ACIM Text Reading for February 21
Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
5C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom
We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.
The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He is judgemental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgement. This enables the mind to teach without judgement, and therefore to learn to be without judgement. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:
Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.
This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasises the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.
While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognising this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.
Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.
You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition of the Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.
The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the centre, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.
To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.
Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.
The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 21
Beginning with today we will have a series of review periods. Each of them will cover five of the ideas already presented, starting with the first and ending with the fiftieth. There will be a few short comments after each of the ideas, which you should consider in your review. In the practice periods, the exercises should be done as follows:
Begin the day by reading the five ideas, with the comments included. Thereafter, it is not necessary to follow any particular order in considering them, though each one should be practiced at least once. Devote two minutes or more to each practice period, thinking about the idea and the related comments after reading them over. Do this as often as possible during the day. If any one of the five ideas appeals to you more than the others, concentrate on that one. At the end of the day, however, be sure to review all of them once more.
It is not necessary to cover the comments that follow each idea either literally or thoroughly in the practice periods. Try, rather, to emphasize the central point, and think about it as part of your review of the idea to which it relates. After you have read the idea and the related comments, the exercises should be done with your eyes closed and when you are alone in a quiet place, if possible.
This is emphasized for practice periods at your stage of learning. It will be necessary, however, that you learn to require no special settings in which to apply what you have learned. You will need your learning most in situations that appear to be upsetting, rather than in those that already seem to be calm and quiet. The purpose of your learning is to enable you to bring the quiet with you, and to heal distress and turmoil. This is not done by avoiding them and seeking a haven of isolation for yourself.
You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are. And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.
You will note that, for review purposes, some of the ideas are not given in quite their original form. Use them as they are given here. It is not necessary to return to the original statements, nor to apply the ideas as was suggested then. We are now emphasizing the relationships among the first fifty of the ideas we have covered, and the cohesiveness of the thought system to which they are leading you.
The review for today covers the following ideas:
(1) Nothing I see means anything.
The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and nothing has no meaning. It is necessary that I recognize this, that I may learn to see. What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing it has no meaning, so that vision may take its place.
(2) I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me.
I have judged everything I look upon, and it is this and only this I see. This is not vision. It is merely an illusion of reality, because my judgments have been made quite apart from reality. I am willing to recognize the lack of validity in my judgments, because I want to see. My judgments have hurt me, and I do not want to see according to them.
(3) I do not understand anything I see.
How could I understand what I see when I have judged it amiss? What I see is the projection of my own errors of thought. I do not understand what I see because it is not understandable. There is no sense in trying to understand it. But there is every reason to let it go, and make room for what can be seen and understood and loved. I can exchange what I see now for this merely by being willing to do so. Is not this a better choice than the one I made before?
(4) These thoughts do not mean anything.
The thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything because I am trying to think without God. What I call “my” thoughts are not my real thoughts. My real thoughts are the thoughts I think with God. I am not aware of them because I have made my thoughts to take their place. I am willing to recognize that my thoughts do not mean anything, and to let them go. I choose to have them be replaced by what they were intended to replace. My thoughts are meaningless, but all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God.
(5) I am never upset for the reason I think.
I am never upset for the reason I think because I am constantly trying to justify my thoughts. I am constantly trying to make them true. I make all things my enemies, so that my anger is justified and my attacks are warranted. I have not realized how much I have misused everything I see by assigning this role to it. I have done this to defend a thought system that has hurt me, and that I no longer want. I am willing to let it go.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #766: Lately I have been waking with thoughts, ideas or concepts from A Course in Miracles fresh in my awareness. For example: recently the thought has reoccurred that “He knows what you have made and can transform this from a dream of hate to one of peace.” It’s not so much that I “hear” any kind of a voice but more that I have these thoughts with me as I wake up in the morning or during the night. It is probably impossible for you to determine what is going on here, but how do I know that this is not a trick of the ego or the intercession of Course principles in my right mind? There must be some level of the mind that the Course reaches/works with us on that does not require our conscious awareness or involvement, no? Could this be the “little willingness” that Jesus speaks of?
A: Although we are unable to comment on your individual experiences, we can say in general that it would not be unusual for ideas or passages from the Course to stay with people and just be there when they awake in the morning or at night. Other students have spoken of this and have also said that ideas sometimes just pop into their minds — a kind of “hearing” — while they are going about their daily activities, not even thinking of the Course. The processing of our study and practice is carried on largely, as you suggest, beneath the level of our conscious awareness; the contents of both the wrong and right minds are for the most part unconscious. Therefore, it would not be surprising that thoughts or words could seem to appear out of nowhere. Our “little willingness” to have Jesus be our teacher has mighty effects in our minds, of which we are mostly unaware.
It may take many, many years of diligent practice before we are able to discern consistently what is coming from our ego and what is from the Holy Spirit or Jesus. If what you hear helps you become more kind, forgiving, and less guilty and judgmental, then just leave it at that. What is most important is not to make it into a big deal, which would happen if you felt a need to run to other people and tell them what happened. This need could well be manifesting the attraction to spiritual specialness. That, of course, is different from asking a question, such as you have done here. This Course is about your relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and bringing your ego to that light and love in your mind. That is where the focus of every student should be. Your trust in the process will develop gradually.
Q #767: I want my cake and eat it too! Can I live in this world and still have the peace of God? Can I keep this creation as a form of amusement?
A: Sorry, no. And the reason is simple: this is what got us into trouble in the first place. Having our cake and eating too is another way of saying separation can work, that we can have Heaven and hell, specialness and peace, individuality and God, wholeness and a split mind. What’s more, even a fleeting look at the world tells us that is it not very amusing. It was made as an attack on God (W.pII.3.2:1) , and it shows: “Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so . Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing. And through its perceived reality has entered all the world of sick illusions. (T.26.VI.1:1,2,3,4,5, italics ours). In a simple and clear statement in the text of A Course in Miracles , Jesus also tells us: “ It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain”(T.19.IV.B.12:1). However, in accord with the insanity of the ego’s thought system, we have taught ourselves that there are pleasurable things in the world that are preferable to Heaven. The universally acclaimed favorite is specialness, which, in spite of causing us great misery and tribulation, we find superior to the Identity God gave us as His One Son. We have taken great pains (literally) to contrive ingenious ways of convincing ourselves that there is happiness in the illusion. What we actually find in the “beauty” of some aspects of nature and some personal relationships is the satisfaction of having our needs and expectations met, and living “proof” that the world is real. However beautiful these things and relationships may seem to be, their purpose is a vicious attack on God’s Son, in that they have been chosen as a substitute for the Father’s Love. By choosing to identify with the ego, and therefore with the body, we have turned away from His Love. This can only lead to deep pain, which is covered over by the endless pursuit of comfort and joy on the world’s terms. It is endless because it does not satisfy the longing for our true Identity, which lies buried beneath the guilt for choosing the separation.
So it is a bitter cake we bake when we seek for meaning in the meaninglessness of the illusion. We do have it, we are eating it, and it has made us sick. We have done this, just as children who overdose on sugar, because we are confused about our identity, and therefore confused about pain and joy: “ What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain” (T.7.X.3:6). Our real “cake” is learning that we are minds, not bodies, that the world is not our home, and we will never be happy here. “Eating” it means accepting that we are God’s innocent Son at home with Him.
Since Jesus knows we are afraid of this truth, he offers us great comfort: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition” (T.16.VI.8:1,2). Nothing in the process of learning is forced upon us, for no one truly learns under duress. Our healing, therefore, keeps pace with our fear. As fear decreases healing increases to whatever extent we are willing and never without our consent. The things we seek in the world, fear of losing them, and fear of accepting our truth all serve the same purpose of keeping us grounded in the belief that the separation is real. It is not a sin to eat and enjoy the ego’s cake, but it will not bring us the happiness we seek. When tempted to indulge it may be helpful to remember that to turn to the Holy Spirit is an alternative that will not hurt: “The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. Surely no one would object to this goal if he recognized it” (T.7.X.3:1,2) . The peace Jesus promises is not found in the world. It is the true peace found in the forgiving mind, that is not contingent upon our cakes.