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

ACIM Text Reading for January 8

A Course in Miracles

Text – Chapter 1

The Meaning of Miracles


VI. The Illusion of NeedsYou who want peace can find it only by complete forgiveness. No learning is acquired by anyone unless he wants to learn it and believes in some way that he needs it. While lack does not exist in the creation of God, it is very apparent in what you have made. It is, in fact, the essential difference between them. Lack implies that you would be better off in a state somehow different from the one you are in. Until the “separation,” which is the meaning of the “fall,” nothing was lacking. There were no needs at all. Needs arise only when you deprive yourself. You act according to the particular order of needs you establish. This, in turn, depends on your perception of what you are.

A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct. This sense of separation would never have arisen if you had not distorted your perception of truth, and had thus perceived yourself as lacking. The idea of order of needs arose because, having made this fundamental error, you had already fragmented yourself into levels with different needs. As you integrate you become one, and your needs become one accordingly. Unified needs lead to unified action, because this produces a lack of conflict.

The idea of orders of need, which follows from the original error that one can be separated from God, requires correction at its own level before the error of perceiving levels at all can be corrected. You cannot behave effectively while you function on different levels. However, while you do, correction must be introduced vertically from the bottom up. This is because you think you live in space, where concepts such as “up” and “down” are meaningful. Ultimately, space is as meaningless as time. Both are merely beliefs.

The real purpose of this world is to use it to correct your unbelief. You can never control the effects of fear yourself, because you made fear, and you believe in what you made. In attitude, then, though not in content, you resemble your Creator, Who has perfect faith in his creations because he created them. Belief produces the acceptance of existence. That is why you can believe what no one else thinks is true. It is true for you because it was made by you.

All aspects of fear are untrue because they do not exist at the creative level, and therefore do not exist at all. To whatever extent you are willing to submit your beliefs to this test, to that extent are your perceptions corrected. In sorting out the false from the true, the miracle proceeds along these lines:

Perfect love casts out fear.
If fear exists,
Then there is not perfect love.

But:

Only perfect love exists.
If there is fear,
It produces a state that does not exist.

Believe this and you will be free. Only God can establish this solution, and this faith is his gift.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 8

Lesson 8

My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

1. This idea is, of course, the reason why you see only the past. No one really sees anything. He sees only his thoughts projected outward. The mind’s preoccupation with the past is the cause of the misconception about time from which your seeing suffers. Your mind cannot grasp the present, which is the only time there is. It therefore cannot understand time, and cannot, in fact, understand anything.

2. The one wholly true thought one can hold about the past is that it is not here. To think about it at all is therefore to think about illusions. Very few have realized what is actually entailed in picturing the past or in anticipating the future. The mind is actually blank when it does this, because it is not really thinking about anything.

3. The purpose of the exercises for today is to begin to train your mind to recognize when it is not really thinking at all. While thoughtless ideas preoccupy your mind, the truth is blocked. Recognizing that your mind has been merely blank, rather than believing that it is filled with real ideas, is the first step to open­ing the way to vision.

4. The exercises for today should be done with eyes closed. This is because you actually cannot see anything, and it is easier to recognize that no matter how vividly you may picture a thought, you are not seeing anything. With as little investment as possible, search your mind for the usual minute or so, merely noting the thoughts you find there. Name each one by the central figure or theme it contains, and pass on to the next. Introduce the practice period by saying:

I seem to be thinking about _________.

5. Then name each of your thoughts specifically, for example:

I seem to be thinking about [name of a person], about [name of an object], about [name of an emotion],

and so on, concluding at the end of the mind-searching period with:

But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

6. This can be done four or five times during the day, unless you find it irritates you. If you find it trying, three or four times is sufficient. You might find it helpful, however, to include your irritation, or any emotion that the idea for today may induce, in the mind searching itself.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is A Course in Miracles best practiced in seclusion, without worldly
distractions?

A) Upon serious consideration of this question, one would recognize that it makes no sense. Within our individual dreams we are always alone, because there is no world outside our minds. To attempt to separate ourselves from the world, to move apart from it, is simply to fall into the ego’s trap of “making the error real” that we have already discussed. We would have again seen the problem as being outside the mind — in this case the busy and distracting world of separation and multiplicity — and would have therefore made it real, ensuring that it will never be undone. In truth, however, the problem is the busy and distracting thoughts of separation and multiplicity that are in our minds. Attempting to change the outer world to solve the problem of our inner world is a good working definition of what the Course means by magic. And so, by students believing that they can only study and learn A Course in Miracles by leaving the classroom of their lives, they are almost certainly following the guidance of their egos which would see to it that they would never learn their lessons of forgiveness; they had unknowingly separated themselves from them.

While there are always exceptions, we think it is a fair statement to make that almost all students of A Course in Miracles should practice its principles right where they are. That is why Jesus included the following question in the manual for teachers: “Are Changes Required in the Life Situation of God’s Teachers?” His answer explains that for the majority of students, “it is most unlikely that changes in attitudes would not be the first step in the newly made teacher of God’s training” (M-9.1:4). And those who are guided to change their situations “almost immediately,” are “generally special cases” (M-9.1:6).  Naturally, many students of A Course in Miracles think they fall into that special category. Most people’s lives are painful ones, filled with circumstances, relationships, and bodily conditions that are quite traumatic. It is difficult therefore for them to avoid the temptation to reinterpret the Course, or to “hear” the Holy Spirit “tell” them to leave their jobs and/or families, and simply be with Him to learn and teach the Course to others. It is always helpful to remember that there can be no “worldly distractions” unless you first wanted to be distracted, and therefore had a need that this be so. As Jesus states in the text in the context of evil:

Forget not that the witness to the world of evil cannot speak except for what has seen a need for evil in the world (T-27.VII.6:2).

The world, like the body, in and of itself is neutral. It simply does for us what we ask it to do for us.

We frequently like to remind students about the origins of A Course in Miracles. It did not begin in a desert, or a holy mountain top, nor was Helen a cloistered nun, “buried alive for God.” Jesus dictated his Course to Helen in the midst of a very stormy professional relationship with Bill, where both of them were quite busy in their hectic jobs at one of the world’s largest, most prestigious, and most ego-based medical centers, in the heart of what is among the world’s most important and busiest cities.  One’s “training is always highly individualized” (M-9.1:5), yet we believe that A Course in Miracles‘ very history provides a solid witness and example for how its students should apply their little willingness to learn it in the midst of their normal, everyday lives.

Advertisements

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 7, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 7

A Course in Miracles

Text – Chapter 1

The Meaning of Miracles


V. Wholeness and SpiritThe miracle is much like the body in that both are learning aids for facilitating a state in which they become unnecessary. When spirit’s original state of direct communication is reached, neither the body nor the miracle serves any purpose. While you believe you are in a body, however, you can choose between loveless and miraculous channels of expression. You can make an empty shell, but you cannot express nothing at all. You can wait, delay, paralyze yourself, or reduce your creativity almost to nothing. But you cannot abolish it. You can destroy your medium of communication, but not your potential. You did not create yourself.

The basic decision of the miracle-minded is not to wait on time any longer than is necessary. Time can waste as well as be wasted. The miracle worker, therefore, accepts the time-control factor gladly. He recognizes that every collapse of time brings everyone closer to the ultimate release from time, in which the Son and the Father are One. Equality does not imply equality now. When everyone recognizes that he has everything, individual contributions to the Sonship will no longer be necessary.

When the Atonement has been completed, all talents will be shared by all the Sons of God. God is not partial. All his children have his total love, and all his gifts are freely given to everyone alike. “Except ye become as little children” means that unless you fully recognize your complete dependence on God, you cannot know the real power of the Son in his true relationship with the Father. The specialness of God’s Sons does not stem from exclusion but from inclusion. All my brothers are special. If they believe they are deprived of anything, their perception becomes distorted. When this occurs the whole family of God, or the Sonship, is impaired in its relationships.

Ultimately, every member of the family of God must return. The miracle calls him to return because it blesses and honors him, even though he may be absent in spirit. “God is not mocked” is not a warning but a reassurance. God wouldbe mocked if any of his creations lacked holiness. The creation is whole, and the mark of wholeness is holiness. Miracles are affirmations of Sonship, which is a state of completion and abundance.

Whatever is true is eternal, and cannot change or be changed. Spirit is therefore unalterable because it is already perfect, but the mind can elect what it chooses to serve. The only limit put on its choice is that it cannot serve two masters. If it elects to do so, the mind can become the medium by which spirit creates along the line of its own creation. If it does not freely elect to do so, it retains its creative potential but places itself under tyrannous rather than Authoritative control. As a result it imprisons, because such are the dictates of tyrants. To change your mind means to place it at the disposal of true Authority.

The miracle is a sign that the mind has chosen to be led by me in Christ’s service. The abundance of Christ is the natural result of choosing to follow him. All shallow roots must be uprooted, because they are not deep enough to sustain you. The illusion that shallow roots can be deepened, and thus made to hold, is one of the distortions on which the reverse of the Golden Rule rests. As these false underpinnings are given up, the equilibrium is temporarily experienced as unstable. However, nothing is less stable than an upside-down orientation. Nor can anything that holds it upside down be conducive to increased stability.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 7

Lesson 7

I see only the past.

1. This idea is particularly difficult to believe at first. Yet it is the rationale for all of the preceding ones.

It is the reason why nothing that you see means anything.
It is the reason why you have given everything you see all the meaning that it has for you.
It is the reason why you do not understand anything you see.
It is the reason why your thoughts do not mean anything, and why they are like the things you see.
It is the reason why you are never upset for the reason you think.
It is the reason why you are upset because you see something that is not there.

2. Old ideas about time are very difficult to change, because everything you believe is rooted in time, and depends on your not learning these new ideas about it. Yet that is precisely why you need new ideas about time. This first time idea is not really so strange as it may sound at first.

3. Look at a cup, for example. Do you see a cup, or are you merely reviewing your past experiences of picking up a cup, be­ing thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling the rim of a cup against your lips, having breakfast and so on? Are not your aesthetic reactions to the cup, too, based on past experiences? How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it? What do you know about this cup except what you learned in the past? You would have no idea what this cup is, except for your past learning. Do you, then, really see it?

4. Look about you. This is equally true of whatever you look at. Acknowledge this by applying the idea for today indiscrimi­nately to whatever catches your eye. For example:

I see only the past in this pencil.
I see only the past in this shoe.
I see only the past in this hand.
I see only the past in that body.
I see only the past in that face.

5. Do not linger over any one thing in particular, but remember to omit nothing specifically. Glance briefly at each subject, and then move on to the next. Three or four practice periods, each to last a minute or so, will be enough.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Can A Course in Miracles be done by myself, or do I need to have a partner? 

A) As we have already mentioned, A Course in Miracles is inherently a self-study curriculum. One’s life — past, present, and anticipated future — is the classroom. All one’s relationships — whether falling into any of the three categories given in the manual ranging from superficial through a circumscribed intense relationship, to a lifetime one (M-3) — provide the “partners” needed for the practice of forgiveness. One does not need a partner “designated” for such practice, nor does the partner have to be a student of the Course, as we discussed briefly in question 31. Anyone and everyone will do. To insist that one’s partner be spiritually like-minded, and even more specifically, a student of A Course in Miracles, is to confuse form with content, and to fall into the trap of specialness that is the very thing the Course aims at undoing. As we discussed previously, the Course’s definition of joining has nothing to do with bodies or externals of any kind — “Minds are joined; bodies are not” (T-18.VI.3:1). Joining, rather, has to do with joining with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, in Whom are all members of the Sonship found as one, regardless of their spiritual path, or absence of it. 

Therefore, it does not really matter with whom one practices the lessons of forgiveness. Projection of guilt remains what it is, regardless of the form of the relationship or the nature of the person or situation on whom it is projected. Everyone and everything in the dream we call our lives offers the opportunities for recognizing that what we have perceived and made real outside our minds, has existence only within our minds. Therefore, nothing else is required for one’s work with A Course in Miracles except one’s life as the classroom, and the willingness to have Jesus teach us how to perceive it differently.

tiny mad idea


 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 6, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 6

A Course in Miracles

Text – Chapter 1

The Meaning of Miracles


IV. The Escape from Darkness

The escape from darkness involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness cannot hide. This step usually entails fear. Second, the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide even if you could. This step brings escape from fear. When you have become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter into communion but will also understand peace and joy.

Holiness can never be really hidden in darkness, but you can deceive yourself about it. This deception makes you fearful because you realize in your heart it is a deception, and you exert enormous efforts to establish its reality. The miracle sets reality where it belongs. Reality belongs only to spirit, and the miracle acknowledges only truth. It thus dispels illusions about yourself, and puts you in communion with yourself and God. The miracle joins in the Atonement by placing the mind in the service of the Holy Spirit. This establishes the proper function of the mind and corrects its errors, which are merely lacks of love. Your mind can be possessed by illusions, but spirit is eternally free. If a mind perceives without love, it perceives an empty shell and is unaware of the spirit within. But the Atonement restores spirit to its proper place. The mind that serves spirit is invulnerable.

Darkness is lack of light as sin is lack of love. It has no unique properties of its own. It is an example of the “scarcity” belief, from which only error can proceed. Truth is always abundant. Those who perceive and acknowledge that they have everything have no needs of any kind. The purpose of the Atonement is to restore everything to you; or rather, to restore it to your awareness. You were given everything when you were created, just as everyone was.

The emptiness engendered by fear must be replaced by forgiveness. That is what the Bible means by “There is no death,” and why I could demonstrate that death does not exist. I came to fulfill the law by reinterpreting it. The law itself, if properly understood, offers only protection. It is those who have not yet changed their minds who brought the “hell-fire” concept into it. I assure you that I will witness for anyone who lets me, and to whatever extent he permits it. Your witnessing demonstrates your belief, and thus strengthens it. Those who witness for me are expressing, through their miracles, that they have abandoned the belief in deprivation in favor of the abundance they have learned belongs to them.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 6

Lesson 6

I am upset because I see something that is not there.

1. The exercises with this idea are very similar to the preceding ones. Again, it is necessary to name both the form of upset (anger, fear, worry, depression and so on) and the perceived source very specifically for any application of the idea. For example:

I am angry at _________ because I see something that is not there.
I am worried about _________ because I see something that is not there.

2. Today’s idea is useful for application to anything that seems to upset you, and can profitably be used throughout the day for that purpose. However, the three or four practice periods which are required should be preceded by a minute or so of mind search­ing, as before, and the application of the idea to each upsetting thought uncovered in the search.

3. Again, if you resist applying the idea to some upsetting thoughts more than to others, remind yourself of the two cautions stated in the previous lesson:

There are no small upsets. They are all equally dis­turbing to my peace of mind.

And:

I cannot keep this form of upset and let the others go. For the purposes of these exercises, then, I will regard them all as the same.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Does A Course in Miracles have to be studied, or is it enough just to do the workbook and read the text randomly, in whatever way I feel guided to do?

A) Again, there is no right or wrong in pursuing A Course in Miracles as a spiritual path. However, there are certain guidelines we can present that can help ensure that one’s work with the Course is not being guided by the ego. One such guideline is always to return to Jesus’ own instructions for his curriculum. The three books are set up as a college course, in which, to summarize this again, there is the basic textbook, which contains the theoretical material that the instructor (here of course it is Jesus) wishes the class to study, learn, and understand; the workbook, which as in a laboratory course for example, is the practical application of what is learned in the text; and the manual, which offers guidelines for all pupils, who in this curriculum are also teachers.

What does this mean for Course students? Simply, that they are asked by Jesus to study, learn, and understand his teaching material, as well as to practice the Course’s principles of forgiveness. That is why, for example, he does not require that students understand what is said in the workbook, as we have already seen in the quotation cited above (W-in.8-9). But he does not let his students off that hook when it comes to the text. Near the end of Chapter 1, he states very clearly:

This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it. However, as you study these earlier sections, you will begin to see some of the implications that will be amplified later on (T-1.VII.4; italics ours).

In fact, during the Course’s dictation, Jesus was quite insistent to Helen and Bill that they study these notes, as he referred to the material. He was speaking in the manner of a college professor insisting that his students pay careful attention to what was being taught, and to study the lecture notes he was giving. It would be in direct contradiction to the wishes of Jesus not to study the text, as he specifically asks. To ignore these very specific instructions at the end of Chapter I provides still another example of students’ authority problems, wherein they believe that they know better than Jesus what is in their own best interests, not to mention how they should proceed with his Course.

Regarding the workbook, since it is not meant to be the teaching aspect of the curriculum, it need not be read nor studied in the manner that the text should be. Certainly, however, it needs to be practiced as the instructions indicate.  This being said, we nonetheless believe that students would do well in their work with A Course in Miracles — to enhance their understanding of it — to read carefully through the workbook itself at some point after they have gone through the lessons, as they would do with the text. Many would be astounded at what they would find there: a depth of teaching that can easily be overlooked as one does the lessons in the one-year training program.

 

present love

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 5, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 5

A Course in Miracles

Text – Chapter 1

The Meaning of Miracles


III. Atonement and MiraclesI am in charge of the process of Atonement, which I undertook to begin. When you offer a miracle to any of my brothers, you do it to yourself and me. The reason you come before me is that I do not need miracles for my own Atonement, but I stand at the end in case you fail temporarily. My part in the Atonement is the canceling out of all errors that you could not otherwise correct. When you have been restored to the recognition of your original state, you naturally become part of the Atonement yourself. As you share my unwillingness to accept error in yourself and others, you must join the great crusade to correct it; listen to my voice, learn to undo error and act to correct it. The power to work miracles belongs to you. I will provide the opportunities to do them, but you must be ready and willing. Doing them will bring conviction in the ability, because conviction comes through accomplishment. The ability is the potential, the achievement is its expression, and the Atonement, which is the natural profession of the children of God, is the purpose.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away” means that they will not continue to exist as separate states. My word, which is the resurrection and the life, shall not pass away because life is eternal. You are the work of God, and his work is wholly lovable and wholly loving. This is how a man must think of himself in his heart, because this is what he is.

The forgiven are the means of the Atonement. Being filled with spirit, they forgive in return. Those who are released must join in releasing their brothers, for this is the plan of the Atonement. Miracles are the way in which minds that serve the Holy Spirit unite with me for the salvation or release of all of God’s creations.

I am the only one who can perform miracles indiscriminately, because I am the Atonement. You have a role in the Atonement which I will dictate to you. Ask me which miracles you should perform. This spares you needless effort, because you will be acting under direct communication. The impersonal nature of the miracle is an essential ingredient, because it enables me to direct its application, and under my guidance miracles lead to the highly personal experience of revelation. A guide does not control but he does direct, leaving it up to you to follow. “Lead us not into temptation” means “Recognize your errors and choose to abandon them by following my guidance. ”

Error cannot really threaten truth, which can always withstand it. Only the error is actually vulnerable. You are free to establish your kingdom where you see fit, but the right choice is inevitable if you remember this:

Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever.

Atonement undoes all errors in this respect, and thus uproots the source of fear. Whenever you experience God’s reassurances as threat, it is always because you are defending misplaced or misdirected loyalty. When you project this to others you imprison them, but only to the extent to which you reinforce errors they have already made. This makes them vulnerable to the distortions of others, since their own perception of themselves is distorted. The miracle worker can only bless them, and this undoes their distortions and frees them from prison.

You respond to what you perceive, and as you perceive so shall you behave. The Golden Rule asks you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This means that the perception of both must be accurate. The Golden Rule is the rule for appropriate behavior. You cannot behave appropriately unless you perceive correctly. Since you and your neighbor are equal members of one family, as you perceive both so you will do to both. You should look out from the perception of your own holiness to the holiness of others.

Miracles arise from a mind that is ready for them. By being united this mind goes out to everyone, even without the awareness of the miracle worker himself. The impersonal nature of miracles is because the Atonement itself is one, uniting all creations with their Creator. As an expression of what you truly are, the miracle places the mind in a state of grace. The mind then naturally welcomes the host within and the stranger without. When you bring in the stranger, he becomes your brother.

That the miracle may have effects on your brothers that you may not recognize is not your concern. The miracle will always bless you. Miracles you are not asked to perform have not lost their value. They are still expressions of your own state of grace, but the action aspect of the miracle should be controlled by me because of my complete awareness of the whole plan. The impersonal nature of miracle-mindedness ensures your grace, but only I am in a position to know where they can be bestowed.

Miracles are selective only in the sense that they are directed towards those who can use them for themselves. Since this makes it inevitable that they will extend them to others, a strong chain of Atonement is welded. However, this selectivity takes no account of the magnitude of the miracle itself, because the concept of size exists on a plane that is itself unreal. Since the miracle aims at restoring the awareness of reality, it would not be useful if it were bound by laws that govern the error it aims to correct.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 5

Lesson 5

I am never upset for the reason I think.

1. This idea, like the preceding one, can be used with any person, situation or event you think is causing you pain. Apply it specifi­cally to whatever you believe is the cause of your upset, using the description of the feeling in whatever term seems accurate to you. The upset may seem to be fear, worry, depression, anxiety, anger, hatred, jealousy or any number of forms, all of which will be perceived as different. This is not true. However, until you learn that form does not matter, each form becomes a proper subject for the exercises for the day. Applying the same idea to each of them separately is the first step in ultimately recognizing they are all the same.

2. When using the idea for today for a specific perceived cause of an upset in any form, use both the name of the form in which you see the upset, and the cause which you ascribe to it. For example:

I am not angry at _________ for the reason I think.
I am not afraid of _________ for the reason I think.

3. But again, this should not be substituted for practice periods in which you first search your mind for “sources” of upset in which you believe, and forms of upset which you think result.

4. In these exercises, more than in the preceding ones, you may find it hard to be indiscriminate, and to avoid giving greater weight to some subjects than to others. It might help to precede the exercises with the statement:

There are no small upsets. They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.

5. Then examine your mind for whatever is distressing you, regardless of how much or how little you think it is doing so.

6. You may also find yourself less willing to apply today’s idea to some perceived sources of upset than to others. If this occurs, think first of this:

I cannot keep this form of upset and let the others go. For the purposes of these exercises, then, I will regard them all as the same.

7. Then search your mind for no more than a minute or so, and try to identify a number of different forms of upset that are disturbing you, regardless of the relative importance you may give them. Apply the idea for today to each of them, using the name of both the source of the upset as you perceive it, and of the feeling as you experience it. Further examples are:

I am not worried about _________ for the reason I think.
I am not depressed about _________ for the reason I think.

Three or four times during the day is enough.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Why do the text and workbook have different focuses, and at times seem to be saying different things?

A) Jesus refers to A Course in Miracles as a “multi-faceted curriculum,” and so it requires that his teaching be presented in different forms. The text, which was dictated to Helen first, contains the theology, metaphysical foundation, and teachings on accepting forgiveness for our special relationships, on which the curriculum rests. For example, only in the text — highlighted for the most part from Chapter 15 through Chapter 24 — does one find the exposition of the teaching on special and holy relationships. Nowhere in the workbook or manual is this very important subject specifically discussed. In the workbook, as Jesus explains in the introduction, the first part (Lessons 1-220) deals “with the undoing of the way you see now,” while the second part (Lessons 221-365) deals ” with the acquisition of true perception” (workbook, p.1; W-in.3:1). Nothing is mentioned about the theory of A Course in Miracles. Indeed, the specific relationship between the text and the workbook is clearly set forth in the Introduction:

A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in this 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 this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth (W-in.1).

It is because of these different purposes and focuses that at times the two books seem to be saying different things, and even at times seeming to contradict each other. Perhaps the best example of this interesting phenomenon relates to the role of the Holy Spirit. Many passages in the workbook urge students to ask Him for very specific help, as we can see in this example from the final lessons (361-365):

This holy instant would I give to You [the Holy Spirit].
Be You in charge. For I would follow You,
Certain that Your direction gives me peace. And if I need a word to help me, He will give it to me. If I need a thought, that will He also give. And if I need but stillness and a tranquil, open mind, these are the gifts I will receive of Him. He is in charge by my request. And He will bear and answer me, because He speaks for God my Father and His holy Son (W-p.II.361-365).

And yet we are taught in the text that it is not the role of the Holy Spirit to guide us in the world of effects — the material world of specifics — but rather to help us change our minds about the cause of our problems: our belief in the reality of sin and guilt. For example:

In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause [the mind’s belief in sin], and looks not to effects [the problems experienced in the physical world].  How else could He correct your error, who have overlooked the cause entirely?  He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while.  You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed (T-27.VIII.9:1-5).

Nevertheless, if students do not understand the afore-mentioned two levels that A Course in Miracles is written on, and which, by the way, it never specifically identifies as such, then one is apt to conclude that these statements are contradictory. To restate these levels briefly:

Level One: the Course’s metaphysical foundation, which emphasizes the difference between God and Heaven, the only reality, and the collective illusory world of the ego.Level Two: the Course’s practical level, which deals only with the illusory dream. Here, the contrast is between the wrong mind which is the ego’s thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, and the Holy Spirit’s correction of forgiveness within the right mind.

Regarding the subject of God, we find the same apparent contradiction. In workbook Lesson 71 we are told to ask God Himself for specific help:

What would You have me do?
Where would You have me go?
What would You have me say, and to whom?
                    (W-pI.71.9:3-5)

Moreover, all of Part If of the workbook consists of prayers from the student to God the Father. This is so, despite the following very clear statement — interestingly enough, also from the workbook — that God does not hear our prayers:

Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus (W-pI.183.7:3-4).

And in the manual for teachers we read these lines about the true nature of our words:

God does not understand words, for they were made by separated minds to keep them in the illusion of separation. Words can be helpful, particularly for the beginner, in helping concentration and facilitating the exclusion, or at least the control, of extraneous thoughts. Let us not forget, however, that words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality (M-21.1:7-10).

Clearly, the first passage has us asking God the Father a series of specific questions to which we would fully expect to receive answers. Part of the reason it is framed this way is that inherent within the separation thought is the statement that I am self-created, and therefore am my own source. So by asking God for help at what we have referred to as Level Two, the level of the illusory dream, I am acknowledging that I am not an autonomous self-created being, but rather someone who needs help in undoing this false self that I made up. It is in this way that the thought that I am on my own has been undone, and I realize that the answers to all my questions have already been given, and that they are one.  As A Course in Miracles emphasizes, the Holy Spirit’s correction to my ego’s dream of separation has already occurred, because time is already over, as we have noted in a previous chapter (question 16 ).  But since I walk around believing and experiencing otherwise, the correction will reach me in a form to which I can relate.

In conclusion, from these two examples alone it should be clear that Jesus indeed knew what he was doing when he dictated these three books of A Course in Miracles, and it is we who lack the understanding of how he integrates his curriculum and accomplishes the goal of changing our thought system.

all fear is past

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 4, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 4

A Course in MiraclesText – Chapter 1The Meaning of Miracles


II. Revelation, Time and MiraclesRevelation induces complete but temporary suspension of doubt and fear. It reflects the original form of communication between God and his creations, involving the extremely personal sense of creation sometimes sought in physical relationships. Physical closeness cannot achieve it. Miracles, however, are genuinely interpersonal, and result in true closeness to others. Revelation unites you directly with God. Miracles unite you directly with your brother. Neither emanates from consciousness, but both are experienced there. Consciousness is the state that induces action, though it does not inspire it. You are free to believe what you choose, and what you do attests to what you believe.

 

Revelation is intensely personal and cannot be meaningfully translated. That is why any attempt to describe it in words is impossible. Revelation induces only experience. Miracles, on the other hand, induce action. They are more useful now because of their interpersonal nature. In this phase of learning, working miracles is important because freedom from fear cannot be thrust upon you. Revelation is literally unspeakable because it is an experience of unspeakable love.

 

Awe should be reserved for revelation, to which it is perfectly and correctly applicable. It is not appropriate for miracles because a state of awe is worshipful, implying that one of a lesser order stands before his Creator. You are a perfect creation, and should experience awe only in the Presence of the Creator of perfection. The miracle is therefore a sign of love among equals. Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality. It is therefore an inappropriate reaction to me. An elder brother is entitled to respect for his greater experience, and obedience for his greater wisdom. He is also entitled to love because he is a brother, and to devotion if he is devoted. It is only my devotion that entitles me to yours. There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you.

 

“No man cometh unto the Father but by me” does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist. The statement is more meaningful in terms of a vertical rather than a horizontal axis. You stand below me and I stand below God. In the process of “rising up,” I am higher because without me the distance between God and man would be too great for you to encompass. I bridge the distance as an elder brother to you on the one hand, and as a Son of God on the other. My devotion to my brothers has placed me in charge of the Sonship, which I render complete because I share it. This may appear to contradict the statement “I and my Father are one,” but there are two parts to the statement in recognition that the Father is greater.

 

Revelations are indirectly inspired by me because I am close to the Holy Spirit, and alert to the revelation-readiness of my brothers. I can thus bring down to them more than they can draw down to themselves. The Holy Spirit mediates higher to lower communication, keeping the direct channel from God to you open for revelation. Revelation is not reciprocal. It proceeds from God to you, but not from you to God.

 

The miracle minimizes the need for time. In the longitudinal or horizontal plane the recognition of the equality of the members of the Sonship appears to involve almost endless time. However, the miracle entails a sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception. This introduces an interval from which the giver and receiver both emerge farther along in time than they would otherwise have been. The miracle thus has the unique property of abolishing time to the extent that it renders the interval of time it spans unnecessary. There is no relationship between the time a miracle takes and the time it covers. The miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years. It does so by the underlying recognition of perfect equality of giver and receiver on which the miracle rests. The miracle shortens time by collapsing it, thus eliminating certain intervals within it. It does this, however, within the larger temporal sequence.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 4

LESSON 4

These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place].

1. Unlike the preceding ones, these exercises do not begin with the idea for the day. In these practice periods, begin with noting the thoughts that are crossing your mind for about a minute. Then apply the idea to them. If you are already aware of un­happy thoughts, use them as subjects for the idea. Do not, how­ever, select only the thoughts you think are “bad.” You will find, if you train yourself to look at your thoughts, that they represent such a mixture that, in a sense, none of them can be called “good” or “bad.” This is why they do not mean anything.

2. In selecting the subjects for the application of today’s idea, the usual specificity is required. Do not be afraid to use “good” thoughts as well as “bad.” None of them represents your real thoughts, which are being covered up by them. The “good” ones are but shadows of what lies beyond, and shadows make sight difficult. The “bad” ones are blocks to sight, and make seeing impossible. You do not want either.

3. This is a major exercise, and will be repeated from time to time in somewhat different form. The aim here is to train you in the first steps toward the goal of separating the meaningless from the meaningful. It is a first attempt in the long-range purpose of learning to see the meaningless as outside you, and the meaning­ful within. It is also the beginning of training your mind to rec­ognize what is the same and what is different.

4. In using your thoughts for application of the idea for today, identify each thought by the central figure or event it contains; for example:

This thought about _________ does not mean anything.
It is like the things I see in this room [on this street, and so on].

5. You can also use the idea for a particular thought that you recognize as harmful. This practice is useful, but is not a substi­tute for the more random procedures to be followed for the exercises. Do not, however, examine your mind for more than a minute or so. You are too inexperienced as yet to avoid a tendency to become pointlessly preoccupied.

6. Further, since these exercises are the first of their kind, you may find the suspension of judgment in connection with thoughts particularly difficult. Do not repeat these exercises more than three or four times during the day. We will return to them later.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is there a wrong or right way to practice the workbook?

A) There is only one rule that Jesus offers us about doing the workbook: “Do not undertake to do more than one set of exercises a day” (W-in.2:6). Furthermore, we are urged by him to continue with our practice even if we have trouble understanding a lesson, or experience difficulty in carrying out the specific exercise because we do not believe what it says. As he comfortingly says to his students:

Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. This does not matter. You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true.Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required (W-in.8-9).

Clearly, students are encouraged in the above passage to do the workbook as Jesus gave it, one lesson at a time, in the sequence in which the lessons come. However, there is no rule against spending more than one day on a workbook lesson. Many times lessons bring up a host of related perspectives and problems in one’s life, and therefore students find themselves ruminating and pondering over the personal implications of these lessons. Since the workbook is a highly personal experience for students, there cannot truly be a “right” or “wrong” way of practicing it. The correct answer, as always, is that the “right” way is practicing the workbook with the Holy Spirit; the “wrong” way is practicing with the ego. This puts the burden on the student to continue the journey with A Course in Miracles in as ego-free manner as possible, always maintaining a vigilance against the ego’s subtle intrusions of specialness.

The Journey to God

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 27

ACIM Text Reading for January 27

A Course in MiraclesText – Chapter 1The Meaning of Miracles


VII. Distortions of Miracle ImpulsesYour distorted perceptions produce a dense cover over miracle impulses, making it hard for them to reach your own awareness. The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses is a major perceptual distortion. Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. All real pleasure comes from doing God’s will. This is because not doing it is a denial of self. Denial of self results in illusions, while correction of the error brings release from it. Do not deceive yourself into believing that you can relate in peace to God or to your brothers with anything external.

Child of God, you were created to create the good, the beautiful and the holy. Do not forget this. The love of God, for a little while, must still be expressed through one body to another, because vision is still so dim. You can use your body best to help you enlarge your perception so you can achieve real vision, of which the physical eye is incapable. Learning to do this is the body’s only true usefulness.

Fantasy is a distorted form of vision. Fantasies of any kind are distortions, because they always involve twisting perception into unreality. Actions that stem from distortions are literally the reactions of those who know not what they do. Fantasy is an attempt to control reality according to false needs. Twist reality in any way and you are perceiving destructively. Fantasies are a means of making false associations and attempting to obtain pleasure from them. But although you can perceive false associations, you can never make them real except to yourself. You believe in what you make. If you offer miracles, you will be equally strong in your belief in them. The strength of your conviction will then sustain the belief of the miracle receiver. Reality is “lost” through usurpation, which produces tyranny. As long as a single “slave” remains to walk the earth, your release is not complete. Complete restoration of the Sonship is the only goal of the miracle-minded.

This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it. However, as you study these earlier sections, you will begin to see some of the implications that will be amplified later on.

A solid foundation is necessary because of the confusion between fear and awe to which I have already referred, and which is often made. I have said that awe is inappropriate in connection with the Sons of God, because you should not experience awe in the presence of your equals. However, it was also emphasized that awe is proper in the Presence of your Creator. I have been careful to clarify my role in the Atonement without either over- or understating it. I am also trying to do the same with yours. I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific. Healing is of God in the end. The means are being carefully explained to you. Revelation may occasionally reveal the end to you, but to reach it the means are needed.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 27

Lesson 11

My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

This is the first idea we have had that is related to a major phase of the correction process; the reversal of the thinking of the world. It seems as if the world determines what you perceive. Today’s idea introduces the concept that your thoughts determine the world you see. Be glad indeed to practice the idea in its initial form, for in this idea is your release made sure. The key to forgiveness lies in it.

The practice periods for today’s idea are to be undertaken somewhat differently from the previous ones. Begin with your eyes closed, and repeat the idea slowly to yourself. Then open your eyes and look about, near and far, up and down, —anywhere. During the minute or so to be spent in using the idea merely repeat it to yourself, being sure to do so without haste, and with no sense of urgency or effort.

To do these exercises for maximum benefit, the eyes should move from one thing to another fairly rapidly, since they should not linger on anything in particular. The words, however, should be used in an unhurried, even leisurely fashion. The introduction to this idea, in particular, should be practiced as casually as possible. It contains the foundation for the peace, relaxation and freedom from worry that we are trying to achieve. On concluding the exercises, close your eyes and repeat the idea once more slowly to yourself.

Three practice periods today will probably be sufficient. However, if there is little or no uneasiness and an inclination to do more, as many as five may be undertaken. More than this is not recommended.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #344: In A Course in Miracles T.1.VII.1 it reads…” Your distorted perceptions produce a dense cover over miracle impulses, making it hard for them to reach your own awareness. The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses is a major perceptual distortion. Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. All real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will. This is because not doing it is a denial of Self.” I read a similar question/answer already posted around sexual impulses…but my questions are slightly different and I need some help understanding these series of phrases referenced above: Is this a different way of saying that the decision-maker constantly is choosing between the right-mind and the wrong-mind, the Holy Spirit and the ego? If a miracle is forgiveness, or a reminder that what the body’s eyes see/perceive is false, then is a miracle impulse part of a corrective thought process from the Jesus/Holy Spirit in our mind?

A: Yes, your explanation is a good one. It may still be helpful to clarify why Jesus refers to “physical impulses” as “misdirected miracle impulses” and how our “distorted perceptions… cover over miracle impulses.” We were created to be in perfect joy without ceasing, and the split mind, despite its mistaken beliefs about who it is, still remembers that state of happiness indirectly, primarily through its acute awareness that it is desperately unhappy. And so it is impelled to seek to return to a state of peace and joy, our natural state.

The miracle impulse, or the tendency to choose a miracle, is motivated by the recognition that we are unhappy in our current state of apparent separation and deserve more than what we are presently experiencing. But more than that, the miracle leads to a recognition that the deprivation that we feel is self-imposed, that is, it reflects a choice we have made. The miracle is a natural tendency of the mind, for it is a step in returning the mind to its original state of wholeness and peace, with all conflict left behind. The miracle reminds the mind that it ismind, or cause, and not a body, or effect (T.28.II.9:3). So miracle impulses are thoughts of the Correction, which the Holy Spirit represents to us in our right mind, that remind us that what we think has happened — the separation from love and all the accompanying pain and guilt — has not really happened at all. And that recognition, when fully embraced, must spell the end for the ego and its symbolic expression, our individual self.

So the ego, unable to remove what motivates the miracle impulse — our desire to return to our natural state of peace and joy — must distort and disguise the impulse so that we fail to remember our role in what we are experiencing. For if we truly remembered, we would not remain identified with the ego and separation for long. And so, to prevent our changing our mind, the ego does not ask us to deny our state of unhappiness, but through its distorted perceptual lens, convinces us that our unhappiness has nothing to do with any choice we have made but rather is the result of being born a helpless body into a world over which we have no control. And so the ego acknowledges our unhappiness and the conflict we feel, but guides us to look outside ourselves — to others, to the world — rather than within to find the joy and the peace and the love. And the search is destined to fail because it denies Who we really are and what our real Source of happiness is. Nevertheless, when we seek for pleasure in any form for the body, which we mistakenly identify as ourselves, the seeking is still motivated by a recognition — albeit unconscious — that happiness is our natural state. This is the same recognition from which the miracle impulse arises, but the seeking is misdirected. And all seeking in the world, because it reinforces our belief in separation, denying the only Identity in which real joy can be found, must in the end result in pain. Thus, Jesus concludes that “all real pleasure comes [only] from doing God’s Will.”

*

Q #1211Could you please explain the following passage: “A solid foundation is necessary because of the confusion between fear and awe to which I have already referred, and which is often made. I have said that awe is inappropriate in connection with the Sons of God, because you should not experience awe in the presence of your equals. However, it was also emphasized that awe is proper in the Presence of your Creator. I have been careful to clarify my role in the Atonement without either over- or understating it. I am also trying to do the same with yours. I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific” (T.1.VII.5:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8).

A: Jesus first spoke of awe in the second section of Chapter 1, where he emphasized that it is not an appropriate reaction to him or to miracles: “You are a perfect creation, and should experience awe only in the Presence of the Creator of perfection. . . . Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality” (T.1.II.3:3,5). Jesus is thus setting the stage for developing a relationship with him, and correcting the traditional biblical view that he is God’s only beloved Son, and we are inferior to him. If we listen carefully to what he is saying and do what he says, we will learn to trust him as our loving brother, knowing that he is always there as a source of comfort and guidance in all things. We will be less and less afraid of him and his message as we learn he is simply reflecting back to us what we have denied about ourselves.

As we settle more into this relationship and become more comfortable with his message, we will be prepared for the steps he will ask us to take later. We just need to be humble and patient, and not try to jump quickly to the top of the spiritual ladder before we are really ready for that level. We will then be able to allow the memory of God into our awareness with a minimum amount of fear. It will feel more natural, and not something imposed on us. We will accept our love for Him as our Source and Creator, and His love for us as the extension of His Love. This awareness now inspires awe in us, as it should; but awe does not entail fear unless we still believe we are somehow separate from God.

Thus, at the very beginning of the text, Jesus is cautioning us not to rush our study and practice, and not try to make ourselves spiritual on our own. We must first learn how to deal with our egos and all the barriers we have erected between ourselves and God’s Presence. If we were ready to leap right back into Heaven, we would not be here thinking we are bodies in a real physical world. Patience, gentleness, humility, and trust are essential in these early stages of our work with A Course in Miracles .

*

Q #1348Chapter 1 of A Course in Miracles says: “This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it…. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God Himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific” (T.1.VII.4:1,2,3; 5:7,6,7,8).

The above quote implies that doing the Course could in certain ways turn out to be more traumatic than helpful. How seriously should we take the above “warning” from the Course’s author to properly prepare before we start the later parts of the Course, and how would we know that we are indeed “properly prepared” in order not to fall into the trap of confusing “fear with awe”? For instance, if we study the first few chapters of the Course, when would we know that we should move on in the text and/or move perhaps on to the workbook? Aren’t the first few chapters so abstract that it is indeed difficult to understand them before the rest of the Course? What am I missing here?

A: The two paragraphs you are referring to did not originally come at the end of Chapter 1. They were part of a longer message to Helen and Bill in which Jesus stressed the importance of studying the material he was giving them (see Absence from Felicity , pp. 251,52). In one sense, this would be true of any teacher-student relationship — the teacher would urge the students to study what is being taught. Since the curriculum of A Course in Miracles involves mind training, it would be important to apply oneself diligently to the study of the material in order to be prepared for later stages in the mind training that build on the earlier ones.

Jesus essentially is talking about approaching God and experiencing His Love. We have many layers of defenses “protecting” us from the experience of God, lest we lose our cherished sense of independent existence. Therefore, the early phases of study and training establish a foundation for this process, and begin it in ways that we can tolerate without falling into a disabling panic. This prepares us for subsequent phases that bring us closer to the experience that we originally rejected and still reject in our choice to be separate and autonomous individuals. We need to become acquainted with the thought system we will be undoing and have some idea of the obstacles we have placed in our way, otherwise we will not be able to properly process what happens after the phase of undoing. That is why Jesus wants us to study the material carefully. By “carefully” he would mean that we realize that he is speaking directly to us as we experience ourselves now. He is not simply presenting a series ideas and concepts that we can approach in an impersonal way. He wants us to get used to thinking about ourselves as he describes us in his course.

Thus, it is more of an attitude toward your study, not so much comprehension of everything he is saying in these first few chapters. As you have observed, there are parts of these chapters (and all of the remaining chapters for that matter) that are difficult to understand, but he does not expect us to grasp every word and all of the implications of the ideas. That is why he comes back to the basic principles over and over and restates them in different ways throughout the three books. Thus, the aim is not intellectual mastery of the text, but rather, combined with a serious attempt to understand the thought system he is unfolding, that we recognize that we are embarking on a journey with him that will eventually penetrate deeply into areas of our lives and minds that we have sought to keep concealed. This is best done slowly and with a growing awareness that there is a loving, comforting presence within us inviting us to hold his hand every step of the way so that the journey will lead to a beatific experience.

Finally, it is helpful to remember that “the curriculum is highly individualized” (M.29.2:6). Therefore, with regard to when to begin the workbook lessons, trust what you feel and don’t force anything. There is no right or wrong in such matters.

tiny mad idea

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 25

ACIM Text Reading for January 25

A Course in MiraclesText – Chapter 1The Meaning of Miracles


V. Wholeness and SpiritThe miracle is much like the body in that both are learning aids for facilitating a state in which they become unnecessary. When spirit’s original state of direct communication is reached, neither the body nor the miracle serves any purpose. While you believe you are in a body, however, you can choose between loveless and miraculous channels of expression. You can make an empty shell, but you cannot express nothing at all. You can wait, delay, paralyze yourself, or reduce your creativity almost to nothing. But you cannot abolish it. You can destroy your medium of communication, but not your potential. You did not create yourself.

The basic decision of the miracle-minded is not to wait on time any longer than is necessary. Time can waste as well as be wasted. The miracle worker, therefore, accepts the time-control factor gladly. He recognizes that every collapse of time brings everyone closer to the ultimate release from time, in which the Son and the Father are One. Equality does not imply equality now. When everyone recognizes that he has everything, individual contributions to the Sonship will no longer be necessary.

When the Atonement has been completed, all talents will be shared by all the Sons of God. God is not partial. All his children have his total love, and all his gifts are freely given to everyone alike. “Except ye become as little children” means that unless you fully recognize your complete dependence on God, you cannot know the real power of the Son in his true relationship with the Father. The specialness of God’s Sons does not stem from exclusion but from inclusion. All my brothers are special. If they believe they are deprived of anything, their perception becomes distorted. When this occurs the whole family of God, or the Sonship, is impaired in its relationships.

Ultimately, every member of the family of God must return. The miracle calls him to return because it blesses and honors him, even though he may be absent in spirit. “God is not mocked” is not a warning but a reassurance. God would be mocked if any of his creations lacked holiness. The creation is whole, and the mark of wholeness is holiness. Miracles are affirmations of Sonship, which is a state of completion and abundance.

Whatever is true is eternal, and cannot change or be changed. Spirit is therefore unalterable because it is already perfect, but the mind can elect what it chooses to serve. The only limit put on its choice is that it cannot serve two masters. If it elects to do so, the mind can become the medium by which spirit creates along the line of its own creation. If it does not freely elect to do so, it retains its creative potential but places itself under tyrannous rather than Authoritative control. As a result it imprisons, because such are the dictates of tyrants. To change your mind means to place it at the disposal of true Authority.

The miracle is a sign that the mind has chosen to be led by me in Christ’s service. The abundance of Christ is the natural result of choosing to follow him. All shallow roots must be uprooted, because they are not deep enough to sustain you. The illusion that shallow roots can be deepened, and thus made to hold, is one of the distortions on which the reverse of the Golden Rule rests. As these false underpinnings are given up, the equilibrium is temporarily experienced as unstable. However, nothing is less stable than an upside-down orientation. Nor can anything that holds it upside down be conducive to increased stability.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 25

Lesson 9

I see nothing as it is now.

This idea obviously follows from the two preceding ones. But while you may be able to accept it intellectually, it is unlikely that it will mean anything to you as yet. However, understanding is not necessary at this point. In fact, the recognition that you do not understand is a prerequisite for undoing your false ideas. These exercises are concerned with practice, not with understanding. You do not need to practice what you already understand. It would indeed be circular to aim at understanding, and assume that you have it already.

It is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what it seems to picture is not there. This idea can be quite disturbing, and may meet with active resistance in any number of forms. Yet that does not preclude applying it. No more than that is required for these or any other exercises. Each small step will clear a little of the darkness away, and understanding will finally come to lighten every corner of the mind that has been cleared of the debris that darkens it.

These exercises, for which three or four practice periods are sufficient, involve looking about you and applying the idea for the day to whatever you see, remembering the need for its indiscriminate application, and the essential rule of excluding nothing. For example:

I do not see this typewriter as it is now.
I do not see this telephone as it is now.
I do not see this arm as it is now.

Begin with things that are nearest you, and then extend the range outward:

I do not see that coat rack as it is now.
I do not see that door as it is now.
I do not see that face as it is now.

It is emphasized again that while complete inclusion should not be attempted, specific exclusion must be avoided. Be sure you are honest with yourself in making this distinction. You may be tempted to obscure it.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #342: Lately, I have noticed that I experience a lot of rejection in life. I have difficulty belonging and increasingly cannot see how to navigate a world which seems so shallow. Everything seems, especially now, to be reliant on privilege, money, looks, age, class, race, influence, brains or ability. I feel a lot of love, but feel no incentive to get nearer to people’s egos. I feel safe this way. Nothing to date can really convince me to be otherwise. Nevertheless this has become painful. I have a few friends yet it is lonely. I must be misinterpreting A Course in Miracles. Also, I thought it was good to have boundaries (walls). Any ideas?

A: You’re recognizing how painful, empty and meaningless the world of our egos is, and this can be a helpful but nevertheless very disconcerting realization. But you don’t want to stop with this insight without taking the next step, for you have not yet completely switched teachers. For it is only the ego that judges and fears other egos. While you remain where you currently find yourself, differences still seem very real and rejection based on those differences almost unavoidable. And so it seems safety can be found only in withdrawal from the world. Yet isolating yourself only reinforces the belief in differences and separation in your mind, which must be experienced as very painful. It makes the error real — very serious and threatening — which is the ego’s only goal.

And so you want help in seeing the world of differences differently, and above all, in coming to recognize the real source of the meaning your own mind is giving to those differences, so that you can be open to a different, more gentle way of looking at the world and yourself. As contrary to our conscious beliefs about ourselves as it may seem, the truth is that we all unconsciously want to be rejected, so that the responsibility for rejection rests outside of ourselves (T.7.VII.8) and we don’t have to look at the choice for rejection that we have first made and then buried in our own minds.

The initial rejection was our rejection of God through our desire to be separate and apart from Him and His All-Encompassing Love. As a result of that choice, we seem to have deprived ourselves of love, a very painful state. We have rejected not only God, but our true Self, the Christ, Who is forever one with the Father. Without separation, rejection would be impossible, for there would be nothing outside to reject. In fact. “the separation is the notion of rejection…. Any split in mind must involve a rejection of part of it, and this is the belief in separation” (T.6.I.18:4; T.6.II.1:1).

Now, in reality, we can neither reject God nor ourselves, but we can believe that we have and convince ourselves that we are very sinful and guilty for that choice — and vulnerable to counterattack as punishment for our choice. And so we made up a world onto which we project the attack and guilt, as well as a self that can be rejected by that world, never remembering where the thought of rejection originated. And now we can protest our innocence, for clearly it is others who are doing the rejecting (T.7.VII.9). The Course’s purpose is to get us in touch with this self- deceiving dynamic, where we project responsibility for rejection on to others.

And so it is not with our external relationships that we want to seek changes, but rather with our internal relationships. We want to learn to reject the ego and its erroneous interpretations of what seems to be happening to us and turn instead to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, Who will help us understand what our ego has been up to. Those external relationships that seem to be the cause of feelings of rejection are nothing more than the effects of an inner decision to continue to hold on to the belief in separation and rejection. And so they are helpful triggers for directing us inward to where the real healing work needs to happen. So to avoid relationships in the world would be to avoid the opportunities to uncover and heal the guilt within — exactly what the ego wants!

Now this does not mean you should force yourself to be in situations that you find uncomfortable or painful, where rejection by others is certain. Before we remember that we are really a part of the boundless Love that created us as Christ, boundaries in our external relationships can be very helpful as we learn to trust our inner Teacher and become more comfortable at looking at our judgments of ourselves and others. But as the willingness to look within and heal the darkness there increases, the fear of rejection from outside must diminish, as will the need for boundaries. For “only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible” (T.3.VI.9:1).

*

Q #820The first miracle principle in A Course in Miracles is that “there is no order of difficulty in Miracles.” Does that not mean, if I did the workbook “properly”, I would be able to be “enlightened” with each and every exercise I am doing in the Course (so 365 chances to reach God)? Do they not mean all the same (i.e. point at the same unspeakable “thing” that the Course can but lead us to but never explicitly say)? The lessons 70-75 seem quite crucial to me, what else is there to learn after “the light has come” and I can “celebrate the ending of the long dream of disaster”? Once I have forgiven the world completely (albeit theoretically), does it not disappear and with God’s vision in me…why is this passage not at the end of the workbook?

A: If you did just one lesson perfectly, you would have completed the goal of the Course.

However, the reason there are 31 chapters and 365 lessons is summed up simply in one of the les­sons: “To say these words [of any lesson] is nothing. But to mean these words is everything. If you could but mean them for just an instant, there would be no further sorrow possible for you in any form; in any place or time. Heaven would be completely given back to full aware­ness, memory of God entirely restored, the resurrection of all creation fully recognized” (W.pI.185.1:1,2,3,4). If we have not had the experienced described in this passage, we may con­clude that we have not meant these words completely , not even for an instant. Commitment is still weak, resistance is strong, and willingness wavers. In other words, we are afraid of awakening to the truth. And so we have at least 365 thousand opportunities to learn to accept that we are home in God. On the journey, there are glimpses of the light that has come, and if the light were the only thing we wanted, yes, it would be enough. However, attraction to guilt and attachment to special­ness drop a veil to obscure the light, lest it remain to replace the individual autonomy that is still cherished. That is why there are lessons after 70-75, and why the workbook ends by telling us we’ve only just begun: “This course is a beginning, not an end” (W.ep.I:1). 

Forgiving the world theoretically does not accomplish the Course’s goal of removing the blocks to love’s awareness (T.in.1:7) . The world must actually be forgiven, which means not seeing in it the cause of anything that is experienced in the dream of separation. And you are correct; in this there is no hierarchy. Thus, we are taught in the Course to “question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning.” (T.24.in.2:1,2; italics added ). The values and beliefs that sustain the ego thought system are, for the most part, hidden under layers of denial. It therefore takes time, lessons, starts and stops, to bring them to the light. The process is gradual and gentle because fear and resistance are great: “It is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what it seems to picture is not there. This idea can be quite disturbing, and may meet with active resistance in any number of forms” (W.pI.9.2:1,2). A brief review of how real the world, the body, and the drama of life seem to be reveals the intensity of this resistance. That is why there is still work to be done, forgiveness les­sons to be learned. The workbook is done “properly” by following the instructions, which simply tell us to just do the lessons (W.in.9) . We are told only willingness is necessary. Most likely that is because Jesus knows we will do them “badly,” and he assures us that our imperfection is not a problem: “It is [the Holy Spirit’s] task to atone for your unwillingness by His perfect faith, and it is His faith you share with Him there. Out of your recognition of your unwillingness for your release, His perfect willingness is given you (T.16.VI.12:4,5). Thus, each sincere application of the principles of forgiveness in our relationships, however imperfect it may be, brings us closer to the ending of the dream. Our concern in practicing the Course, therefore, is to be vigilant for every spot of darkness (judgments) and every illusion we choose to make real, that they may be questioned and found wanting. Until we are convinced none of them will meet our real need to accept the truth about ourselves instead of the ego’s lies, we need the lessons of the workbook and the many pages of the text to turn to for guidance, instruction, and comfort.

hostage or host

 

 

 

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 24

ACIM Text Reading for January 24

A Course in MiraclesText – Chapter 1The Meaning of Miracles


IV. The Escape from DarknessThe escape from darkness involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness cannot hide. This step usually entails fear. Second, the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide even if you could. This step brings escape from fear. When you have become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter into communion but will also understand peace and joy.

Holiness can never be really hidden in darkness, but you can deceive yourself about it. This deception makes you fearful because you realize in your heart it is a deception, and you exert enormous efforts to establish its reality. The miracle sets reality where it belongs. Reality belongs only to spirit, and the miracle acknowledges only truth. It thus dispels illusions about yourself, and puts you in communion with yourself and God. The miracle joins in the Atonement by placing the mind in the service of the Holy Spirit. This establishes the proper function of the mind and corrects its errors, which are merely lacks of love. Your mind can be possessed by illusions, but spirit is eternally free. If a mind perceives without love, it perceives an empty shell and is unaware of the spirit within. But the Atonement restores spirit to its proper place. The mind that serves spirit is invulnerable.

Darkness is lack of light as sin is lack of love. It has no unique properties of its own. It is an example of the “scarcity” belief, from which only error can proceed. Truth is always abundant. Those who perceive and acknowledge that they have everything have no needs of any kind. The purpose of the Atonement is to restore everything to you; or rather, to restore it to your awareness. You were given everything when you were created, just as everyone was.

The emptiness engendered by fear must be replaced by forgiveness. That is what the Bible means by “There is no death,” and why I could demonstrate that death does not exist. I came to fulfill the law by reinterpreting it. The law itself, if properly understood, offers only protection. It is those who have not yet changed their minds who brought the “hell-fire” concept into it. I assure you that I will witness for anyone who lets me, and to whatever extent he permits it. Your witnessing demonstrates your belief, and thus strengthens it. Those who witness for me are expressing, through their miracles, that they have abandoned the belief in deprivation in favor of the abundance they have learned belongs to them.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 24

Lesson 8

My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

This idea is, of course, the reason why you see only the past. No one really sees anything. He sees only his thoughts projected outward. The mind’s preoccupation with the past is the cause of the misconception about time from which your seeing suffers. Your mind cannot grasp the present, which is the only time there is. It therefore cannot understand time, and cannot, in fact, understand anything.

The one wholly true thought one can hold about the past is that it is not here. To think about it at all is therefore to think about illusions. Very few have realized what is actually entailed in picturing the past or in anticipating the future. The mind is actually blank when it does this, because it is not really thinking about anything.

The purpose of the exercises for today is to begin to train your mind to recognize when it is not really thinking at all. While thoughtless ideas preoccupy your mind, the truth is blocked. Recognizing that your mind has been merely blank, rather than believing that it is filled with real ideas, is the first step to opening the way to vision.

The exercises for today should be done with eyes closed. This is because you actually cannot see anything, and it is easier to recognize that no matter how vividly you may picture a thought, you are not seeing anything. With as little investment as possible, search your mind for the usual minute or so, merely noting the thoughts you find there. Name each one by the central figure or theme it contains, and pass on to the next. Introduce the practice period by saying:

I seem to be thinking about ___.

Then name each of your thoughts specifically, for example:

I seem to be thinking about [name of a person], about [name of an object], about [name of an emotion],

and so on, concluding at the end of the mind-searching period with:

But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

This can be done four or five times during the day, unless you find it irritates you. If you find it trying, three or four times is sufficient. You might find it helpful, however, to include your irritation, or any emotion that the idea for today may induce, in the mind searching itself.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #966: “Miracles you are not asked to perform have not lost their value” (T.1.III.8:3). I cannot seem to grasp the meaning of this sentence, although I feel the meaning of the rest of the text in 8 and 9.

A: The basic idea is that the content is always there in our minds; it may not find expression right now, but it is never lost. There is a beautiful song-like rendering of this idea later in Chapter 5 — the first one of its kind in A Course in Miracles “I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. They are beyond destruction and beyond guilt. They came from the Holy Spirit within you, and we know what God creates is eternal” (T.5.IV.8:3,4,5,6).

*

Q #1357: In the text of A Course in Miracles Jesus tells us to ask him before we perform a miracle (T.1.III.4:3). I don’t understand what I would do that would require me to ask Jesus if I should do it. Is there another process that I will be doing in the future that I don’t understand yet?

A: The central theme of the early principles and the first chapter in the text that you refer to is that miracles shift our perception, and that is why they heal. The focus of our attention, however, is almost always on our bodies — our planning and activities almost always center on what is good or not good for bodies. Therefore, right at the beginning of the text Jesus begins to train us to focus differently — not on our bodies, but on the choices we are making in our minds, because those choices are the root of both our problems and their solution. Later he thus urges us, “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7) .

The primary means of changing our focus from the external to the internal in the early stages of our work with the Course is to learn to ask Jesus’ help before we act. This gradually gets us out of the habit of assuming we know what is best for ourselves and others — that we know which miracles to perform, in other words. Thus, it not so much about doing something, but about gradually learning to focus on the purpose we have chosen in our minds for what we are doing. Jesus is teaching us that what we do is not important in terms of our spiritual journey; it is the choice of teacher we have made in our minds to guide us in what we do that is important. That choice, and that choice alone, is what will keep us asleep in the dream of separation from God or help us realize that we are the dreamers of that dream, which will eventually lead us to awaken from it entirely.

*

Q #997Toward the beginning of the text, Jesus says that miracles are directed toward those who can “use them for themselves” and he also comments that only he is in a position to know “where they can be bestowed.” What I don’t get is: Aren’t they needed everywhere? Couldn’t everyone walking this earth in pain use miracles for themselves? Jesus seems to hint that only some people need miracles. Can you explain?

A: When reading A Course in Miracles , it is very helpful to remember that Jesus frequently speaks to us in a poetic, symbolic way. Taken out of context, his words can, at times, seem to contradict the overall message of the Course. However, the more we study the Course, the clearer it becomes that he is not contradicting himself but rather restating the same themes over and over again with slight variations, hoping that, at some point, what he is trying to tell us will sink in. With that in mind, let us take a look at the two statements you asked about.

Both of these statements come in Chapter 1 when Jesus is explaining what he means by the term miracle . Most of us have always thought of miracles as an extraordinary event in the external, physical world. Jesus lets us know that in the context of the Course, a miracle is solely a shift in perception from the ego’s thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, to the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness. In other words, a miracle is an entirely internal event happening only in the mind and having nothing to do with the world. Miracles may seem to have results in this world, but this is a reflection of the miracle, or changed thinking, not the miracle itself.

You are right that anyone who believes that he or she is here could use a miracle. That, in fact, is exactly what Jesus is trying to tell us. When he says, “Miracles are selective only in the sense that they are directed towards those who can use them for themselves” (T.1.III.9:1), he is not implying that miracles are available only to some people. Indeed, he implies exactly the opposite by beginning the sentence with “miracles are selective only in the sense…” He is letting us know that there is just one sense in which miracles are not universal, and that is in the form the miracle or correction takes within our thinking.

While the content of a miracle is always a shift from thoughts that project guilt to thoughts that extend love, the specific correction thought will always show up in our mind in a way ideally suited to remedy the specific thought that made correction necessary. For example, I may need to forgive an abusive parent while you may need to forgive a partner by whom you felt betrayed. Both of us, in the midst of our pain, could turn to Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our mind and ask to see things differently. Both of us would then find ourselves accessing forgiveness thoughts that applied to our specific struggle. If we wanted to get technical, we could say that even within our own thinking, the form the correction seems to take is really the reflection of the miracle or shift, not the miracle itself. But this is more technically precise than Jesus needed to be at this point in the text.

Jesus also states, “That the miracle may have effects on your brothers that you may not recognize is not your concern. … the action aspect of the miracle should be controlled by me because of my complete awareness of the whole plan. The impersonal nature of miracle- mindedness ensures your grace, but only I am in a position to know where they can be bestowed.” (T.1.III.8:1, 4, 5). He is not implying that there are people who do not need miracles. He is simply telling us that although the miracle is a shift in our mind, we should not try to control miracles, decide when they are needed, or determine how they will express themselves. We should ask him, as our wiser internal teacher, to make such decisions.

Again, A Course in Miracles becomes much easier to understand if we approach it like poetry or a symphony rather than a precise, scientific report. When we focus too heavily on the words, the Course can seem (to borrow Jesus’ imagery) like nothing more than scattered threads of melody. But when we join with him — moving beyond its words to connect with the love that inspired them — we will see how those scattered threads of melody form one inclusive chorus (T.31.VIII.11:5) .

kingdom of god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 21

ACIM Text Reading for January 21

Chapter 1 ~ The Meaning of Miracles

Principles of Miracles (Cont’d)

26. Miracles represent freedom from fear. “Atoning” means “undoing.” The undoing of fear is an essential part of the Atonement value of miracles.

 

27. A miracle is a universal blessing from God through me to all my brothers. It is the privilege of the forgiven to forgive.

 

28. Miracles are a way of earning release from fear. Revelation induces a state in which fear has already been abolished. Miracles are thus a means and revelation is an end.

 

29. Miracles praise God through you. They praise him by honoring his creations, affirming their perfection. They heal because they deny body-identification and affirm spirit-identification.

 

30. By recognizing spirit, miracles adjust the levels of perception and show them in proper alignment. This places spirit at the center, where it can communicate directly.

 

31. Miracles should inspire gratitude, not awe. You should thank God for what you really are. The children of God are holy and the miracle honors their holiness, which can be hidden but never lost.

 

32. I inspire all miracles, which are really intercessions. They intercede for your holiness and make your perceptions holy. By placing you beyond the physical laws they raise you into the sphere of celestial order. In this order you are perfect.

 

33. Miracles honor you because you are lovable. They dispel illusions about yourself and perceive the light in you. They thus atone for your errors by freeing you from your nightmares. By releasing your mind from the imprisonment of your illusions, they restore your sanity.

 

34. Miracles restore the mind to its fullness. By atoning for lack they establish perfect protection. The spirit’s strength leaves no room for intrusions.

 

35. Miracles are expressions of love, but they may not always have observable effects.

 

36. Miracles are examples of right thinking, aligning your perceptions with truth as God created it.

 

37. A miracle is a correction introduced into false thinking by me. It acts as a catalyst, breaking up erroneous perception and reorganizing it properly. This places you under the Atonement principle, where perception is healed. Until this has occurred, knowledge of the Divine Order is impossible.

 

38. The Holy Spirit is the mechanism of miracles. He recognizes both God’s creations and your illusions. He separates the true from the false by his ability to perceive totally rather than selectively.

 

39. The miracle dissolves error because the Holy Spirit identifies error as false or unreal. This is the same as saying that by perceiving light, darkness automatically disappears.

 

40. The miracle acknowledges everyone as your brother and mine. It is a way of perceiving the universal mark of God.

 

41. Wholeness is the perceptual content of miracles. They thus correct, or atone for, the faulty perception of lack.

 

42. A major contribution of miracles is their strength in releasing you from your false sense of isolation, deprivation and lack.

 

43. Miracles arise from a miraculous state of mind, or a state of miracle-readiness.

 

44. The miracle is an expression of an inner awareness of Christ and the acceptance of his Atonement.

 

45. A miracle is never lost. It may touch many people you have not even met, and produce undreamed of changes in situations of which you are not even aware.

 

46. The Holy Spirit is the highest communication medium. Miracles do not involve this type of communication, because they are temporary communication devices. When you return to your original form of communication with God by direct revelation, the need for miracles is over.

 

47. The miracle is a learning device that lessens the need for time. It establishes an out-of-pattern time interval not under the usual laws of time. In this sense it is timeless.

 

48. The miracle is the only device at your immediate disposal for controlling time. Only revelation transcends it, having nothing to do with time at all.

 

49. The miracle makes no distinction among degrees of misperception. It is a device for perception correction, effective quite apart from either the degree or the direction of the error. This is its true indiscriminateness.

 

50. The miracle compares what you have made with creation, accepting what is in accord with it as true, and rejecting what is out of accord as false.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 21

Lesson 5

I am never upset for the reason I think.

This idea, like the preceding one, can be used with any person, situation or event you think is causing you pain. Apply it specifically to whatever you believe is the cause of your upset, using the description of the feeling in whatever term seems accurate to you. The upset may seem to be fear, worry, depression, anxiety, anger, hatred, jealousy or any number of forms, all of which will be perceived as different. This is not true. However, until you learn that form does not matter, each form becomes a proper subject for the exercises for the day. Applying the same idea to each of them separately is the first step in ultimately recognizing they are all the same.

When using the idea for today for a specific perceived cause of an upset in any form, use both the name of the form in which you see the upset, and the cause which you ascribe to it. For example:

I am not angry at ___ for the reason I think.
I am not afraid of ___ for the reason I think.

But again, this should not be substituted for practice periods in which you first search your mind for “sources” of upset in which you believe, and forms of upset which you think result.

In these exercises, more than in the preceding ones, you may find it hard to be indiscriminate, and to avoid giving greater weight to some subjects than to others. It might help to precede the exercises with the statement:

There are no small upsets.
They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.

Then examine your mind for whatever is distressing you, regardless of how much or how little you think it is doing so.

You may also find yourself less willing to apply today’s idea to some perceived sources of upset than to others. If this occurs, think first of this:

I cannot keep this form of upset and let the others go.
For the purposes of these exercises, then, I will regard them all as the same.

Then search your mind for no more than a minute or so, and try to identify a number of different forms of upset that are disturbing you, regardless of the relative importance you may give them. Apply the idea for today to each of them, using the name of both the source of the upset as you perceive it, and of the feeling as you experience it. Further examples are:

I am not worried about ___ for the reason I think.
I am not depressed about ___ for the reason I think.

Three or four times during the day is enough.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1110 Is it possible to for you to expand on the meanings of “sphere of celestial order” and “Divine Order” mentioned in the “Principles of Miracles” (T.1.I.32:3; 37:4).

A: The term order is another word for “dimension” or “realm,” more specifically, the system of laws governing that realm. Thus, the “sphere of celestial order” refers to the realm beyond the physical realm, where the laws of spirit have nothing in common with the laws of the ego world. The same would be true of the “Divine Order.” While we still adhere to the ego thought system, the realm of God and Heaven is completely unknowable by us. The law of love’s eternal, non- quantitative extension is meaningless to us while we are enmeshed in the specialness of individual existence.

*


Q #753This is more of a “grammatical” question, I first read this passage in the German translation of A Course in Miracles and thought perhaps it is a translation mistake, but I checked with the original English version and the passage is equally confusing. Lesson 1 of the workbook says: “That is the purpose of the exercise. The statement should merely be applied to anything you see. As you practice the idea for the day, use it totally indiscriminately. Do not attempt to apply it to everything you see, for these exercises should not become ritualistic” (W.pI.3:2,3,4,5). Can you explain the difference between applying things to anything you see but not to everything? In German it is clearly the same…what do I “have” to do, I look at things and say they are nothing but should not look at everything I see and say the same? Is this some kind of “loose” viewpoint, nothing matters anything but please do not apply this idea as a doctrine (because then it would matter)?

A: Sentence 6 holds the key to what Jesus is getting at: “Only be sure that nothing you see is specifically excluded.” He is very much aware of the cleverness of our egos — how we all would attempt to compromise and make bargains with him so that we don’t have to change too much — how we try to get him to accept our terms and conditions for our relationship with him as our teacher. Thus, in the context of this lesson, he is alerting us to this tendency to put ourselves in control of our work with his course. He knows that we would attempt to exclude certain parts of our experience from the application, and so he is saying, “Don’t do this. It will not help you to achieve the goals of this course if you make exceptions to my instructions.” This is what he means in the statements he makes about achieving the holy instant: “The necessary condition for the holy instant does not require that you have no thoughts that are not pure. But it does require that you have none that you would keep…. In your practice, then, try only to be vigilant against deception, and seek not to protect the thoughts you would keep to yourself” (T.15.IV.9:1,2,8).

While Jesus wants us to be disciplined in our practice — because our minds are typically so un disciplined — he wants us to stop short of ritual, only because turning a practice into a ritual usually means we no longer do it in a meaningful way that would produce the desired effects. He tells us in the manual for teachers: “Routines as such are dangerous, because they easily become gods in their own right, threatening the very goals for which they were set up” (M.16.2:5) . Our willingness to do what he advises, even if we forget to do it, is what affects our spiritual process, as opposed to the mere repetition of what he tells us to say at exactly the times he tells us to say it.

*

Q #617: Three different questions from the same questioner:

i. Can you explain the following sentence (W.pI.13.1:4) “However, it does not follow that you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning.” There are 3 negatives in this sentence which I do not understand.

A: The sentence means: you do perceive things that have no meaning. In the early lessons of the workbook Jesus is teaching us to distinguish between what has meaning (what exists) and what is meaningless (what does not exist). By choosing to believe the separation is real, we dream a dream in which we perceive the world and the body as real, and give them all the meaning that they have for us (W.pI.2). Nothing outside of Heaven has meaning because it does not truly exist. Since we cannot obliterate the part of the mind that remembers this, the choice against this memory causes intense conflict in the mind, which is experienced as fear and anxiety, as this lesson explains. The choice to give meaning to the meaningless puts us in competition with God as paragraph three describes. Fear that the meaning we ascribe to all things, including (and especially) ourselves, will be challenged, causes us to expend tremendous energy defending ourselves and our beliefs. This is the effect of our choosing to believe the world is real, thus perceiving things that have no meaning/existence.

ii. Regarding Question #377 concerning special relationships, what does it mean when you say “the relationship will fall away?”

A: In any relationship with people, objects, or events, healing occurs when the mind chooses to identify with the Holy Spirit’s Love instead of the ego’s thought of separation. Guilt and its projection are thus diminished, thereby transforming the relationship from serving the ego’s purpose of separation to the Holy Spirit’s purpose of healing. What then “will fall away” is the specialness. The relationship is initially marked by specialness needs due to the sense of lack that accompanies the choice to deny our true Identity by listening to the ego. This is true for all relationships. Through the healing process of forgiveness, relationships with persons become a classroom for learning that we have no separate interests. Relationships with other things “fall away” in the sense that they cease to be important. They are no longer sought after to fill the void left by the separation; having or experiencing them has neither a positive nor negative effect.

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

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

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

Peace of God

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 20

ACIM Text Reading for January 20

A Course in Miracles

Text – Chapter 1

The Meaning of Miracles


I. Principles of Miracles 

1. There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.

 

2. Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that matters is their source, which is far beyond evaluation.

 

3. Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.

 

4. All miracles mean life, and God is the giver of life. His voice will direct you very specifically. You will be told all you need to know.

 

5. Miracles are habits, and should be involuntary. They should not be under conscious control. Consciously selected miracles can be misguided.

 

6. Miracles are natural. When they do not occur something has gone wrong.

 

7. Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first.

 

8. Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less.

 

9. Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love both to the giver and the receiver.

 

10. The use of miracles as spectacles to induce belief is a misunderstanding of their purpose.

 

11. Prayer is the medium of miracles. It is a means of communication of the created with the Creator. Through prayer love is received, and through miracles love is expressed.

 

12. Miracles are thoughts. Thoughts can represent the lower or bodily level of experience, or the higher or spiritual level of experience. One makes the physical, and the other creates the spiritual.

 

13. Miracles are both beginnings and endings, and so they alter the temporal order. They are always affirmations of rebirth, which seem to go back but really go forward. They undo the past in the present, and thus release the future.

 

14. Miracles bear witness to truth. They are convincing because they arise from conviction. Without conviction they deteriorate into magic, which is mindless and therefore destructive; or rather, the uncreative use of mind.

 

15. Each day should be devoted to miracles. The purpose of time is to enable you to learn how to use time constructively. It is thus a teaching device and a means to an end. Time will cease when it is no longer useful in facilitating learning.

 

16. Miracles are teaching devices for demonstrating it is as blessed to give as to receive. They simultaneously increase the strength of the giver and supply strength to the receiver.

 

17. Miracles transcend the body. They are sudden shifts into invisibility, away from the bodily level. That is why they heal.

 

18. A miracle is a service. It is the maximal service you can render to another. It is a way of loving your neighbor as yourself. You recognize your own and your neighbor’s worth simultaneously.

 

19. Miracles make minds one in God. They depend on cooperation because the Sonship is the sum of all that God created. Miracles therefore reflect the laws of eternity, not of time.

 

20. Miracles reawaken the awareness that the spirit, not the body, is the altar of truth. This is the recognition that leads to the healing power of the miracle.

 

21. Miracles are natural signs of forgiveness. Through miracles you accept God’s forgiveness by extending it to others.

 

22. Miracles are associated with fear only because of the belief that darkness can hide. You believe that what your physical eyes cannot see does not exist. This leads to a denial of spiritual sight.

 

23. Miracles rearrange perception and place all levels in true perspective. This is healing because sickness comes from confusing the levels.

 

24. Miracles enable you to heal the sick and raise the dead because you made sickness and death yourself, and can therefore abolish both. You are a miracle, capable of creating in the likeness of your Creator. Everything else is your own nightmare, and does not exist. Only the creations of light are real.

 

25. Miracles are part of an interlocking chain of forgiveness which, when completed, is the Atonement. Atonement works all the time and in all the dimensions of time.

 

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 20

Lesson 4

These thoughts do not mean anything.
They are like the things I see in this room
[on this street, from this window, in this place].

Unlike the preceding ones, these exercises do not begin with the idea for the day. In these practice periods, begin with noting the thoughts that are crossing your mind for about a minute. Then apply the idea to them. If you are already aware of unhappy thoughts, use them as subjects for the idea. Do not, however, select only the thoughts you think are “bad.” You will find, if you train yourself to look at your thoughts, that they represent such a mixture that, in a sense, none of them can be called “good” or “bad.” This is why they do not mean anything.

In selecting the subjects for the application of today’s idea, the usual specificity is required. Do not be afraid to use “good” thoughts as well as “bad.” None of them represents your real thoughts, which are being covered up by them. The “good” ones are but shadows of what lies beyond, and shadows make sight difficult. The “bad” ones are blocks to sight, and make seeing impossible. You do not want either.

This is a major exercise, and will be repeated from time to time in somewhat different form. The aim here is to train you in the first steps toward the goal of separating the meaningless from the meaningful. It is a first attempt in the long-range purpose of learning to see the meaningless as outside you, and the meaningful within. It is also the beginning of training your mind to recognize what is the same and what is different.

In using your thoughts for application of the idea for today, identify each thought by the central figure or event it contains; for example:

This thought about ___ does not mean anything.
It is like the things I see in this room [on this street, and so on].

You can also use the idea for a particular thought that you recognize as harmful. This practice is useful, but is not a substitute for the more random procedures to be followed for the exercises. Do not, however, examine your mind for more than a minute or so. You are too inexperienced as yet to avoid a tendency to become pointlessly preoccupied.

Further, since these exercises are the first of their kind, you may find the suspension of judgment in connection with thoughts particularly difficult. Do not repeat these exercises more than three or four times during the day. We will return to them later.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #13What do you think the phrase “purification is necessary first” means?

A: Since this seventh miracle principle, “Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first” (T.1.I.7:1) comes on page 3 of the text, students of A Course in Miracles may believe that Jesus is speaking about purification of the body. Students’ past experiences will bring to mind all of their beliefs about the meaning of the word “purification.” To some, this may mean the cleansing of the “soul” through baptism, or the atonement of sin through penance and sacrifice. To others, “purification” may have the connotation of ridding oneself of human desires through meditation and disciplined practices. Whatever one believes, their belief forms the foundation on which they begin to build their understanding of the “purification process.”

What a surprise to learn, as we make our way through the text, that Jesus is not speaking to us about purifying the body at all. He couldn’t be since the Course teaches that the body is an illusion. And being an illusion, there is nothing that we have to do to it or with it. The body does not need to be purified because it is not impure. “It does nothing…. it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing. (T.19.IV.C.5:3,4,5). What is impure are our thoughts, which means it is our thoughts that have to be purified, not the body. And the Course’s method of “purification” is forgiveness; forgiveness of the one thought of guilt which keeps us separate from the love of God. The Course’s “purification process” is illustrated in this quote:

“Give Him your thoughts, and He will give them back as miracles which joyously proclaim the wholeness and the happiness God wills His Son, as proof of His eternal Love. And as each thought is thus transformed, it takes on healing power from the Mind Which saw the truth in it, and failed to be deceived by what was falsely added [guilt]. All the threads of fantasy are gone. And what remains is unified into a perfect Thought that offers its perfection everywhere (W.pI.151.14).

*

Q #1150Am I correct in thinking A Course in Miracles is called a “course” because we all take on a compulsory “course of thinking” from the time we notice our separate beingness? It seems we have no choice but to set about learning ways and means to live our separate lives as best we can, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Survival of the fittest! So we find ourselves enmeshed in different cultures, religious traditions, and rules of behavior that best suit our needs as we see them. Our separately devised courses are clearly deeply conflicted, but we are unable to change our “course” because we only have our learned thinking to call on, which is how we got conflicted in the first place. Does the Course offer a real alternative — a “course of thinking” not based on that old, separate, self-interest pattern?

A: The term course specifically denotes the educational and academic context of the Course. It “is arranged as a teaching device,” as the Preface states (p. viii) , and it consists therefore of a text, workbook, and manual for teachers. Jesus speaks about teaching and learning, teachers and students, a curriculum, goals and objectives of the lessons, etc.

Yes, A Course in Miracles most certainly offers a real alternative. There is a section in the text with that title (T.30.IV) , and one might well describe the entire Course in those terms. As you probably know, the dictation began shortly after Helen Schucman, the scribe, and her associate William Thetford agreed to rise above their separate, self-centered interests to find a better way of relating to each other and to the other people in their lives. Their agreement to join was the invitation to the source of truth in their minds, represented by Jesus and the Holy Spirit, to express this real alternative through them. Succinctly stated, A Course in Miracles teaches that the way to remember God is by undoing guilt through forgiving others. It is a lifetime’s work that begins with the humble acknowledgment that we have been wrong about everything, and that even though we know of no other way, we trust that there is one, and that we will succeed in achieving its goals.

kingdom of god