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.
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
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
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.