ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 11

ACIM Text Reading for October 11

Manual for Teachers

8. How Can Perception of Order of Difficulties Be Avoided?

The belief in order of difficulties is the basis for the world’s perception. It rests on differences; on uneven background and shifting foreground, on unequal heights and diverse sizes, on varying degrees of darkness and light, and thousands of contrasts in which each thing seen competes with every other in order to be recognized. A larger object overshadows a smaller one. A brighter thing draws the attention from another with less intensity of appeal. And a more threatening idea, or one conceived of as more desirable by the world’s standards, completely upsets the mental balance. What the body’s eyes behold is only conflict. Look not to them for peace and understanding.

Illusions are always illusions of differences. How could it be otherwise? By definition, an illusion is an attempt to make something real that is regarded as of major importance, but is recognized as being untrue. The mind therefore seeks to make it true out of its intensity of desire to have it for itself. Illusions are travesties of creation; attempts to bring truth to lies. Finding truth unacceptable, the mind revolts against truth and gives itself an illusion of victory. Finding health a burden, it retreats into feverish dreams. And in these dreams the mind is separate, different from other minds, with different interests of its own, and able to gratify its needs at the expense of others.

Where do all these differences come from? Certainly they seem to be in the world outside. Yet it is surely the mind that judges what the eyes behold. It is the mind that interprets the eyes’ messages and gives them “meaning.” And this meaning does not exist in the world outside at all. What is seen as “reality” is simply what the mind prefers. Its hierarchy of values is projected outward, and it sends the body’s eyes to find it. The body’s eyes will never see except through differences. Yet it is not the messages they bring on which perception rests. Only the mind evaluates their messages, and so only the mind is responsible for seeing. It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful.

It is in the sorting out and categorizing activities of the mind that errors in perception enter. And it is here correction must be made. The mind classifies what the body’s eyes bring to it according to its preconceived values, judging where each sense datum fits best. What basis could be faultier than this? Unrecognized by itself, it has itself asked to be given what will fit into these categories. And having done so, it concludes that the categories must be true. On this the judgment of all differences rests, because it is on this that judgments of the world depend. Can this confused and senseless “reasoning” be depended on for anything?

There can be no order of difficulty in healing merely because all sickness is illusion. Is it harder to dispel the belief of the insane in a larger hallucination as opposed to a smaller one? Will he agree more quickly to the unreality of a louder voice he hears than to that of a softer one? Will he dismiss more easily a whispered demand to kill than a shout? And do the number of pitchforks the devils he sees carrying affect their credibility in his perception? His mind has categorized them all as real, and so they are all real to him. When he realizes they are all illusions they will disappear. And so it is with healing. The properties of illusions which seem to make them different are really irrelevant, for their properties are as illusory as they are.

The body’s eyes will continue to see differences. But the mind that has let itself be healed will no longer acknowledge them. There will be those who seem to be “sicker” than others, and the body’s eyes will report their changed appearances as before. But the healed mind will put them all in one category; they are unreal. This is the gift of its Teacher; the understanding that only two categories are meaningful in sorting out the messages the mind receives from what appears to be the outside world. And of these two, but one is real. Just as reality is wholly real, apart from size and shape and time and place–for differences cannot exist within it–so too are illusions without distinctions. The one answer to sickness of any kind is healing. The one answer to all illusions is truth.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 11

Lesson 284

I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt.

Loss is not loss when properly perceived. Pain is impossible. There is no grief with any cause at all. And suffering of any kind is nothing but a dream. This is the truth, at first to be but said and then repeated many times; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth. I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt. And I would go beyond these words today, and past all reservations, and arrive at full acceptance of the truth in them.

Father, what You have given cannot hurt, so grief and pain must be impossible. Let me not fail to trust in You today, accepting but the joyous as Your gifts; accepting but the joyous as the truth.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #239: I have a question regarding the March 2003 Lighthouse article. The beginning, about “regime change,” made sense to me, and had me laughing. But at the end I was frustrated — I didn’t know how to formulate how to act, or what actions to support. If the only sane response is forgiveness, does that mean we shouldn’t try to stop people who are hurting others? Can we stop them lovingly? What if we have to kill them to stop them — can that be loving?

A: The answer to your questions lies in understanding the teachings of A Course in Miracles on forgiveness, which is not the same as the ego’s version of forgiveness. Forgiveness, according to the ego, rests on seeing sin, and then forgiving it. It then esteems some “sinners” as deserving of forgiveness, and some as not. The important thing for the ego is making the error real by believing some harm has been done by one part of the Sonship to another, and that its effect is real. These beliefs are in full operation in a situation, such as the war in Iraq. It is a perfect opportunity to see the ego thought system in action — not on the battlefield of the Iraqi desert, but in our mind, which is where forgiveness is needed. It is also a perfect opportunity for forgiveness, as stated in the Lighthouse article. Forgiveness, as taught by the Course, begins by looking at the world, and events like the war in Iraq, paying attention to all the judgments and feelings that come up in us, and recognizing their source, which is the mind: “It [the world] is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition”(T.21.in.1:5). The real war, therefore, is in our mind. The judgments and feelings are projections of the guilt in our own mind which is caused by our choice to identify with the ego’s belief in the separation. The mind then becomes a battleground, and the war in the world merely reflects the conflict in the mind. Since this is an activity of the mind, it needs correction on the level of the mind, not on the level of form. As a student of the Course our part in “ending the war” lies in this forgiveness process.

The next step in the Course’s forgiveness process is the recognition that no true harm is done by the war: “There is nothing to forgive. No one can hurt the Son of God” (T.14.III.7:5,6). Any perceiveddamage is based on the belief that the separation and the body are real. Though in truth they are not, our belief makes them real in our awareness. As we watch the devastation of war on television we realize how much we do perceive damage and we do believe the body is real. All our reactions to the war come from this belief, along with so many other beliefs about how the world should work, who is responsible for the war, who are the victims, and on and on. The list of misperceptions is very long, particularly in an extreme example, such as war. It is this belief system that causes our upset, not the events of the war. And it is this belief system that brings about war in the world in the first place. That is why the real solution to war is forgiveness, not negotiation, or any specific action. However, while we turn within to see the turmoil in our own minds and seek help to undo our misperceptions, it is still possible to take action in the world. Just as we continue to take normal care of our bodies as we learn to undo our belief in them, so too we can do whatever we think may be helpful to resolve conflicts in the world. The decision is not whether or not to act, or what action to take, but with whom we make the decision: “And make no mistake, nowhere in A Course in Miracles does Jesus suggest that we not act in the world; only that we not act alone” (The Lighthouse, Vol. 14, No. 1, p. 5). Is the purpose of taking action to reinforce the ego’s belief in victims and victimizers, taking sides with those who are “good” against those who are “evil”, or are we willing to ask the Holy Spirit to help us see that everyone in the war is a brother calling for help, rather than a sinner, and that their truth remains inviolate no matter how insane their ego behavior is? Whatever form the action takes will then reflect the belief system of the teacher we have chosen: the ego or the Holy Spirit. Choosing to accept the Holy Spirit’s perception is the only loving response in any situation, including war. When these steps are taken it is possible to stop an aggressor from physically hurting someone else without attack. If the only way to do this is by killing another, and if a person has clearly chosen to identify with the Holy Spirit, not the ego, in principle the killing can also be done without attack, without judgment, and without guilt. There are probably very few people who would fall into this category. It may indeed be more loving to stop someone from killing another (although not necessarily), but that would only be clear if you are coming from the right mind, having chosen the Holy Spirit, and not from fear. In applying the principles of the Course to any situation in the world the only important thing to remember is the content of the mind, not the form. The mind is what we are being trained to be aware of, and it is the mind that is in need of healing.

A last consideration, but certainly not the least, is the Course teaching that there is no death: There is no death because what God created shares His life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are One” (W.167.1:5,6,7). It is when we perceive ourselves and others as separate that the Son of God is “murdered.” It follows that a person who claims to support peace and brotherhood, but is filled with judgment against political leaders responsible for war, inflicts a death penalty on the Son of God, while a soldier who fully identifies with the Holy Spirit’s perception and knows his oneness with all brothers, can perform his duty, which includes killing, with the Holy Spirit’s love that flows through him. This is possible only by joining with the Holy Spirit in the mind: “He brings forgiving dreams, in which the choice is not who is the murderer and who shall be the victim. In the dreams He brings there is no murder and there is no death” (T.27.VII.14:4,5).


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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 10

ACIM Text Reading for October 10

Manual for Teachers

7. Should Healing Be Repeated?

This question really answers itself. Healing cannot be repeated. If the patient is healed, what remains to heal him from? And if the healing is certain, as we have already said it is, what is there to repeat? For a teacher of God to remain concerned about the result of healing is to limit the healing. It is now the teacher of God himself whose mind needs to be healed. And it is this he must facilitate. He is now the patient, and he must so regard himself. He has made a mistake, and must be willing to change his mind about it. He lacked the trust that makes for giving truly, and so he has not received the benefit of his gift.

Whenever a teacher of God has tried to be a channel for healing he has succeeded. Should he be tempted to doubt this, he should not repeat his previous effort. That was already maximal, because the Holy Spirit so accepted it and so used it. Now the teacher of God has only one course to follow. He must use his reason to tell himself that he has given the problem to One Who cannot fail, and must recognize that his own uncertainty is not love but fear, and therefore hate. His position has thus become untenable, for he is offering hate to one to whom he offered love. This is impossible. Having offered love, only love can be received.

It is in this that the teacher of God must trust. This is what is really meant by the statement that the one responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself. The teacher of God is a miracle worker because he gives the gifts he has received. Yet he must first accept them. He need do no more, nor is there more that he could do. By accepting healing he can give it. If he doubts this, let him remember Who gave the gift and Who received it. Thus is his doubt corrected. He thought the gifts of God could be withdrawn. That was a mistake, but hardly one to stay with. And so the teacher of God can only recognize it for what it is, and let it be corrected for him.

One of the most difficult temptations to recognize is that to doubt a healing because of the appearance of continuing symptoms is a mistake in the form of lack of trust. As such it is an attack. Usually it seems to be just the opposite. It does appear unreasonable at first to be told that continued concern is attack. It has all the appearances of love. Yet love without trust is impossible, and doubt and trust cannot coexist. And hate must be the opposite of love, regardless of the form it takes. Doubt not the gift and it is impossible to doubt its result. This is the certainty that gives God’s teachers the power to be miracle workers, for they have put their trust in Him.

The real basis for doubt about the outcome of any problem that has been given to God’s Teacher for resolution is always self-doubt. And that necessarily implies that trust has been placed in an illusory self, for only such a self can be doubted. This illusion can take many forms. Perhaps there is a fear of weakness and vulnerability. Perhaps there is a fear of failure and shame associated with a sense of inadequacy. Perhaps there is a guilty embarrassment stemming from false humility. The form of the mistake is not important. What is important is only the recognition of a mistake as a mistake.

The mistake is always some form of concern with the self to the exclusion of the patient. It is a failure to recognize him as part of the Self, and thus represents a confusion in identity. Conflict about what you are has entered your mind, and you have become deceived about yourself. And you are deceived about yourself because you have denied the Source of your creation. If you are offering only healing, you cannot doubt. If you really want the problem solved, you cannot doubt. If you are certain what the problem is, you cannot doubt. Doubt is the result of conflicting wishes. Be sure of what you want, and doubt becomes impossible.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 10

Lesson 283

My true Identity abides in You.

Father, I made an image of myself, and it is this I call the Son of God. Yet is creation as it always was, for Your creation is unchangeable. Let me not worship idols. I am he my Father loves. My holiness remains the light of Heaven and the Love of God. Is not what is beloved of You secure? Is not the light of Heaven infinite? Is not Your Son my true Identity, when You created everything that is?

Now are we One in shared Identity, with God our Father as our only Source, and everything created part of us. And so we offer blessing to all things, uniting lovingly with all the world, which our forgiveness has made one with us.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #674: What advice would you have for a teacher of God whose own healing depends on the change of mind of the patient? My mom was given a miracle through me, but it is waiting on her acceptance of it. This miracle will heal me just the same. The healing is not of an illness but rather of a lack of abundance. I feel healed because of revelation, but the continuation of symptoms is hard to ignore at times. I turn to the Holy Spirit as much as I can, and He helps me remember that I have an agreement with God, and that God does not change His Mind. Still, what is my role here? Can I do anything to speed up her change of mind? So far I have simply watched her progress and gave her the word of God when I felt she needed to hear it. Is there anything else I can do?

A: If we believe that our own healing depends on someone else’s change of mind, what we really need is a change of mind ourselves! Your intentions around your mother’s accepting the healing seem well-meaning enough, but Jesus cautions, “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough (T.18.IV.2:1,2). For while you remain concerned about her acceptance of the miracle, or feel a need to help her progress in her acceptance of it, your mind is also not accepting it! Hard as this may be to believe, Jesus makes this point in the most uncompromising terms, in the section “Should Healing Be Repeated?” in the manual for teachers: “One of the most difficult temptations to recognize is that to doubt a healing because of the appearance of continuing symptoms is a mistake in the form of lack of trust. As such it is an attack. Usually it seems to be just the opposite. It does appear unreasonable at first to be told that continued concern is attack. It has all the appearances of love. Yet love without trust is impossible, and doubt and trust cannot coexist. And hate must be the opposite of love, regardless of the form it takes. Doubt not the gift and it is impossible to doubt its result. This is the certainty that gives God’s teachers the power to be miracle workers, for they have put their trust in Him” (M.7.4).

Specifically, what does it mean that her symptoms are hard for you to ignore at times? Her continued symptoms are reminding you, at least unconsciously, of unhealed places within your own mind, and that is where Jesus would ask you to direct your attention, rather than to your mother’s continuing resistance. For if we are affected by someone else’s inability to accept a miracle, we are making the error of their thinking real in our own mind, believing that the ego is a real problem rather than merely a mistaken perspective based on an illusory belief in separation. Believing the ego is real is the only problem we need to address. And while we believe that someone else is in any way responsible for our lack of peace, we are missing the opportunity to heal our own misperception. For if we could really be affected by another’s choice, then we could be victimized by forces beyond our control. Yet Jesus makes it very clear, early in the workbook, that we are not victims of the world we see (W.pI.31).

In the same section in the manual for teachers cited above, Jesus goes on to say:“The real basis for doubt about the outcome of any problem that has been given to God’s Teacher for resolution is always self-doubt. And that necessarily implies that trust has been placed in an illusory self, for only such a self can be doubted.…Conflict about what you are has entered your mind, and you have become deceived about yourself. And you are deceived about yourself because you have denied the Source of your creation. If you are offering only healing, you cannot doubt. If you really want the problem solved, you cannot doubt. If you are certain what the problem is, you cannot doubt. Doubt is the result of conflicting wishes. Be sure of what you want, and doubt becomes impossible.” (M.7.5:1,2; 6:3,4,5,6,7,8). The illusory self is one that believes it is separate not only from others but from God and His All- encompassing Love. That is the misperception that needs to be healed within our own mind before we can be of genuine help to anyone else.

Now this does not mean that you will not offer support to your mother in her process of healing, but it will not be done out of any sense of need that she change. Your only role or responsibility as a teacher of God, which Jesus emphasizes in many places in A Course in Miracles, including this section, is to accept the Atonement for yourself (e.g., T.2.V.5:1; M.7.3:2). And he further elaborates: “The teacher of God is a miracle worker because he gives the gifts he has received. Yet he must first accept them. He need do no more, nor is there more that he could do. By accepting healing he can give it. If he doubts this, let him remember Who gave the gift and Who received it. Thus is his doubt corrected. He thought the gifts of God could be withdrawn. That was a mistake, but hardly one to stay with. And so the teacher of God can only recognize it for what it is, and let it be corrected for him (M.7.3:3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11; italics added).

guiltless mind

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 9

ACIM Text Reading for October 9

Manual for Teachers

6. Is Healing Certain?

Healing is always certain. It is impossible to let illusions be brought to truth and keep the illusions. Truth demonstrates illusions have no value. The teacher of God has seen the correction of his errors in the mind of the patient, recognizing it for what it is. Having accepted the Atonement for himself, he has also accepted it for the patient. Yet what if the patient uses sickness as a way of life, believing healing is the way to death? When this is so, a sudden healing might precipitate intense depression, and a sense of loss so deep that the patient might even try to destroy himself. Having nothing to live for, he may ask for death. Healing must wait, for his protection.

Healing will always stand aside when it would be seen as threat. The instant it is welcome it is there. Where healing has been given it will be received. And what is time before the gifts of God? We have referred many times in the text to the storehouse of treasures laid up equally for the giver and the receiver of God’s gifts. Not one is lost, for they can but increase. No teacher of God should feel disappointed if he has offered healing and it does not appear to have been received. It is not up to him to judge when his gift should be accepted. Let him be certain it has been received, and trust that it will be accepted when it is recognized as a blessing and not a curse.

It is not the function of God’s teachers to evaluate the outcome of their gifts. It is merely their function to give them. Once they have done that they have also given the outcome, for that is part of the gift. No one can give if he is concerned with the result of giving. That is a limitation on the giving itself, and neither the giver nor the receiver would have the gift. Trust is an essential part of giving; in fact, it is the part that makes sharing possible, the part that guarantees the giver will not lose, but only gain. Who gives a gift and then remains with it, to be sure it is used as the giver deems appropriate? Such is not giving but imprisoning.

It is the relinquishing of all concern about the gift that makes it truly given. And it is trust that makes true giving possible. Healing is the change of mind that the Holy Spirit in the patient’s mind is seeking for him. And it is the Holy Spirit in the mind of the giver Who gives the gift to him. How can it be lost ? How can it be ineffectual? How can it be wasted? God’s treasure house can never be empty. And if one gift is missing, it would not be full. Yet is its fullness guaranteed by God. What concern, then, can a teacher of God have about what becomes of his gifts? Given by God to God, who in this holy exchange can receive less than everything?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 9

Lesson 282

I will not be afraid of love today.

If I could realize but this today, salvation would be reached for all the world. This the decision not to be insane, and to accept myself as God Himself, my Father and my Source, created me. This the determination not to be asleep in dreams of death, while truth remains forever living in the joy of love. And this the choice to recognize the Self Whom God created as the Son He loves, and Who remains my one Identity.

Father, Your Name is Love and so is mine. Such is the truth. And can the truth be changed by merely giving it another name? The name of fear is simply a mistake. Let me not be afraid of truth today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1216Once I am willing to see that the hatred, jealousy, and ill-will that an individual is projecting at me is really my own unconscious thoughts about myself, and my own unconscious guilt — does this mean these thoughts are now conscious, and if so now what do I do? I still have the hatred and anger towards those who are trying to hurt me even though I have an intellectual understanding that it is myself being jealous and hating, and hurtful of myself. How do I heal it?  How do I give it over to the Holy Spirit to heal my mind so that the guilt is healed.

A: Yes, the projected thoughts of hatred become conscious when they are recognized as projections. A missing piece in the equation is to then see them as the effect of the mind’s choice, and to also recognize the painful price of this choice. Hatred is experienced as painful whether it is perceived in its projected form toward someone else or toward oneself. The choice for separation is the true source of the pain, hatred, and the guilt. Your insight into the difference between an intellectual understanding of the projections and their actual release is very important. It is often difficult to truly accept that “anger is never justified,” yet in this principle lies the key to healing. The problem is that it is not easy to accept because it negates the ego’s battle cry of victimization. The mind that has identified with the ego thought system revolts at the prospect of accepting its identity as mind and dissociating from the body identity. Anger, judgment, and guilt sustain this identity.

Jesus recognizes the intensity of resistance to his message: “ If sickness [anger, judgment, victimization] is but a faulty problem-solving approach, it is a decision. And if it is a decision, it is the mind and not the body that makes it. The resistance to recognizing this is enormous, because the existence of the world as you perceive it depends on the body being the decision maker” (M.5.II.1:5,6,7). As “intellectuals,” our job is done when we are willing to see the projections and recognize their true source. As students of A Course in Miracles , our job begins when we are willing to recognize the tremendous resistance to letting go of the hatred and making a choice against separation because it means the end of the ego thought system and the self that reflects it. That is where you find yourself. The only thing to do with resistance is see it, acknowledge it honestly to the Holy Spirit, and see the pain that persists because of it. Only in associating the painful effects of the hatred and the resistance to letting it go will we find the motivation to take the steps out of resistance to the acceptance of healing. Meanwhile, we have the agonizing predicament of wanting release from the pain of guilt without letting go of the guilt.

The unhealed mind has an intense identification with the body that cannot be undone forcefully. While fear persists, only gentle patience will facilitate the journey out of it. The way to give the process over to the Holy Spirit is to continue to look honestly at the ego’s antics, the resistance to letting them go, and the painful conflict that ensues without judging yourself for it. He is invited in by the mere fact of turning away from the ego’s tune of victimization with a little willingness to acknowledge the mind’s choice. Consistent practice of this process is in itself a new perspective, and makes room for the Holy Spirit’s healing. Nothing more than this is needed.

be of good cheer

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 8

ACIM Text Reading for October 8

Manual for Teachers

5. How Is Healing Accomplished?

Healing involves an understanding of what the illusion of sickness is for. Healing is impossible without this.

I. The Perceived Purpose of Sickness

Healing is accomplished the instant the sufferer no longer sees any value in pain. Who would choose suffering unless he thought it brought him something, and something of value to him? He must think it is a small price to pay for something of greater worth. For sickness is an election; a decision. It is the choice of weakness, in the mistaken conviction that it is strength. When this occurs, real strength is seen as threat and health as danger. Sickness is a method, conceived in madness, for placing God’s Son on his Father’s throne. God is seen as outside, fierce and powerful, eager to keep all power for Himself. Only by His death can He be conquered by His Son.

And what, in this insane conviction, does healing stand for? It symbolizes the defeat of God’s Son and the triumph of his Father over him. It represents the ultimate defiance in a direct form which the Son of God is forced to recognize. It stands for all that he would hide from himself to protect his “life.” If he is healed, he is responsible for his thoughts. And if he is responsible for his thoughts, he will be killed to prove to him how weak and pitiful he is. But if he chooses death himself, his weakness is his strength. Now has he given himself what God would give to him, and thus entirely usurped the throne of his Creator.

II. The Shift in Perception

Healing must occur in exact proportion to which the valuelessness of sickness is recognized. One need but say, “There is no gain at all to me in this” and he is healed. But to say this, one first must recognize certain facts. First, it is obvious that decisions are of the mind, not of the body. If sickness is but a faulty problem-solving approach, it is a decision. And if it is a decision, it is the mind and not the body that makes it. The resistance to recognizing this is enormous, because the existence of the world as you perceive it depends on the body being the decision maker. Terms like “instincts,” “reflexes” and the like represent attempts to endow the body with non-mental motivators. Actually, such terms merely state or describe the problem. They do not answer it.

The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for a purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of healing. And this is so for healing in all forms. A patient decides that this is so, and he recovers. If he decides against recovery, he will not be healed. Who is the physician? Only the mind of the patient himself. The outcome is what he decides that it is. Special agents seem to be ministering to him, yet they but give form to his own choice. He chooses them in order to bring tangible form to his desires. And it is this they do, and nothing else. They are not actually needed at all. The patient could merely rise up without their aid and say, “I have no use for this.” There is no form of sickness that would not be cured at once.

What is the single requisite for this shift in perception? It is simply this; the recognition that sickness is of the mind, and has nothing to do with the body. What does this recognition “cost”? It costs the whole world you see, for the world will never again appear to rule the mind. For with this recognition is responsibility placed where it belongs; not with the world, but on him who looks on the world and sees it as it is not. He looks on what he chooses to see. No more and no less. The world does nothing to him. He only thought it did. Nor does he do anything to the world, because he was mistaken about what it is. Herein is the release from guilt and sickness both, for they are one. Yet to accept this release, the insignificance of the body must be an acceptable idea.

With this idea is pain forever gone. But with this idea goes also all confusion about creation. Does not this follow of necessity? Place cause and effect in their true sequence in one respect, and the learning will generalize and transform the world. The transfer value of one true idea has no end or limit. The final outcome of this lesson is the remembrance of God. What do guilt and sickness, pain, disaster and all suffering mean now? Having no purpose, they are gone. And with them also go all the effects they seemed to cause. Cause and effect but replicate creation. Seen in their proper perspective, without distortion and without fear, they re-establish Heaven.

III. The Function of the Teacher of God

If the patient must change his mind in order to be healed, what does the teacher of God do? Can he change the patient’s mind for him? Certainly not. For those already willing to change their minds he has no function except to rejoice with them, for they have become teachers of God with him. He has, however, a more specific function for those who do not understand what healing is. These patients do not realize they have chosen sickness. On the contrary, they believe that sickness has chosen them. Nor are they open-minded on this point. The body tells them what to do and they obey. They have no idea how insane this concept is. If they even suspected it, they would be healed. Yet they suspect nothing. To them the separation is quite real.

To them God’s teachers come, to represent another choice which they had forgotten. The simple presence of a teacher of God is a reminder. His thoughts ask for the right to question what the patient has accepted as true. As God’s messengers, His teachers are the symbols of salvation. They ask the patient for forgiveness for God’s Son in his own Name. They stand for the Alternative. With God’s Word in their minds they come in benediction, not to heal the sick but to remind them of the remedy God has already given them. It is not their hands that heal. It is not their voice that speaks the Word of God. They merely give what has been given them. Very gently they call to their brothers to turn away from death: “Behold, you Son of God, what life can offer you. Would you choose sickness in place of this?”

Not once do the advanced teachers of God consider the forms of sickness in which their brother believes. To do this is to forget that all of them have the same purpose, and therefore are not really different. They seek for God’s Voice in this brother who would so deceive himself as to believe God’s Son can suffer. And they remind him that he did not make himself, and must remain as God created him. They recognize illusions can have no effect. The truth in their minds reaches out to the truth in the minds of their brothers, so that illusions are not reinforced. They are thus brought to truth; truth is not brought to them. So are they dispelled, not by the will of another, but by the union of the one Will with itself. And this is the function of God’s teachers; to see no will as separate from their own, nor theirs as separate from God’s.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 8

Lesson 281

Section 7. What is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit mediates between illusions and the truth. Since He must bridge the gap between reality and dreams, perception leads to knowledge through the grace that God has given Him, to be His gift to everyone who turns to Him for truth. Across the bridge that He provides are dreams all carried to the truth, to be dispelled before the light of knowledge. There are sights and sounds forever laid aside. And where they were perceived before, forgiveness has made possible perception’s tranquil end.

The goal the Holy Spirit’s teaching sets is just this end of dreams. For sights and sounds must be translated from the witnesses of fear to those of love. And when this is entirely accomplished, learning has achieved the only goal it has in truth. For learning, as the Holy Spirit guides it to the outcome He perceives for it, becomes the means to go beyond itself, to be replaced by the eternal truth.

If you but knew how much your Father yearns to have you recognize your sinlessness, you would not let His Voice appeal in vain, nor turn away from His replacement for the fearful images and dreams you made. The Holy Spirit understands the means you made, by which you would attain what is forever unattainable. And if you offer them to Him, He will employ the means you made for exile to restore your mind to where it truly is at home.

From knowledge, where He has been placed by God, the Holy Spirit calls to you, to let forgiveness rest upon your dreams, and be restored to sanity and peace of mind. Without forgiveness will your dreams remain to terrify you. And the memory of all your Father’s Love will not return to signify the end of dreams has come.

Accept your Father’s gift. It is a Call from Love to Love, that It be but Itself. The Holy Spirit is His gift, by which the quietness of Heaven is restored to God’s beloved Son. Would you refuse to take the function of completing God, when all He wills is that you be complete?


Lesson 281

I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts.

Father, Your Son is perfect. When I think that I am hurt in any way, it is because I have forgotten who I am, and that I am as You created me. Your Thoughts can only bring me happiness. If ever I am sad or hurt or ill, I have forgotten what You think, and put my little meaningless ideas in place of where Your Thoughts belong, and where they are. I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts. The Thoughts I think with You can only bless. The Thoughts I think with You alone are true.

I will not hurt myself today. For I am far beyond all pain. My Father placed me safe in Heaven, watching over me. And I would not attack the Son He loves, for what He loves is also mine to love.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #566: I understand that A Course in Miracles teaches that God does not know about the world, and as far as He is concerned we are one with Him dreaming of exile and separation. I am not clear how the decision was made to send us Jesus and the Holy Spirit; Jesus in charge of the Atonement and the Holy Spirit as our Voice, Comfort, and Guide. How did our Teacher even know we had and are continuing to make such a mess of things?

A: A reasonable question, asked by almost every student in one form or another. The statements in the Course pertaining to the Holy Spirit as being sent by God as the Answer to the separation are among those meant metaphorically. Other statements are meant literally; and if this distinction is not recognized, the Course can seem to be saying contradictory things, leaving a reader feeling rather baffled. The account of the separation and its undoing are presented as mythology, specifically within a framework that is meaningful to people in Western philosophical and religious traditions. The language used in the Course to present its teachings reflect these heritages; and further, a considerable part of its teachings are clearly corrections of what it views as the mistakes of biblically based religions. Its basic metaphysics is a strict non-dualism, which means therefore that it is not quite accurate to say that as far as God is concerned, “we are one with Him dreaming of exile and separation” — that is dualism. If that were true, then a state other than that of perfect Oneness is possible, which would be contrary to what is maintained throughout the Course. We return to these points frequently in our answers to students questions, because of their critical importance in students’ work with the Course.

We refer you to Love Does Not Condemn (pp. 419,420,421) for a full discussion of the Holy Spirit in the context of the metaphysical basis of A Course in Miracles. Briefly, the Course teaches that the Holy Spirit is really the memory of God’s perfect love that remained in the Son’s mind when he fell asleep; and therefore the Holy Spirit is not a person, but rather a Presence within each seemingly fragmented mind — a Call or a Voice, not of a separate being, but simply a part of the mind that retains the memory of its true Identity. The language used is biblical; thus, terms like Comforter. In keeping with the strict non-dualism of the Course, we would therefore have to say that God’s “Answer” is really, to quote from Love Does Not Condemn“His own unchanging and eternal love that forever shines in our split minds, as does a beacon of light shine out into the darkness. God’s love does not do anything; it simply is: an ongoing state of love’s presence which we call the Holy Spirit” (pp. 420,421).

Jesus, then, is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit — a symbol in our minds that have become so identified with specifics that we can relate most comfortably and meaningfully only to specifics. Thus, in his loving gentleness as our teacher, he ultimately reflects to us the love that we have split off from our awareness. We relate to him as a separate person at first, but as we grow to trust him more and experience his love more and more, the differences between ourselves and Jesus fade until we, like him, are totally identified with love. Our individuality lessens in significance and meaning as this process takes place, which begins with our feeling that he has been sent and ends with our complete transcendence of that and all other concepts of separation.


Q #567: Is it possible to be in a sales position and still be a teacher of God? It seems that sales positions are all based around manipulation and selling techniques. I am kind of stuck in that I feel that the only way that I can begin to make some money is to get a job with commission. What would you advise?

A: Purpose is everything! If the content in your mind is that your position in sales is a classroom in which you can be guided by Jesus or the Holy Spirit to undo the separation, there will be no conflict. You will then do whatever competent sales people do, but for a different purpose — not to intentionally manipulate others to get what you want, which could only result in guilt and conflict. Your purpose, as you carry out your responsibilities conscientiously, would be to recognize more and more that the only aspect of value in your interaction with your customer is your learning that you both share the same interests: you both have a split mind and a decision maker that can choose to follow either the ego’s thought system of separation or the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness. That is the content; and that is what makes you a teacher of God, not the form (the role), as Jesus states in A Course in Miracles“A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s” (M.1.1:1,2). The Holy Spirit can use anything we made to harm (everything in the world!) to heal our minds of their mistaken belief in sin, guilt, and fear (T.25.VI.4,5,6).

Other students have had similar concerns about other roles: see for example Questions #3, #179, #195, #284, and #560

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 7

ACIM Text Reading for October 7

Manual for Teachers

4. What are the Characteristics of God’s Teachers?

The surface traits of God’s teachers are not at all alike. They do not look alike to the body’s eyes, they come from vastly different backgrounds, their experiences of the world vary greatly, and their superficial “personalities” are quite distinct. Nor, at the beginning stages of their functioning as teachers of God, have they as yet acquired the deeper characteristics that will establish them as what they are. God gives special gifts to His teachers, because they have a special role in His plan for Atonement. Their specialness is, of course, only temporary; set in time as a means of leading out of time. These special gifts, born in the holy relationship toward which the teaching-learning situation is geared, become characteristic of all teachers of God who have advanced in their own learning. In this respect they are all alike.

All differences among the Sons of God are temporary. Nevertheless, in time it can be said that the advanced teachers of God have the following characteristics:

I. Trust

This is the foundation on which their ability to fulfill their function rests. Perception is the result of learning. In fact, perception is learning, because cause and effect are never separated. The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by a Power That is in them but not of them. It is this Power That keeps all things safe. It is through this Power that the teachers of God look on a forgiven world.

When this Power has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one’s own petty strength again. Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him? And who would place his faith in the shabby offerings of the ego when the gifts of God are laid before him? What is it that induces them to make the shift?

A. Development of Trust

First, they must go through what might be called “a period of undoing.” This need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognized. How can lack of value be perceived unless the perceiver is in a position where he must see things in a different light? He is not yet at a point at which he can make the shift entirely internally. And so the plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external circumstances. These changes are always helpful. When the teacher of God has learned that much, he goes on to the second stage.

Next, the teacher of God must go through “a period of sorting out.” This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it. He will find that many, if not most of the things he valued before will merely hinder his ability to transfer what he has learned to new situations as they arise. Because he has valued what is really valueless, he will not generalize the lesson for fear of loss and sacrifice. It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful. It is only to the extent to which they are helpful that any degree of reality should be accorded them in this world of illusion. The word “value” can apply to nothing else.

The third stage through which the teacher of God must go can be called “a period of relinquishment.” If this is interpreted as giving up the desirable, it will engender enormous conflict. Few teachers of God escape this distress entirely. There is, however, no point in sorting out the valuable from the valueless unless the next obvious step is taken. Therefore, the period of overlap is apt to be one in which the teacher of God feels called upon to sacrifice his own best interests on behalf of truth. He has not realized as yet how wholly impossible such a demand would be. He can learn this only as he actually does give up the valueless. Through this, he learns that where he anticipated grief, he finds a happy lightheartedness instead; where he thought something was asked of him, he finds a gift bestowed on him.

Now comes “a period of settling down.” This is a quiet time, in which the teacher of God rests a while in reasonable peace. Now he consolidates his learning. Now he begins to see the transfer value of what he has learned. Its potential is literally staggering, and the teacher of God is now at the point in his progress at which he sees in it his whole way out. “Give up what you do not want, and keep what you do.” How simple is the obvious! And how easy to do! The teacher of God needs this period of respite. He has not yet come as far as he thinks. Yet when he is ready to go on, he goes with mighty companions beside him. Now he rests a while, and gathers them before going on. He will not go on from here alone.

The next stage is indeed “a period of unsettling.” Now must the teacher of God understand that he did not really know what was valuable and what was valueless. All that he really learned so far was that he did not want the valueless, and that he did want the valuable. Yet his own sorting out was meaningless in teaching him the difference. The idea of sacrifice, so central to his own thought system, had made it impossible for him to judge. He thought he learned willingness, but now he sees that he does not know what the willingness is for. And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible to reach for a long, long time. He must learn to lay all judgment aside, and ask only what he really wants in every circumstance. Were not each step in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed!

And finally, there is “a period of achievement.” It is here that learning is consolidated. Now what was seen as merely shadows before become solid gains, to be counted on in all “emergencies” as well as tranquil times. Indeed, the tranquility is their result; the outcome of honest learning, consistency of thought and full transfer. This is the stage of real peace, for here is Heaven’s state fully reflected. From here, the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here. Who would “go” anywhere, if peace of mind is already complete? And who would seek to change tranquility for something more desirable? What could be more desirable than this?

II. Honesty

All other traits of God’s teachers rest on trust. Once that has been achieved, the others cannot fail to follow. Only the trusting can afford honesty, for only they can see its value. Honesty does not apply only to what you say. The term actually means consistency. There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought; no act belies your word; and no word lacks agreement with another. Such are the truly honest. At no level are they in conflict with themselves. Therefore it is impossible for them to be in conflict with anyone or anything.

The peace of mind which the advanced teachers of God experience is largely due to their perfect honesty. It is only the wish to deceive that makes for war. No one at one with himself can even conceive of conflict. Conflict is the inevitable result of self-deception, and self-deception is dishonesty. There is no challenge to a teacher of God. Challenge implies doubt, and the trust on which God’s teachers rest secure makes doubt impossible. Therefore they can only succeed. In this, as in all things, they are honest. They can only succeed, because they never do their will alone. They choose for all mankind; for all the world and all things in it; for the unchanging and unchangeable beyond appearances; and for the Son of God and his Creator. How could they not succeed? They choose in perfect honesty, sure of their choice as of themselves.

III. Tolerance

God’s teachers do not judge. To judge is to be dishonest, for to judge is to assume a position you do not have. Judgment without self-deception is impossible. Judgment implies that you have been deceived in your brothers. How, then, could you not have been deceived in yourself? Judgment implies a lack of trust, and trust remains the bedrock of the teacher of God’s whole thought system. Let this be lost, and all his learning goes. Without judgment are all things equally acceptable, for who could judge otherwise? Without judgment are all men brothers, for who is there who stands apart? Judgment destroys honesty and shatters trust. No teacher of God can judge and hope to learn.

IV. Gentleness

Harm is impossible for God’s teachers. They can neither harm nor be harmed. Harm is the outcome of judgment. It is the dishonest act that follows a dishonest thought. It is a verdict of guilt upon a brother, and therefore on oneself. It is the end of peace and the denial of learning. It demonstrates the absence of God’s curriculum, and its replacement by insanity. No teacher of God but must learn, – and fairly early in his training, – that harmfulness completely obliterates his function from his awareness. It will make him confused, fearful, angry and suspicious. It will make the Holy Spirit’s lessons impossible to learn. Nor can God’s Teacher be heard at all, except by those who realize that harm can actually achieve nothing. No gain can come of it.

Therefore, God’s teachers are wholly gentle. They need the strength of gentleness, for it is in this that the function of salvation becomes easy. To those who would do harm, it is impossible. To those to whom harm has no meaning, it is merely natural. What choice but this has meaning to the sane? Who chooses hell when he perceives a way to Heaven? And who would choose the weakness that must come from harm in place of the unfailing, all-encompassing and limitless strength of gentleness? The might of God’s teachers lies in their gentleness, for they have understood their evil thoughts came neither from God’s Son nor his Creator. Thus did they join their thoughts with Him Who is their Source. And so their will, which always was His Own, is free to be itself.

V. Joy

Joy is the inevitable result of gentleness. Gentleness means that fear is now impossible, and what could come to interfere with joy? The open hands of gentleness are always filled. The gentle have no pain. They cannot suffer. Why would they not be joyous? They are sure they are beloved and must be safe. Joy goes with gentleness as surely as grief attends attack. God’s teachers trust in Him. And they are sure His Teacher goes before them, making sure no harm can come to them. They hold His gifts and follow in His way, because God’s Voice directs them in all things. Joy is their song of thanks. And Christ looks down on them in thanks as well. His need of them is just as great as theirs of Him. How joyous it is to share the purpose of salvation!

VI. Defenselessness

God’s teachers have learned how to be simple. They have no dreams that need defense against the truth. They do not try to make themselves. Their joy comes from their understanding Who created them. And does what God created need defense? No one can become an advanced teacher of God until he fully understands that defenses are but foolish guardians of mad illusions. The more grotesque the dream, the fiercer and more powerful its defenses seem to be. Yet when the teacher of God finally agrees to look past them, he finds that nothing was there. Slowly at first he lets himself be undeceived. But he learns faster as his trust increases. It is not danger that comes when defenses are laid down. It is safety. It is peace. It is joy. And it is God.

VII. Generosity

The term generosity has special meaning to the teacher of God. It is not the usual meaning of the word; in fact, it is a meaning that must be learned and learned very carefully. Like all the other attributes of God’s teachers this one rests ultimately on trust, for without trust no one can be generous in the true sense. To the world, generosity means “giving away” in the sense of “giving up.” To the teachers of God, it means giving away in order to keep. This has been emphasized throughout the text and the workbook, but it is perhaps more alien to the thinking of the world than many other ideas in our curriculum. Its greater strangeness lies merely in the obviousness of its reversal of the world’s thinking. In the clearest way possible, and at the simplest of levels, the word means the exact opposite to the teachers of God and to the world.

The teacher of God is generous out of Self interest. This does not refer, however, to the self of which the world speaks. The teacher of God does not want anything he cannot give away, because he realizes it would be valueless to him by definition. What would he want it for? He could only lose because of it. He could not gain. Therefore he does not seek what only he could keep, because that is a guarantee of loss. He does not want to suffer. Why should he ensure himself pain? But he does want to keep for himself all things that are of God, and therefore for His Son. These are the things that belong to him. These he can give away in true generosity, protecting them forever for himself.

VIII. Patience

Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety. Patience is natural to the teacher of God. All he sees is certain outcome, at a time perhaps unknown to him as yet, but not in doubt. The time will be as right as is the answer. And this is true for everything that happens now or in the future. The past as well held no mistakes; nothing that did not serve to benefit the world, as well as him to whom it seemed to happen. Perhaps it was not understood at the time. Even so, the teacher of God is willing to reconsider all his past decisions, if they are causing pain to anyone. Patience is natural to those who trust. Sure of the ultimate interpretation of all things in time, no outcome already seen or yet to come can cause them fear.

IX. Faithfulness

The extent of the teacher of God’s faithfulness is the measure of his advancement in the curriculum. Does he still select some aspects of his life to bring to his learning, while keeping others apart? If so, his advancement is limited, and his trust not yet firmly established. Faithfulness is the teacher of God’s trust in the Word of God to set all things right; not some, but all. Generally, his faithfulness begins by resting on just some problems, remaining carefully limited for a time. To give up all problems to one Answer is to reverse the thinking of the world entirely. And that alone is faithfulness. Nothing but that really deserves the name. Yet each degree, however small, is worth achieving. Readiness, as the text notes, is not mastery.

True faithfulness, however, does not deviate. Being consistent, it is wholly honest. Being unswerving, it is full of trust. Being based on fearlessness, it is gentle. Being certain, it is joyous. And being confident, it is tolerant. Faithfulness, then, combines in itself the other attributes of God’s teachers. It implies acceptance of the Word of God and His definition of His Son. It is to Them that faithfulness in the true sense is always directed. Toward Them it looks, seeking until it finds. Defenselessness attends it naturally, and joy is its condition. And having found, it rests in quiet certainty on That alone to Which all faithfulness is due.

X. Open-Mindedness

The centrality of open-mindedness, perhaps the last of the attributes the teacher of God acquires, is easily understood when its relation to forgiveness is recognized. Open-mindedness comes with lack of judgment. As judgment shuts the mind against God’s Teacher, so open-mindedness invites Him to come in. As condemnation judges the Son of God as evil, so open-mindedness permits him to be judged by the Voice for God on His behalf. As the projection of guilt upon him would send him to hell, so open-mindedness lets Christ’s image be extended to him. Only the open-minded can be at peace, for they alone see reason for it.

How do the open-minded forgive? They have let go all things that would prevent forgiveness. They have in truth abandoned the world, and let it be restored to them in newness and in joy so glorious they could never have conceived of such a change. Nothing is now as it was formerly. Nothing but sparkles now which seemed so dull and lifeless before. And above all are all things welcoming, for threat is gone. No clouds remain to hide the face of Christ. Now is the goal achieved. Forgiveness is the final goal of the curriculum. It paves the way for what goes far beyond all learning. The curriculum makes no effort to exceed its legitimate goal. Forgiveness is its single aim, at which all learning ultimately converges. It is indeed enough.

You may have noticed that the list of attributes of God’s teachers does not include things that are the Son of God’s inheritance. Terms like love, sinlessness, perfection, knowledge and eternal truth do not appear in this context. They would be most inappropriate here. What God has given is so far beyond our curriculum that learning but disappears in its presence. Yet while its presence is obscured, the focus properly belongs on the curriculum. It is the function of God’s teachers to bring true learning to the world. Properly speaking it is unlearning that they bring, for that is “true learning” in the world. It is given to the teachers of God to bring the glad tidings of complete forgiveness to the world. Blessed indeed are they, for they are the bringers of salvation.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 7

Lesson 280

What limits can I lay upon God’s Son?

Whom God created limitless is free. I can invent imprisonment for him, but only in illusions, not in truth. No Thought of God has left its Father’s Mind. No Thought of God is limited at all. No Thought of God but is forever pure. Can I lay limits on the Son of God, whose Father willed that he be limitless, and like Himself in freedom and in love?

Today let me give honor to Your Son, for thus alone I find the way to You. Father, I lay no limits on the Son You love and You created limitless. The honor that I give to him is Yours, and what is Yours belongs to me as well.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today


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

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

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


Q #251: With world conditions the way they are, I am reminded of a section in Robert Skutch’s book, Journey Without Distance (p.60), regarding Helen’s asking Jesus what A Course in Miracles was for, and the answer she received: “The world situation is worsening to an alarming degree. People all over the world are being called on to help, and are making their individual contributions as part of an overall prearranged plan. Because of the acute emergency, the usual slow, evolutionary process is being by-passed in what might best be described as a ‘celestial speed-up.’ “Helen could sense the urgency that lay behind this ‘explanation,’ and strongly sensed that what was being conveyed to her was that time was running out.” What does this mean exactly? What is the absolute worst that could happen? Even if we destroyed every living thing on the planet wouldn’t we still be alive in spirit? Is there, in reality, anything to worry about?

A: First, a clarification of the “celestial speed-up.” This was Helen’s personal experience; it was a way for her to understand the unsettling experiences that were occurring in her life at that time (1965), without increasing the fear that was already present. She had not yet come across the theory of time as totally illusory, which Jesus would explain much later; that would have been far too upsetting to her in those early months. And so the content of Jesus’ message was expressed in a formthat was meaningful to Helen and with which she could be reasonably comfortable. Most likely, Helen would not have expressed the meaning in that form years later, after she had seen the complete picture. Forgetting about this form/content distinction has led many students to take Helen’s “celestial-speedup” explanation literally. When the unreality of time is brought into the discussion, it is obvious that there could not literally be a need to speed things up. The situation in the world can worsen and be cause for concern only if the world is real, and time also is both real and linear. (See Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles, pp. 464-65)

Secondly, destruction of any kind can emanate only from the ego thought system. Just because Planet Earth might no longer exist does not mean that we would have returned to our true Identity as spirit. The pain in our minds tortured with self-hatred does not disappear simply because the planet has been blown up. If we (“Who is the ‘you’ who are living in this world?” [T.4.II.11:8]) destroyed the planet, we might be very much “alive,” but in the guilt of our wrong minds, not in the innocence and purity of spirit, as Christ. We would still be caught up in the dream of sin, guilt, and fear, and their projection. In other words, as minds, we would be perceiving a destroyed planet, and our guilt, which we have not let go of, would then manifest in some other form.

Understanding that the world is not real and that we are not our bodies is a step in the right direction — a major step; but our healing is not yet complete. It is very comforting to be assured that the world and bodies are not real, because we would no longer fear that the end of the planet is the end of “us.” That dimension of our terror subsides, fortunately, which then frees us to move to the next step, which is experiencing ourselves as decision-making minds that are constantly choosing to identify with either the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s thought system.

We must look at our investment in upholding the purpose served by our belief in sin, guilt, and fear. Ultimately, we must reach the level of readiness to let go of all sense of individuality, consciousness, and specialness before we return to our existence as spirit. The interim stage, though, is the right-minded awareness that we are the dreamers of the dream. This is the stage in which we consistently choose to perceive everything from “above the battleground,” confidently assured that all destruction and suffering, all pleasure and excitement, are but the outcome of a mind dreaming it has separated from the Oneness of Heaven.

teach not that i died in vain

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 5

ACIM Text Reading for October 5

Manual for Teachers

2. Who Are Their Pupils?

Certain pupils have been assigned to each of God’s teachers, and they will begin to look for him as soon as he has answered the Call. They were chosen for him because the form of the universal curriculum that he will teach is best for them in view of their level of understanding. His pupils have been waiting for him, for his coming is certain. Again, it is only a matter of time. Once he has chosen to fulfill his role, they are ready to fulfill theirs. Time waits on his choice, but not on whom he will serve. When he is ready to learn, the opportunities to teach will be provided for him.

In order to understand the teaching-learning plan of salvation, it is necessary to grasp the concept of time that the course sets forth. Atonement corrects illusions, not truth. Therefore, it corrects what never was. Further, the plan for this correction was established and completed simultaneously, for the Will of God is entirely apart from time. So is all reality, being of Him. The instant the idea of separation entered the mind of God’s Son, in that same instant was God’s Answer given. In time this happened very long ago. In reality it never happened at all.

The world of time is the world of illusion. What happened long ago seems to be happening now. Choices made long since appear to be open; yet to be made. What has been learned and understood and long ago passed by is looked upon as a new thought, a fresh idea, a different approach. Because your will is free you can accept what has already happened at any time you choose, and only then will you realize that it was always there. As the course emphasizes, you are not free to choose the curriculum, or even the form in which you will learn it. You are free, however, to decide when you want to learn it. And as you accept it, it is already learned.

Time really, then, goes backward to an instant so ancient that it is beyond all memory, and past even the possibility of remembering. Yet because it is an instant that is relived again and again and still again, it seems to be now. And thus it is that pupil and teacher seem to come together in the present, finding each other as if they had not met before. The pupil comes at the right time to the right place. This is inevitable, because he made the right choice in that ancient instant which he now relives. So has the teacher, too, made an inevitable choice out of an ancient past. God’s Will in everything but seems to take time in the working-out. What could delay the power of eternity?

When pupil and teacher come together, a teaching-learning situation begins. For the teacher is not really the one who does the teaching. God’s Teacher speaks to any two who join together for learning purposes. The relationship is holy because of that purpose, and God has promised to send His Spirit into any holy relationship. In the teaching-learning situation, each one learns that giving and receiving are the same. The demarcations they have drawn between their roles, their minds, their bodies, their needs, their interests, and all the differences they thought separated them from one another, fade and grow dim and disappear. Those who would learn the same course share one interest and one goal. And thus he who was the learner becomes a teacher of God himself, for he has made the one decision that gave his teacher to him. He has seen in another person the same interests as his own.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 5

Lesson 278

If I am bound, my Father is not free.

If I accept that I am prisoner within a body, in a world in which all things that seem to live appear to die, then is my Father prisoner with me. And this do I believe, when I maintain the laws the world obeys must I obey; the frailties and the sins which I perceive are real, and cannot be escaped. If I am bound in any way, I do not know my Father nor my Self. And I am lost to all reality. For truth is free, and what is bound is not a part of truth.

Father, I ask for nothing but the truth. I have had many foolish thoughts about myself and my creation, and have brought a dream of fear into my mind. Today, I would not dream. I choose the way to You instead of madness and instead of fear. For truth is safe, and only love is sure.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1245: Can you please explain the passage in the manual of A Course in Miracles about not being free to choose the curriculum, or even the form in which you will learn it. Does the “you” refer to the decision maker? “As the course emphasizes, you are not free to choose the curriculum, or even the form in which you will learn it. You are free, however, to decide when you want to learn it. And as you accept it, it is already learned” (M.2.3:6,7,8).

A: The reference here is to the text’s Introduction where Jesus makes the same point: “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” (T.in.1:1,2,3,4,5; italics omitted As an example, college students have nothing to say about the courses listed in the school catalog, but they are free to pick which courses they will take and when — at least with regard to electives. Our situation is similar. Our decision maker has already established the curriculum of our lives, but our choice now lies with which teacher we will choose to re-experience this script: the ego or the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when we accept the curriculum, “it is already learned” — we simply accept the learning that is there.

certain as god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 4

ACIM Text Reading for October 4

 Manual for Teachers

1. Who Are God’s Teachers?

A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s. Once he has done that, his road is established and his direction is sure. A light has entered the darkness. It may be a single light, but that is enough. He has entered an agreement with God even if he does not yet believe in Him. He has become a bringer of salvation. He has become a teacher of God.

They come from all over the world. They come from all religions and from no religion. They are the ones who have answered. The Call is universal. It goes on all the time everywhere. It calls for teachers to speak for It and redeem the world. Many hear It, but few will answer. Yet it is all a matter of time. Everyone will answer in the end, but the end can be a long, long way off. It is because of this that the plan of the teachers was established. Their function is to save time. Each one begins as a single light, but with the Call at its center it is a light that cannot be limited. And each one saves a thousand years of time as the world judges it. To the Call Itself time has no meaning. There is a course for every teacher of God. The form of the course varies greatly. So do the particular teaching aids involved. But the content of the course never changes. Its central theme is always, “God’s Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation.” It can be taught by actions or thoughts; in words or soundlessly; in any language or in no language; in any place or time or manner. It does not matter who the teacher was before he heard the Call. He has become a savior by his answering. He has seen someone else as himself. He has therefore found his own salvation and the salvation of the world. In his rebirth is the world reborn.

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. They merely save time. Yet it is time alone that winds on wearily, and the world is very tired now. It is old and worn and without hope. There was never a question of outcome, for what can change the Will of God? But time, with its illusions of change and death, wears out the world and all things in it. Yet time has an ending, and it is this that the teachers of God are appointed to bring about. For time is in their hands. Such was their choice, and it is given them.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 4

Lesson 277

Let me not bind Your Son with laws I made.

Your Son is free, my Father. Let me not imagine I have bound him with the laws I made to rule the body. He is not subject to any laws I made by which I try to make the body more secure. He is not changed by what is changeable. He is not slave to any laws of time. He is as You created him, because he knows no law except the law of love.

Let us not worship idols, nor believe in any law idolatry would make to hide the freedom of the Son of God. He is not bound except by his beliefs. Yet what he is, is far beyond his faith in slavery or freedom. He is free because he is his Father’s Son. And he cannot be bound unless God’s truth can lie, and God can will that He deceive Himself.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #985In the manual for teachers it says: “There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome. They merely save time” (M.1.4:2,3). I thought it was the Course that saves the most time. Is that a misprint or a grammatical error or am I missing something. They merely saves time seems to be referring to all the other forms out there.

A: You are correct, the manual does say that the many forms of the universal course save time. The reason for this is that the universal course is one of content, not form, and time belongs to the world of form. When the mind decides to accept the universal truth that the separation never happened, and God’s one Son is innocent, the concept of time disappears. That is how it is “saved.”

Also, students of A Course in Miracles “save time” by not wasting it in pursuit of other forms that are very helpful, but are not their path: “You are not making use of the course if you insist on using means which have served others well, neglecting what was made for you ” (T.18.VII.6:5). We escape the laws of tine through the practice of forgiveness by returning to the thought in the mind that is outside of time. The ego’s perception of grievances and its use of projection are concepts bound by time. The Holy Spirit’s perception is a view from beyond time’s boundaries because it perceives only two timeless thoughts: the separation that never happened, and reality that never changed. Learning to see with His vision thus removes all experience from the chains of time. That is the Course’s “fast track.” It is not a linear process. Time is meaningless in the instant the mind chooses the Holy Spirit, regardless of the way time was used on the path that led to the choice. It is only the mind’s choice (content) that matters. Each choice against the ego is what saves time and saves us from time.

you cannot lose your soul

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 3

ACIM Text Reading for October 3

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VIII. Choose Once Again

Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this:

“Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world,
or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there.”

For He has come, and He is asking this.

How do you make the choice? How easily is this explained! You always choose between your weakness and the strength of Christ in you. And what you choose is what you think is real. Simply by never using weakness to direct your actions, you have given it no power. And the light of Christ in you is given charge of everything you do. For you have brought your weakness unto Him, and He has given you His strength instead.

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again.” He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides His face from you. His Holiness is yours because He is the only power that is real in you. His strength is yours because He is the Self that God created as His only Son.

The images you make cannot prevail against what God Himself would have you be. Be never fearful of temptation, then, but see it as it is; another chance to choose again, and let Christ’s strength prevail in every circumstance and every place you raised an image of yourself before. For what appears to hide the face of Christ is powerless before His majesty, and disappears before His holy sight. The saviors of the world, who see like Him, are merely those who choose His strength instead of their own weakness, seen apart from Him. They will redeem the world, for they are joined in all the power of the Will of God. And what they will is only what He wills.

Learn, then, the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words:

“I am as God created me. His Son can suffer nothing. And I am His Son.”

Thus is Christ’s strength invited to prevail, replacing all your weakness with the strength that comes from God and that can never fail. And thus are miracles as natural as fear and agony appeared to be before the choice for holiness was made. For in that choice are false distinctions gone, illusory alternatives laid by, and nothing left to interfere with truth.

You are as God created you, and so is every living thing you look upon, regardless of the images you see. What you behold as sickness and as pain, as weakness and as suffering and loss, is but temptation to perceive yourself defenseless and in hell. Yield not to this, and you will see all pain, in every form, wherever it occurs, but disappear as mists before the sun. A miracle has come to heal God’s Son, and close the door upon his dreams of weakness, opening the way to his salvation and release. Choose once again what you would have him be, remembering that every choice you make establishes your own identity as you will see it and believe it is.

Deny me not the little gift I ask, when in exchange I lay before your feet the peace of God, and power to bring this peace to everyone who wanders in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. For it is given you to join with him, and through the Christ in you unveil his eyes, and let him look upon the Christ in him.

My brothers in salvation, do not fail to hear my voice and listen to my words. I ask for nothing but your own release. There is no place for hell within a world whose loveliness can yet be so intense and so inclusive it is but a step from there to Heaven. To your tired eyes I bring a vision of a different world, so new and clean and fresh you will forget the pain and sorrow that you saw before. Yet this a vision is which you must share with everyone you see, for otherwise you will behold it not. To give this gift is how to make it yours. And God ordained, in loving kindness, that it be for you.

Let us be glad that we can walk the world, and find so many chances to perceive another situation where God’s gift can once again be recognized as ours! And thus will all the vestiges of hell, the secret sins and hidden hates be gone. And all the loveliness which they concealed appear like lawns of Heaven to our sight, to lift us high above the thorny roads we traveled on before the Christ appeared. Hear me, my brothers, hear and join with me. God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content. For you will hear, and you will choose again. And in this choice is everyone made free.

I thank You, Father, for these holy ones who are my brothers as they are Your Sons. My faith in them is Yours. I am as sure that they will come to me as You are sure of what they are, and will forever be. They will accept the gift I offer them, because You gave it me on their behalf. And as I would but do Your holy Will, so will they choose. And I give thanks for them. Salvation’s song will echo through the world with every choice they make. For we are one in purpose, and the end of hell is near.

In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation, and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy. Give me my own, for they belong to You. And can You fail in what is but Your Will? I give You thanks for what my brothers are. And as each one elects to join with me, the song of thanks from earth to Heaven grows from tiny scattered threads of melody to one inclusive chorus from a world redeemed from hell, and giving thanks to You.

And now we say “Amen.” For Christ has come to dwell in the abode You set for Him before time was, in calm eternity. The journey closes, ending at the place where it began. No trace of it remains. Not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ from anyone. Thy Will is done, complete and perfectly, and all creation recognizes You, and knows You as the only Source it has. Clear in Your likeness does the light shine forth from everything that lives and moves in You. For we have reached where all of us are one, and we are home, where You would have us be.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 3

Lesson 276

The Word of God is given me to speak.

What is the Word of God? “My Son is pure and holy as Myself.” And thus did God become the Father of the Son He loves, for thus was he created. This the Word His Son did not create with Him, because in this His Son was born. Let us accept His Fatherhood, and all is given us. Deny we were created in His Love and we deny our Self, to be unsure of Who we are, of Who our Father is, and for what purpose we have come. And yet, we need but to acknowledge Him Who gave His Word to us in our creation, to remember Him and so recall our Self.

Father, Your Word is mine. And it is this that I would speak to all my brothers, who are given me to cherish as my own, as I am loved and blessed and saved by You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #686: In the end of the text, Jesus says that all walk the world “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T31.VIII.7:1). I know that this may seem silly, but I just don’t believe that sometimes. I look at someone like Donald Trump; rich, secure, seemingly happy, and it doesn’t seem that he feels the way Jesus describes. I know enough now that this question probably reflects my fear that A Course in Miracles is asking sacrifice of me, but some people seem so happy without the Course.

A: It is important to remember that in the Course Jesus is addressing our minds; more specifically, the part of our minds that remembers the truth of who we really are (the right mind). However, since we have dissociated from our minds and identified with the ego, and thus with the body, we hear his words as applying to the body. He is not speaking to our bodies. It is the mind that identifies with the ego/body that walks the world “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear.” Though they may not be apparent, the loneliness, uncertainty and fear that underlie everyone’s’ existence in the world are the motivation for everything that we seek: money, power, friends, and family. Having believed we are separate from our Source, we feel bankrupt and therefore compelled to fill our physical, psychological, and emotional warehouses to the brim with wealth, health and “happiness.” The ego is ingenious in making up itsinterpretation of “happiness,” “success,” “achievement,” even “love,” based on the deep sense of loss that inevitably accompanies the choice for separation. The world offers the illusion of happiness, and on its terms it seems to “work” for some people. They seem to “have it all.” It is possible to experience the satisfaction of getting what we want, or what we think we want, and it is this that the world calls happiness. However, as it turns out, it is never enough, not even the “perfect life” here in the world, and so we seek for more. No doubt Donald Trump, along with many other wealthy, and successful people, would admit that there are more fortunes and more power to be had: “You never can be too rich or too thin.”

Jesus tells us in the Course, that in choosing to identify with the body and seeking everything the world has to offer, we have short-changed ourselves. “To identify with the ego is to attack yourself and make yourself poor. That is why everyone who identifies with the ego feels deprived. What he experiences then is depression or anger, because what he did was to exchange Self-love for self-hate, making him afraid of himself. He does not realize this. Even if he is fully aware of anxiety he does not perceive its source as his own ego identification, and he always tries to handle it by making some sort of insane ‘arrangement’ with the world” (T.12.III.6:1,2,3,4,5, italics ours). The insane arrangements are all the things we do to avoid feeling the self-hatred, this is what compels us to seek outside of ourselves for comfort and fulfillment. Every value the world holds has its source in the pervasive feeling of emptiness that is the effect of choosing the ego instead of God. Yet nothing ever fills that void. Jesus tells the Donald Trump in all of us that the world/ego is a bad investment: “The ego is trying to teach you how to gain the whole world and lose your own soul. The Holy Spirit teaches that you cannot lose your soul and there is no gain in the world, for of itself it profits nothing. To invest without profit is surely to impoverish yourself, and the overhead is high. Not only is there no profit in the investment, but the cost to you is enormous. For this investment costs you the world’s reality by denying yours, and gives you nothing in return” (T.12.VI.1:1,2,3,4,5).

A close look at the satisfactions and “happiness” the world offer reveals that they are short spent and do not last. Every enjoyment is shadowed by the knowledge that it will end, not to mention that it is nothing but an illusion: “Illusions will not last. Their death is sure and this alone is certain in their world. It is the ego’s world because of this” (C.2.1:1,2,3). We cannot effectively extinguish the gnawing sense that everything we seek and achieve has an end, including this “life” in a body, and thus we become imprisoned by the relentless pursuit of pleasure, comfort, and meaning in the world. This often extends to the search for meaningful religious experience and fulfillment, in an attempt to calm our fear that we are, in fact, wrong about who we are, and wrong about everything we believe is true and meaningful. As the very first lesson in the workbook tells us: “Nothing I see…means anything” (W.pI.1). How, then, can what is meaningless bring us happiness, comfort, or peace? Not only is it meaningless, everything the world offers is actually a defense against recognizing what is meaningful, since it is the place made by the ego, “where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him” (W.pII.3.2:4).

There is no need to worry that we will have to sacrifice or be deprived of anything we think we need as long as we think we need it: “Only the Holy Spirit knows what you need. For He will give you all things that do not block the way to light. And what else could you need? In time, He gives you all the things that you need have, and will renew them as long as you have need of them. He will take nothing from you as long as you have any need of it. And yet He knows that everything you need is temporary, and will but last until you step aside from all your needs and realize that all of them have been fulfilled” (T.13.VII.12:1,2,3,4,5,6). Let’s not be fooled by anything else.

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 2

ACIM Text Reading for October 2

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VII. The Savior’s Vision

Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful, nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognize. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation’s task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world’s concepts are the guilty “bad”; the “good” are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the “good” to pardon him the “bad.” Nor does he trust the “good” in anyone, believing that the “bad” must lurk behind. This concept emphasizes treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the “bad” in you.

You could not recognize your “evil” thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another “crime.” You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed. Your “evil” thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer do you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you give your trust to what is good in him, you give it to the good in you.

In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the “baser” part of you, and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself, when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid that God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.

You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself, which can be interchanged but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself, because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you. For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.

Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him, that you may not be frightened by your “evil” thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself that now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand, that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one that brings the peace of God.

The concept of yourself that now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed, unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace, that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world, instead of as salvation’s enemy?

The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images, because you look on them as through a barrier that dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness, and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release; the sight, the vision and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you, and the universe with them.

Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a savior to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself, and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon, to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ, and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this one. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.

The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error; that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself that holds him off from you, and you away from him. The sword of judgment is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is, and thus what you must be.

What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable, and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a savior to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial savior would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given you to save are but everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are; all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet; the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.

Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the savior of the Son of God? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within, and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon, that he may be what they expect of him. This is the savior’s vision; that he see his innocence in all he looks upon, and see his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.

Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not. And from that wish a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you. For seeing can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see, or keep yourself apart and separate.

The savior’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgment made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognizing this, it merely asks, “What is the meaning of what I behold?” Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.

Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear. This is temptation; nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.

Let not the world’s light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the savior’s vision is withheld and what they see is death. Their savior stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes, and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, “Release My Son!” be tempted not to listen, when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 2

Lesson 275

God’s healing Voice protects all things today.

Let us today attend the Voice for God, which speaks an ancient lesson, no more true today than any other day. Yet has this day been chosen as the time when we will seek and hear and learn and understand. Join me in hearing. For the Voice for God tells us of things we cannot understand alone, nor learn apart. It is in this that all things are protected. And in this the healing of the Voice for God is found.

Your healing Voice protects all things today, and so I leave all things to You. I need be anxious over nothing. For Your Voice will tell me what to do and where to go; to whom to speak and what to say to him, what thoughts to think, what words to give the world. The safety that I bring is given me. Father, Your Voice protects all things through me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #177: Is it necessary to comprehend the mythology in order to begin study of A Course in Miracles, and to use the principles of the Course properly? I have great trouble with the metaphysics of the Course surrounding the origin of guilt yet the practical applications of the Course (i.e., choosing the ego or Jesus as your teacher) seem logical and helpful. Can I truly practice forgiveness as the Course defines it if I don’t really accept the Course’s mythology surrounding the origin of the world?

A: The benefit of practicing forgiveness is that we will feel better, because we will be letting go of the pain of self-deception involved in blaming others for our problems. It is practical in that sense. And it is very comforting to know that there is a loving, wise teacher within, of whom we can always ask help. We can go along nicely with that for quite some time, and even stay on that level indefinitely if we so choose. The Course can be used that way, and be of tremendous personal benefit and comfort. The metaphysical principles of the Course are not needed to experience the gentle guidance of Jesus, and to withdraw our projections of guilt onto others. If staying on that level brings one closer to God, what could be wrong with it?

But since you specifically mentioned “forgiveness as the Course defines it,” it is necessary to go further. And so we will. The beginning and the end of the Introduction to the workbook shed some further light on this. Jesus begins by talking about the relationship between the text and the workbook: “A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in the workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of the workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth” (W.in.1).

At the end of the Introduction to the workbook (W.in.8,9), Jesus acknowledges the problems of credulity and resistance we probably will run into regarding the ideas and concepts presented in the lessons. And his advice to us is to concentrate only on using and applying the ideas exactly as he directs us to do, without judging them or evaluating them, because their meaning and their truth will be manifested to us through our using them.

The implication would seem to be that somewhere along the line, the student is going to come face-to-face with the theoretical principles of the Course. For example, as it becomes clear that forgiveness means forgiving the other person for what he did not do — a truly startling, deeply challenging statement — we are led ultimately to question the reality of guilt itself. That would take us directly to the metaphysical dimension of the Course. Indeed, the Course’s view of forgiveness cannot be fully appreciated without being aware of its metaphysical underpinnings. It would be too easy to slide into the traditional view of forgiving what truly happened if the illusory nature of sin and guilt were not an integral part of one’s thinking and approach to grievances.

The answer to your question, therefore, is both yes and no. One can benefit from practicing forgiveness and turning to Jesus for guidance; but the process of forgiveness as presented in the Course would be short-circuited and not fully appreciated if the Course’s theory of the origin of guilt were ignored. If this theory were explicitly not accepted, it would make the practice of the Course’s version of forgiveness impossible.

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 1

ACIM Text Reading for October 1

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VI. Recognizing the Spirit

You see the flesh or recognize the spirit. There is no compromise between the two. If one is real the other must be false, for what is real denies its opposite. There is no choice in vision but this one. What you decide in this determines all you see and think is real and hold as true. On this one choice does all your world depend, for here have you established what you are, as flesh or spirit in your own belief. If you choose flesh, you never will escape the body as your own reality, for you have chosen that you want it so. But choose the spirit, and all Heaven bends to touch your eyes and bless your holy sight, that you may see the world of flesh no more except to heal and comfort and to bless.

Salvation is undoing. If you choose to see the body, you behold a world of separation, unrelated things, and happenings that make no sense at all. This one appears and disappears in death; that one is doomed to suffering and loss. And no one is exactly as he was an instant previous, nor will he be the same as he is now an instant hence. Who could have trust where so much change is seen, for who is worthy if he be but dust? Salvation is undoing of all this. For constancy arises in the sight of those whose eyes salvation has released from looking at the cost of keeping guilt, because they chose to let it go instead.

Salvation does not ask that you behold the spirit and perceive the body not. It merely asks that this should be your choice. For you can see the body without help, but do not understand how to behold a world apart from it. It is your world salvation will undo, and let you see another world your eyes could never find. Be not concerned how this could ever be. You do not understand how what you see arose to meet your sight. For if you did, it would be gone. The veil of ignorance is drawn across the evil and the good, and must be passed that both may disappear, so that perception finds no hiding place. How is this done? It is not done at all. What could there be within the universe that God created that must still be done?

Only in arrogance could you conceive that you must make the way to Heaven plain. The means are given you by which to see the world that will replace the one you made. Your will be done! In Heaven as on earth this is forever true. It matters not where you believe you are, nor what you think the truth about yourself must really be. It makes no difference what you look upon, nor what you choose to feel or think or wish. For God Himself has said, “Your will be done.” And it is done to you accordingly.

You who believe that you can choose to see the Son of God as you would have him be, forget not that no concept of yourself will stand against the truth of what you are. Undoing truth would be impossible. But concepts are not difficult to change. One vision, clearly seen, that does not fit the picture as it was perceived before will change the world for eyes that learn to see, because the concept of the self has changed.

Are you invulnerable? Then the world is harmless in your sight. Do you forgive? Then is the world forgiving, for you have forgiven it its trespasses, and so it looks on you with eyes that see as yours. Are you a body? So is all the world perceived as treacherous, and out to kill. Are you a spirit, deathless, and without the promise of corruption and the stain of sin upon you? So the world is seen as stable, fully worthy of your trust; a happy place to rest in for a while, where nothing need be feared, but only loved. Who is unwelcome to the kind in heart? And what could hurt the truly innocent?

Your will be done, you holy child of God. It does not matter if you think you are in earth or Heaven. What your Father wills of you can never change. The truth in you remains as radiant as a star, as pure as light, as innocent as love itself. And you are worthy that your will be done!

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 1

Lesson 274

Today belongs to love. Let me not fear.

Father, today I would let all things be as You created them, and give Your Son the honor due his sinlessness; the love of brother to his brother and his Friend. Through this I am redeemed. Through this as well the truth will enter where illusions were, light will replace all darkness, and Your Son will know he is as You created him.

A special blessing comes to us today, from Him Who is our Father. Give this day to Him, and there will be no fear today, because the day is given unto love.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #915I am a builder, and practicing the forgiveness process while I work has helped me greatly in taking the pain and frustration out of much of my work. I can actually go to work and instead of feeling that I have to ‘attack’ the day aggressively and fight with my work and materials, the work just gets done peacefully one step at a time now, and I’m very grateful for that important change. Another problem my activity causes me, however, is regular physical pain, hunger, and fatigue. And so I wonder to what extent forgiveness could help me there. The pain, hunger and need for rest and sleep seem like normal by-products of my activity, but if everything here is just a reflection of what is in the mind, and if all body needs and reactions are the manifestation of guilt on some level, then I imagine I should be able to do something about them. Am I off on the wrong track?

If I see these physical symptoms as other manifestations of ontological guilt, then conceivably I could allow even more peace in my daily activity, whether or not that translates into physical changes — would that be right? And would I be right in assuming that ‘anything’ that is a mental, emotional or physical reaction within me is a sign of guilt and a request for forgiveness, because in the real world there are no more reactions as such since there is no real ‘me’ anymore? If so, that would give me a lot more to work on while at the building site.

And another little side question — I rarely come into contact with other people in my work since I work alone and live in an isolated part of the country. And so I wonder if I can fulfill the forgiveness process fully because we are supposed to have encounters with others and that just doesn’t happen in my life. I would like that to happen, and would like to be with people, but that’s just not the way things are for the moment. Forgiveness can be complete nevertheless, because all minds are joined, no?

A: Wherever you seem to find yourself, that’s your classroom, and, rest assured, there your lessons will be. So your particular situation, despite its physical isolation from others, still provides you with the opportunities to practice forgiveness, as you have surmised. Physical pain certainly is an indication that there remains an unhealed, projected thought of guilt in the mind, and so your suggestion that you could use such symptoms as a reminder to look within is a good one. And the goal and the focus of your practice, from the perspective of A Course in Miracles , would be to release the guilt, and not to relieve the bodily pain — although that certainly could be an after- effect of the forgiveness.

The “normal” reactions of the body, such as hunger and fatigue, indicate simply that you are still identified with the body, which will be the case for each of us until the very end of our individual Atonement process. Likewise, if you see what you believe to be yourself staring back at you from a mirror, you still must be believing that you need a defense against the buried guilt in your mind. So it may be helpful to remember that the body, once we have made it real in our experience, becomes a wholly neutral thing (W.pI.294) . And all of its normal functions, including eating and sleeping, are simply limitations that will in general seem to accompany that bodily experience.

What determines the body’s meaning is the purpose we give it (T.26.VIII.3:7) , and that may be a further fruitful focus for your attention. Specifically, how do you see yourself in relationship to others? Their bodies do not have to be present for you to have “encounters” with your brothers and sisters in your mind — which in reality is where all encounters occur, with all the accompanying forgiveness lessons. During all your time by yourself, do you find that you spend some of that time thinking about others in your life — family, friends, acquaintances — both past and present? And what is the nature of those thoughts? Are there still grievances, irritations, annoyances, etc., in relationship to others that come to mind? Are there feelings of special love associated with certain ones? All these will be projections of your own guilt, and hence opportunities once again to look within and acknowledge and release the buried guilt.

Your willingness to use everything that your ego presents to you (always presented by your own choice!) is all that Jesus is asking of any of us. Each of your reactions, as you note, at every level, provides another opportunity to choose again. A passage from the workbook describes very clearly the kind of shift you are alluding to, which will become permanent only at the end of our journey back home, although there will be glimpses and then greater lengths of time where this will be our experience, in those moments when we have suspended all thoughts of judgment and attack:

      “Now is the body healed, because the source of sickness [ the mind ] has been opened to relief. And you will recognize you practiced well by this: The body should not feel at all. If you have been successful, there will be no sense of feeling ill or feeling well, of pain or pleasure. No response at all is in the mind to what the body does. Its usefulness remains and nothing more.

      “Perhaps you do not realize that this removes the limits you had placed upon the body by the purposes you gave to it. As these are laid aside, the strength the body has will always be enough to serve all truly useful purposes. The body’s health is fully guaranteed, because it is not limited by time, by weather or fatigue, by food and drink, or any laws you made it serve before. You need do nothing now to make it well, for sickness has become impossible” W.pI.136.17,18 .

certain as god