A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 20, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for February 20

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

V. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit

C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom

We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.

The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He isjudgemental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgement. This enables the mind to teach without judgement, and therefore to learn to be without judgement. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:

Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.

This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasises the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.

While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognising this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.

Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.

You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition of the Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.

The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the centre, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.

To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.

Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.

The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 20

REVIEW I

Introduction

1. Beginning with today we will have a series of review periods. Each of them will cover five of the ideas already presented, starting with the first and ending with the fiftieth. There will be a few short comments after each of the ideas, which you should consider in your review. In the practice periods, the exercises should be done as follows:

2. Begin the day by reading the five ideas, with the comments included. Thereafter, it is not necessary to follow any particular order in considering them, though each one should be practiced at least once. Devote two minutes or more to each practice period, thinking about the idea and the related comments after reading them over. Do this as often as possible during the day. If any one of the five ideas appeals to you more than the others, concentrate on that one. At the end of the day, however, be sure to review all of them once more.

3. It is not necessary to cover the comments that follow each idea either literally or thoroughly in the practice periods. Try, rather, to emphasize the central point, and think about it as part of your review of the idea to which it relates. After you have read the idea and the related comments, the exercises should be done with your eyes closed and when you are alone in a quiet place, if possible.

4. This is emphasized for practice periods at your stage of learn­ing. It will be necessary, however, that you learn to require no special settings in which to apply what you have learned. You will need your learning most in situations that appear to be upsetting, rather than in those that already seem to be calm and quiet. The purpose of your learning is to enable you to bring the quiet with you, and to heal distress and turmoil. This is not done by avoiding them and seeking a haven of isolation for yourself.

5. You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are. And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.

6. You will note that, for review purposes, some of the ideas are not given in quite their original form. Use them as they are given here. It is not necessary to return to the original statements, nor to apply the ideas as was suggested then. We are now emphasiz­ing the relationships among the first fifty of the ideas we have covered, and the cohesiveness of the thought system to which they are leading you.

*

LESSON 51

The review for today covers the following ideas:

1. (1Nothing I see means anything.

The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and nothing has no meaning. It is necessary that I recognize this, that I may learn to see. What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing it has no meaning, so that vision may take its place.

2. (2I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me.

I have judged everything I look upon, and it is this and only this I see. This is not vision. It is merely an illusion of reality, because my judgments have been made quite apart from reality. I am willing to recognize the lack of validity in my judgments, because I want to see. My judgments have hurt me, and I do not want to see according to them.

3. (3I do not understand anything I see.

How could I understand what I see when I have judged it amiss? What I see is the projection of my own errors of thought. I do not understand what I see because it is not understandable. There is no sense in trying to understand it. But there is every reason to let it go, and make room for what can be seen and understood and loved. I can exchange what I see now for this merely by being willing to do so. Is not this a better choice than the one I made before?

4. (4These thoughts do not mean anything.

The thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything be­cause I am trying to think without God. What I call “my” thoughts are not my real thoughts. My real thoughts are the thoughts I think with God. I am not aware of them because I have made my thoughts to take their place. I am willing to rec­ognize that my thoughts do not mean anything, and to let them go. I choose to have them be replaced by what they were in­tended to replace. My thoughts are meaningless, but all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God.

5. (5I am never upset for the reason I think.

I am never upset for the reason I think because I am constantly trying to justify my thoughts. I am constantly trying to make them true. I make all things my enemies, so that my anger is justified and my attacks are warranted. I have not realized how much I have misused everything I see by assigning this role to it. I have done this to defend a thought system that has hurt me, and that I no longer want. I am willing to let it go.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Do Jesus or the Holy Spirit send me my lessons?

A) No, they do not. Here again, we see an example of students taking the words of A Course in Miracles literally, the result being that conclusions are drawn that are the exact opposite of what Jesus is actually teaching in his Course. To be sure, there are passages with words stating that the Holy Spirit (or Jesus) provide lessons for us, send people to us, or that we are sent to others. However, it is essential that students of A Course in Miracles, if they are to grow in their learning and practice of its principles, understand that statements such as these — clearly in the minority when taken against the whole of the Course’s teaching — are meant to reach those who are basically just beginning their spiritual journey with the Course. And so Jesus couches his teachings in words that his students — always referred to as children (or sometimes even younger) — can understand without fear.

Our experience is that we are very much a part of this physical world, just as we believe God is. There is, for example, this very important line in the text, which we have already quoted: “You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T-18.Vlll.1:7). Therefore, as we discussed earlier in question 5, it would not be helpful nor practical for Jesus to impose a level of explanation beyond his students’ capacity to understand. As he states so clearly in the workbook: “For who can understand a language far beyond his simple grasp?” (W-pI.192.2:2). Thus, we can recognize again that Jesus uses language to serve as a bridge from the level of his students’ experience to his truth.

In fact, the Holy Spirit or Jesus do nothing in the world, because all correction and healing occur at the level of the mind. “There is no world!” as Jesus states emphatically in the workbook: “This is the central thought the course attempts to teach” (W-pI.132.6:2-3). Jesus’ presence exists only in our minds, since that is all there is. Ideas leave not their source, and so the dream has never left the mind of the dreamer, however compellingly real the world appears to be to us. This is similar to the experience everyone has when asleep at night and dreaming. While asleep, the dreamer actually believes that the activities occurring in the dream are quite real, and reacts accordingly with feelings of happiness, fear, joy, or anxiety, not to mention physical concomitants as well, such as tachycardia, excessive perspiration, etc. However, upon waking, the dreamer realizes that “it was only a dream.”  Similar to what we discussed before in question 22, we understand that nothing has occurred other than within the mind of the dreamer, which contained the various images and symbols that seemed to be so real.  As Jesus repeatedly points out in the Course, there is no difference whatsoever between our sleeping and waking experiences. They are both simply dreams occurring within the larger dream of separation. As he says in the text:

All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it. In your waking dreams, the special relationship has a special place. It is the means by which you try to make your sleeping dreams come true (T-18.11.5:12-17; italics ours).

And so it would make no sense for our wise inner teacher, Jesus, to fall into the same trap that the world does, of making the error real by seeing problems existing there, and therefore their solutions as well. However, as long as we believe that we are here, with problems and answers here, our experience will be that our help will be here, too.  The loving presence of Jesus in our right minds — a mind which we have denied — will inevitably be experienced in the body and the world, even though he is not there. Participating in the process of forgiveness, students of A Course in Miracles gradually realize that they are the dreamers and not the dream, and that their existence is in the
mind and not the body. Eventually, the realization also occurs that Jesus or the Holy Spirit is only within their minds.

And what is Their function within the mind? To restate what we discussed previously, Their function is simply to remind the Son of God that he has made a faulty choice (by choosing the ego as his teacher), and now can make the correct one. His attention, via the miracle, has been restored to his mind, where the wrong decision was made and the presence of the Holy Spirit reminds him he can choose again. Early in the text, Jesus describes the functioning of the Holy Spirit this way:

The Voice of the Holy Spirit does not command, because It is incapable of arrogance.  It does not demand, because It does not seek control. It does not overcome, because It does not attack. It merely reminds. It is compelling only because of what It reminds you of. It brings to your mind the other way, remaining quiet even in the midst of the turmoil you may make (T-5.II.7:1-6).

And so we — the decision maker in our minds — are the ones who write and choose our scripts, and the role of Jesus is to remind us that we can make another choice in how we look at what we have chosen. That looking with his love beside us is the core of the Course’s meaning of forgiveness. We are the ones who chose wrongly, and therefore we are the ones who must choose differently, as Jesus exhorts us at the end of the text:

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” (T-31.Vlll.3:1-2).

Again, we are the ones who present ourselves with our scripts, and it is our minds that choose whether to have our egos or Jesus be the teacher guiding us through these experiences.

Therefore, it is not the Holy Spirit that brings us parking spaces, sends certain people to be helped by us or for us to be helped by, or causes us to be raped as a forgiveness lesson, as one poor student of A Course in Miracles believed about a very painful experience in her own life. Such mistaken thoughts about the Holy Spirit, besides having potentially tragic implications, help students to avoid responsibility for their own choices by transferring them over to the Holy Spirit or Jesus. And then they justify such misperceptions by quoting — out of context! — passages from the Course to support their positions of specialness.

And so it is extremely important, to make this point still once again, for students of A Course in Miracles not to confuse the form of the Course’s teaching with its underlyingcontent. Otherwise growth will not occur, and they would forever remain at the lower levels of their journey up the spiritual ladder that the Course provides. Therefore, the purpose for students being told that the Holy Spirit does things for them in the world, is to be healed of the ego’s basic thought system that teaches that there is no Holy Spirit, and even if there were, He certainly would not be a friendly Presence which would comfort and guide them. Thus, it is not the words (the form) that are the true teaching of the Course, but their underlying meaning (the content). Jesus’ purpose in using this metaphoric language is to help his students undo the ego thoughts that a wrathful and avenging God will punish them for their sin.

Once the belief is corrected that God (or the Holy Spirit or Jesus) is our enemy, we are able to advance along to the next steps of our journey. These include the increasing recognition, as we approach the journey’s end, of the essentially abstract reality of the Holy Spirit’s and Jesus’ presence in our split minds. What is at issue here is the crucial point of proceeding slowly and patiently along the spiritual path, minimizing the inevitable fear of eventually letting go of one’s individual identity. As Jesus so gently comforts us, using the metaphor of dreams:

The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as means for waking. You would have used them to remain asleep. I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams. That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship. He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you. But He does use it differently, as a help to make His purpose real to you. The special relationship will remain, not as a source of pain and guilt, but as a source of joy and freedom …. In your relationship the Holy Spirit has gently laid the real world; the world of happy dreams, from which awaking is so easy and so natural (T-18.11.6:1-7; 9:4).

Thus students are not asked to progress directly from the illusory nightmares special relationships to the reality of the one relationship with God, but with Jesus as their guide, they first pass through the illusory dreams of forgiveness.  These happy dreams undo the ego interference, which then allows the Love of God to return to their awareness. Therefore, as students of A Course in Miracles, they first learn that God is a loving Father rather than a hateful one, and the Holy Spirit a comforting companion to them in the world rather than their enemy. Only then can they learn that there is in fact no world for Them to comfort us in. Metaphor has served its purpose, and now can give way to the simple truth of the Oneness in God that lies beyond all words, and which is the ultimate goal of A Course in Miracles.

guiltless mind

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

ACIM Text Reading for March 13

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love 

V. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit

C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom

We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.

The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He is judgemental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgement. This enables the mind to teach without judgement, and therefore to learn to be without judgement. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:

Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.

This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasises the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.

While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognising this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.

Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.

You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition ofthe Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.

The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the centre, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for beingwithout question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.

To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.

Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.

The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.


+**

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 13

Lesson 52

Today’s review covers these ideas:

(6) I am upset because I see what is not there.

Reality is never frightening. It is impossible that it could upset me. Reality brings only perfect peace. When I am upset, it is always because I have replaced reality with illusions I made up. The illusions are upsetting because I have given them reality, and thus regard reality as an illusion. Nothing in God’s creation is affected in any way by this confusion of mine. I am always upset by nothing.

(7) I see only the past.

As I look about, I condemn the world I look upon. I call this seeing. I hold the past against everyone and everything, making them my enemies. When I have forgiven myself and remembered Who I am, I will bless everyone and everything I see. There will be no past, and therefore no enemies. And I will look with love on all that I failed to see before.

(8) My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

I see only my own thoughts, and my mind is preoccupied with the past. What, then, can I see as it is? Let me remember that I look on the past to prevent the present from dawning on my mind. Let me understand that I am trying to use time against God. Let me learn to give the past away, realizing that in so doing I am giving up nothing.

(9) I see nothing as it is now.

If I see nothing as it is now, it can truly be said that I see nothing. I can see only what is now. The choice is not whether to see the past or the present; the choice is merely whether to see or not. What I have chosen to see has cost me vision. Now I would choose again, that I may see.

(10) My thoughts do not mean anything.

I have no private thoughts. Yet it is only private thoughts of which I am aware. What can these thoughts mean? They do not exist, and so they mean nothing. Yet my mind is part of creation and part of its Creator. Would I not rather join the thinking of the universe than to obscure all that is really mine with my pitiful and meaningless “private” thoughts?

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #102: I am really into self-help books. I have read that psychotherapy and counseling can be helpful for the student of A Course In Miracles because it can help reveal the ego’s blocks to the awareness of love’s presence. Is this the case for self-help as well? Or do self-help materials hold more potential than formalized counseling to enmesh readers in their own problems?

A: An advantage of psychotherapy and counseling over self-help books is that there is someone else to observe your ego, hopefully in a non-judgmental way, and point out its dynamics in areas you may be very effectively keeping hidden from yourself. It is usually easier to recognize someone else’s defenses rather than our own. But self-help books still can be of value in helping you identify your own maladaptive patterns of behavior and underlying thoughts, if you’re willing to be honest with yourself.

For any self-improvement tool that you’re considering, including therapy, you may want to ask yourself the following questions in evaluating its usefulness:

Is this helping me to take more responsibility for my thoughts and feelings and actions or is it reinforcing the ego dynamic of seeing and holding others responsible for my dysfunction and unhappiness (although uncovering a dynamic of blaming others can be an important first step in the healing process if we have not allowed ourselves to be in touch with that before)?

Is this likely to help me uncover my hidden motivations or is it more likely to help me keep them buried in an emphasis on changing form, such as behavior and appearance, rather than underlying content, such as thought and purpose (although sometimes an important early step that indicates a willingness to change at a deeper level is to modify maladaptive and destructive behavior, such as addictions)?

One of the limitations of nearly every therapeutic approach in the world, regardless of whether it involves a therapist or work on your own, is that its purpose is to make the dream better, rather than to lead you along the path of awakening, which is the Course’s goal. And self-help is really about helping make a better ego self. Not that there is anything bad about that, but it won’t take you where the Course is leading you and it could end up leading you in the opposite direction. The only truly healing practice is forgiveness, and we may find clever ways to avoid it for as long as we can stand the pain. But in the end, we will find that releasing our judgments to the Help of the only real Therapist is the only way to find the Self we are really looking for.


Q #103: What does Jesus mean when He refers to our “creations”?

A: Our creations exist only on the level of spirit. They are not things or beings, and are not part of the illusory world of form. The term is used in the Course to refer to the love that is present in the mind of the Sonship. Our creations are the loving thoughts in the Christ Mind. The term is used as a symbol to help us understand that in truth we are the Father’s creation, and like Him we “create” by the Thoughts of love that extend throughout the Sonship and return to the Father. They are “the extensions of our spirit…as extensions of Christ, our creations are part of the Second Person of the Trinity; creation is ongoing in Heaven, beyond time and space, and independent of the son’s lack of awareness of it in the world” (Glossary-Index for A Course in Miracles, Kenneth Wapnick). When we fully let go of our ego identity, and accept who we really are as God created us, we will know and accept our creations. This occurs outside of the dream, where we are at home in God. That is where we find our creations. The Course uses this beautiful image to encourage us to seek our truth; “Heaven waits silently, and your creations are holding out their hands to help you cross and welcome them. For it is they you seek. You seek but for your own completion, and it is they who render you complete…Acceptance of your creations is the acceptance of the Oneness of creation, without which you could never be complete” (T.16.IV.8:1,2,3,6).


you have no idea

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 23

ACIM Text Reading for February 23

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

IX. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom

We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.

The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He is judgmental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgment. This enables the mind to teach without judgment, and therefore to learn to be without judgment. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:

“Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.”

This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasizes the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.

While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognizing this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.

Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.

You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition of the Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.

The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the center, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.

To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.

Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.

The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 23

Lesson 53

Today we will review the following:

(11) My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

Since the thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything, the world that pictures them can have no meaning. What is producing this world is insane, and so is what it produces. Reality is not insane, and I have real thoughts as well as insane ones. I can therefore see a real world, if I look to my real thoughts as my guide for seeing.

(12) I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

Insane thoughts are upsetting. They produce a world in which there is no order anywhere. Only chaos rules a world that represents chaotic thinking, and chaos has no laws. I cannot live in peace in such a world. I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it. And I do not choose to value what is totally insane and has no meaning.

(13) A meaningless world engenders fear.

The totally insane engenders fear because it is completely undependable, and offers no grounds for trust. Nothing in madness is dependable. It holds out no safety and no hope. But such a world is not real. I have given it the illusion of reality, and have suffered from my belief in it. Now I choose to withdraw this belief, and place my trust in reality. In choosing this, I will escape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledging that it does not exist.

(14) God did not create a meaningless world.

How can a meaningless world exist if God did not create it? He is the Source of all meaning, and everything that is real is in His Mind. It is in my mind too, because He created it with me. Why should I continue to suffer from the effects of my own insane thoughts, when the perfection of creation is my home? Let me remember the power of my decision, and recognize where I really abide.

(15) My thoughts are images that I have made.

Whatever I see reflects my thoughts. It is my thoughts that tell me where I am and what I am. The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see. Yet God’s way is sure. The images I have made cannot prevail against Him because it is not my will that they do so. My will is His, and I will place no other gods before Him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #500: Am I in your dream or are you in mine?

A: Both and neither. I am in your dream if you react to me in any way, and you are in my dream if I react to you in any way. Strictly speaking — remembering we are talking about an illusory process — there is only one dreamer dreaming a dream of separation from God that involves denying responsibility for that choice to have a special, individual life of its own, which has become equated with sinfulness deserving of punishment. The means of carrying out this objective of keeping individuality while avoiding responsibility for it is to have a multitude of individuals in some form of victim-victimizer relationship. The internal sense of sinfulness can then be projected onto someone else who then is perceived as the guilty sinner. So if you and I are in a relationship, it is because a larger self has split off into this relationship between two people to conceal what is really going on in its mind.


Q #501: How can one perceive forgiveness correctly, in Jesus’ eyes, after suffering years of verbal and physical abuse?

A: First, true forgiveness never involves denying that something terrible happened. It focuses entirely on your thoughts and which teacher you choose to help you: the ego or Jesus. To the ego, your situation can be seen only through the eyes of separation: an innocent victim and a sinful victimizer. And the ego may support forgiveness, but it would still be in the context of an innocent victim forgiving a sinful victimizer. This is the common approach of the world and most religions of the world — that sin actually takes place but is forgiven. Jesus calls this false forgiveness or “forgiveness-to-destroy,” for despite the appearance of piety, it supports the thought system of separation, and therefore can never lead to lasting, true peace.

Forgiveness seen through Jesus’ eyes is marked by an absence of judgment or condemnation. Again, it does not deny attack or pain; and it does not mean that criminal prosecution cannot be pursued. The basis of this approach is our learning that the peace of God is in our minds because we are His Child. Because it is God’s peace, nothing whatsoever has power to take it away. We can choose to turn away from it, but we cannot destroy it. Nothing can. Therefore to blame someone or something else for our lack of peace is to engage in a form of self-deception. Casting blame denies the truth about the peace in our minds. The other dimension of this is that in our wrong minds we always carry the unbearable burden of guilt over our choice to separate ourselves from God. The pain of this guilt, as well as the expectation of extreme punishment for our sin, causes us to deny it in ourselves and project it onto someone outside us, who would then be seen as deserving of condemnation. Therefore, in our wrong minds we would use situations in the world for this purpose of getting rid of our guilt. Jesus teaches us that that strategy does not work, for the guilt just stays in our minds and is reinforced by the deception. (T.13.II.1:1,2; X.3:1,3,5,7)

Jesus would have us turn to him when we feel we have been victimized so that he could help us use the very same situation to unlearn what the ego taught us. Without denying the objective events that took place, Jesus would help us recognize our projection and then withdraw it, so that we can see the original mistake we made, which is judging ourselves guilty of having destroying love. He would help us realize the impossibility of that; and if we could accept it, we would be free of guilt and consequently be at peace, recognizing at the same time that that is the truth about everyone. In that state of mind, there is no way we could ever condemn ourselves or anyone else, regardless of what has been done behaviorally. The facts are still facts. But our reaction or interpretation would have changed completely. That is why Jesus explains that in true forgiveness we forgive what was not done to us.

From this place of love and peace in our minds, we would then do and say what is most loving for all concerned. What that would look like in any given situation cannot be determined ahead of time. It could mean having no further contact with the attacker, pursuing prosecution, talking with the person, going to therapy with the person, or any number of other things. But the perspective would no longer be that of victim and victimizer. Through the gentle eyes of Jesus, we would see that an attacker is a Son of God, too, and shares the same wrong and right mind and the ability to choose between them that we do. He would help us see that concealed beneath all viciousness is tremendous fear and a call for love. It cannot be stressed too much, though, that this does not involve the denial of the objective facts of the attack, or the pain one is feeling.

Finally, Jesus would help us learn that when we judge others as deserving of condemnation, we are doing the same thing to ourselves. He is always teaching us that we are all really one, and so because of this oneness, we cannot condemn another person without at the same time condemning ourselves. “Forgive and be forgiven. As you give you receive” (W.pI.122.6:3,4). This undoes the ego’s main principle that it is always one or the other: my innocence is bought at your expense. But Jesus does not underestimate the difficulty of our accepting this, or its importance in achieving our goal of inner peace. He states that this idea, “completely alien to the ego and the thinking of the world, is crucial to the thought reversal that this course will bring about. If you believed this statement, there would be no problem in complete forgiveness, certainty of goal, and sure direction. You would understand the means by which salvation comes to you, and would not hesitate to use it now” (W.pI.126.1).

Surely, comprehending A Course in Miracles metaphysics of non-dualism is necessary in order to relate to these ideas fully and avoid misinterpretations; so further study may be helpful. Also there are some other Questions on this Service that have addressed this area of the Course’s teachings: #174, #200, and #481.

this is practical course

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 21

ACIM Text Reading for February 21

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

5C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom

We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.

The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He is judgemental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgement. This enables the mind to teach without judgement, and therefore to learn to be without judgement. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:

Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.

This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasises the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.

While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognising this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.

Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.

You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition of the Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.

The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the centre, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.

To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.

Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.

The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 21

Lesson 51
Review I
Introduction

Beginning with today we will have a series of review periods. Each of them will cover five of the ideas already presented, starting with the first and ending with the fiftieth. There will be a few short comments after each of the ideas, which you should consider in your review. In the practice periods, the exercises should be done as follows:

Begin the day by reading the five ideas, with the comments included. Thereafter, it is not necessary to follow any particular order in considering them, though each one should be practiced at least once. Devote two minutes or more to each practice period, thinking about the idea and the related comments after reading them over. Do this as often as possible during the day. If any one of the five ideas appeals to you more than the others, concentrate on that one. At the end of the day, however, be sure to review all of them once more.

It is not necessary to cover the comments that follow each idea either literally or thoroughly in the practice periods. Try, rather, to emphasize the central point, and think about it as part of your review of the idea to which it relates. After you have read the idea and the related comments, the exercises should be done with your eyes closed and when you are alone in a quiet place, if possible.

This is emphasized for practice periods at your stage of learning. It will be necessary, however, that you learn to require no special settings in which to apply what you have learned. You will need your learning most in situations that appear to be upsetting, rather than in those that already seem to be calm and quiet. The purpose of your learning is to enable you to bring the quiet with you, and to heal distress and turmoil. This is not done by avoiding them and seeking a haven of isolation for yourself.

You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are. And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.

You will note that, for review purposes, some of the ideas are not given in quite their original form. Use them as they are given here. It is not necessary to return to the original statements, nor to apply the ideas as was suggested then. We are now emphasizing the relationships among the first fifty of the ideas we have covered, and the cohesiveness of the thought system to which they are leading you.

Lesson 51

The review for today covers the following ideas:

(1) Nothing I see means anything.

The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and nothing has no meaning. It is necessary that I recognize this, that I may learn to see. What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing it has no meaning, so that vision may take its place.

(2) I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me.

I have judged everything I look upon, and it is this and only this I see. This is not vision. It is merely an illusion of reality, because my judgments have been made quite apart from reality. I am willing to recognize the lack of validity in my judgments, because I want to see. My judgments have hurt me, and I do not want to see according to them.

(3) I do not understand anything I see.

How could I understand what I see when I have judged it amiss? What I see is the projection of my own errors of thought. I do not understand what I see because it is not understandable. There is no sense in trying to understand it. But there is every reason to let it go, and make room for what can be seen and understood and loved. I can exchange what I see now for this merely by being willing to do so. Is not this a better choice than the one I made before?

(4) These thoughts do not mean anything.

The thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything because I am trying to think without God. What I call “my” thoughts are not my real thoughts. My real thoughts are the thoughts I think with God. I am not aware of them because I have made my thoughts to take their place. I am willing to recognize that my thoughts do not mean anything, and to let them go. I choose to have them be replaced by what they were intended to replace. My thoughts are meaningless, but all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God.

(5) I am never upset for the reason I think.

I am never upset for the reason I think because I am constantly trying to justify my thoughts. I am constantly trying to make them true. I make all things my enemies, so that my anger is justified and my attacks are warranted. I have not realized how much I have misused everything I see by assigning this role to it. I have done this to defend a thought system that has hurt me, and that I no longer want. I am willing to let it go.

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***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #766: Lately I have been waking with thoughts, ideas or concepts from A Course in Miracles fresh in my awareness. For example: recently the thought has reoccurred that “He knows what you have made and can transform this from a dream of hate to one of peace.” It’s not so much that I “hear” any kind of a voice but more that I have these thoughts with me as I wake up in the morning or during the night. It is probably impossible for you to determine what is going on here, but how do I know that this is not a trick of the ego or the intercession of Course principles in my right mind? There must be some level of the mind that the Course reaches/works with us on that does not require our conscious awareness or involvement, no? Could this be the “little willingness” that Jesus speaks of?

A: Although we are unable to comment on your individual experiences, we can say in general that it would not be unusual for ideas or passages from the Course to stay with people and just be there when they awake in the morning or at night. Other students have spoken of this and have also said that ideas sometimes just pop into their minds — a kind of “hearing” — while they are going about their daily activities, not even thinking of the Course. The processing of our study and practice is carried on largely, as you suggest, beneath the level of our conscious awareness; the contents of both the wrong and right minds are for the most part unconscious. Therefore, it would not be surprising that thoughts or words could seem to appear out of nowhere. Our “little willingness” to have Jesus be our teacher has mighty effects in our minds, of which we are mostly unaware.

It may take many, many years of diligent practice before we are able to discern consistently what is coming from our ego and what is from the Holy Spirit or Jesus. If what you hear helps you become more kind, forgiving, and less guilty and judgmental, then just leave it at that. What is most important is not to make it into a big deal, which would happen if you felt a need to run to other people and tell them what happened. This need could well be manifesting the attraction to spiritual specialness. That, of course, is different from asking a question, such as you have done here. This Course is about your relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and bringing your ego to that light and love in your mind. That is where the focus of every student should be. Your trust in the process will develop gradually.

*

Q #767: I want my cake and eat it too! Can I live in this world and still have the peace of God? Can I keep this creation as a form of amusement?

A: Sorry, no. And the reason is simple: this is what got us into trouble in the first place. Having our cake and eating too is another way of saying separation can work, that we can have Heaven and hell, specialness and peace, individuality and God, wholeness and a split mind. What’s more, even a fleeting look at the world tells us that is it not very amusing. It was made as an attack on God (W.pII.3.2:1) , and it shows: “Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so . Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing. And through its perceived reality has entered all the world of sick illusions. (T.26.VI.1:1,2,3,4,5, italics ours). In a simple and clear statement in the text of A Course in Miracles , Jesus also tells us: “ It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain”(T.19.IV.B.12:1). However, in accord with the insanity of the ego’s thought system, we have taught ourselves that there are pleasurable things in the world that are preferable to Heaven. The universally acclaimed favorite is specialness, which, in spite of causing us great misery and tribulation, we find superior to the Identity God gave us as His One Son. We have taken great pains (literally) to contrive ingenious ways of convincing ourselves that there is happiness in the illusion. What we actually find in the “beauty” of some aspects of nature and some personal relationships is the satisfaction of having our needs and expectations met, and living “proof” that the world is real. However beautiful these things and relationships may seem to be, their purpose is a vicious attack on God’s Son, in that they have been chosen as a substitute for the Father’s Love. By choosing to identify with the ego, and therefore with the body, we have turned away from His Love. This can only lead to deep pain, which is covered over by the endless pursuit of comfort and joy on the world’s terms. It is endless because it does not satisfy the longing for our true Identity, which lies buried beneath the guilt for choosing the separation.

So it is a bitter cake we bake when we seek for meaning in the meaninglessness of the illusion. We do have it, we are eating it, and it has made us sick. We have done this, just as children who overdose on sugar, because we are confused about our identity, and therefore confused about pain and joy: “ What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain” (T.7.X.3:6). Our real “cake” is learning that we are minds, not bodies, that the world is not our home, and we will never be happy here. “Eating” it means accepting that we are God’s innocent Son at home with Him.

Since Jesus knows we are afraid of this truth, he offers us great comfort: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition” (T.16.VI.8:1,2). Nothing in the process of learning is forced upon us, for no one truly learns under duress. Our healing, therefore, keeps pace with our fear. As fear decreases healing increases to whatever extent we are willing and never without our consent. The things we seek in the world, fear of losing them, and fear of accepting our truth all serve the same purpose of keeping us grounded in the belief that the separation is real. It is not a sin to eat and enjoy the ego’s cake, but it will not bring us the happiness we seek. When tempted to indulge it may be helpful to remember that to turn to the Holy Spirit is an alternative that will not hurt: “The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. Surely no one would object to this goal if he recognized it” (T.7.X.3:1,2) . The peace Jesus promises is not found in the world. It is the true peace found in the forgiving mind, that is not contingent upon our cakes.

total commitment

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 21

ACIM Text Reading for February 21

Chapter 6

Section V. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit

C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom

We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.

The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He is judgemental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgement. This enables the mind to teach without judgement, and therefore to learn to be without judgement. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:

Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.

This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasises the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.

While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognising this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.

Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.

You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition of the Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.

The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the centre, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.

To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.

Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.

The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 21

Lesson 52

Today’s review covers these ideas:

(6) I am upset because I see what is not there.

Reality is never frightening. It is impossible that it could upset me. Reality brings only perfect peace. When I am upset, it is always because I have replaced reality with illusions I made up. The illusions are upsetting because I have given them reality, and thus regard reality as an illusion. Nothing in God’s creation is affected in any way by this confusion of mine. I am always upset by nothing.

(7) I see only the past.

As I look about, I condemn the world I look upon. I call this seeing. I hold the past against everyone and everything, making them my enemies. When I have forgiven myself and remembered Who I am, I will bless everyone and everything I see. There will be no past, and therefore no enemies. And I will look with love on all that I failed to see before.

(8) My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

I see only my own thoughts, and my mind is preoccupied with the past. What, then, can I see as it is? Let me remember that I look on the past to prevent the present from dawning on my mind. Let me understand that I am trying to use time against God. Let me learn to give the past away, realizing that in so doing I am giving up nothing.

(9) I see nothing as it is now.

If I see nothing as it is now, it can truly be said that I see nothing. I can see only what is now. The choice is not whether to see the past or the present; the choice is merely whether to see or not. What I have chosen to see has cost me vision. Now I would choose again, that I may see.

(10) My thoughts do not mean anything.

I have no private thoughts. Yet it is only private thoughts of which I am aware. What can these thoughts mean? They do not exist, and so they mean nothing. Yet my mind is part of creation and part of its Creator. Would I not rather join the thinking of the universe than to obscure all that is really mine with my pitiful and meaningless “private” thoughts?

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