ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 30

ACIM Reading For November 30

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Pratice

2.- III. The Role of the Psychotherapist

1. The psychotherapist is a leader in the sense that he walks slightly ahead of the patient, and helps him to avoid a few of the pitfalls along the road by seeing them first. Ideally, he is also a follower, for One should walk ahead of him to give him light to see. Without this One, both will merely stumble blindly on to nowhere. It is, however, impossible that this One be wholly absent if the goal is healing. He may, however, not be recognized. And so the little light that can be then accepted is all there is to light the way to truth.

2. Healing is limited by the limitations of the psychotherapist, as it is limited by those of the patient. The aim of the process, therefore, is to transcend these limits. Neither can do this alone, but when they join, the potentiality for transcending all limitations has been given them.

Now the extent of their success depends on how much of this potentiality they are willing to use. The willingness may come from either one at the beginning, and as the other shares it, it will grow. Progress becomes a matter of decision; it can reach almost to Heaven or go no further than a step or two from hell.

3. It is quite possible for psychotherapy to seem to fail. It is even possible for the result to look like retrogression. But in the end there must be some success. One asks for help; another hears and tries to answer in the form of help. This is the formula for salvation, and must heal.

Divided goals alone can interfere with perfect healing. One wholly egoless therapist could heal the world without a word, merely by being there. No one need see him or talk to him or even know of his existence. His simple Presence is enough to heal.

4. The ideal therapist is one with Christ. But healing is a process, not a fact. The therapist cannot progress without the patient, and the patient cannot be ready to receive the Christ or he could not be sick. In a sense, the egoless psychotherapist is an abstraction that stands at the end of the process of healing, too advanced to believe in sickness and too near to God to keep his feet on earth. Now he can help through those in need of help, for thus he carries out the plan established for salvation. The psychotherapist becomes his patient, working through other patients to express his thoughts as he receives them from the Mind of Christ.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 30

Lesson 334

Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives.

I will not wait another day to find the treasures that my Father offers me. Illusions are all vain, and dreams are gone even while they are woven out of thoughts that rest on false perceptions. Let me not accept such meager gifts again today. God’s Voice is offering the peace of God to all who hear and choose to follow Him. This is my choice today. And so I go to find the treasures God has given me.

I seek but the eternal. For Your Son can be content with nothing less than this. What, then, can be his solace but what You are offering to his bewildered mind and frightened heart, to give him certainty and bring him peace? Today I would behold my brother sinless. This Your Will for me, for so will I behold my sinlessness.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #32: I have read that Freud said the point of psychoanalysis is to make the unconscious conscious. I know that the Course is based in some ways on concepts of Freudian theory, but doesn’t the Course say that all consciousness is inherently illusory? Doesn’t this clash, then, with the main objective of psychoanalysis? Or am I having a case of level confusion?

A: The Course does indeed identify consciousness with what is illusory, describing it early in the text as “the level of perception, 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” (T.3.IV.2:1,2).But like all things the ego has made to support and maintain the belief in separation, the Holy Spirit can give it a different purpose. And so later, Jesus observes that “consciousness has levels and awareness can shift quite dramatically, but it cannot transcend the perceptual realm. At its highest level it becomes aware of the real world, and can be trained to do so increasingly” (C.1.7:4,5).

So yes, although consciousness metaphysically speaking is part of the illusion and so is not real, since we believe in its reality and experience it as an inherent part of ourselves, the Course provides us a way to use our consciousness in order ultimately to transcend it. The process of being trained to attain the real world is really a matter of making conscious what our ego has made unconscious through fear, so that the false perceptions of the ego can be healed and replaced by the true perception of the Holy Spirit, preparing us for our return to knowledge (the Course’s term for Heaven), beyond all consciousness and perception.

We have made the split mind — where consciousness resides — unconscious, and instead believe that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the body or, more specifically, of the brain. We have also made unconscious all the guilt in the mind that we have concocted as a defense of consciousness, projecting the guilt out into a world of form where we would never suspect its origin. So all of the ego’s defenses must be made conscious — or as the Course more eloquently describes it, we must “be willing to bring the darkness to light” (T.18.III.6:2) — so that their unreality can be recognized. And so we use the consciousness of the split mind to do this until, in the end, all of our false perceptions have been made conscious and healed, and consciousness is no longer needed. At that point, we are ready to leave the realm of consciousness and perception and “disappear into the Presence beyond the veil…not to be seen [perceived] but known” (T.19.IV.D.19:1).


Q #33: When I am “stuck” and don’t feel I am being completely willing to let go of a well-established defense, I very often ask Jesus to help me with my unwillingness in the situation. I have experienced what I believe is success with this tool from time to time. I must also say that it doesn’t always work — I still feel the discomfort and unhappiness of retaining the grievance even though I’ve asked Him to help me with my unwillingness. Is this some kind of sophisticated ego ploy?

A: Being totally honest with Jesus about your unwillingness to let go of a grievance is helpful in itself, especially since you are experiencing the effects of not letting it go. This stubbornness does not make you sinful and does not affect Jesus’ love for you. So feeling like a failure, or any form of self-condemnation would be the only mistake at that point — you already are aware of the price you are paying to hold on to the grievance. You can just stop with that, acknowledging that forgiveness is a process, and that when the underlying fear lessens, you will take another step. If you really wanted to forgive, you would. You might ask yourself what you would feel like, or what would happen, if you really did totally let go of the grievance. That might disclose the nature of the fear behind your unwillingness. Then you and Jesus could deal with that together. That would help to keep you honest, too.

There is no way of ever being totally sure whether you are listening to the ego or the Holy Spirit. After many years of experience, you become more familiar with your favorite means of self- deception, but usually you need someone who knows you well to help you discern. It’s a difficulty most students experience, because of the tremendous fear we all have of returning home to God.

jesus there is no death

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ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 29

ACIM Reading for November 29

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process, and Practice

2.- II. The Place of Religion in Psychotherapy1. To be a teacher of God, it is not necessary to be religious or even to believe in God to any recognizable extent. It is necessary, however, to teach forgiveness rather than condemnation. Even in this, complete consistency is not required, for one who had achieved that point could teach salvation completely, within an instant and without a word. Yet he who has learned all things does not need a teacher, and the healed have no need for a therapist. Relationships are still the temple of the Holy Spirit, and they will be made perfect in time and restored to eternity.

2. Formal religion has no place in psychotherapy, but it also has no real place in religion. In this world, there is an astonishing tendency to join contradictory words into one term without perceiving the contradiction at all. The attempt to formalize religion is so obviously an ego attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable that it hardly requires elaboration here. Religion is experience; psychotherapy is experience. At the highest levels they become one. Neither is truth itself, but both can lead to truth. What can be necessary to find truth, which remains perfectly obvious, but to remove the seeming obstacles to true awareness?

3. No one who learns to forgive can fail to remember God. Forgiveness, then, is all that need be taught, because it is all that need be learned. All blocks to the remembrance of God are forms of unforgiveness, and nothing else. This is never apparent to the patient, and only rarely so to the therapist. The world has marshalled all its forces against this one awareness, for in it lies the ending of the world and all it stands for.

4. Yet it is not the awareness of God that constitutes a reasonable goal for psychotherapy.
This will come when psychotherapy is complete, for where there is forgiveness truth must come. It would be unfair indeed if belief in God were necessary to psychotherapeutic success. Nor is belief in God a really meaningful concept, for God can be but known. Belief implies that unbelief is possible, but knowledge of God has no true opposite. Not to know God is to have no knowledge, and it is to this that all unforgiveness leads. And without knowledge one can have only belief.

5. Different teaching aids appeal to different people. Some forms of religion have nothing to do with God, and some forms of psychotherapy have nothing to do with healing. Yet if pupil and teacher join in sharing one goal, God will enter into their relationship because He has been invited to come in. In the same way, a union of purpose between patient and therapist restores the place of God to ascendance, first through Christ’s vision and then through the memory of God Himself. The process of psychotherapy is the return to sanity. Teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, are all insane or they would not be here. Together they can find a pathway out, for no one will find sanity alone.

6. If healing is an invitation to God to enter into His Kingdom, what difference does it make how the invitation is written? Does the paper matter, or the ink, or the pen? Or is it he who writes that gives the invitation? God comes to those who would restore His world, for they have found the way to call to Him. If any two are joined, He must be there. It does not matter what their purpose is, but they must share it wholly to succeed. It is impossible to share a goal not blessed by Christ, for what is unseen through His eyes is too fragmented to be meaningful.

7. As true religion heals, so must true psychotherapy be religious. But both have many forms, because no good teacher uses one approach to every pupil. On the contrary, he
listens patiently to each one, and lets him formulate his own curriculum; not the curriculum’s goal, but how he can best reach the aim it sets for him. Perhaps the teacher does not think of God as part of teaching. Perhaps the psychotherapist does not understand that healing comes from God. They can succeed where many who believe they have found God will fail.

8. What must the teacher do to ensure learning? What must the therapist do to bring healing about? Only one thing; the same requirement salvation asks of everyone. Each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests. Only by doing this is it possible to transcend the narrow boundaries the ego would impose upon the self. Only by doing this can teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, you and I, accept Atonement and learn to give it as it was received.

9. Communion is impossible alone. No one who stands apart can receive Christ’s vision.
It is held out to him, but he cannot hold out his hand to receive it. Let him be still and recognize his brother’s need is his own. And let him then meet his brother’s need as his and see that they are met as one, for such they are. What is religion but an aid in helping him to see that this is so? And what is psychotherapy except a help in just this same direction? It is the goal that makes these processes the same, for they are one in purpose and must thus be one in means.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 29

Lesson 333

Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here.

Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, or hidden by deceit of any kind, if it would be escaped. It must be seen exactly as it is, where it is thought to be, in the reality which has been given it, and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. For only then are its defenses lifted, and the truth can shine upon it as it disappears.

Father, forgiveness is the light You chose to shine away all conflict and all doubt, and light the way for our return to You. No light but this can end our evil dream. No light but this can save the world. For this alone will never fail in anything, being Your gift to Your beloved Son.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q # 948I have been in a troubled love relationship for five years. Sometimes when we’re in conflict, I accept what is being mirrored back to me as my own lack and wrong mindedness, and I feel at peace. At other times, I feel resentment toward my partner and envy other couples that I perceive as having more of a joint vision. A Course in Miracles teaches not to seek outside yourself and not to try and find another relationship that my ego would like better. Soon we will be seeing a counselor to help us with our issues. I know that the objective for the counselor will be to help us create more ego-based congruence. So how do I do this and stay true to the teaching of the Course? And if my goal is ego-based anyway, why not just find another relationship with someone who is more compatible with me?

A: A Course in Miracles is a guide that helps us shift from the ego to the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. It is not a guide to behavior. Thus, staying true to the teaching of the Course is solely a matter of what goes on in your mind. From the perspective of the Course, then, going to see a counselor for help with your issues is no more right or wrong than drinking water when you feel thirsty. The water is not healing. But it would be neither loving nor helpful to deny your body the liquid it requires to function and feel healthy. Similarly, counseling may not heal your mind. But if it can help alleviate your mental anguish, then it would be silly not to partake in it. In addition, all of our physical and psychological issues are, in reality, barriers we created to keep the Love of God out of our mind. Therefore, taking whatever actions will lessen their effects can be a helpful first step toward ultimately remembering God’s Love.

In the pamphlet Psychotherapy: Purpose, Practice and Procedure , Jesus states that “It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs” (p.3.II.6.1). Clearly, Jesus is not opposed to therapy. Moreover, we could replace the words therapist and patient with any two people who have a relationship. Healing occurs when we do not judge another — or ourselves. Thus, from Jesus’ perspective, whether you stay or leave a specific partner is irrelevant. What matters is how you stay or leave. This is why the Course urges us to ask the Holy Spirit for help questioning the purpose of all our thoughts and actions. The Holy Spirit knows that though they wear a million disguises, there are only two purposes we can have. We are always either projecting guilt or extending love. The Holy Spirit will always let us see which one we are doing.

Happily, He is an internal Therapist Who will always forget to judge us. So, if we hold His Hand, everything we do will become a healing classroom in forgiveness. Filled with His forgiveness and Love, you will recognize that neither you nor your partner is guilty — you are both simply afraid of love. It might be helpful for the two of you to work on this issue together, or it might be better to do it apart. But whether you stay together or break up, you will do so with a gentle kindness — a kindness that wants only what is best for both of you.

For a related discussion about special relationships, please see Question #701  What does the course say about leaving a relationship?.

forgiveness is still

Introducing A Course in Miracles, Instillment #3

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

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GO TO THE SOURCE

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

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

 

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

 

Introduction to A Course in Miracles by ACIM.org

 

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

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

~ A Course in Miracles[1]

 

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

 

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

 

SECONDARY SOURCES – BOOKS ABOUT THE COURSE

 

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

 

Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky

 

A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson

 

The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary Renard

 

A Course in Miracles Made Easy, Alan Cohen

 

YIR-Gary-DU

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Into Christ's Presence

want only love

 

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 28

ACIM Reading for November 28

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice

2.- I. The Limits on Psychotherapy1. Yet the ideal outcome is rarely achieved. Therapy begins with the realization that healing is of the mind, and in psychotherapy those have come together who already believe this.

It may be they will not get much further, for no one learns beyond his own readiness. Yet levels of readiness change, and when therapist or patient has reached the next one, there will be a relationship held out to them that meets the changing need. Perhaps they will come together again and advance in the same relationship, making it holier. Or perhaps each of them will enter into another commitment. Be assured of this; each will progress. Retrogression is temporary.

The overall direction is one of progress toward the truth.

2. Psychotherapy itself cannot be creative. This is one of the errors which the ego fosters; that it is capable of true change, and therefore of true creativity. When we speak of “the saving illusion” or “the final dream,” this is not what we mean, but here is the ego’s last defense.

“Resistance” is its way of looking at things; its interpretation of progress and growth. These interpretations will be wrong of necessity, because they are delusional. The changes the ego seeks to make are not really changes. They are but deeper shadows, or perhaps different cloud patterns. Yet what is made of nothingness cannot be called new or different. Illusions are illusions; truth is truth.

3. Resistance as defined here can be characteristic of a therapist as well as of a patient.
Either way, it sets a limit on psychotherapy because it restricts its aims. Nor can the Holy Spirit fight against the intrusions of the ego on the therapeutic process. But He will wait, and His patience is infinite. His goal is wholly undivided always. Whatever resolutions patient and therapist reach in connection with their own divergent goals, they cannot become completely reconciled as one until they join with His. Only then is all conflict over, for only then can there be certainty.

4. Ideally, psychotherapy is a series of holy encounters in which brothers meet to bless each other and to receive the peace of God. And this will one day come to pass for every “patient” on the face of this earth, for who except a patient could possibly have come here? The therapist is only a somewhat more specialized teacher of God. He learns through teaching, and the more advanced he is the more he teaches and the more he learns. But whatever stage he is in, there are patients who need him just that way. They cannot take more than he can give for now. Yet both will find sanity at last.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 28

Lesson 332

Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free.

The ego makes illusions. Truth undoes its evil dreams by shining them away. Truth never makes attack. It merely is. And by its presence is the mind recalled from fantasies, awaking to the real. Forgiveness bids this presence enter in, and take its rightful place within the mind. Without forgiveness is the mind in chains, believing in its own futility. Yet with forgiveness does the light shine through the dream of darkness, offering it hope, and giving it the means to realize the freedom that is its inheritance.

We would not bind the world again today. Fear holds it prisoner. And yet Your Love has given us the means to set it free. Father, we would release it now. For as we offer freedom, it is given us. And we would not remain as prisoners, while You are holding freedom out to us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #930Some people are giving psychotherapy training based on A Course in Miracles . Is that really necessary or should I just stay with the Course itself?

A: People are free to do whatever they choose with the Course, either treating it as a total and complete thought system within itself — which it is — or attempting to combine it with whatever other teachings they are already familiar, whether they be alternative spiritual paths, self-help techniques, or various therapeutic models. Almost without exception, however, any attempt at integrating the Course with these other practices will involve some compromise of the Course’s radical principle of nonduality, as people, often without consciously realizing what they are doing, end up bringing its profound teaching down to their own level of   understanding and comfort.   There certainly is nothing bad or “sinful” about these kinds of integrative efforts, but they will almost certainly dilute the Course’s message and mix levels of teaching in an unhelpful way, confusing the student and reducing the value of both the Course and what it is being combined with.

Confusion arises because the Course is never saying anything about behavior, and almost every other teaching at some level addresses the issue of how we are acting in the world and relating interpersonally with others. And the Course is simply not concerned with inter personal issues, except as they are a mirror of what is happening at an intra personal level, that is, with decisions being made at the level of mind, where the illusory experience of being a separate, individual person originates. Changes may in turn be reflected at an interpersonal level, but that would never be the Course’s focus or concern.

And so you will do well simply to direct your efforts at understanding and applying the forgiveness principles of   the Course as it stands on its own, recognizing that its only purpose is to bring about a change in how you see, or interpret, the world, and not to change the world that you see. Other approaches, such as psychotherapy, may certainly also have value and serve a very useful purpose in your life. The only mistake would be to attempt to combine them with the Course’s principles, rather than simply accepting their helpfulness at their own level.


Q #931I have a question about judgment. In your answer to Question #642, you state “The Course does not ask us not to judge, but rather to recognize the judgments we do make, including the judgment against ourselves for judging.” I understand the context in which you made this response, meaning that one should not beat oneself up or feel guilty when we succumb to judgment, as this just fuels the ego. However, I need some clarification about the first part of your response. It seems that A Course in Miracles specifically asks us not to judge in several places. In the Manual for Teachers it states: “He must learn to lay all judgment aside, and ask only what he wants in every circumstance”(M.4.I.A.7:8). Also in the manual is an essay on being non-judgmental, starting with the line: “God’s teachers do not judge” (M.4.III.1:1). So my question is: should I strive not to judge, or strive only to observe when I am judging? The answer is probably to try to do both. Can you provide any additional perspective on this issue?

A: The Course comes to us in the dream of separation from the part of the mind of the Sonship that is outside of the dream. The need for its curriculum of teaching us non-judgment rests on our decision to identify with the body and the world, having already “judged” that separation is preferable to oneness by choosing it. The answer you quote is correct in that we will not learn not to judge if we deny that we have judged already, and continue to make judgments about a multitude of things all through the day, every day. When Jesus says God’s teachers do not judge, he is referring to the fact that the only activity of the split mind is choosing, not judging. The goal of the Course is to teach us that we are minds that choose, not bodies that judge. In fact, Jesus tells us we cannot judge: “You have often been urged to refrain from judging, not because it is a right to be withheld from you. You cannot judge . You merely can believe the ego’s judgments, all of which are false” (W.pI.151.4:2,3,4, italics added ). Thus, learning to “lay all judgment aside” means learning to see in the ego’s judgments the reflection of the mind’s choice for separation, instead of struggling with the judgments, or worse, believing they are true. Moreover, doing battle with the ego’s judgments is a lost cause. The ego will always judge. The important thing is to be willing to recognize the judgments and the purpose they serve, and to remember that they are always false. Their only usefulness is in revealing the mind’s choice for separation and the need for forgiveness.

Rather than struggle with judgments, what we are asked to do is be vigilant for the ego’s judgment in every situation with willingness to “lay it aside” by questioning it and remembering that there is another way of looking. In doing so, we make room for the Holy Spirit to reinterpret everything according to His perception. Everything then becomes a classroom to learn that the ego’s judg­ment is not our only option. Moreover, it is wrong about everything. In this classroom, the teacher of God learns to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit, rather than to judge. Awareness of judgment is the first step in the right direction, while striving not to judge short circuits the whole process. The ego presents itself in the form of judgment; the teacher of God departs from business as usual by seeing judgment as the reflection of the mind’s choice with an opportunity to choose again. Thus, the teacher of God does not judge (M.4.III.1:1) ; he chooses.

complete forgiveness

Introducing A Course in Miracles, Instillment #2

NOTE: This is the 2nd Installment (or “Instillment” : ) of the Introduction to the Course that I began posting yesterday.

 

INTRODUCING A COURSE IN MIRACLES

 

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

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

 Peace of God

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.”

     

    And here is a beautiful “prayer” from the Course that I would like to once again share with you here at the outset, especially as it highlights my role as both a teacher AND student, as well as your role as student AND teacher…

i-am-here-only-meditation-6

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

*

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

This is the one true goal of the teacher.”

 

~ A Course in Miracles[1]

 

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

 

So let’s begin…

 

FINDING ANOTHER WAY, A BETTER WAY

 

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

Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly,

that there must be a better way.

As this recognition becomes more firmly established,

it becomes a turning point.

This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously

weakening the investment in physical sight.

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

But the outcome is as certain as God.”

                                                      ~ A Course in Miracles[2]

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

~ A deep sense of loneliness and despair, or otherwise depression.

 

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

 

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

 

~ A perfectionism that leaves you paralyzed.

 

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

 

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

And so on…

 

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

 

This idea can be summed up in a very simple statement:

 

“The Course is for everybody,

but not everybody is for the Course.”

 

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

 

The Course itself says:

 

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

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

 

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

[To Be Continued Tomorrow]

 

[1] ACIM, T 4.I. 5:1-2.

 

[2]  ACIM, T2.III.3.5-10.

 

Peace of God

HelenandBillat1W.81stStreetNYC             Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, the scribes of A Course in Miracles.

sun of god guiltless

Judy_Helen_Kenneth                                                Helen Schucman with Ken Wapnick

Holy Encounter copy

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 27

ACIM Reading for November 27

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

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

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 27

Lesson 331

Section 12. What is the Ego?

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

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

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

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

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


Lesson 331

There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.

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

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

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

present love

 

Introducing A Course in Miracles

PLEASE NOTE: This is the first section of an introduction to A Course in Miracles that I wrote as a way of being “truly helpful” to those of us who would like to truly understand the Course. Please stay tuned for further updates after today, and thank you for reading!

AN INTRO TO THE INTRO:

Why A Course in Miracles Needs An Introduction

    A Course in Miracles requires an introduction or “way in” to it because it is just so challenging to read and understand on its own. Many have picked it up and attempted to plow through it, only to put it back on the shelf, often just to gather dust. Mark Twain once said that a classic is a book that everybody has and wants to read, but nobody actually does. Just over 5 decades old, the Course is definitely on its way to becoming something like that. It’s the Moby Dick of the spiritual world, up there with the Urantia Book, Madame Blavatsky’s writings, and the Zohar.

 

So an introduction that helps explain why the Course is so important and potentially useful, as well as to elucidate some of its challenging language and concepts, can be very helpful. The thing is, every introduction to the Course is its own interpretation of sorts, including the one you are about to read. So in the end, the Course really is best approached on its own terms. And yet, again, those terms are just so elusive to most of us!

 

     In what follows, I attempt to get out of the way and point you toward those who I feel really are tried, true and trustworthy guides and resources for the spiritual masterpiece that is A Course in Miracles, thank you for listening…

 

 ***

 Questions That Everyone Has About ACIM

(and which we will attempt to get some clarity on…)

 

~  Who is the author of ACIM? Jesus? Really? How can we know this is so?

 

~ How is the Course similar to and how does it differ from traditional Christianity?

 

~ What is the ego and where did the ego come from? Is it a thing?

 

~ The Course says that God did not create the world. Well, if not, who the hell did? In other words, how did the whole shebang come to be?

 

~ I find it hard to believe/accept that this world with all of its majestic beauty is an illusion, besides the fact that it all feels so real. Please help me with this!

 

~ I’m scared of letting go of my ego, I don’t feel ready to wake up just yet. It’s so hard to forgive some things. Should I continue on this path?

 

~ How do I know if I’m making progress with ACIM? Sometimes it feels like things are getting worse, not better!

 

~ The Course says that it is pointing to an experience of Perfect Love (Oneness) beyond all symbols. Do we know if anyone has ever had this experience? If so, where are they, I need to talk to them!

 

~ There are so many teachers of ACIM, and I’m discovering that not all of them agree with one another. How do I know which teacher to follow?

 

~ How do I distinguish between the voice of the ego and the voice of Spirit (or, the Holy Spirit)?

 

~ How do I practically apply the Course to my daily life, especially considering that the Course says nothing specific about what to do/how to live?

 

~ Can it all really be as simple as the Course suggests?

***

A Course in Miracles in One Page

(more or less)

 

To distill the message of ACIM in one page is kind of ridiculous as the Course calls to be read, and read and studied and practiced on its own terms. That said, perhaps someone who reads this will feel inspired to actually pick up the darn tome and be willing to wade through its difficult language in order to reap the benefits of working with it.  For clearly it is the case that many who are, in fact, interested in ACIM do not get very far due to being hung up on the words and wordiness of it all.  So! Without further ado

 

The Course presents us with what Jesus was really wanting to get at 2,000 years ago, if only his followers could have understood the mystic basis of his teaching. They couldn’t, of course, because he was teaching at such a high level, and as its said, it “takes one to know one.”

 

But essentially, Jesus’ message was/is very simple, and because it is so simple, it has the unique ability to save you a lot of time in your life and on the path of awakening.

 

And the simple message is to recognize that we are always doing either one of two things: Living from fear, or living from love. Otherwise put, we are always either choosing to follow the ego, or choosing Spirit as our teacher. The problem is that we are generally not conscious that we even have this choice moment to moment, because we are already so deeply identified with the ego that we have allowed much of our decision-making to be unconscious. Because of this, we think that the world is somehow being done to us (victim-consciousness), rather than that we are fully responsible for our life and liberation.

 

And because we are so identified with the ego, we don’t even realize that we have chosen to identify so deeply with our body and personhood because the ego has as its mission to convince us that we are limited, that we are not what we truly are. And it uses every means necessary (variations on the themes of sin, guilt and fear) to keep us asleep so that we will never wake up to the reality that the ego is actually nothing but a false idea about who we are, and that we are really still safe at home in God (Perfect Love, Absolute Oneness).

 

Now, the most important tactical weapon in the ego’s psychic arsenal is “projection.” Projection works through seemingly projecting outside of the mind what is actually within it. So ultimately, the whole universe of time and space is actually a projection of the mind, but on the level most of us are at right now, we can see how projection works if we begin to recognize how invested we are in continually seeing the “problem” out there, rather than in here.

 

Which is where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness means recognizing that there is nothing being done to you by anyone, and it is actually up to you to choose to make the unconscious conscious and realize that you always have a choice to see peace and innocence and perfection and unity everywhere, or not. And as you learn — slowly, slowly — to lay aside judgment and see everyone and everything this way, not only will you become happier and more at peace, but at some point along the way, you will have an experience (and perhaps more than one) of what it feels like to be Home again. And like the road less traveled, this experience will make all of the difference.

 

But you gotta do the work. It’s up to you. You are the one you’ve been waiting for, you are the only one that needs to wake up, and both the problem and the solution lie inside of you.

 

And the truth is, this is all so mind-blowingly elegantly simple, yet not so easy. Which is why so few ever go all the way with this process of “undoing the ego” and unwinding the mind back to God. In fact, there has only been one who has ever fully done this.

 

Maybe you will be the One? ; )

 

certain as god

 

 

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 26

ACIM Reading for November 26

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

1. The Purpose of Psychotherapy1. Very simply, the purpose of psychotherapy is to remove the blocks to truth. Its aim is to aid the patient in abandoning his fixed delusional system, and to begin to reconsider the spurious cause and effect relationships on which it rests. No one in this world escapes fear, but everyone can reconsider its causes and learn to evaluate them correctly. God has given everyone a Teacher Whose wisdom and help far exceed whatever contributions an earthly therapist can provide. Yet there are times and situations in which an earthly patient-therapist relationship becomes the means through which He offers His greater gifts to both.
2. What better purpose could any relationship have than to invite the Holy Spirit to enter into it and give it His Own great gift of rejoicing? What higher goal could there be for anyone than to learn to call upon God and hear His Answer? And what more transcendent aim can there be than to recall the way, the truth and the life, and to remember God? To help in this is the proper purpose of psychotherapy. Could anything be holier? For psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it. And in his healing is the therapist forgiven with him.
3. Everyone who needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself, and his peace of mind is suffering in consequence. These tendencies are often described as “self-destructive,” and the patient often regards them in that way himself. What he does not realize and needs to learn is that this “self,” which can attack and be attacked as well, is a concept he made up. Further, he cherishes it, defends it, and is sometimes even willing to “sacrifice” his “life” on its behalf. For he regards it as himself. This self he sees as being acted on, reacting to external forces as they demand, and helpless midst the power of the world.
4. Psychotherapy, then, must restore to his awareness the ability to make his own decisions. He must become willing to reverse his thinking, and to understand that what he thought projected its effects on him were made by his projections on the world. The world he sees does therefore not exist. Until this is at least in part accepted, the patient cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions. And he will fight against his freedom because he thinks that it is slavery.
5. The patient need not think of truth as God in order to make progress in salvation. But he must begin to separate truth from illusion, recognizing that they are not the same, and becoming increasingly willing to see illusions as false and to accept the truth as true. His Teacher will take him on from there, as far as he is ready to go. Psychotherapy can only save him time.
The Holy Spirit uses time as He thinks best, and He is never wrong. Psychotherapy under His direction is one of the means He uses to save time, and to prepare additional teachers for His work. There is no end to the help that He begins and He directs. By whatever routes He chooses, all psychotherapy leads to God in the end. But that is up to Him. We are all His psychotherapists, for He would have us all be healed in Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 26

Lesson 330

I will not hurt myself again today.

Let us this day accept forgiveness as our only function. Why should we attack our minds, and give them images of pain? Why should we teach them they are powerless, when God holds out His power and His Love, and bids them take what is already theirs? The mind that is made willing to accept God’s gifts has been restored to spirit, and extends its freedom and its joy, as is the Will of God united with its own. The Self which God created cannot sin, and therefore cannot suffer. Let us choose today that He be our Identity, and thus escape forever from all things the dream of fear appears to offer us.

Father, Your Son can not be hurt. And if we think we suffer, we but fail to know our one Identity we share with You. We would return to It today, to be made free forever from all our mistakes, and to be saved from what we thought we were.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #872: I am a practicing hypnotherapist, and I work with people primarily on things such as weight loss and smoking cessation. Recently, I began studying the Psychotherapy pamphlet and I have a question about a couple things that Jesus says in there. He says about goals, “It is impossible to share a goal not blessed by Christ …” (P.2.II.6:7), and then later, “Each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests” (P.2.II.8:4). I’m assuming here that he means any goal … such as losing 50 pounds? I realize that ultimately, all worldly goals must be renounced to the Holy Spirit, but if a client comes to see me for weight loss and has no interest in enlightenment, then on a practical level, how should I perceive my role and proceed in therapy? I’m assuming that I am simply to help her on a practical level in the way I normally would, but while at the same time forgiving us both in my heart and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance. Is there something else I’m not understanding?

A: Just stay focused on the purpose of getting beyond “all sense of separate interests” — that is the point of what Jesus is teaching. Any interaction at all can be used for that purpose, and all that matters is your willingness to accept that as your purpose. The other person’s motive is irrelevant in this context. The content in your mind is to learn that you are not separate from your client, and the form in which you are learning this lesson is your joint participation in the weight-loss project. All that is truly meaningful in this interaction, though, is the joining — that you would realize that you are both the same in your wrong minds, your right minds, and in having the power to choose between the two. That healing of the separation is what you both are calling out for — you share the same problem at this level. At this time in her life, your client may be able to accept healing only in the form of a bodily change, but whether or not that happens is not your concern.

Further on in the Psychotherapy pamphlet Jesus says that the goal of all psychotherapy is reached when “the therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself, and is thus given another chance to look at it, open it to re-evaluation and forgive it. . . . The patient is his screen for the projection of his sins, enabling him to let them go” (P.2.VII.6:3,6). That is quite different from the approach normally fostered in the world’s training. But Jesus is helping us to realize that our perception of problems and solutions has been guided by the ego, and that we need to see that that was our choice and it has never led to peace and real healing. Jesus thus is training our minds to perceive in accord with his vision, which sees us all as the same.


Q #873: Re Question #613: I am confused about the sentence “It is very important in this process not to deny any part of our experience, and not to try to change it on the level of form.” We cannot deny what we experience in our illusion because we actually do believe that it exists. If I see a dangerous situation then I will try to do whatever I can to make sure that no one is harmed. I also realize that I can not change anything that I perceive because it is something that has already happened in the past and I am just reliving it. Now how is that for a Catch-22? So, on level 1 I have created a scenario which on level 2 I then decide to experience. If on level 2 I try to change the experience which had previously been created on level 1, then all I am doing is feeding the illusion because what I create on level 2 is ego based and just keeps me apart from my true identity. Is that about it?

A: The sentence you quote is based on the phrase found in the text: “…seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7). In A Course in Miracles, Jesus is teaching us that we are minds, not bodies. For that purpose, the Course focuses only on the mind. Remembering this when applying the Course to everyday experiences helps to avoid the confusion of form and content. The statement “…not trying to change it on the level of form” does not mean not to rescue a drowning person or not to make home improvements. It means not believing that changes in form have any effect on the mind; an illusion is an illusion is an illusion. Therefore, there is no creation within the illusion. The past that is being relived is the choice for separation, projected out in a multitude of made up forms which vary within the same moment, the same lifetime, or from one lifetime to another. As we are told in the text: “Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love… Such is each life; a seeming interval from birth to death and on to life again, a repetition of an instant gone by long ago that cannot be relived (T.26.V.13:1,3). A thousand times zero is zero, no matter how good the form may be, nor how “helpful” certain activities seem to be. Saving a body from physical harm does nothing, because bodies do nothing (See:T.19.IV.C.5, T.24.IV.2). Neither does the body impede the mind’s ability to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit, which is the only decision that can be made. Once the ego is chosen, any experience will be interpreted in support of the ego’s thought system of separation. It is not the experience that is chosen, it is separation. That is why we are told we need to change our minds, not the world nor the experience. Thus, the reason you cannot change what you perceive is that it exists only as a projection of a choice in the mind.

It may be helpful to identify these levels as the level of the mind and the level of form. Salvation is not found in form, because nothing external to the mind has any effect on it. This is the direct opposite to the ego’s belief that salvation/happiness, and relief from the misery of separation can be found in the world. This explains the ego’s endless and exhausting search for solutions, changes, and improvements in everything from a house to a relationship, in an attempt to fix the problem where it is not. In this we find a good example of the ego’s maxim: “Seek but do not find”(T.16.V.6:5). Nothing in the world of form offers happiness or peace. In looking to our minds, not the world, as the source of our interpretation of every experience in our lives, we learn to accept what Jesus tells us in the text: “Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so. Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing (T.26.VI.1:1,2,3,4). Simply remembering this whenever we are tempted to look outside ourselves to resolve conflict by fixing the world, reflects the mind’s willingness to choose the Holy Spirit instead of the ego, and will inevitably change our perception of every experience.

certain as god

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 25

ACIM Reading for November 25

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

Introduction1. Psychotherapy is the only form of therapy there is. Since only the mind can be sick, only the mind can be healed. Only the mind is in need of healing. This does not appear to be the case, for the manifestations of this world seem real indeed. Psychotherapy is necessary so that an individual can begin to question their reality. Sometimes he is able to start to open his mind without formal help, but even then it is always some change in his perception of interpersonal relationships that enables him to do so. Sometimes he needs a more structured, extended relationship with an “official” therapist. Either way, the task is the same; the patient must be helped to change his mind about the “reality” of illusions.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 25

Lesson 329

I have already chosen what You will.

Father, I thought I wandered from Your Will, defied it, broke its laws, and interposed a second will more powerful than Yours. Yet what I am in truth is but Your Will, extended and extending. This am I, and this will never change. As You are One, so am I one with You. And this I chose in my creation, where my will became forever one with Yours. That choice was made for all eternity. It cannot change, and be in opposition to itself. Father, my will is Yours. And I am safe, untroubled and serene, in endless joy, because it is Your Will that it be so.

Today we will accept our union with each other and our Source. We have no will apart from His, and all of us are one because His Will is shared by all of us. Through it we recognize that we are one. Through it we find our way at last to God.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #659: A Course in Miracles is a self-study course by its own definition. What would be your view about Course-based psychotherapy?

A: Although the Course has been written as a self-study course, there would be nothing in its teachings that would preclude seeking out therapy for help along the way. Every relationship provides the opportunity to practice forgiveness and the therapist-patient relationship is no exception. Now it is true that nearly all the world’s forms of psychotherapy are concerned only with helping us make better ego-based adjustments to our life circumstances (P.2.in; I). And some may reinforce the belief in the dynamic of victim and victimizer, as experiences of abuse from the past may be uncovered or focused on. Nevertheless, therapy with a non-judgmental, accepting therapist can provide a useful context for identifying ego patterns and feelings that may be difficult to recognize on one’s own.

That Jesus is not opposed to psychotherapy as a supplement and support for his teachings is apparent from the pamphlet, Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process, and Practice, scribed by Helen Schucman from Jesus in a manner similar to how she took down the Course. However, a study of the pamphlet also makes it clear that, as a form of therapy, there is really no such thing as Course- based therapy. Jesus’ focus is only on the thoughts and attitudes in the mind of the therapist in relationship to the patient. He never makes any specific suggestions or recommendations about what the therapist should say or do with the patient — that is not his concern for that is not what brings about true healing. Healing only occurs when the therapist releases every judgment being held about the patient, recognizing that the two of them are really the same, walking together on the same path back home, with the same problem and the same need, to release the insane belief in the reality of separation.

For more extensive discussion of these issues, please look at Question #45 and #102.


hostage or host

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 24

ACIM Reading for November 24

The Song of Prayer

3.- IV. The Holiness of Healing1. How holy are the healed! For in their sight their brothers share their healing and their love. Bringers of peace,–the Holy Spirit’s voice, through whom He speaks for God, Whose Voice He is,–such are God’s healers. They but speak for Him and never for themselves. They have no gifts but those they have from God. And these they share because they know that this is what He wills. They are not special. They are holy. They have chosen holiness, and given up all separate dreams of special attributes through which they can bestow unequal gifts on those less fortunate. Their healing has restored their wholeness so they can forgive, and join the song of prayer in which the healed sing of their union and their thanks to God.

2. As witness to forgiveness, aid to prayer, and the effect of mercy truly taught, healing is blessing. And the world responds in quickened chorus through the voice of prayer. Forgiveness shines its merciful reprieve upon each blade of grass and feathered wing and all the living things upon the earth. Fear has no haven here, for love has come in all its holy oneness. Time remains only to let the last embrace of prayer rest on the earth an instant, as the world is shined away. This instant is the goal of all true healers, whom the Christ has taught to see His likeness and to teach like Him.

3. Think what it means to help the Christ to heal! Can anything be holier than this? God thanks His healers, for He knows the Cause of healing is Himself, His Love, His Son, restored as

His completion and returned to share with Him creation’s holy joy. Do not ask partial healing, nor accept an idol for remembrance of Him Whose Love has never changed and never will. You are as dear to Him as is the whole of His creation, for it lies in you as His eternal gift. What need have you for shifting dreams within a sorry world? Do not forget the gratitude of God. Do not forget the holy grace of prayer. Do not forget forgiveness of God’s Son.

4. You first forgive, then pray, and you are healed. Your prayer has risen up and called to God, Who hears and answers. You have understood that you forgive and pray but for yourself. And in this understanding you are healed. In prayer you have united with your Source, and understood that you have never left. This level cannot be attained until there is no hatred in your heart, and no desire to attack the Son of God.

5. Never forget this; it is you who are God’s Son, and as you choose to be to him so are you to yourself, and God to you. Nor will your judgment fail to reach to God, for you will give the role to Him you see in His creation. Do not choose amiss, or you will think that it is you who are creator in His place, and He is then no longer Cause but only an effect. Now healing is impossible, for He is blamed for your deception and your guilt. He Who is Love becomes the source of fear, for only fear can now be justified. Vengeance is His. His great destroyer, death. And sickness, suffering and grievous loss become the lot of everyone on earth, which He abandoned to the devil’s care, swearing He will deliver it no more.

6. Come unto Me, My children, once again, without such twisted thoughts upon your hearts. You still are holy with the Holiness which fathered you in perfect sinlessness, and still surrounds you with the Arms of peace. Dream now of healing. Then arise and lay all dreaming down forever. You are he your Father loves, who never left his home, nor wandered in a savage world with feet that bleed, and with a heavy heart made hard against the love that is the truth in you. Give all your dreams to Christ and let Him be your Guide to healing, leading you in prayer beyond the sorry reaches of the world.

7. He comes for Me and speaks My Word to you. I would recall My weary Son to Me from dreams of malice to the sweet embrace of everlasting Love and perfect peace. My Arms are open to the Son I love, who does not understand that he is healed, and that his prayers have never ceased to sing his joyful thanks in unison with all creation, in the holiness of Love. Be still an instant. Underneath the sounds of harsh and bitter striving and defeat there is a Voice that speaks to you of Me. Hear this an instant and you will be healed. Hear this an instant and you have been saved.

8. Help Me to wake My children from the dream of retribution and a little life beset with fear, that ends so soon it might as well have never been. Let Me instead remind you of eternity, in which your joy grows greater as your love extends along with Mine beyond infinity, where time and distance have no meaning. While you wait in sorrow Heaven’s melody is incomplete, because your song is part of the eternal harmony of love. Without you is creation unfulfilled. Return to Me Who never left My Son. Listen, My child, your Father calls to you. Do not refuse to hear the Call for Love. Do not deny to Christ what is His Own. Heaven is here and Heaven is your home.

9. Creation leans across the bars of time to lift the heavy burden from the world. Lift up your hearts to greet its advent. See the shadows fade away in gentleness; the thorns fall softly from the bleeding brow of him who is the holy Son of God. How lovely are you, child of Holiness! How like to Me! How lovingly I hold you in My Heart and in My Arms. How dear is every gift to Me that you have made, who healed My Son and took him from the cross. Arise and let My thanks be given you. And with My gratitude will come the gift first of forgiveness, then eternal peace.

10. So now return your holy voice to Me. The song of prayer is silent without you. The universe is waiting your release because it is its own. Be kind to it and to yourself, and then be kind to Me. I ask but this; that you be comforted and live no more in terror and in pain. Do not abandon Love. Remember this; whatever you may think about yourself, whatever you may think about the world, your Father needs you and will call to you until you come to Him in peace at last.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 24

Lesson 328

I choose the second place to gain the first.

What seems to be the second place is first, for all things we perceive are upside down until we listen to the Voice for God. It seems that we will gain autonomy but by our striving to be separate, and that our independence from the rest of God’s creation is the way in which salvation is obtained. Yet all we find is sickness, suffering and loss and death. This is not what our Father wills for us, nor is there any second to His Will. To join with His is but to find our own. And since our will is His, it is to Him that we must go to recognize our will.

There is no will but Yours. And I am glad that nothing I imagine contradicts what You would have me be. It is Your Will that I be wholly safe, eternally at peace. And happily I share that Will which You, my Father, gave as part of me.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #79: The relationship I have with my 5 siblings is, for the most part, one of special hate. Our conflicts have been escalating around the care of my mom and the dispersal of her property. I find it easiest simply to disassociate myself from the family and the conflict. This does not give me peace but it does minimize the anxiety. I do know that this is my classroom but I feel like avoiding my family to the point of not attending my mom’s funeral when the time comes. My question is: can I work on forgiveness with my siblings while I am choosing to avoid them?

A: You are wise to recognize that avoiding your siblings does not give you peace or eliminate your anxiety, but only minimizes it. The ego is very clever at offering us ways that seem to reduce the guilt and conflict and fear, through denial or avoidance, so that we never address the problem, thereby assuring that the conflict remains and never is resolved. “Minimizing fear, but not its undoing, is the ego’s constant effort, and is indeed a skill at which it is very ingenious” (T.11.V.9:2).

So it may be becoming apparent to you already that there is no way you can really avoid the conflict, whether or not you are actually in contact or in the physical presence of your siblings. That is because all relationships exist only in the mind and, believe it or not, the real conflict has nothing to do with your siblings. But it has everything to do with what they symbolize for you, because the real conflict also is only within your own mind. And so any changes in your relationships will have to begin first within your mind.

Alluding to this process, Jesus observes, “Everyone makes an ego or a self for himself, which is subject to enormous variation because of its instability. He also makes an ego for everyone else he perceives, which is equally variable. Their interaction is a process that alters both, because they were not made by or with the Unalterable. It is important to realize that this alteration can and does occur as readily when the interaction takes place in the mind as when it involves physical proximity. Thinking about another ego is as effective in changing relative perception as is physical interaction. There could be no better example that the ego is only an idea and not a fact” (T.4.II:2; italics added).

So, yes, you can work on your forgiveness lessons with your siblings without being in contact or around them physically, provided you are not also determined to avoid looking within your own mind at the conflict they represent to you, projected out into the world. Your siblings are providing you with the opportunity to get in touch with the guilt that is buried deep within your own mind that you have not wanted to look at, but have preferred to see outside yourself in others, in this case, your siblings. So once you recognize where the real problem lies, your siblings move from the foreground to the background in the forgiveness process.

What then is the next step in the process? Jesus tells us that “there is a very simple way to find the door to true forgiveness, and perceive it open wide in welcome. When you feel that you are tempted to accuse someone of sin in any form, do not allow your mind to dwell on what you think he did, for that is self-deception. Ask instead, ‘Would I accuse myself of doing this?’” (W.pII.134.9).

To uncover the self-accusation, you simply need to identify, at the level of content rather than the specific form of what your siblings may be doing, what you are accusing them of. It will most likely be some aspect of putting their own self-interests above everyone else’s, wanting to control or manipulate the situation to make sure that their own needs are met, with no real concern for anyone else. And so you need then to be honest with yourself in acknowledging that you at times operate in exactly the same way, even if you may not be in this particular situation involving your mother.

It is then that self-accusation that you will want to bring to Jesus or the Holy Spirit to heal, for Their perception of you will be different from your own. Theirs is a nonjudgmental acceptance that always perceives fear and a call for love in place of attack and sin. When you can share Their perception of yourself, you will release the guilt in your own mind, simultaneously releasing your siblings from the chain of guilt you’ve been binding them with. Now this release is not likely to be total and complete, once and for all, in a single attempt, for our own fear is too great to accept total release for ourselves. When we let the guilt back in, we will need once again to project it. And siblings with whom we have a long history of grievances make easy targets. And so the forgiveness process with your siblings will be a process that will most likely take time. But at least now you know where the real problem lie.

guiltless mind