A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 23, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 23

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

V. Beyond Perception

I have said that the abilities you possess are only shadows of your real strength, and that perception, which is inherently judgemental, was introduced only after the separation. No one has been sure of anything since. I have also made it clear that the resurrection was the means for the return to knowledge, which was accomplished by the union of my will with the Father’s. We can now establish a distinction that will clarify some of our subsequent statements.

Since the separation, the words ‘create’ and ‘make’ have become confused. When you make something, you do so out of a specific sense of lack or need. Anything made for a specific purpose has no true generalisability. When you make something to fill a perceived lack, you are tacitly implying that you believe in separation. The ego has invented many ingenious thought systems for this purpose. None of them is creative. Inventiveness is wasted effort even in its most ingenious form. The highly specific nature of invention is not worthy of the abstract creativity of God’s creations.

Knowing, as we have already observed, does not lead to doing. The confusion between your real creation and what you have made of yourself is so profound that it has become literally impossible for you to know anything. Knowledge is always stable, and it is quite evident that you are not. Nevertheless, you are perfectly stable as God created you. In this sense, when your behaviour is unstable, you are disagreeing with God’s idea of your creation. You can do this if you choose, but you would hardly want to do it if you were in your right mind.

The fundamental question you continually ask yourself cannot properly be directed to yourself at all. You keep asking what it is you are. This implies that the answer is not only one you know, but is also one that is up to you to supply. Yet you cannot perceive yourself correctly. You have no image to be perceived. The word ‘image’ is always perception-related, and not a part of knowledge. Images are symbolic and stand for something else. The idea of ‘changing your image’ recognises the power of perception, but also implies that there is nothing stable to know.

Knowing is not open to interpretation. You may try to ‘interpret’ meaning, but this is always open to error because it refers to the perception of meaning. Such incongruities are the result of attempts to regard yourself as separated and unseparated at the same time. It is impossible to make so fundamental a confusion without increasing your overall confusion still further. Your mind may have become very ingenious, but as always happens when method and content are separated, it is utilised in a futile attempt to escape from an inescapable impasse. Ingenuity is totally divorced from knowledge, because knowledge does not require ingenuity. Ingenious thinking is not the truth that shall set you free, but you are free of the need to engage in it when you are willing to let it go.

Prayer is a way of asking for something. It is the medium of miracles. But the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless. The prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that you may be able to recognise what you already have. In electing perception instead of knowledge, you placed yourself in a position where you could resemble your Father only by perceiving miraculously. You have lost the knowledge that you yourself are a miracle of God. Creation is your Source and your only real function.

The statement ‘God created man in his own image and likeness’ needs reinterpretation. ‘Image’ can be understood as ‘thought’, and ‘likeness’ as ‘of a like quality’. God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There is nothing else. Perception, on the other hand, is impossible without a belief in ‘more’ and ‘less’.. At every level it involves selectivity. Perception is a continual process of accepting and rejecting, organising and reorganising, shifting and changing. Evaluation is an essential part of perception, because judgements are necessary in order to select.

What happens to perceptions if there are no judgements and nothing but perfect equality? Perception becomes impossible. Truth can only be known. All of it is equally true, and knowing any part of it is to know all of it. Only perception involves partial awareness. Knowledge transcends the laws governing perception, because partial knowledge is impossible. It is all one and has no separate parts. You who are really one with it need but know yourself and your knowledge is complete. To know God’s miracle is to know Him.

Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation. Correct perception of your brother is necessary, because minds have chosen to see themselves as separate. Spirit knows God completely. That is its miraculous power. The fact that each one has this power completely is a condition entirely alien to the world’s thinking. The world believes that if anyone has everything, there is nothing left. But God’s miracles are as total as His Thoughts because they are His Thoughts.

As long as perception lasts prayer has a place. Since perception rests on lack, those who perceive have not totally accepted the Atonement and given themselves over to truth. Perception is based on a separated state, so that anyone who perceives at all needs healing. Communion, not prayer, is the natural state of those who know. God and His miracle are inseparable. How beautiful indeed are the Thoughts of God who live in His Light! Your worth is beyond perception because it is beyond doubt. Do not perceive yourself in different lights. Know yourself in the One Light where the miracle that is you is perfectly clear.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 23

Lesson 23

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

1. The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is mean­ingless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.

2. If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.

3. The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?

4. You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.

5. The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your im­ages have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.

6. Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind say:

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about _________.

Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.

7. In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods. We are still at the stage of iden­tifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Can the ego mind be equated with the human brain? 

A) No. The mind is non-physical and non-tangible; i.e., it cannot be dissected in a laboratory, photographed by a camera, or analyzed by any empirical method. The brain, on the other hand, is a physical organ that is quite tangible, and can be dissected and studied readily in a laboratory. It is the “computer” that seems to run the body, organizing the sensory data that enter it into seemingly meaningful patterns, and directing all the bodily systems and functions to adjust to the body’s place in the physical universe. In truth, however, it is the mind that is the programmer and directs the brain to function as it sees fit, just as a computer does what the operator tells it to do. The mind is the command center from which all directives emanate, as they instruct the brain to establish as an experiential reality the world of time and space that is already over, and which in truth never even existed! 

In and of itself, therefore, the brain can do nothing, because it is nothing but the receptor-organ of the mind. This insane belief that the brain can function independently of the mind — which is crucial to the ego’s strategy of protecting the split mind and therefore itself — is reflected in this passage from the workbook: 

You … believe the body’s brain can think. If you but understood the nature of thought, you could but laugh at this insane idea. it is as if you thought you held the match that lights the sun and gives it all its warmth; or that you held the world within your hand, securely bound until you let it go. Yet this is no more foolish that to believe the body’s eyes can see; the brain can think (W-pI.92.2).

The relationship of the brain to the mind, of effect to cause, is stated here in the text: 

The brain cannot interpret what your vision sees [based upon reason, or the Holy Spirit’s Presence in the mind]…. The brain interprets [only] to the body, of which it is a part (T-22.1.2:7,9).

Clearly then, it is the mind that does the true interpreting, not the brain. This is underscored in this passage from the manual for teachers, where the cause of perception is seen to be the mind, not the eyes nor, by implication, the brain. This passage, incidentally, is not found in the first edition of the Course: 

Yet it is surely the mind that judges what the eyes behold [not the brain]. It is the mind that interprets the eyes’ messages and gives them “meaning.”… Its hierarchy of values is projected outward, and it sends the body’s eyes to find it …. Yet it is not the messages they bring on which perception rests.  Only the mind evaluates their messages, and so only the mind is responsible for seeing. It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful (M-8.3:3-4,7,9-11).

The Journey to God

Advertisements

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 7

ACIM Text Reading for February 7

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

II. Miracles as True Perception

I have stated that the basic concepts referred to in this course are not matters of degree. Certain fundamental concepts cannot be understood in terms of opposites. It is impossible to conceive of light and darkness or everything and nothing as joint possibilities. They are all true or all false. It is essential that you realise your thinking will be erratic until a firm commitment to one or the other is made. A firm commitment to darkness or nothingness, however, is impossible. No one has ever lived who has not experienced some light and some thing. No one, therefore, is able to deny truth totally, even if he thinks he can.

Innocence is not a partial attribute. It is not real until it is total. The partly innocent are apt to be quite foolish at times. It is not until their innocence becomes a viewpoint with universal application that it becomes wisdom. Innocent or true perception means that you never misperceive and always see truly. More simply, it means that you never see what does not exist, and always see what does.

When you lack confidence in what someone will do, you are attesting to your belief that he is not in his right mind. This is hardly a miracle-based frame of reference. It also has the disastrous effect of denying the power of the miracle. The miracle perceives everything as it is. If nothing but the truth exists, right-minded seeing cannot see anything but perfection. I have said that only what God creates or what you create with the same Will has any real existence. This, then, is all the innocent can see. They do not suffer from distorted perception.

You are afraid of God’s Will because you have used your own mind, which He created in the likeness of His Own, to miscreate. The mind can miscreate only when it believes it is not free. An ‘imprisoned’ mind is not free because it is possessed, or held back, by itself. It is therefore limited, and the will is not free to assert itself. To be one is to be of one mind or will. When the Will of the Sonship and the Father are one, their perfect accord is Heaven.

Nothing can prevail against a Son of God who commends his Spirit into the Hands of his Father. By doing this the mind awakens from its sleep and remembers its Creator. All sense of separation disappears. The Son of God is part of the Holy Trinity, but the Trinity Itself is one. There is no confusion within Its Levels, because They are of one Mind and one Will. This single purpose creates perfect integration and establishes the peace of God. Yet this vision can be perceived only by the truly innocent. Because their hearts are pure, the innocent defend true perception instead of defending themselves against it. Understanding the lesson of the Atonement they are without the wish to attack, and therefore they see truly. This is what the Bible means when it says, ‘When He shall appear (or be perceived) we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is’.

The way to correct distortions is to withdraw your faith in them and invest it only in what is true. You cannot make untruth true. If you are willing to accept what is true in everything you perceive, you let it be true for you. Truth overcomes all error, and those who live in error and emptiness can never find lasting solace. If you perceive truly you are cancelling out misperceptions in yourself and in others simultaneously. Because you see them as they are, you offer them your acceptance of their truth so they can accept it for themselves. This is the healing that the miracle induces.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 7

Lesson 23

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.

If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.

The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?

You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.

Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind say:

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about ______.

Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.

In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods. We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #913I’ve been a student of A Course in Miracles for about 12 years. I know Course students often find that as they ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to look at the workings of the ego, things in there lives seem to get worse instead of better. What I am finding quite disturbing in my own process as a student, is the appearance, or perhaps the surfacing, of a great deal of anger. Sometimes in everyday situations, my thoughts become downright vicious and murderous. I would say that I have a pleasant personality, and am overall a likeable, friendly individual. My thought is that perhaps lots of repressed anger is surfacing as I am looking within more and more with the Holy Spirit’s help. I know I should ask the Holy Spirit to look at this issue with me too. But I’m almost scared to delve into what else might be lying below the surface of my otherwise soft-spoken, quiet personality. Is this a “normal” sort of development for a long-term Course student?

A: Yes, what you are describing is a very normal experience for Course students. As you know, the Course process is one of asking the Holy Spirit to look with us at the workings of the ego. In so doing, we are bringing to light that which we’ve always struggled very hard (albeit unconsciously) to keep in darkness. Often, as we become increasingly willing to take the Holy Spirit’s hand and bring to awareness that which we’d buried, we see more and more of how hateful and vicious the ego really is.

When the ego senses its game is up (realizing we’ve found a voice besides its own to listen to), it typically becomes louder and more dramatic. As the Course says, “The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased” (T.9.VII.4:6,7).

As we become more adept at shifting our inner teacher, fear often compels us to make a sharp turn back toward the ego’s familiar voice. But the Course reassures us that this tendency has no effect on our ultimate ability to complete the journey we’ve begun: “As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror. But you will advance, because your goal is the advance from fear to truth” (T.18.III.2:1,2).

Whatever games the ego plays, the important thing is to just continue looking at it while holding the Holy Spirit’s hand. Of course, on the level of this world, it’s generally preferable (and more helpful to you and those around you) not to act out the ego’s insane attack thoughts. But you don’t want to pretend they’re not there. Doing so doesn’t make them go away, it just sends them back into the darkness of the unconscious. And a basic psychological principle is that which is repressed gets projected. So, to truly become less hateful and vicious, we have to admit that we are those things and gradually learn not to take the ego’s voice seriously. Again, that means watching the ego without judgment, no matter how intense or embarrassing its internal nastiness becomes.

Remember that the ego — everyone’s ego — is 100 percent hate. A more socially acceptable personality does not equate to having an ego that is better or more acceptable than another. Jesus tells us “The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. …a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury” (W.pI.21.2:4,5) . At first, that statement can sound grotesque and deeply disturbing. But ultimately, it is quite reassuring. From Jesus’ perspective, we are all the same.

Each of us can choose to listen to the 100 percent hateful voice of the ego, or to the 100 percent loving Voice of the Holy Spirit. Each of us, regardless of the personality traits we display in this lifetime, is both a Hitler and a Jesus. At those times when our thoughts or behavior are more Hitler-like, we have merely become afraid, dropped the Holy Spirit’s hand, and once again made the error of listening to the wrong voice. This is a mistake calling for correction not punishment. And happily, our ego’s cruel and insane ranting has no effect on reality.

For related discussions about anger and attack, see Questions #63 and #587.

today belongs to love

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 23

ACIM Text Reading for January 23

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

III. Perception versus Knowledge

We have been emphasizing perception, and have said very little about knowledge as yet. This is because perception must be straightened out before you can know anything. To know is to be certain. Uncertainty means that you do not know. Knowledge is power because it is certain and certainty is strength. Perception is temporary. As an attribute of the belief in space and time, it is subject either to fear or to love. Misperceptions produce fear and true perceptions foster love, but neither brings certainty because all perception varies. That is why it is not knowledge. True perception is the basis for knowledge, but knowing is the affirmation of truth and beyond all perceptions.

All your difficulties stem from the fact that you do not recognize yourself, your brother or God. To recognize means to “know again,” implying that you knew before. You can see in many ways because perception involves interpretation, and this means that it is not whole or consistent. The miracle, being a way of perceiving, is not knowledge. It is the right answer to a question, but you do not question when you know. Questioning illusions is the first step in undoing them. The miracle, or the right answer, corrects them. Since perceptions change, their dependence on time is obvious. How you perceive at any given time determines what you do, and actions must occur in time. Knowledge is timeless, because certainty is not questionable. You know when you have ceased to ask questions.

The questioning mind perceives itself in time, and therefore looks for future answers. The closed mind believes the future and the present will be the same. This establishes a seemingly stable state that is usually an attempt to counteract an underlying fear that the future will be worse than the present. This fear inhibits the tendency to question at all.

True vision is the natural perception of spiritual sight, but it is still a correction rather than a fact. Spiritual sight is symbolic, and therefore not a device for knowing. It is, however, a means of right perception, which brings it into the proper domain of the miracle. A “vision of God” would be a miracle rather than a revelation. The fact that perception is involved at all removes the experience from the realm of knowledge. That is why visions, however holy, do not last.

The Bible tells you to “Know thyself,” or to be certain. Certainty is always of God. When you love someone you perceive him as he is, and this makes it possible for you to know him. Until you first perceive him as he is you cannot know him. While you ask questions about him you are clearly implying that you do not know God. Certainty does not require action. When you say you are acting on the basis of knowledge, you are really confusing knowledge with perception. Knowledge provides the strength for creative thinking, but not for right doing. Perception, miracles and doing are closely related. Knowledge is the result of revelation and induces only thought. Even in its most spiritualized form perception involves the body. Knowledge comes from the altar within and is timeless because it is certain. To perceive the truth is not the same as to know it.

Right perception is necessary before God can communicate directly to His altars, which He established in His Sons. There He can communicate His certainty, and His knowledge will bring peace without question. God is not a stranger to His Sons, and His Sons are not strangers to each other. Knowledge preceded both perception and time, and will ultimately replace them. That is the real meaning of “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” and “Before Abraham was I am.” Perception can and must be stabilized, but knowledge is stable. “Fear God and keep His commandments” becomes “Know God and accept His certainty.”

If you attack error in another, you will hurt yourself. You cannot know your brother when you attack him. Attack is always made upon a stranger. You are making him a stranger by misperceiving him, and so you cannot know him. It is because you have made him a stranger that you are afraid of him. Perceive him correctly so that you can know him. There are no strangers in God’s creation. To create as He created you can create only what you know, and therefore accept as yours. God knows His children with perfect certainty. He created them by knowing them. He recognizes them perfectly. When they do not recognize each other, they do not recognize Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 23

Lesson 23
I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.

If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.

The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?

You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.

Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind say:

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about ______.

Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.

In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods. We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.

© Foundation for Inner Peace • PO Box 598 • Mill Valley, CA 94942-0598
ACIM

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #558 : I am looking at quieting my mind and observing all my suffering from a new point of view. A Course in Miracles says my only function is forgiving It speaks to me of choosing that which is of value. It says I must look first at what I made in order to see what is and isn’t of value. My question is how do I look straight into all my ego-generated drama and hold on to that which is of value. I know that if my only function is forgiving, then that which is of value comes from that premise. But I get very caught up in the drama and find it hard to discern the valuable from the valueless. I am also looking at letting go of judgment, which I am beginning to see as valueless. I could use help in finding coping skills and daily meditations to help me through this change.

A: Yes, the Course is inviting us to take a look at our lives and all our suffering and pain from a completely different perspective. All of our categories and criteria up until now for sorting out what is valuable and helpful in our lives suddenly lose their validity, as the basic premise for deciding shifts from meeting our needs to letting go of our judgments, which is what the Course means by forgiveness. Two broad, all-encompassing generalizations follow from this new premise for deciding — nothing of the ego is of any value in itself, but everything of the ego provides us with the opportunities we need to practice forgiveness.

This also means that our focus shifts from the seemingly endless process of evaluating the ceaseless flow of external events in terms of their potential impact on our physical, emotional, mental, and psychological well-being, to a continuous monitoring of our own inner thoughts to ascertain whether or not they are helpful for recognizing our genuine well-being (sinlessness), which has already been guaranteed by God (W.pI.93.6,7).

So in practical terms, what does this mean? First of all, it means that you need not change anything external in terms of your routines and practices and daily activities, other than perhaps beginning the Workbook lessons, if you have not already. For the Workbook exercises provide the very specific instructions and meditations you are asking for to help bring about the shift from the outer to the inner focus — that is their purpose (W.in). But all the other things in your life — your relationships, your job, your struggles, all the ego drama — now become the classrooms in which you learn to practice forgiveness. This is their value, for these are the situations you have set up in your life onto which you have deliberately but erroneously projected responsibility for determining how you feel about yourself and whether or not you are happy.

Whenever you find yourself making judgments about anything in your life, it is because you have made it a screen for your own guilt over the thought of separation, so that it can now be seen outside you. The first step in the forgiveness process then is to withdraw that projection from outside and acknowledge the guilt’s source in your own mind. And then, with the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit, you can release the guilt into the light of true forgiveness, which sees none of it as true.

Having described all this, it may be helpful to acknowledge that the resistance to this simple process is tremendous. So don’t be surprised if much of the time your thinking seems oblivious to this correction, mindlessly proceeding along its well-worn path of projecting responsibility for how you feel onto everyone but yourself. Gradually over time, with gentleness and patience, the awareness of how you want to sabotage the process and yourself will become more apparent. And the choice you have in each situation between the ego and the Holy Spirit will become increasingly obvious, as your willingness grows through the practice of forgiveness and the experience of its joyful effects.

2fa9c577ecdffb3212789d1530ae141d

cdbaby-cover-heart-n-hands-01

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 23

ACIM Text Reading for January 23

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

III. Perception versus Knowledge

We have been emphasising perception, and have said very little about knowledge as yet. This is because perception must be straightened out before you can know anything. To know is to be certain. Uncertainty means that you do not know. Knowledge is power because it is certain, and certainty is strength. Perception is temporary. As an attribute of the belief in space and time, it is subject to either fear or love. Misperceptions produce fear and true perceptions foster love, but neither brings certainty because all perception varies. That is why it is not knowledge. True perception is the basis for knowledge, but knowing is the affirmation of truth and beyond all perceptions.

All your difficulties stem from the fact that you do not recognise yourself, your brother or God. To recognise means to ‘know again’, implying that you knew before. You can see in many ways because perception involves interpretation, and this means that it is not whole or consistent. The miracle, being a way of perceiving, is not knowledge. It is the right answer to a question, but you do not question when you know. Questioning illusions is the first step in undoing them. The miracle, or the right answer, corrects them. Since perceptions change, their dependence on time is obvious. How you perceive at any given time determines what you do, and actions must occur in time. Knowledge is timeless, because certainty is not questionable. You know when you have ceased to ask questions.

The questioning mind perceives itself in time, and therefore looks for future answers. The closed mind believes the future and the present will be the same. This establishes a seemingly stable state that is usually an attempt to counteract an underlying fear that the future will be worse than the present. This fear inhibits the tendency to question at all.

True vision is the natural perception of spiritual sight, but it is still a correction rather than a fact. Spiritual sight is symbolic, and therefore not a device for knowing. It is, however, a means of right perception, which brings it into the proper domain of the miracle. A ‘vision of God’ would be a miracle rather than a revelation. The fact that perception is involved at all removes the experience from the realm of knowledge. That is why visions, however holy, do not last.

The Bible tells you to know yourself, or to be certain. Certainty is always of God. When you love someone you have perceived him as he is, and this makes it possible for you to know him. Until you first perceive him as he is you cannot know him. While you ask questions about him you are clearly implying that you do not know God. Certainty does not require action. When you say you are acting on the basis of knowledge, you are really confusing knowledge with perception. Knowledge provides the strength for creative thinking, but not for right doing. Perception, miracles and doing are closely related. Knowledge is the result of revelation and induces only thought. Even in its most spiritualised form perception involves the body. Knowledge comes from the altar within and is timeless because it is certain. To perceive the truth is not the same as to know it.

Right perception is necessary before God can communicate directly to His altars, which He established in His Sons. There He can communicate His certainty, and His knowledge will bring peace without question. God is not a stranger to His Sons, and His Sons are not strangers to each other. Knowledge preceded both perception and time, and will ultimately replace them. That is the real meaning of ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end’ and ‘Before Abraham was I am’. Perception can and must be stabilised, but knowledge is stable. ‘Fear God and keep His commandments’ becomes ‘Know God and accept His certainty’.

If you attack error in another, you will hurt yourself. You cannot know your brother when you attack him. Attack is always made upon a stranger. You are making him a stranger by misperceiving him, and so you cannot know him. It is because you have made him a stranger that you are afraid of him. Perceive him correctly so that you can know him. There are no strangers in God’s creation. To create as He created you can create only what you know, and therefore accept as yours. God knows His children with perfect certainty, He created them by knowing them. He recognises them perfectly. When they do not recognise each other, they do not recognise Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 23

Lesson 23
I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.

If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.

The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?

You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.

Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind say:

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about ______.

Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.

In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods. We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #932: How are we certain that it was Jesus that was the inner voice that Helen was hearing? What if she heard a voice but it wasn’t Jesus? I’m not saying it wasn’t, for I highly believe in A Course in Miracles and all its aspects. But shouldn’t one know how the Course began? There are many possibilities of how the voice Helen heard was not Jesus. I find it hard to understand why she would think it is Jesus. Could you kindly explain to me how it is the great savior who she was hearing?

A: Helen knew this for certain. There was never any question in her mind about the identity of the voice she heard, as is chronicled in Kenneth’s book Absence from Felicity, which presents a wealth of information about Helen and her scribing of the Course. There probably are very few people who have not wondered about the same thing, but many have found that it ceases to be an issue for them as they continue to practice the lessons and see the results in their lives. In the end, however, certainty about this must come only from within you. Our answers to Questions #110, #156 and#922 address this same subject.

*

Q #922: Recently, I read yet another article debating whether or not A Course in Miracles was actually channeled by the “historical Jesus.” I’ve always found this argument to be 1) irrelevant and 2) a classic example of the form vs. content error. It is my contention that when Helen and Bill agreed to “find another way,” Helen accessed the part of her mind whose content is pure, formless Love. Helen, however, being fearful of that Love (as we all are), could only accept it in forms with which she was comfortable and familiar. Her interest in Jesus, specifically within the context of Catholicism, as well as her scholarly background would naturally produce a spiritual “course” in “Christian” terms. What if Helen were a Buddhist chef? Conceivably, the document scribed could have been a spiritual “cookbook” channeled by the Buddha. I state the former only half in jest. It serves as a constant reminder for me to remember that, although form is important, it is nothing more than a means to an end…to the formless Love behind it. Any thoughts?

A: We have discussed this issue in Questions #110 and #156, where we emphasized the importance of regarding everything in the illusion as symbols, along with distinguishing between form and content. It is understandable that controversy has arisen over Jesus being the author of A Course in Miracles , as its message and teachings are radically different from those presented in the Bible. Even so, we remain faithful to its content by not using these differences as a means of making the Course special, nor we as its students. This theme is a frequently addressed in our publications — perhaps most prominently in Chapter 17 in Absence from Felicity , which penetrates deeply into the form-content dimension of Helen and her relationship with Jesus. In fact the chapter is entitled, “Helen and Jesus: The Illusion and the Reality.” Our abiding, unconscious commitment to the “sanctity” of individualized, bodily existence is the main stumbling block to getting beyond the worship of form at the expense of content.

*

Q #156: I am very new to A Course in Miracles, and have read the introduction several times in hopes of having this question answered: Who is authoring the book? Is it the Voice, the Holy Spirit, Christ? Helen states that it is the “Voice” who dictates the text. How is the Voice different from God if it’s God’s Voice? I’m just having problems when the text switches to first person. Mentally, whom do I address? As I’m reading and feeling inspired, my comprehension or absorption of what is being read gets detoured by my mind asking, very loudly, “Who is this?”

A: Helen Schucman identified the “voice” she heard as that of Jesus. There was no doubt in her mind about this as she scribed the Course. (See Question #110) Therefore, the first person statements in the Course do refer to Jesus. The voice is not the voice of God, however. Neither does Jesus state that he is speaking for God. According to the Course, God does not speak words to us in the dream, nor does He “hear our prayers.” The “voice” is different from God because it is part of the dream. It is a reflection of truth, but it is not truth. As so clearly stated in the in the workbook “God is” (W.169.5:4), and in His Being knows only our truth, which is that we are His one Son, who never left Heaven.

The answer to your question lies in understanding the Course’s use of symbols. These symbols include “persons” such as Jesus, the Holy Spirit, as well as images, words, and the Course itself. All are symbols for that part of the mind of the Sonship that remembers God. They reflect the truth of who we are, and in somewhat different ways, they are the reminders of our truth, and the guides who will help us return to God. Specifically, the Course refers to the Holy Spirit as the “Voice for God,” meaning — the Voice that speaks for God, and as “God’s Voice.” Clearly this is a metaphor, since God does not have a voice and, as noted earlier, does not speak to us in the dream. When the Course invites us to “ask” — whether Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or God — it is actually inviting us to turn to our own right mind for guidance. It uses symbols and metaphors, because we are so out of touch with the fact that we have a mind. In its wisdom, the Course has used all its symbols carefully and purposefully. It meets us on our level, using dualistic language for a teaching that reflects nondualism. It seems to imply that God is a person Who hears our prayers, answers us, even “weeps,” yearning for our return. These are all metaphors used to help us understand that we are loved, not condemned for our seeming sin, as the ego would tell us. You may use whichever is most helpful for you.

It is helpful for us to use these images and symbols until we learn that we do indeed have a right mind, and can access it directly. By then we probably will have no need for any symbol and no need to “ask.” We will have accepted the truth about ourselves as spirits, not bodies; innocent, not guilty. The right-minded loving response to any situation will flow through us. It is important, however, to be aware of any resistance, as apparently you have been in your study so far. Our goal in studying and practicing the Course is to learn that we do have a mind, that we do have a choice, that there is another way of looking at any situation in the dream, that our way is based on the belief that separation is real, and that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are here to teach us that there is no separation. Again, it does not matter to whom we address our asking, or what mental image we use. The important thing is that we ask, and not rely on our usual ego interpretation.

*

Q #110: It was in this site that I read about “Jesus” saying or teaching this or that in the A Course in Miracles for the first time. Is his name mentioned in the Course at any point and if not, how did you start using his name that otherwise would be “the Christic voice,” “the Christ,” or something like that?

A: Jesus is mentioned in the Course; in the Manual for Teachers (M.23) and the Clarification of Terms (C.5). These more lengthy passages may completely answer your question. Also, in the Text there are several first person passages (notably T.1.II.3,4) which refer to Jesus, although his name is not mentioned. Helen Schucman knew the inner voice she heard was that of Jesus, just as we know the voice of a family member on the phone without asking: “Helen incidentally was well aware…that the Voice belonged to Jesus…” (Absence from Felicity, Kenneth Wapnick, p. 179).

It is important to remember, however, that in the dream Jesus is a symbol for one who has fully identified with the Christ, and that this identity is not exclusive to Jesus. On the other hand, the term Christ, as used in the Course, refers to the “totality of the Sonship” as defined in the Glossary-Index for A Course in Miracles by Kenneth Wapnick. Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, remains at one with the Father in Heaven, and is not present in the dream. It would, therefore, not be appropriate to refer to Christ as the messenger or “voice” of the Course.

Belief that Jesus is the voice who speaks in A Course in Miracles is not necessary to our work with it. Nor is it necessary to develop a relationship with him, but it is helpful. As a symbol in our dream, Jesus is with us to teach us to do as he did in accepting the Atonement: “Jesus has led the way…This course has come from him because his words have reached you in a language you can love and understand. Are other teachers possible, to lead the way to those who speak in different tongues and appeal to different symbols? Certainly there are. Would God leave anyone without a very present help in time of trouble; a savior who can symbolize Himself?…Jesus has come to answer yours. In him you find God’s Answer. Do you, then, teach with him, for he is with you; he is always here” (M.23.5:1,6:1,2,3,4,6,7,8). The Course is a very loving message that comes to us from the memory of God’s love reflected in the mind symbolized in the “person” of Jesus. The form this love takes is not important, it is only important that we hear the message and accept the love. Hearing Jesus speak the words of the Course to you as you study is a very helpful way, not only to relate to Jesus, but to accept the love the Course reflects.

awake & remember