel anything. My question is: Is it necessary for a student to have experiences of right- mindedness during the exercises? Is it normal for a student to miss experiences? Do they come with later lessons?

A: What you have discovered in your efforts to practice the lessons is exactly what the workbook would like us to learn: we “have absolutely no idea what to do.” That is a very important discovery and, in one sense is a “revelation.” This insight and your honesty give you a very firm foundation for the learning process. As Jesus tells us in the text: “I am leading you to a new kind of experience that you will become less and less willing to deny” (T.11VI.3:6). We can only be led if we are willing to follow, and that requires the recognition that we do not know where we are going. If not knowing means letting go of any judgment of what an experience is, what the outcome of the lesson should be, and willingness to let the Holy Spirit be in charge of the process, then it may indeed be a right minded experience in itself.

The Course is a gentle process that asks only that we have “a little willingness” in practicing forgiveness: “Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven” (T.18.V.2:5). Continued practice of the instructions given in the workbook will lead eventually to seeing things differently. Small, but significant insights, such as you describe, are very helpful in this process. It is common for students to miss the small, important steps. Spectacular experiences are not necessary, some may even be subtly disguised ego devices, more harmful than helpful. We need not strive for experiences. It is dedication to the practice and application of what the workbook teaches, which leads to the experience that will occur naturally. As the Introduction to the workbook tells us: “You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do… it is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true” (W.in.8:3,6).


Q #504: I understand that we have made the decision to forget. My question is, why did we reject a state in which we clearly enjoyed peace of mind, in order to enter into time and space? Who in their right mind would feel dissatisfied with the original peace of mind?

A: No one in his right mind would choose to forget who he is, which is why no one in his right mind does. Your question is asked very frequently. It is actually a statement framed in the form of a question, because the question implies that the separation did in fact occur, and that time and space do exist. A Course in Miracles provides the ultimate answer: “…the separation never occurred” (T.6.II.10:7). Jesus tells us we cannot forget our true Identity as God’s innocent Son, but can misuse the power of our minds by choosing separation and believing in the illusion of a separate identity. The very important principle at work here is the power of the mind to choose. The choice is always between truth and illusion, what is real and what is not. Since there is no substitute for God, and no alternative to reality, choosing not to believe in truth is really choosing nothing. However, the belief that it is somethingresults in guilt for having obliterated God and His Son from awareness, replacing them with the made up ego self. The effects are all the devastating, painful experiences of “life” in the body and the world, which lead us to ask ourselves how we got here and why we came. Since Jesus knows we believe in our identity as bodies, he offers an explanation we can understand and work with: we believe we are bodies in the world because this is what we want to believe.

The “original” moment of separation, that seems to have occurred in the past, is actually an ongoing choice for separation that is evident in the daily experiences in our lives. The clues are there for us to see in our energetic pursuit of selfish interests, at the expense of others’ interests, not to mention our devotion and dedication to being right. To paraphrase an often quoted phrase from the text; we would rather be right than peaceful (T.29.VII.1:9). It is this which motivates us, here and now, to choose our little selves and little lives over God.

Thus, in its important goal of teaching us that we have minds with the power to choose, the Course itself is the answer to your question. Our hope lies in following Jesus’ clear and direct invitation: “My brother, choose again” (T.31.VIII.3:2).

For more on this topic please see Question #10.

you have no idea

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 8

ACIM Text Reading for February 8

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

III. Perception versus Knowledge

We have been emphasising perception, and have said very little about knowledge as yet. This is because perception must be straightened out before you can know anything. To know is to be certain. Uncertainty means that you do not know. Knowledge is power because it is certain, and certainty is strength. Perception is temporary. As an attribute of the belief in space and time, it is subject to either fear or love. Misperceptions produce fear and true perceptions foster love, but neither brings certainty because all perception varies. That is why it is not knowledge. True perception is the basis for knowledge, but knowing is the affirmation of truth and beyond all perceptions.

All your difficulties stem from the fact that you do not recognise yourself, your brother or God. To recognise means to ‘know again’, implying that you knew before. You can see in many ways because perception involves interpretation, and this means that it is not whole or consistent. The miracle, being a way of perceiving, is not knowledge. It is the right answer to a question, but you do not question when you know. Questioning illusions is the first step in undoing them. The miracle, or the right answer, corrects them. Since perceptions change, their dependence on time is obvious. How you perceive at any given time determines what you do, and actions must occur in time. Knowledge is timeless, because certainty is not questionable. You know when you have ceased to ask questions.

The questioning mind perceives itself in time, and therefore looks for future answers. The closed mind believes the future and the present will be the same. This establishes a seemingly stable state that is usually an attempt to counteract an underlying fear that the future will be worse than the present. This fear inhibits the tendency to question at all.

True vision is the natural perception of spiritual sight, but it is still a correction rather than a fact. Spiritual sight is symbolic, and therefore not a device for knowing. It is, however, a means of right perception, which brings it into the proper domain of the miracle. A ‘vision of God’ would be a miracle rather than a revelation. The fact that perception is involved at all removes the experience from the realm of knowledge. That is why visions, however holy, do not last.

The Bible tells you to know yourself, or to be certain. Certainty is always of God. When you love someone you have perceived him as he is, and this makes it possible for you to know him. Until you first perceive him as he is you cannot know him. While you ask questions about him you are clearly implying that you do not know God. Certainty does not require action. When you say you are acting on the basis of knowledge, you are really confusing knowledge with perception. Knowledge provides the strength for creative thinking, but not for right doing. Perception, miracles and doing are closely related. Knowledge is the result of revelation and induces only thought. Even in its most spiritualised form perception involves the body. Knowledge comes from the altar within and is timeless because it is certain. To perceive the truth is not the same as to know it.

Right perception is necessary before God can communicate directly to His altars, which He established in His Sons. There He can communicate His certainty, and His knowledge will bring peace without question. God is not a stranger to His Sons, and His Sons are not strangers to each other. Knowledge preceded both perception and time, and will ultimately replace them. That is the real meaning of ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end’ and ‘Before Abraham was I am’. Perception can and must be stabilised, but knowledge is stable. ‘Fear God and keep His commandments’ becomes ‘Know God and accept His certainty’.

If you attack error in another, you will hurt yourself. You cannot know your brother when you attack him. Attack is always made upon a stranger. You are making him a stranger by misperceiving him, and so you cannot know him. It is because you have made him a stranger that you are afraid of him. Perceive him correctly so that you can know him. There are no strangers in God’s creation. To create as He created you can create only what you know, and therefore accept as yours. God knows His children with perfect certainty, He created them by knowing them. He recognises them perfectly. When they do not recognise each other, they do not recognise Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 8

Lesson 24

I do not perceive my own best interests.

In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy. Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result. What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are.

If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn. The idea for today is a step toward opening your mind so that learning can begin.

The exercises for today require much more honesty than you are accustomed to using. A few subjects, honestly and carefully considered in each of the five practice periods which should be undertaken today, will be more helpful than a more cursory examination of a large number. Two minutes are suggested for each of the mind-searching periods which the exercises involve.

The practice periods should begin with repeating today’s idea, followed by searching the mind, with closed eyes, for unresolved situations about which you are currently concerned. The emphasis should be on uncovering the outcome you want. You will quickly realize that you have a number of goals in mind as part of the desired outcome, and also that these goals are on different levels and often conflict.

In applying the idea for today, name each situation that occurs to you, and then enumerate carefully as many goals as possible that you would like to be met in its resolution. The form of each application should be roughly as follows:

In the situation involving ______, I would like ______
to happen, and ______ to happen,

and so on. Try to cover as many different kinds of outcomes as may honestly occur to you, even if some of them do not appear to be directly related to the situation, or even to be inherent in it at all.

If these exercises are done properly, you will quickly recognize that you are making a large number of demands of the situation which have nothing to do with it. You will also recognize that many of your goals are contradictory, that you have no unified outcome in mind, and that you must experience disappointment in connection with some of your goals, however the situation turns out.

After covering the list of as many hoped-for goals as possible, for each unresolved situation that crosses your mind say to yourself:

I do not perceive my own best interests in this situation,

and go on to the next one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #739Is knowledge in A Course in Miracles the same as, or similar to, “enlightenment” in Eastern mysticism? Is it instant and irreversible? And given that we appear to be bodies as a consequence of our separation from God, wouldn’t the attainment of knowledge be incompatible with our continued existence as human beings?

A: The meaning of enlightenment varies in different mystical traditions; but for the most part, Eastern notions would be what the Course defines as “the real world” — when the mind is totally healed of all sense separation and therefore of sin, guilt, and fear.

In A Course in Miracles knowledge belongs exclusively to the pre-separation world of God and His unified creation in which there are no differences or forms. It therefore has nothing to do with the world of perception. It refers only to the pure experience of non-duality, with no subject- object dichotomy. Strictly speaking, it is not a state we attain. Rather, we gradually come to recognize the means we have been using to deny our natural state of oneness with our Source. We realize the frightful cost of that, and then we choose against that denial. When we make that choice once and for all without reservation, we are simply choosing to be as God created us, One Son, perfectly united with God. Is this state incompatible with existence as a human being? Jesus answers that by stating: “If God were reached directly in sustained awareness, the body would not be long maintained” (M.26.3:8) . Those who have this awareness are the “Teachers of teachers,” so named “because, although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon” (M.26.3:2). Thus, we need reflections of perfect love to appear to us in a form we can understand and relate to; and for most of us that is a human form.

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Q #1157The purpose of the Course seems to be revelation or knowledge, which I’ve always assumed to be the same as the mystical experience, without which the journey is useless. Jesus also says in his course, “When you have seen your brother as yourself, you will be released to knowledge . . .” (T.13.VIII.8:1). Surely most people, at some point in their lives, have seen someone as themselves, if only for a moment . . . and not just those who have experienced revelation.

A: The term knowledge in A Course in Miracles is really a synonym for Heaven , the state of perfect Oneness. That is our true and natural state as God’s Son; and although we believe we rejected it and made up another self as a substitute, we are assured through the Atonement principle that we never truly left that state and therefore Heaven’s Oneness was never changed. Yet, our work with the Course is focused on a goal that will leave us at Heaven’s gate, so to speak, where God Himself will then take the next step, lifting us back unto Himself. Thus, Jesus tells us: “Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This the prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is the condition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. . . . Knowledge is His Will. If you are opposing His Will, how can you have knowledge?” (T.8.I.1:1,2,3) Jesus reminds us of this later in the text: “Forget not that the motivation for this course is the attainment and the keeping of the state of peace. Given this state the mind is quiet, and the condition in which God is remembered is attained” (T.24.in.1:1,2).

The section in Chapter 13 from which you quoted is entitled “From Perception to Knowledge” (T.13.VIII) , and there Jesus is teaching us that our perception of ourselves and others as separate is what keeps us from the state of knowledge, the state of perfect oneness. Thus, if we free ourselves of the illusion that we are separate, then the oneness of the Sonship will be the lens through which we perceive ourselves and everyone else. When this is our only perception, we are released to knowledge. We begin this transition, however, by learning to perceive that we all share the same interests, seeing others as ourselves.

you have no idea

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 7

ACIM Text Reading for February 7

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

II. Miracles as True Perception

I have stated that the basic concepts referred to in this course are not matters of degree. Certain fundamental concepts cannot be understood in terms of opposites. It is impossible to conceive of light and darkness or everything and nothing as joint possibilities. They are all true or all false. It is essential that you realise your thinking will be erratic until a firm commitment to one or the other is made. A firm commitment to darkness or nothingness, however, is impossible. No one has ever lived who has not experienced some light and some thing. No one, therefore, is able to deny truth totally, even if he thinks he can.

Innocence is not a partial attribute. It is not real until it is total. The partly innocent are apt to be quite foolish at times. It is not until their innocence becomes a viewpoint with universal application that it becomes wisdom. Innocent or true perception means that you never misperceive and always see truly. More simply, it means that you never see what does not exist, and always see what does.

When you lack confidence in what someone will do, you are attesting to your belief that he is not in his right mind. This is hardly a miracle-based frame of reference. It also has the disastrous effect of denying the power of the miracle. The miracle perceives everything as it is. If nothing but the truth exists, right-minded seeing cannot see anything but perfection. I have said that only what God creates or what you create with the same Will has any real existence. This, then, is all the innocent can see. They do not suffer from distorted perception.

You are afraid of God’s Will because you have used your own mind, which He created in the likeness of His Own, to miscreate. The mind can miscreate only when it believes it is not free. An ‘imprisoned’ mind is not free because it is possessed, or held back, by itself. It is therefore limited, and the will is not free to assert itself. To be one is to be of one mind or will. When the Will of the Sonship and the Father are one, their perfect accord is Heaven.

Nothing can prevail against a Son of God who commends his Spirit into the Hands of his Father. By doing this the mind awakens from its sleep and remembers its Creator. All sense of separation disappears. The Son of God is part of the Holy Trinity, but the Trinity Itself is one. There is no confusion within Its Levels, because They are of one Mind and one Will. This single purpose creates perfect integration and establishes the peace of God. Yet this vision can be perceived only by the truly innocent. Because their hearts are pure, the innocent defend true perception instead of defending themselves against it. Understanding the lesson of the Atonement they are without the wish to attack, and therefore they see truly. This is what the Bible means when it says, ‘When He shall appear (or be perceived) we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is’.

The way to correct distortions is to withdraw your faith in them and invest it only in what is true. You cannot make untruth true. If you are willing to accept what is true in everything you perceive, you let it be true for you. Truth overcomes all error, and those who live in error and emptiness can never find lasting solace. If you perceive truly you are cancelling out misperceptions in yourself and in others simultaneously. Because you see them as they are, you offer them your acceptance of their truth so they can accept it for themselves. This is the healing that the miracle induces.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 7

Lesson 23

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.

If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.

The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?

You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.

Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind say:

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about ______.

Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.

In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods. We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #913I’ve been a student of A Course in Miracles for about 12 years. I know Course students often find that as they ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to look at the workings of the ego, things in there lives seem to get worse instead of better. What I am finding quite disturbing in my own process as a student, is the appearance, or perhaps the surfacing, of a great deal of anger. Sometimes in everyday situations, my thoughts become downright vicious and murderous. I would say that I have a pleasant personality, and am overall a likeable, friendly individual. My thought is that perhaps lots of repressed anger is surfacing as I am looking within more and more with the Holy Spirit’s help. I know I should ask the Holy Spirit to look at this issue with me too. But I’m almost scared to delve into what else might be lying below the surface of my otherwise soft-spoken, quiet personality. Is this a “normal” sort of development for a long-term Course student?

A: Yes, what you are describing is a very normal experience for Course students. As you know, the Course process is one of asking the Holy Spirit to look with us at the workings of the ego. In so doing, we are bringing to light that which we’ve always struggled very hard (albeit unconsciously) to keep in darkness. Often, as we become increasingly willing to take the Holy Spirit’s hand and bring to awareness that which we’d buried, we see more and more of how hateful and vicious the ego really is.

When the ego senses its game is up (realizing we’ve found a voice besides its own to listen to), it typically becomes louder and more dramatic. As the Course says, “The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased” (T.9.VII.4:6,7).

As we become more adept at shifting our inner teacher, fear often compels us to make a sharp turn back toward the ego’s familiar voice. But the Course reassures us that this tendency has no effect on our ultimate ability to complete the journey we’ve begun: “As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror. But you will advance, because your goal is the advance from fear to truth” (T.18.III.2:1,2).

Whatever games the ego plays, the important thing is to just continue looking at it while holding the Holy Spirit’s hand. Of course, on the level of this world, it’s generally preferable (and more helpful to you and those around you) not to act out the ego’s insane attack thoughts. But you don’t want to pretend they’re not there. Doing so doesn’t make them go away, it just sends them back into the darkness of the unconscious. And a basic psychological principle is that which is repressed gets projected. So, to truly become less hateful and vicious, we have to admit that we are those things and gradually learn not to take the ego’s voice seriously. Again, that means watching the ego without judgment, no matter how intense or embarrassing its internal nastiness becomes.

Remember that the ego — everyone’s ego — is 100 percent hate. A more socially acceptable personality does not equate to having an ego that is better or more acceptable than another. Jesus tells us “The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. …a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury” (W.pI.21.2:4,5) . At first, that statement can sound grotesque and deeply disturbing. But ultimately, it is quite reassuring. From Jesus’ perspective, we are all the same.

Each of us can choose to listen to the 100 percent hateful voice of the ego, or to the 100 percent loving Voice of the Holy Spirit. Each of us, regardless of the personality traits we display in this lifetime, is both a Hitler and a Jesus. At those times when our thoughts or behavior are more Hitler-like, we have merely become afraid, dropped the Holy Spirit’s hand, and once again made the error of listening to the wrong voice. This is a mistake calling for correction not punishment. And happily, our ego’s cruel and insane ranting has no effect on reality.

For related discussions about anger and attack, see Questions #63 and #587.

today belongs to love

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 6

ACIM Text Reading for February 6

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

I. Atonement Without Sacrifice

A further point must be perfectly clear before any residual fear still associated with miracles can disappear. The crucifixion did not establish the Atonement; the resurrection did. Many sincere Christians have misunderstood this. No one who is free of the belief in scarcity could possibly make this mistake. If the crucifixion is seen from an upside-down point of view, it does appear as if God permitted and even encouraged one of His Sons to suffer because he was good. This particularly unfortunate interpretation, which arose out of projection, has led many people to be bitterly afraid of God. Such anti-religious concepts enter into many religions. Yet the real Christian should pause and ask, ‘How could this be?’ Is it likely that God Himself would be capable of the kind of thinking which His Own words have clearly stated is unworthy of His Son?

The best defence, as always, is not to attack another’s position, but rather to protect the truth. It is unwise to accept any concept if you have to invert a whole frame of reference in order to justify it. This procedure is painful in its minor applications and genuinely tragic on a wider scale. Persecution frequently results in an attempt to ‘justify’ the terrible misperception that God Himself persecuted His Own Son on behalf of salvation. The very words are meaningless. It has been particularly difficult to overcome this because, although the error itself is no harder to correct than any other, many have been unwilling to give it up in view of its prominent value as a defence. In milder forms a parent says, ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you’, and feels exonerated in beating a child. Can you believe our Father really thinks this way? It is so essential that all such thinking be dispelled that we must be sure that nothing of this kind remains in your mind. I was not ‘punished’ because you were bad. The wholly benign lesson the Atonement teaches is lost if it is tainted with this kind of distortion in any form.

The statement ‘Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord’ is a misperception by which one assigns his own ‘evil’ past to God. The ‘evil’ past has nothing to do with God. He did not create it and He does not maintain it. God does not believe in retribution. His Mind does not create that way. He does not hold your ‘evil’ deeds against you. Is it likely that He would hold them against me? Be very sure that you recognise how utterly impossible this assumption is, and how entirely it arises from projection. This kind of error is responsible for a host of related errors, including the belief that God rejected Adam and forced him out of the Garden of Eden. It is also why you may believe from time to time that I am misdirecting you. I have made every effort to use words that are almost impossible to distort, but it is always possible to twist symbols around if you wish.

Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear, and frightened people can be vicious. Sacrificing in any way is a violation of my injunction that you should be merciful even as your Father in Heaven is merciful. It has been hard for many Christians to realise that this applies to themselves. Good teachers never terrorise their students. To terrorise is to attack, and this results in rejection of what the teacher offers. The result is learning failure.

I have been correctly referred to as ‘the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world’, but those who represent the lamb as blood-stained do not understand the meaning of the symbol. Correctly understood, it is a very simple symbol that speaks of my innocence. The lion and the lamb lying down together symbolise that strength and innocence are not in conflict, but naturally live in peace. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God’ is another way of saying the same thing. A pure mind knows the truth and this is its strength. It does not confuse destruction with innocence because it associates innocence with strength, not with weakness.

Innocence is incapable of sacrificing anything, because the innocent mind has everything and strives only to protect its wholeness. It cannot project. It can only honour other minds, because honour is the natural greeting of the truly loved to others who are like them. The lamb ‘taketh away the sins of the world’ in the sense that the state of innocence, or grace, is one in which the meaning of the Atonement is perfectly apparent. The Atonement is entirely unambiguous. It is perfectly clear because it exists in light. Only the attempts to shroud it in darkness have made it inaccessible to those who do not choose to see.

The Atonement itself radiates nothing but truth. It therefore epitomises harmlessness and sheds only blessing. It could not do this if it arose from anything but perfect innocence. Innocence is wisdom because it is unaware of evil, and evil does not exist. It is, however, perfectly aware of everything that is true. The resurrection demonstrated that nothing can destroy truth. Good can withstand any form of evil, as light abolishes forms of darkness. The Atonement is therefore the perfect lesson. It is the final demonstration that all the other lessons I taught are true. If you can accept this one generalisation now, there will be no need to learn from many smaller lessons. You are released from all errors if you believe this.

The innocence of God is the true state of the mind of His Son. In this state your mind knows God, for God is not symbolic; He is Fact. Knowing His Son as he is, you realise that the Atonement, not sacrifice, is the only appropriate gift for God’s altar, where nothing except perfection belongs. The understanding of the innocent is truth. That is why their altars are truly radiant.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 6

Lesson 22

What I see is a form of vengeance.

Today’s idea accurately describes the way anyone who holds attack thoughts in his mind must see the world. Having projected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike at him. His own attack is thus perceived as self defense. This becomes an increasingly vicious circle until he is willing to change how he sees. Otherwise, thoughts of attack and counter-attack will preoccupy him and people his entire world. What peace of mind is possible to him then?

It is from this savage fantasy that you want to escape. Is it not joyous news to hear that it is not real? Is it not a happy discovery to find that you can escape? You made what you would destroy; everything that you hate and would attack and kill. All that you fear does not exist.

Look at the world about you at least five times today, for at least a minute each time. As your eyes move slowly from one object to another, from one body to another, say to yourself:

I see only the perishable.
I see nothing that will last.
What I see is not real.
What I see is a form of vengeance.

At the end of each practice period, ask yourself:

Is this the world I really want to see?

The answer is surely obvious.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #597: A Course in Miracles states that “the crucifixion did not establish the Atonement; the resurrection did.” I understand that the Atonement is the realization that nothing happened, that there was no split and that we are still part of God and always have been part of God. It is easy to see that the resurrection showed that the body was meaningless and could be “displayed” any time. Also the fact that God would give his only begotten son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world is such a ridiculous statement that it staggers the mind to believe that any intelligent person, for 2000 years, could believe this of a loving God.

What I do not understand is how the resurrection established the Atonement. Did not Jesus show many people that the body was nothing with all of his miracles particularly in raising Lazarus?

A: As you point out, traditional Christianity teaches that Jesus’ death on the cross atoned for our sins and reopened the gates of Heaven. God then raised him from the dead as proof that Jesus was the Son of God, and that his sacrifice bridged the gap that occurred between God and His children when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden. The Gospel account tells of the resurrection of the body and establishes that fact as a fundamental belief for many Christian sects. In the Course Jesus reinterprets both the crucifixion and the resurrection. He teaches that not only is the body nothing, but death is nothing as well. If the death of the body is nothing, the crucifixion could not accomplish anything. It is, as Jesus tells us in the text, only a teaching device (T.6.I.2).

The phrase you quote must be understood in terms of the principles of the Course’s teaching of the Atonement, and the content, not the form, of the historical resurrection. In this light the essential message of each is “nothing happened!” They both teach: “there is no death” (W.pI.163), “there is no sin”(T.26.VII.10:5), “attack has no effect” (T.12.V.2:2). In this sense Jesus’ resurrection, along with ours, is awakening to the awareness of our true Identity as God’s innocent Son, which the Course teaches is the Atonement. In the statement you cite, Jesus gives us the message intended in his resurrection. It is the message of the Atonement, beautifully expressed with Easter symbols in the Holy Week section of the text: “This week begins with palms and ends with lilies, the white and holy sign the Son of God is innocent. Let no dark sign of crucifixion intervene between the journey and its purpose; between the acceptance of the truth and its expression. This week we celebrate life, not death. And we honor the perfect purity of the Son of God, and not his sins” (T.20.I.2:1,2,3,4).

It is important to remember that Christianity teaches the resurrection of Jesus’ body, while in the Course Jesus tells us it is the condition of the mind when it accepts the Atonement: “Very simply, the resurrection is the overcoming or surmounting of death. It is a reawakening or a rebirth; a change of mind about the meaning of the world. It is the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world’s purpose; the acceptance of the Atonement for oneself” (M.28.1:1,2,3).

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Q #157: In his teaching, Ken Wapnick says that God doesn’t even know that we exist; that we are here in the world. Where in A Course in Miracles does it say that, or what passage implies that? I don’t have a problem with the statement, because I understand that in the Course “existence” refers to our belief in the ego, the belief that we are bodies, and “being” refers to our state of oneness in Heaven. So it would make sense that God does not “know” us in our ego state. But can you clarify where it comes from? Also, where in the Course does Jesus make reference to the “decision maker” that Ken refers to so often?

A: The statement that God does not even know that we exist, as you suggest, follows from an understanding of the Course’s metaphysics. The self we believe we are, here in the world, is an illusory projection of an illusory thought in an illusory split mind. It has no reality. God, Who is total Oneness, can not know anything that is not a part of that total Oneness, and His knowing cannot involve a separate observer and an observed. If God knew of our existence in this world, the separation would be real. But the Course asserts over and over again that the separation never happened in reality — the principle of the Atonement (e.g., T.2.I.4:4; T.2.VII.6:7,8,9).

Although the specific wording you ask about is never used in the Course, there are a number of passages that clearly imply that God does not know of our existence here. Among them are the following: “God and His creations remain in surety, and therefore know that no miscreations exist” (T.3.IV.7:1). “God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There is nothing else” (T.3.V.7:3,4). A little later, speaking of our self and God’s Self, Jesus observes, “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” (T.4.I.2:11,12).And in the next section: “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” (T.4.II.8:5,6,7).

The word decision maker as Ken has used it in his teaching is not found in the Course itself. The Course’s one use of that phrase speaks of our resistance to recognizing the power of decision that resides in the mind, preferring instead to see “the body… [as] the decision maker” (M.5.II.1:7). Although that one instance is not describing the mind, the point being made is that the mind and not the body is the decision maker. The word decision makerthus is a convenient shorthand for referring to the part of the split mind that the Course is addressing throughout. It clearly can not be addressing the self that we believe we are, for the Course repeatedly reminds us that that self is not real and that the brain that we believe makes choices has no power at all. For example, in the workbook Jesus, with some amusement, observes, “You also believe the body’s brain can think. If you but understood the nature of thought, you could but laugh at this insane idea.” W.pI.92.2:1,2).

That the focus should be on the decision making power of our mind is most appropriate when we consider that Jesus emphasizes that “the power of decision is your one remaining freedom as a prisoner of this world. You can decide to see it [the world] right” (T.12.VII.9:1,2). And later, “Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours” (T.14.III.4:1,2,3; italics added). The centrality of the concept of choice or decision to Course teachings is evident when we consider that variations on the words choose and decide are used well over a thousand times across the three volumes of the Course. And the concluding section of the text, “Choose Once Again” (T.31.VIII), is a beautiful paean to choice.

Holy Encounter copy


 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 5

ACIM Text Reading for February 5

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

VIII. The Meaning of the Last Judgement

One of the ways in which you can correct the magic-miracle confusion is to remember that you did not create yourself. You are apt to forget this when you become egocentric, and this puts you in a position where a belief in magic is virtually inevitable. Your will to create was given you by your Creator, Who was expressing the same Will in His Creation. Since creative ability rests in the mind, everything you create is necessarily a matter of will. It also follows that whatever you alone make is real in your own sight, though not in the Mind of God. This basic distinction leads directly into the real meaning of the Last Judgement.

The Last Judgement is one of the most threatening ideas in your thinking. This is because you do not understand it. Judgement is not an attribute of God. It was brought into being only after the separation, when it became one of the many learning devices to be built into the overall plan to. Just as the separation occurred over millions of years, the Last Judgement will extend over a similarly long period, and perhaps an even longer one. Its length, however, can be greatly shortened by miracles, the device for shortening but not abolishing time. If a sufficient number become truly miracle-minded, this shortening process can be virtually immeasurable. It is essential, however, that you free yourself from fear quickly, because you must emerge from the conflict if you are to bring peace to other minds.

The Last Judgement is generally thought of as a procedure undertaken by God. Actually it will be undertaken by my brothers with my help. It is a final healing rather than a meting out of punishment, however much you may think that punishment is deserved. Punishment is a concept totally opposed to right-mindedness, and the aim of the Last Judgement is to restore right-mindedness to you. The Last Judgement might be called a process of right evaluation. It simply means that everyone will finally come to understand what is worthy and what is not. After this, the ability to choose can be directed rationally. Until this distinction is made, however the vacillations between free and imprisoned will cannot but continue.

The first step toward freedom involves a sorting out of the false from the true. This is a process of separation in the constructive sense, and reflects the true meaning of the Apocalypse. Everyone will ultimately look upon his own creations and choose to preserve only what is good, just as God Himself looked upon what He had created and knew that it was good. At this point, the mind can begin to look with love on its own creations because of their worthiness. At the same time the mind will inevitably disown its miscreations which, without belief, will no longer exist.

The term ‘Last Judgement’ is frightening not only because it has been projected onto God, but also because of the association of ‘last’ with death. This is an outstanding example of upside-down perception. If the meaning of the Last Judgement is objectively examined, it is quite apparent that it is really the doorway to life. No one who lives in fear is really alive. Your own last judgement cannot be directed toward yourself, because you are not your own creation. You can, however, apply it meaningfully and at any time to everything you have made, and retain in your memory only what is creative and good. This is what your right-mindedness cannot but dictate. The purpose of time is solely to ‘give you time’ to achieve this judgement. It is your own perfect judgement of your own perfect creations. When everything you retain is loveable, there is no reason for fear to remain with you. This is your part in the Atonement.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 5

Lesson 21

I am determined to see things differently.

The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one. This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise. Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.

In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself. Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you. The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage. The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.

Try, therefore, not to let the “little” thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods. Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything. You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or persons than on others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more “obvious.” This is not so. It is merely an example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others.

As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:

I am determined to see ________ [name of person] differently.

I am determined to see ________ [specify the situation] differently.

Try to be as specific as possible. You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect. If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say:

I am determined to see ________ [specify the attribute] in
________ [name of person] differently.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #780A Course in Miracles is quite clear that the body is nothing, feels nothing, and that pain is a fabrication of the mind. Having said this I come back to my question. In answering Question #542, you wrote: “So it is even possible to break a leg and not only not become upset, but feel no pain, as over time our identification shifts from our body to our mind through practicing forgiveness.” And to Question #545: “What happened to Jesus’ body at the end of his earthly ‘life’ illustrates this principle. His body did not represent any thought of death or disease or pain in his mind, since his mind was free of guilt. He did not use his body to reinforce a belief in sin and victimization in his mind (T.6.I.5) — and so it remained incorruptible in his perception, despite how its form may have seemed to change.”

If I break my leg, I would feel extreme pain even though the Course says physically this is impossible, because there is no leg to break. Question #542 says that a shift from body to mind comes only through practicing forgiveness, which I understand means to forgive my brother for what he has not done. That is, nothing happened and no reaction is required.

History speaks of Jesus dying horribly upon a cross, which must mean that my mind did not accept his thoughts of himself but rather chose to destroy him for reasons that you have mentioned many times in this forum. Therein lies the frustration. Intellectually I understand what I do to him I do to myself, yet after many years of practice I remain deeply rooted in the world.

A: You’re being so hard on yourself! It can be helpful to understand the Course’s metaphysical principles and to know where in the end Jesus is leading us, but not if we use its explanations of what will be the final steps in our healing as a measuring stick against which to judge ourselves now, as it sounds as if you’re doing. The fact that Jesus knew he was not his body (T.6.I.4) in no way means that he expects us right now to accept and experience ourselves as anything other than bodies, as we begin to put his teachings on forgiveness into practice. He is not asking us to deny that the pain we seem to experience in our bodies feels very real to us, nor to deny what our brothers seem to do to us also seems to be very real and to have effects on us.

Jesus is only asking that we begin to question our interpretation of everything we experience and be open to an alternative explanation, which must come from outside our ego/body-based thought system. And to be able to begin to make the shift, we must first understand the purpose behind the interpretations we give to all of our experiences as bodies now. We want the pain to be experienced in our bodies and we want to see others as attacking us so that we can remain victims of forces outside of our control. And consequently, we remain unaware of the real cause of our pain — our decision to see ourselves as separate from love. But again, Jesus is not asking that we embrace his interpretation of our lives, but rather that we be willing to question the validity of ours. He offers his, not so that we try to force ourselves to look at situations in the same way he does, but just so that we can come to recognize that there may be a very reasonable alternative to our interpretation.

If I think my immediate goal is to see the body as nothing, pain as unreal, and my brother as doing nothing to me, I will find the Course a very frustrating and self-defeating process. And Jesus would be an unreasonable teacher if those were his expectations for me. But they are not. The Course is intended to be a very gentle process that begins by asking us to accept ourselves where we think we are. And it also is asking us to be willing to be honest with ourselves about what the outcome has been while we have continued to put ourselves in charge of our own happiness. For if we are honest, we will have to admit that we have not been doing a very good job. It is through recognition of our own failure to attain peace and happiness that we become willing to allow Jesus to be in charge of the thoughts in our mind. And that is all that forgiveness is really about — letting go of our own judgments and interpretations of the events and people in our lives so that Jesus can offer us an alternative interpretation that does not reinforce separation and guilt.

Over time, as part of a lifetime process of practicing forgiveness, we will have less and less of an investment in our own interpretation of what is happening to us and, in particular, who and what should be held responsible for our unhappiness. Increasingly, we will be willing to turn away from the belief in guilt in our mind and, as a result, will have less of a need to project guilt outside our mind onto others and onto our own body. Very gradually, as a secondary effect of the forgiveness process, although not our focus, we will find we are less identified with the body and its needs, and we will increasingly come to recognize that all pain comes from a thought in the mind and has nothing to do with the body. But this understanding is not where we begin, nor will it be our experience until we are well along our path of forgiveness.

By the way, most New Testament scholars agree that the accounts of Jesus’ death in the gospels were not written by eye witnesses to the events of his life. And so the narratives, to the degree that they were intended to portray actual happenings, most certainly were colored by the projections of the narrators, who believed in the reality of sin, guilt, pain, suffering and the body, as their theology clearly demonstrates. And to the degree that we accept the same theology of the ego, we too will believe that Jesus must have suffered in his crucifixion and that we are somehow responsible for it. The fact that he lives in our mind (T.11.VI.7:3,4) , unaccusing and completely accepting, suggests otherwise, and his words in the “The Message of the Crucifixion” (T.6.I) provide that alternative interpretation. And so, while you may believe that what you have done to Jesus you do to yourself, his message is that we have done nothing to him, and so therefore, over time, as we learn to forgive, we will come to realize that we have done nothing to ourselves.


Q #781Is it correct to say that since God is all there is, all else is a lie, illusion, hypnotism, a nothingness; and that error is never a person, but rather the person is a victim of the belief of good and evil? In other words, all error is coming from an impersonal source that uses us, and we unknowingly become its victim?

A: Absolutely “yes,” and absolutely “no.” Yes, God is, and nothing else is. There is only perfect Oneness, “nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within” (T.18.VI.1:6) . No, we are not the unknowing victims of an impersonal source of all error. A Course in Miracles teaches us that “we” are decision-making minds outside time and space that choose, erroneously, to believe that we have successfully separated from God. We are victims only of our own thoughts, fortunately, because we, then, are the ones who can change our minds about that decision and choose instead to accept the correction that is always in our minds. Ultimately, though, not even this occurred; if God alone is real, there could not even be a thought of separation.

Two helpful lessons on this topic are: Lesson 152 “The power of decision is my own” and Lesson 253 “My Self is ruler of the universe” (W.pI.152; W.pII.253) .

total commitment

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 4

ACIM Text Reading for February 4

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

VII. Cause and Effect

You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough. You may feel that at this point it would take a miracle to enable you to do this, which is perfectly true. You are not used to miracle-minded thinking, but you can be trained to think that way. All miracle workers need that kind of training.

I cannot let you leave your mind unguarded, or you will not be able to help me. Miracle working entails a full realisation of the power of thought in order to avoid miscreation. Otherwise a miracle will be necessary to set the mind itself straight, a circular process that would not foster the time collapse for which the miracle was intended. The miracle worker must have genuine respect for true cause and effect as a necessary condition for the miracle to occur.

Both miracles and fear come from thoughts. If you are not free to choose one, you would also not be free to choose the other. By choosing the miracle you have rejected fear, if only temporarily. You have been fearful of everyone and everything. You are afraid of God, of me and of yourself. You have misperceived or miscreated Us, and believe in what you have made. You would not have done this if you were not afraid of your own thoughts. The fearful must miscreate, because they misperceive creation. When you miscreate you are in pain. The cause and effect principle now becomes a real expediter, though only temporarily. Actually, ‘Cause’ is a term properly belonging to God, and His ‘Effect’ is His Son. This entails a set of Cause and Effect relationships totally different from those you introduce into miscreation. The fundamental conflict in this world, then, is between creation and miscreation. All fear is implicit in the second, and all love in the first. The conflict is therefore one between love and fear.

It has already been said that you believe you cannot control fear because you yourself made it, and your belief in it seems to render it out of your control. Yet any attempt to resolve the error through attempting the mastery of fear is useless. In fact, it asserts the power of fear by the very assumption that it need be mastered. The true resolution rests entirely on mastery through love. In the interim, however, the sense of conflict is inevitable, since you have placed yourself in a position where you believe in the power of what does not exist.

Nothing and everything cannot coexist. To believe in one is to deny the other. Fear is really nothing and love is everything. Whenever light enters darkness, the darkness is abolished. What you believe is true for you. In this sense the separation hasoccurred, and to deny it is merely to use denial inappropriately. However, to concentrate on error is only a further error. The initial corrective procedure is to recognise temporarily that there is a problem, but only as an indication that immediate correction is needed. This establishes a state of mind in which the Atonement can be accepted without delay. It should be emphasised, however, that ultimately no compromise is possible between everything and nothing. Time is essentially a device by which all compromise in this respect can be given up. It only seems to be abolished by degrees, because time itself involves intervals that do not exist. Miscreation made this necessary as a corrective device. The statement ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ needs only one slight correction to be meaningful in this context; ‘He gave it to His only begotten Son’.

It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its Oneness transcends the sum of its parts. However this is obscured as long as any of its parts is missing. That is why the conflict cannot ultimately be resolved until all the parts of the Sonship have returned. Only then can the meaning of wholeness in the true sense be understood. Any part of the Sonship can believe in error or incompleteness if he so chooses. However, if he does so, he is believing in the existence of nothingness. The correction of this error is the Atonement.

I have already briefly spoken about readiness, but some additional points might be helpful here. Readiness is only the prerequisite for accomplishment. The two should not be confused. As soon as a state of readiness occurs, there is usually some degree of desire to accomplish, but it is by no means necessarily undivided. The state does not imply more than a potential for a change of mind. Confidence cannot develop fully until mastery has been accomplished. We have already attempted to correct the fundamental error that fear can be mastered, and have emphasised that the only real mastery is through love. Readiness is only be beginning of confidence. You may think this implies that an enormous amount of time is necessary between readiness and mastery, but let me remind you that time and space are under my control.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 4

Lesson 20

I am determined to see.

We have been quite casual about our practice periods thus far. There has been virtually no attempt to direct the time for undertaking them, minimal effort has been required, and not even active cooperation and interest have been asked. This approach has been intentional, and very carefully planned. We have not lost sight of the crucial importance of the reversal of your thinking. The salvation of the world depends on it. Yet you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced, and if you give in to resentment and opposition.

This is our first attempt to introduce structure. Do not misconstrue it as an effort to exert force or pressure. You want salvation. You want to be happy. You want peace. You do not have them now, because your mind is totally undisciplined, and you cannot distinguish between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear. You are now learning how to tell them apart. And great indeed will be your reward.

Your decision to see is all that vision requires. What you want is yours. Do not mistake the little effort that is asked of you for an indication that our goal is of little worth. Can the salvation of the world be a trivial purpose? And can the world be saved if you are not? God has one Son, and he is the resurrection and the life. His will is done because all power is given him in Heaven and on earth. In your determination to see is vision given you.

The exercises for today consist in reminding yourself throughout the day that you want to see. Today’s idea also tacitly implies the recognition that you do not see now. Therefore, as you repeat the idea, you are stating that you are determined to change your present state for a better one, and one you really want.

Repeat today’s idea slowly and positively at least twice an hour today, attempting to do so every half hour. Do not be distressed if you forget to do so, but make a real effort to remember. The extra repetitions should be applied to any situation, person or event that upsets you. You can see them differently, and you will. What you desire you will see. Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #583: Re: T.2.VII.5:14 — “The statement ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life’ needs only slight correction to be meaningful in this context; ‘He gave it to His only begotten Son.’” I do not understand how God loved the world and gave it to His only begotten Son if, as A Course in Miracles teaches, God does not know about the world.

A: Taken by itself, this is a puzzling passage. It is important to note, however, that it is being discussed in a specific context: Jesus is talking about the temporary need for corrective procedures in order to restore to our minds the awareness that “fear is nothing and love is everything” and that “God has only one Son”; no compromise in this is possible (T.2.VII.5:3; 6:1). Therefore “world” in this reference is the real world, the state of mind reflecting the transcendence of the ego, the healing of all belief in separation. Jesus refers to this passage again in Chapter 12, where he states explicitly that he means the real world(T.12.III.8). In this larger context, thus, Jesus is saying that the Atonement principle, the correction for our belief in fear and separation, is already in our minds. “He gave it to His only begotten Son” is a metaphorical expression of the Atonement principle. So Jesus is assuring us that we will not perish because of our perceived attack on God. We are already saved from this insane way of thinking about ourselves and God, and need but choose the correction already in our minds — this is the “world” God gave “to His only begotten Son.”That is the content behind the words.

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Q #1012In 1985 I had an extraordinary experience of oneness with God. I have never considered myself a religious person and never understood why people were religious. I came away from this experience believing to my very core in things that I didn’t really understand, i.e., there is no sin, God is mind, do not judge, we are all one, etc. The experience was one of profound remembering where I belonged, and it surely wasn’t here on earth. My path since then has been convoluted. After attempting to adapt my personal “knowledge” to other religions, I read and attempted to practice A Course in Miracles , but soon gave it up to turn to other things. I have recently had a renewed interest in the Course, but have many questions about my own personal experience and no one to talk to about it. Is this type of experience a common occurrence?

A: There is no way of our knowing how many people have had such an experience. Not more than a few have mentioned something like this to us. There certainly could be many others who have experienced their oneness with God and now live quietly in peace with love being the sole source of their thoughts and activities. They would not have a need to talk about their lives, although they could be guided by love to do so. Jesus talks about the experience of union with God in the section in the manual called “Can God Be Reached Directly?” (M.26) . You might find it helpful to read that, and also the earlier one entitled “How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day?” (M.16) .

The focus of A Course in Miracles is on forgiveness, not God, even though He is mentioned on just about every page. The Course is about our daily practice of its lessons, rather than on experiencing oneness with God. It is nice when one has such an experience, as that provides a glimpse of the end of the process. But reflecting that oneness in the relationships of our lives is the immediate objective of the Course’s teachings. We do that by first recognizing our wrong-minded dedication to seeing our interests as separate from others’, and then asking for help to shift that perception to shared interests, whereby we realize that we are all — without exception — joined both in the pain of separation from God, and in our common call for help to awaken from that nightmare. Then, when “not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ” (T.31.VIII.12:5) , our minds will rest in the peace and stillness of Perfect Oneness.

hostage or host


A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 3

ACIM Text Reading for February 3

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

VI. Fear and Conflict

Being afraid seems to be involuntary; something beyond your own control. Yet I have said already that only constructive acts should be involuntary. My control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose. Fear cannot be controlled by me, but it can be self-controlled. Fear prevents me from giving you my control. The presence of fear shows that you have raised body thoughts to the level of the mind. This removes them from my control, and makes you feel personally responsible for them. This is an obvious confusion of levels.

I do not foster level confusion, but you must choose to correct it. You would not excuse insane behaviour on your part by saying you could not help it. Why should you condone insane thinking? There is a confusion here that you would do well to look at clearly. You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate yourself from the truth by ‘giving’ autonomy to behaviour. This is controlled by me automatically as soon as you place what you think under my guidance. Whenever you are afraid, it is a sure sign that you have allowed your mind to miscreate and have not allowed me to guide it.

It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome of mis-thought can result in healing. When you are fearful, you have chosen wrongly. That is why you feel responsible for it. You must change your mind, not your behaviour, and this is a matter of willingness. You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where change is possible. Change does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work.

The correction of fear is your responsibility. When you ask for release from fear, you are implying that it is not. You should ask, instead, for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about. These conditions always entail a willingness to be separate. At that level you can help it. You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, and are passively condoning your mind’s miscreations. The particular result does not matter, but the fundamental error does. The correction is always the same. Before you choose to do anything, ask me if your choice is in accord with mine. If you are sure that it is, there will be no fear.

Fear is always a sign of strain, arising whenever what you want conflicts with what you do. This situation arises in two ways: First, you can choose to do conflicting things, either simultaneously or successively. This produces conflicted behaviour, which is intolerable to you because the part of the mind that wants to do something else is outraged. Second, you can behave as you think you should, but without entirely wanting to do so. This produces consistent behaviour, but entails great strain. In both cases, the mind and the behaviour are out of accord, resulting in a situation in which you are doing what you do not wholly want to do. This arouses a sense of coercion that usually produces rage, and projection is likely to follow. Whenever there is fear, it is because you have not made up your mind. Your mind is therefore split, and your behaviour inevitably becomes erratic. Correcting at the behavioural level can shift the error from the first to the second type, but will not obliterate the fear.

It is possible to reach a state in which you bring your mind under my guidance without conscious effort, but this implies a willingness that you have not developed as yet. The Holy Spirit cannot ask more than you are willing to do. The strength to do comes from your undivided decision. There is no strain in doing God’s Will as soon as you recognise that it is also your own. The lesson here is quite simple, but particularly apt to be overlooked. I will therefore repeat it, urging you to listen. Only your mind can produce fear. It does so whenever it is conflicted in what it wants, producing inevitable strain because wanting and doing are discordant. This can be corrected only by accepting a unified goal.

The first corrective step in undoing the error is to know first that the conflict is an expression of fear. Say to yourself that you must somehow have chosen not to love, or the fear could not have arisen. Then the whole process of correction becomes nothing more than a series of pragmatic steps in the larger process of accepting the Atonement as the remedy. These steps may be summarised in this way:

Know first that this is fear.

Fear arises from lack of love.

The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.

Perfect love is the Atonement.

I have emphasised that the miracle, or the expression of Atonement, is always a sign of respect from the worthy to the worthy. The recognition of this worth is re-established by the Atonement. It is obvious, then, that when you are afraid, you have placed yourself in a position where you need Atonement. You have done something loveless, having chosen without love. This is precisely the situation for which the Atonement was offered. The need for the remedy inspired its establishment. As long as you recognise only the need for the remedy, you will remain fearful. However, as soon as you accept the remedy, you have abolished the fear. This is how true healing occurs.

Everyone experiences fear. Yet it would take very little right thinking to realise why fear occurs. Few appreciate the real power of the mind, and no one remains fully aware of it all the time. However, if you hope to spare yourself from fear there are some things you must realise, and realise fully. The mind is very powerful, and never loses its creative force. It never sleeps. Every instant it is creating. It is hard to recognise that thought and belief combine into a power surge that can literally move mountains. It appears at first glance that to believe such power about yourself is arrogant, but that is not the real reason you do not believe it. You prefer to believe that your thoughts cannot exert real influence because you are actually afraid of them. This may allay awareness of the guilt, but at the cost of perceiving the mind as impotent. If you believe that what you think is ineffectual you may cease to be afraid of it, but you are hardly likely to respect it There are no idle thoughts. All thinking produces form at some level.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 3

Lesson 19

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

The idea for today is obviously the reason why your seeing does not affect you alone. You will notice that at times the ideas related to thinking precede those related to perceiving, while at other times the order is reversed. The reason is that the order does not matter. Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate.

Today we are again emphasizing the fact that minds are joined. This is rarely a wholly welcome idea at first, since it seems to carry with it an enormous sense of responsibility, and may even be regarded as an “invasion of privacy.” Yet it is a fact that there are no private thoughts. Despite your initial resistance to this idea, you will yet understand that it must be true if salvation is possible at all. And salvation must be possible because it is the Will of God.

The minute or so of mind searching which today’s exercises require is to be undertaken with eyes closed. The idea for today is to be repeated first, and then the mind should be carefully searched for the thoughts it contains at that time. As you consider each one, name it in terms of the central person or theme it contains, and holding it in your mind as you do so, say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about _______.

The requirement of as much indiscriminateness as possible in selecting subjects for the practice periods should be quite familiar to you by now, and will no longer be repeated each day, although it will occasionally be included as a reminder. Do not forget, however, that random selection of subjects for all practice periods remains essential throughout. Lack of order in this connection will ultimately make the recognition of lack of order in miracles meaningful to you.

Apart from the “as needed” application of today’s idea, at least three practice periods are required, shortening the length of time involved, if necessary. Do not attempt more than four.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #242: I am confused by A Course in Miracles’ use of the word conditions. We are not to ask for help with the “release of fear,” but rather to ask “for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about.” Would you say it’s also appropriate to ask for help in bringing “proper learning conditions” about?…for help in bringing about the conditions for peace?…for help in bringing about the conditions for love?…etc. I assume it’s talking about conditions of mind.

A: Yes, the term conditions always refers to a choice made in our minds, which accounts for our lack of peace, for our not being aware of love’s presence, etc. The point of the passage you are referring to (T.2.VI.4) is that Jesus was helping Helen and all of us to learn to take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings, so that we can get back in touch with the power of our minds to choose. We essentially chose to repress this power and become mindless instead when we gave our allegiance to the ego. So Jesus is saying that it really would not be helpful to us in the long run, if he simply took our fear away from us, without our having learned that it is there only because of our ongoing choice to prefer separation to oneness (the conditions that led to the fear). He tells us several paragraphs later: “You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough” (T.2.VII.1:2,3,4,5,6,7).

So Jesus is emphasizing the importance of guarding our thoughts very carefully, just as the entire workbook comes back over and over again to the importance of our being vigilantabout our thoughts. That is what he wants to help us with: looking at how willing we are to keep ourselves separate and special, how willing we are to see others as the sinners and ourselves as innocent victims. These are the conditions that result in our fear and our lack of peace, etc.

Thus is it very appropriate to ask for help in bringing about the conditions that would facilitate our learning, and that would bring about the conditions for peace and love, etc. If we were to look with him at all of our ego thoughts, and then let them go, fear and guilt would vanish forever, and then the love that had been blocked by the fear would be our only reality. All fear and guilt rest on our willingness to choose against the love of Jesus and for the ego, which ensures our survival as separate individuals.

Finally, if we ask him to help us look at our choice to keep him away, then we have already begun the process of correcting that choice. That is the kind of help that would benefit us most.

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Q #208: T.2.VI.4:9 says, “Before you choose to do anything, ask me if your choice is in accord with mine.” When I first began studying A Course in Miracles I thought this statement meant that before we did anything in this world we were to ask Jesus whether or not we should. Now, with some growth, I don’t really know what the statement means (or much of anything else for that matter.) Can you elaborate?

A: The Course teaches us that since we have a split mind, there are two ways of perceiving in the dream: the ego’s and the Holy Spirit’s. They are referred to as our “teachers” or as “voices” in our mind. It also tells us that everything serves one of two goals: the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s. Every choice we make, therefore, is in accord with one of these two perceptions, and serves one of these two goals. The statement you quote is asking us to be aware, in everything that we choose to think or do, which “teacher” we are listening to, and what purpose, or goal, our choice serves. This refers to the choice we are making in the mind, not in form. Choosing with the ego will always reinforce the belief that the separation, the world, and the body are real, and will result in some degree of conflict. The ego’s goal is to keep us in our deep sleep in the world of illusion. Choosing with the Holy Spirit will always bring peace, and strengthen our awareness that we are mind, not body. This choice leads us to the mind, so that we can learn to make the only real choice — accepting the separation thought as real or not real. This process has nothing to do with the “choice” we seem to be making in the world of form. Needing to make choices and decisions in the world is a helpful reminder to us that we are always choosing between the lies of the ego and the light of the Holy Spirit. The other important factor is that we must choose, there is no in between: “Vision or judgment is your choice, but never both of these” (T.20.V.4:7).

In a statement such as the one you quote, the Course is asking us to ask ourselves whether we are seeking to further our progress on our journey home to God, or whether we are seeking to reinforce our identity as a separate self. In a later chapter we are told: “In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is “What do I want to come of this? What is it for?” The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome” (T.17.VI.2:1,2,3). In other words, “whom am I listening to?” The outcome of peace or conflict reveals who the teacher is, and also reflects what we truly want. The ultimate outcome brings us closer to the decision not to deny God or, to remain entrenched in the illusion of separation. It is important to remember that A Course in Miracles is never referring to form, and is always addressing the mind, not the body which is the figure in the dream.

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Q #242: I am confused by A Course in Miracles’ use of the word conditions. We are not to ask for help with the “release of fear,” but rather to ask “for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about.” Would you say it’s also appropriate to ask for help in bringing “proper learning conditions” about?…for help in bringing about the conditions for peace?…for help in bringing about the conditions for love?…etc. I assume it’s talking about conditions of mind.

A: Yes, the term conditions always refers to a choice made in our minds, which accounts for our lack of peace, for our not being aware of love’s presence, etc. The point of the passage you are referring to (T.2.VI.4) is that Jesus was helping Helen and all of us to learn to take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings, so that we can get back in touch with the power of our minds to choose. We essentially chose to repress this power and become mindless instead when we gave our allegiance to the ego. So Jesus is saying that it really would not be helpful to us in the long run, if he simply took our fear away from us, without our having learned that it is there only because of our ongoing choice to prefer separation to oneness (the conditions that led to the fear). He tells us several paragraphs later: “You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough” (T.2.VII.1:2,3,4,5,6,7).

So Jesus is emphasizing the importance of guarding our thoughts very carefully, just as the entire workbook comes back over and over again to the importance of our being vigilantabout our thoughts. That is what he wants to help us with: looking at how willing we are to keep ourselves separate and special, how willing we are to see others as the sinners and ourselves as innocent victims. These are the conditions that result in our fear and our lack of peace, etc.

Thus is it very appropriate to ask for help in bringing about the conditions that would facilitate our learning, and that would bring about the conditions for peace and love, etc. If we were to look with him at all of our ego thoughts, and then let them go, fear and guilt would vanish forever, and then the love that had been blocked by the fear would be our only reality. All fear and guilt rest on our willingness to choose against the love of Jesus and for the ego, which ensures our survival as separate individuals.

Finally, if we ask him to help us look at our choice to keep him away, then we have already begun the process of correcting that choice. That is the kind of help that would benefit us most.

*

Q #662: Would you comment on the idea “all thinking produces form on some level” (T.2.VI.9:14)? Maybe give a couple of examples and how it may relate to working with A Course in Miracles.

A: The meaning of this important statement is that thinking and its effects are simultaneous, as Jesus repeats in Lesson 19: “Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate” (W.pI.19.1:4). As the preceding sentences in the paragraph indicate, Jesus was trying to teach Helen, and all of us, that we deal with our fear of our mind’s power by believing that we can have “ineffectual” or “idle” thoughts. So Jesus is correcting that by saying that all our thoughts have effects. He emphasizes this same teaching in Lessons 16 and 17 in the workbook. Most of us are accustomed to thinking that our thoughts have no effect if we do not share them or act on them. That is because we do not believe we are minds, or if we do believe we are minds, we believe the mind is in the body and so if the body does not act on a thought, the thought has had no effect. Jesus is saying that our thoughts always have effects. A thought of hatred, for example, even if kept totally “private,” has an effect in the mind of the person who has the thought, because it is a thought of separation and that thought banishes peace because it banishes the truth. This does notmean, however, that if you have thoughts of anger toward someone and that person has a heart attack that your thoughts caused the heart attack. No one can choose for another, as Jesus explains in Lesson 152, “The power of decision is my own” (W.pI.152).

Taken on the metaphysical level, the statement means that every thought is expressed in the dream in terms of a “script,” analogous to a video-tape library, where the expression of each thought would be represented by a video tape. Portions of Lessons 158 and 169 refer to this notion of “script” (W.pI.158, 169). Our book A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles also discusses in detail these as well as other aspects of time found in the Course.


 

present love

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 2

ACIM Text Reading for February 2

A. Special Principles of Miracle Workers

  1. The miracle abolishes the need for lower-order concerns. Since it is an out-of-pattern time interval, the ordinary considerations of time and space do not apply. When you perform a miracle, I will arrange both time and space to adjust to it.

  2. A clear distinction between what is created and what is made is essential. All forms of healing rest on this fundamental correction in level perception.

  3. Never confuse right- and wrong-mindedness. Responding to any form of error with anything except a desire to heal is an expression of this confusion.

  4. The miracle is always a denial of this error and an affirmation of the truth. Only right-mindedness can correct in a way that has any real effect. Pragmatically, what has no real effect has no existence. Its effect, then, is emptiness. Being without substantial content, it lends itself to projection.

  5. The level-adjustment power of the miracle induces the right perception for healing. Until this has occurred healing cannot be understood. Forgiveness is an empty gesture unless it entails correction. Without this it is essentially judgemental, rather than healing.

  6. Miracle-minded forgiveness is only correction. It has no element of judgement at all. The statement ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ in no way evaluates what they do. It is an appeal to God to heal their minds. There is no reference to the outcome of the error. That does not matter.

  7. The injunction ‘Be of one mind’ is the statement for revelation-readiness. My request ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ is the appeal for co-operation from miracle workers. The two statements are not in the same order of reality. Only the latter involves an awareness of time, since to remember is to recall the past in the present. Time is under my direction, but timelessness belongs to God. In time we exist for and with each other. In timelessness we coexist with God.

  8. You can do much on behalf of your own healing and that of others if, in a situation calling for help, you think of it this way:

I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 2


Lesson 18

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

The idea for today is another step in learning that the thoughts which give rise to what you see are never neutral or unimportant. It also emphasizes the idea that minds are joined, which will be given increasing stress later on.

Today’s idea does not refer to what you see as much as to how you see it. Therefore, the exercises for today emphasize this aspect of your perception. The three or four practice periods which are recommended should be done as follows:

Look about you, selecting subjects for the application of the idea for today as randomly as possible, and keeping your eyes on each one long enough to say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of how I see _________.

Conclude each practice period by repeating the more general statement:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

A minute or so, or even less, will be sufficient for each practice period.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today ~ The “Authority Problem”

Q #304: I keep thinking about what A Course in Miracles refers to as the “authority” problem. I understand it to mean that there is a constant struggle within me between what I believe is the “reason” for being here and for my life, and what God “believes” is the reason for my being here and for my life. Unfortunately — like most concepts the Course teaches — I have a feeling my understanding is missing the mark. Am I even close?

A: Actually, you are not far off the mark at all. Someone once said: “If God is your co-pilot, switch seats!” Jesus tells us that the problem is much deeper than that: “The authority problem is still the only source of conflict, because the ego was made out of the wish of God’s Son to father Him. The ego, then, is nothing more than a delusional system in which you made your own father” (T.11.in.2:3,4). This obviously is insane, as Jesus himself remarks in the continuation of that passage; yet we continue to allow this conflict to rage in our minds and to project itself out all over the place in many forms, because we believe that to submit to God as our Author and Source would be a sentence of death. Or at the very least, we could not exist as we would like to.

Jesus explains: “The projection of the ego makes it appear as if God’s Will is outside yourself, and therefore not yours. In this interpretation it seems possible for God’s Will and yours to conflict. God, then, may seem to demand of you what you do not want to give, and thus deprive you of what you want.…You are afraid to know God’s Will, because you believe it is not yours. This belief is your whole sickness and your whole fear” (T.11.9:1,2,3; 10:3,4).

So to the extent that you value an individual, autonomous existence, you will unconsciously believe that you usurped God’s power in order to get and keep that existence and that He is coming after you to get it back. This is the one-or-the-other principle at the heart of the ego thought system, and fear is its unfortunate consequence. “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” (T.3.VI.10.6,7).

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Q #379: I experience myself as being told to review all I can of the “authority problem.” I have Ken Wapnick’s set on the authority problem, but the world of the ego is preventing me from having the time to listen to it. I am wondering if you would have some other words of wisdom concerning this subject or any writings to which you could direct me.

A: We recommend that you set your ego straight! Work things out with your ego and listen to the tapes.

Question #304 summarized the key ideas involved in the authority problem, which Jesus tells us is the root of all evil” (T.3.VI.8:3). It is understandable that there would be intense resistance to this topic, because it pervades all wrong-minded thinking, and to delve into it stirs up our ultimate fear that in some way or other, we are going to lose the battle of existence with God. Concealed in a dark corner of our minds is the “truth” that our existence as individuals is not authentic and can be extinguished the instant our defenses are exposed and demolished, which is inevitable. This ontological doubt about our very existence then seeps into all levels of our experience, so that we wind up challenging every single authority in our lives — either secretly or overtly. Or we go in the opposite direction and become completely submissive to authorities, secretly resentful, though, of their power over us. Either way works in the ego’s service, because the separation is maintained.

A Course in Miracles teaches us that the healing of this conflict begins when we ask for help to look at our wish to be autonomous individuals rather than part of the one Son of God, and we will be motivated to ask for help when we have recognized that wanting and defending a life of separate interests has not made us happy. The ego would have us believe that it is always one-or- the-other: either a tryrannical God is in charge or we are. Jesus corrects this erroneous thinking by assuring us that when we let go of our imagined need to be independent, we will feel as if we have just been released from imprisonment, and we will then experience the unending peace that is our inheritance as God’s Son (T.3.VI.10).

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Q #1351My question is about the Authority Problem. When I was little I had this particular thing I would do and my father told me to stop because it was not what big boys do. But my mother said that she thought it was cute and that they should just let me out- grow it. Well it’s now a part of my personality and my relationships. Can I continue being this even if it is an authority problem, or does Jesus ask that we give up any self-assertion even if it causes us fear do so?

A: Jesus never asks us to sacrifice anything for the sake of spiritual advancement. Only the ego’s God and Jesus demand sacrifice. What Jesus wants us to do is develop the habit of asking of our values and behavior, “What is it for? What purpose does this serve?” He wants us to become more and more aware that we are decision-making minds always making one of two choices: either to continue to be separate from God and others or to undo our belief in separation and learn that we all share the same interests and ultimately the same Identity. That is the only relevant meaning of what we do and think. Thus, if you were to evaluate the behavior you are referring to in this context of its purpose, you might attain a better understanding of what is going on in. This would shift your attention from your behavior to your mind, and you would realize that your salvation does not rest on making changes on the behavioral level.

Self-assertion is an ego ideal, although it is not necessarily wrong to go through a stage of self- assertion as a correction for years of doing the opposite. When you choose Jesus or the Holy Spirit as your internal Teacher, rather than the ego, you will be centered in the love that responds to everything and everyone only with love and kindness. This content in your mind would then be expressed appropriately in the circumstances of your life, which may be in the form of assertiveness, but not the ego version that would reinforce differences and lead to an adversarial relationship. If you focus on being clear about the purpose you are choosing in your mind, your behavior would just flow from that, and then you would not be in conflict. There would be a consistency between your thoughts and behavior — what Jesus calls “honesty,” the second characteristic of God’s teachers (see M.4.II). A Course in Miracles , actually, says nothing about what our behavior ought to be.

Finally, from the information you have given, it is difficult to determine whether your problem is simply an authority issue. We all would tend to have issues with authorities, given the fact that we believe we got our existence at God’s expense and that He is after us to punish us and get back what we took from Him. Questions #304 and #379 discuss the different dimensions of this pervasive aspect of our ego identification.

you have no idea

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 1

ACIM Text Reading for February 1

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

V. The Function of the Miracle Worker

Before miracle workers are ready to undertake their function in this world, it is essential that they fully understand the fear of release. Otherwise they may unwittingly foster the belief that release is imprisonment, a belief that is already very prevalent. This misperception arises in turn from the belief that harm can be limited to the body. That is because of the underlying fear that the mind can hurt itself. None of these errors is meaningful, because the miscreations of the mind do not really exist. This recognition is a far better protective device than any form of level confusion, because it introduces correction at the level of the error. It is essential to remember that only the mind can create, and that correction belongs at the thought level. To amplify an earlier statement, spirit is already perfect and therefore does not require correction. The body does not exist except as a learning device for the mind. This learning device is not subject to errors of its own, because it cannot create, It is obvious, then, that inducing the mind to give up its miscreations is the only application of creative ability that is truly meaningful.

Magic is the mindless or the miscreative use of mind. Physical medications are forms of ‘spells’, but if you are afraid to use the mind to heal, you should not attempt to do so. The very fact that you are afraid makes your mind vulnerable to miscreation. You are therefore likely to misunderstand any healing that might occur, and because egocentricity and fear usually occur together, you may be unable to accept the real Source of the healing. Under these conditions, it is safer for you to rely temporarily on physical healing devices, because you cannot misperceive them as your own creations. As long as your sense of vulnerability persists, you should, not attempt to perform miracles.

I have already said that miracles are expressions of miracle-mindedness, and miracle-mindedness means right-mindedness. The right-minded neither exalt nor depreciate the mind of the miracle worker or the miracle receiver. However, as a correction, the miracle need not await the right-mindedness of the receiver. In fact, its purpose is to restore him to his right mind. It is essential, however, that the miracle worker be in his right mind, however briefly, or he will be unable to re-establish right-mindedness in someone else.

The healer who relies on his own readiness is endangering his understanding. You are perfectly safe as long as you are completely unconcerned about your readiness, but maintain a consistent trust in mine. If your miracle working inclinations are not functioning properly, it is always because fear has intruded on your right-mindedness and has turned it upside down. All forms of not-right-mindedness are the result of refusal to accept the Atonement for yourself. If you do accept it, you are in a position to recognise that those who need healing are simply those who have not realised that right-mindedness is healing.

The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself. This means you recognise that mind is the only creative level, and that its errors are healed by the Atonement. Once you accept this, your mind can only heal. By denying your mind any destructive potential and reinstating its purely constructive powers, you place yourself in a position to undo the level confusion of others. The message you then give to them is the truth that their minds are similarly constructive, and their miscreations cannot hurt them. By affirming this you release the mind from over-evaluating its own learning device, and restore the mind to its true position as the learner.

It should be emphasised again that the body does not learn any more than it creates. As a learning device it merely follows the learner, but if it is falsely endowed with self-initiative, it becomes a serious obstruction to the very learning it should facilitate. Only the mind is capable of illumination. Spirit is already illuminated and the body in itself is too dense. The mind, however, can bring its illumination to the body by recognising that it is not the learner, and is therefore unamenable to learning. The body is, however, easily brought into alignment with a mind that has learned to look beyond it toward the light.

Corrective learning always begins with the awakening of spirit, and the turning away from the belief in physical sight. This often entails fear, because you are afraid of what your spiritual sight will show you. I said before that the Holy Spirit cannot see error, and is capable only of looking beyond it to the defence of Atonement. There is no doubt that this may produce discomfort, yet the discomfort is not the final outcome of the perception. When the Holy Spirit is permitted to look upon the defilement of the altar, He also looks immediately toward the Atonement. Nothing He perceives can induce fear. Everything that results from spiritual awareness is merely channelised toward correction. Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need for correction into awareness.

The fear of healing arises in the end from an unwillingness to accept unequivocally that healing is necessary. What the physical eye sees is not corrective, nor can error be corrected by any device that can be seen physically. As long as you believe in what your physical sight tells you, your attempts at correction will be misdirected. The real vision is obscured, because you cannot endure to see your own defiled altar. But since the altar has been defiled, your state becomes doubly dangerous unless it isperceived.

Healing is an ability that developed after the separation, before which it was unnecessary. Like all aspects of the belief in space and time, it is temporary. However, as long as time persists, healing is needed as a means of protection. This is because healing rests on charity, and charity is a way of perceiving the perfection of another even if you cannot perceive it in yourself. Most of the loftier concepts of which you are capable now are time-dependent. Charity is really a weaker reflection of a much more powerful love-encompassment that is far beyond any form of charity you can conceive of as yet. Charity is essential to right-mindedness in the limited sense in which it can now be attained.

Charity is a way of looking at another as if he had already gone far beyond his actual accomplishments in time. Since his own thinking is faulty he cannot see the Atonement for himself, or he would have no need of charity. The charity that is accorded him is both an acknowledgement that he needs help, and a recognition that he will accept it. Both of these perceptions clearly imply their dependence on time, making it apparent that charity still lies within the limitations of this world. I said before that only revelation transcends time. The miracle, as an expression of charity, can only shorten it. It must be understood, however, that whenever you offer a miracle to another, you are shortening the suffering of both of you. This corrects retroactively as well as progressively.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 1

Lesson 17

I see no neutral things.

This idea is another step in the direction of identifying cause and effect as it really operates in the world. You see no neutral things because you have no neutral thoughts. It is always the thought that comes first, despite the temptation to believe that it is the other way around. This is not the way the world thinks, but you must learn that it is the way you think. If it were not so, perception would have no cause, and would itself be the cause of reality. In view of its highly variable nature, this is hardly likely.

In applying today’s idea, say to yourself, with eyes open:

I see no neutral things because I have no neutral thoughts.

Then look about you, resting your glance on each thing you note long enough to say:

I do not see a neutral ___, because my thoughts about ___ are not neutral.

For example, you might say:

I do not see a neutral wall, because my thoughts about walls are not neutral.
I do not see a neutral body, because my thoughts about bodies are not neutral.

As usual, it is essential to make no distinctions between what you believe to be animate or inanimate; pleasant or unpleasant. Regardless of what you may believe, you do not see anything that is really alive or really joyous. That is because you are unaware as yet of any thought that is really true, and therefore really happy.

Three or four specific practice periods are recommended, and no less than three are required for maximum benefit, even if you experience resistance. However, if you do, the length of the practice period may be reduced to less than the minute or so that is otherwise recommended.

***

Q # 939A Course in Miracles says that physical medications are forms of spells. Would you explain what this means? Didn’t God say he gave us everything we need, including the herbs to make medications?

A: While the Bible and our Western religions are based on the premise that God created the world and everything in it, A Course in Miracles is not. According to the Course, the world is “false perception” (W.pII.3.1:1) , was “made as an attack on God” (W.pII.3.2:1) , and “meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him” (W.pII.3.2:4). Nothing in this physical world could have come from God because He is perfect oneness while this is a world of separation and multiplicity. So clearly, God is not in this world and does not even know about it. This entire world, our individual identity, our body, and all of our problems, only exist in our mind. We made all of this up precisely to keep the Love of God away. We made up everything that seems to help us or give us pleasure for the same reason.

In one sense, whenever we seem to be helped by something external, we are telling God that we do not need His Love because we found something better. This is what the Course calls magic — the attempt to solve problems externally by changing something in the physical world. We practice this type of magic virtually all the time. When we feel upset by people’s words or actions, we want to change them . When we have physical discomfort, we treat the body. The trouble with this approach is that it can never lead us to a lasting state of peace. If we do manage to get someone else to change, there will always be another person who upsets us. If we take a pill for our headache, sooner or later another part of our body will act up.

Jesus gave us his course to help us realize that our attempts at magic do not yield lasting or satisfying results because they do not address our one real problem — the guilt provoking belief that we separated from God and destroyed His Love. The Course informs us that this self- accusation is false and urges us to make our reawakening to the peace of God our singular goal. The method it lays out for doing so involves changing internal teachers. This is the Course’s definition of a miracle — the shift in perception from the ego’s thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, to the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness. When we are willing to ask for this shift again and again, we will be led through a gentle process of awakening in which we ultimately realize that all our problems are made up and have no power to take away our peace or happiness.

Our choice in any seemingly problematic situation is very simple. We can attempt magic by trying to change the outward picture of our life. Or, we can choose the miracle by asking for help to change the inner condition (our thinking) that lead us to view the picture as a problem. The passage your question refers to states, “Magic is the mindless or the miscreative use of mind. Physical medications are forms of ‘spells,’ but if you are afraid to use the mind to heal, you should not attempt to do so” (T.2.V.2: 1,2). In other words, because we still fear God’s Love and the power of our own mind, there are times when choosing magic is the best we can do. Jesus wants us to know that this is okay. While it will not give us what we truly want, using magic is not bad, evil, or sinful.

So if you have a physical problem and believe that a medication will help you, you should take it and not feel guilty. The medication will not bring you closer to the peace of God. But we can get closer to that peace by taking our medicine with a gentle smile that says, “I’m scared right now and that’s all right.”

certain as god