ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 7

ACIM Reading for November 7

Clarification of Terms

JESUS – CHRIST

There is no need for help to enter Heaven for you have never left.  But there is need for help beyond yourself as you are circumscribed by false beliefs of your Identity, which God alone established in reality.  Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one.  Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change.  But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal.  Their names are legion, but we will not go beyond the names the course itself employs.  God does not help because He knows no need.  But He creates all Helpers of His Son while he believes his fantasies are true.  Thank God for them for they will lead you home.

The name of , Jesus, is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God.  So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God.  The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do.  Yet who can save unless he sees illusions and then identifies them as what they are?  Jesus remains a Savior because he saw the false without accepting it as true.  And Christ needed his form that He might appear to men and save them from their own illusions.

In his complete identification with the Christ–the perfect Son of God, His one creation and His happiness, forever like Himself and One with Him–Jesus became what all of you must be.  He led the way for you to follow him.  He leads you back to God because he saw the road before him, and he followed it.  He made a clear distinction, still obscure to you, between the false and true.  He offered you a final demonstration that it is impossible to kill God’s Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death.

And therefore all your sins have been forgiven because they carried no effects at all.  And so they were but dreams.  Arise with him who showed you this because you owe him this who shared your dreams that they might be dispelled.  And shares them still, to be at one with you.

Is he the Christ?  O yes, along with you.  His little life on earth was not enough to teach the mighty lesson that he learned for all of you.  He will remain with you to lead you from the hell you made to God.  And when you join your will with his, your sight will be his vision, for the eyes of Christ are shared.  Walking with him is just as natural as walking with a brother whom you knew since you were born, for such indeed he is.  Some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world.  Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you.  For he will set your mind at rest at last and carry it with you unto your God.

Is he God’s only Helper?  No, indeed.  For Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognized.  But Jesus is for you the bearer of Christ’s single message of the Love of God.  You need no other.  It is possible to read his words and benefit from them without accepting him into your life.  Yet he would help you yet a little more if you will share your pains and joys with him, and leave them both to find the peace of God.  Yet still it is his lesson most of all that he would have you learn, and it is this:

There is no death because the Son of God is like his Father. Nothing you can do can change Eternal Love.  Forget your dreams of sin and guilt, and come with me instead to share the resurrection of God’s Son.  And bring with you all those whom He has sent to you to care for as I care for you.

 

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 7

Lesson 311

Section 10. What is the Last Judgment?

Christ’s Second Coming gives the Son of God this gift: to hear the Voice for God proclaim that what is false is false, and what is true has never changed. And this the judgment is in which perception ends. At first you see a world that has accepted this as true, projected from a now corrected mind. And with this holy sight, perception gives a silent blessing and then disappears, its goal accomplished and its mission done.

The final judgment on the world contains no condemnation. For it sees the world as totally forgiven, without sin and wholly purposeless. Without a cause, and now without a function in Christ’s sight, it merely slips away to nothingness. There it was born, and there it ends as well. And all the figures in the dream in which the world began go with it. Bodies now are useless, and will therefore fade away, because the Son of God is limitless.

You who believed that God’s Last Judgment would condemn the world to hell along with you, accept this holy truth: God’s Judgment is the gift of the Correction He bestowed on all your errors, freeing you from them, and all effects they ever seemed to have. To fear God’s saving grace is but to fear complete release from suffering, return to peace, security and happiness, and union with your own Identity.

God’s Final Judgment is as merciful as every step in His appointed plan to bless His Son, and call him to return to the eternal peace He shares with him. Be not afraid of love. For it alone can heal all sorrow, wipe away all tears, and gently waken from his dream of pain the Son whom God acknowledges as His. Be not afraid of this. Salvation asks you give it welcome. And the world awaits your glad acceptance, which will set it free.

This is God’s Final Judgment: “You are still My holy Son, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure. Therefore awaken and return to Me. I am your Father and you are My Son.”


Lesson 311

I judge all things as I would have them be.

Judgment was made to be a weapon used against the truth. It separates what it is being used against, and sets it off as if it were a thing apart. And then it makes of it what you would have it be. It judges what it cannot understand, because it cannot see totality and therefore judges falsely. Let us not use it today, but make a gift of it to Him Who has a different use for it. He will relieve us of the agony of all the judgments we have made against ourselves, and re-establish peace of mind by giving us God’s Judgment of His Son.

Father, we wait with open mind today, to hear Your Judgment of the Son You love. We do not know him, and we cannot judge. And so we let Your Love decide what he whom You created as Your Son must be.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

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.

the mind that serves spirit

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ACIM Supplemental Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 26

ACIM Supplemental Reading for December 26

A Jesus Prayer

A Child, a Man and then a Spirit, come
In all Your loveliness. Unless You shine
Upon my life, it is a loss to You,
And what is loss to You is also mine.

I cannot calculate why I am here
Except for this: I know that I have come
To seek You here and find You. In Your life
You show the way to my eternal home.

A child, a man and then a spirit. So
I follow in the way You show to me
That I may come at last to be like You.
What but Your likeness would I want to be?

There is a silence where You speak to me
And give me words of love to say for You
To those You send to me. And I am blessed
Because in them I see You shining through.

There is no gratitude that I can give
For such a gift. The light around Your head
Must speak for me, for I am dumb beside
Your gentle hand with which my soul is led.

I take Your gift in holy hands, for You
Have blessed them with Your own. Come, brothers, see
How like to Christ am I, and I to you
Whom He has blessed and holds as one with me.

A perfect picture of what I can be
You show to me, that I might help renew
Your brothers’ failing sight. As they look up
Let them not look on me, but only You.

By Helen Schucman
February 16, 1976
From The Gifts of God©, pp. 82-3,
Published by the Foundation for Inner Peace

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 26

Lesson 352
Judgment and love are opposites. From one
Come all the sorrows of the world. But from
The other comes the peace of God Himself.

Forgiveness looks on sinlessness alone, and judges not. Through this I come to You. Judgment will bind my eyes and make me blind. Yet love, reflected in forgiveness here, reminds me You have given me a way to find Your peace again. I am redeemed when I elect to follow in this way. You have not left me comfortless. I have within me both the memory of You, and One Who leads me to it. Father, I would hear Your Voice and find Your peace today. For I would love my own Identity, and find in It the memory of You.

*

Lesson 353
My eyes, my tongue, my hands, my feet today
Have but one purpose; to be given Christ
To use to bless the world with miracles.

Father, I give all that is mine today to Christ, to use in any way that best will serve the purpose that I share with Him. Nothing is mine alone, for He and I have joined in purpose. Thus has learning come almost to its appointed end. A while I work with Him to serve His purpose. Then I lose myself in my Identity, and recognize that Christ is but my Self.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #120: Did Jesus ever discuss giving up meat during any of his talks with Helen? In the Essene Gospels, he talks quite a bit about not eating meat. What’s your view on this?

A: In scribing A Course in Miracles, Helen Schucman did not receive any instruction regarding eating meat — the topic was not discussed. The Course is not the same teaching as the Essene Gospels. It is a Course on content, not form, and so there are no directives for behavior, as in the Essene Gospels.

There are two very important principles of the Course that may be helpful to consider in response to your question, both are stated in the same passage: “There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion” (T.23.II.19:1,2,3). If no life exists outside of Heaven, and any other state is an illusion, it would be very inconsistent with the Course’s teaching that any kind of behavior in the dream be awarded significance. The Course is teaching us to become aware of the interpretation we give to everything, thereby becoming aware of the thoughts, beliefs, and judgments that make up our ego thought system. In this way we will be able to learn to see the true connection between cause and effect, and understand that the source of all our pain is in the mind. Therefore the only thing the Course asks us to do is pay attention to our thoughts, see them as the cause of any condition we may find ourselves in, and bring them to the Holy Spirit so they can be transformed. Beyond this the Course does not give any specific behavioral directives for choices made in an hallucination: “What if you recognized this world is an hallucination?” (T.20.VIII.7:3) Based on these important principles of the Course it is not in keeping with its thought system to abstain from meat because it means killing a “living” creature, or because it is a “spiritually superior” thing to do. With regard to this, as to any specific situation or problem we may have, the Course instructs us to ask but one question: “This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything. What is the purpose? Whatever it is, it will direct your efforts automatically” (T.4.V.6:8,9,10). Everything serves the purpose of the ego or that of the Holy Spirit. Whether we eat meat or refrain from eating meat, the important thing to remember is that we do not make decisions by ourselves: “You will not make decisions by yourself whatever you decide. For they are made with idols or with God” (T.30.I.14:7,8). Our choice will reinforce the ego’s thought system, that the world is real, and what we eat makes a difference, or the Holy Spirit’s thought system, that the world is an illusion, and the only thing that matters in the dream is healing our mind of the thought that we believe we separated from God. Regarding specific behavior, Krishnamurti offered very helpful advice to one of his followers in reference to having sex, which we can paraphrase to apply to your question: “Eat meat, or don’t eat meat, but get on with it.”

jesus there is no deathjesus there is no death

 

 

 

 

ACIM Supplemental Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 25

ACIM Supplemental Reading for November 25

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice

THE PROCESS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY

Introduction

Psychotherapy is a process that changes the view of the self. At best this “new” self is a more beneficent self-concept, but psychotherapy can hardly be expected to establish reality. That is not its function. If it can make way for reality, it has achieved its ultimate success. Its whole function, in the end, is to help the patient deal with one fundamental error; the belief that anger brings him something he really wants, and that by justifying attack he is protecting himself. To whatever extent he comes to realize that this is an error, to that extent is he truly saved.

Patients do not enter the therapeutic relationship with this goal in mind. On the contrary, such concepts mean little to them, or they would not need help. Their aim is to be able to retain their self-concept exactly as it is, but without the suffering that it entails. Their whole equilibrium rests on the insane belief that this is possible. And because to the sane mind it is so clearly impossible, what they seek is magic. In illusions the impossible is easily accomplished, but only at the cost of making illusions true. The patient has already paid this price. Now he wants a “better” illusion.

At the beginning, then, the patient’s goal and the therapist’s are at variance. The therapist as well as the patient may cherish false self-concepts, but their respective perceptions of “improvement” still must differ. The patient hopes to learn how to get the changes he wants without changing his self-concept to any significant extent. He hopes, in fact, to stabilize it sufficiently to include within it the magical powers he seeks in psychotherapy. He wants to make the vulnerable invulnerable and the finite limitless. The self he sees is his god, and he seeks only to serve it better.

Regardless of how sincere the therapist himself may be, he must want to change the patient’s self-concept in some way that he believes is real. The task of therapy is one of reconciling these differences. Hopefully, both will learn to give up their original goals, for it is only in relationships that salvation can be found. At the beginning, it is inevitable that patients and therapists alike accept unrealistic goals not completely free of magical overtones. They are finally given up in the minds of both.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 25

Lesson 324
I merely follow, for I would not lead.

Father, You are the One Who gave the plan for my salvation to me. You have set the way I am to go, the role to take, and every step in my appointed path. I cannot lose the way. I can but choose to wander off a while, and then return. Your loving Voice will always call me back, and guide my feet aright. My brothers all can follow in the way I lead them. Yet I merely follow in the way to You, as You direct me and would have me go.

So let us follow One Who knows the way. We need not tarry, and we cannot stray except an instant from His loving Hand. We walk together, for we follow Him. And it is He Who makes the ending sure, and guarantees a safe returning home.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #144: How would one deal with anxiety from the perspective of A Course in Miracles? If you’ve used cognitive behavioral techniques to deal with feelings of anxiety, and you’ve looked at your anxiety from a psychotherapeutic angle, and you also approach it as a student with the Course’s principles but still find yourself anxious in a particular situation, what are you doing wrong?

A: You don’t say how specifically you have approached your anxiety using the Course’s principles. But the fact that you are continuing to feel anxiety does not mean that you are doing anything wrong other than continuing to identify with your ego thought system. Maintaining a false separate identity is very anxiety-producing as we have set it up in our mind.

The Course refers to the source of anxiety in several passages: “When you are anxious, realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego” (T.4.IV.4:1). “The ingeniousness of the ego to preserve itself is enormous, but it stems from the very power of the mind the ego denies. This means that the ego attacks what is preserving it, which must result in extreme anxiety” (T.7.VI.3:1,2). “If you…distort reality you will experience anxiety, depression and ultimately panic, because you are trying to make yourself unreal” (T.9.I.14:4). By establishing a false ego self, we believe we have set ourselves up in opposition to God, Whom we perceive as an insurmountable force Who will in the end seize back what we have stolen from Him — our separate, individual existence. So trying to maintain that identity has to arouse intense anxiety.

You also don’t say what the particular anxiety-arousing situation is, but it must be a symbol in your mind for the separation, which means that it is a situation in which you are perceiving your interests as separate from, and so in competition with, others. It does not matter who you perceive as right or justified in the situation, the fact that you’re not recognizing your shared interests at a deeper level with everyone else in the situation is the source of the anxiety. For it is a reminder of your initial attack on God, when you perceived your interests as separate from His.

The first step in dealing with your anxiety is to recognize that you have displaced this existential anxiety on to an external situation so that you do not remember its source in the mind, where you could do something about it. Jesus points out how we deceive ourselves: “Even if he is fully aware of anxiety he does not perceive its source as his own ego identification, and he always tries to handle it by making some sort of insane ‘arrangement’ with the world. He always perceives this world as outside himself, for this is crucial to his adjustment. He does not realize that he makes this world, for there is no world outside of him” (T.12.III.6:5,6,7).

Once we return our focus from the outer to the inner, where Jesus or the Holy Spirit are waiting for us, we can ask for Their help in seeing the real source of anxiety — the belief in separation — differently. By joining with Them and asking for Their help, we have moved beyond separate interests. For we are now joined with their love, which reminds us that the Love of God that we thought we had attacked and destroyed remains unchanged and available in our mind.

forgiveness is still

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ACIM Supplemental Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 17

ACIM Supplemental Reading for November 17

The Song of Prayer

2. Forgiveness

I. Forgiveness of Yourself

S-2.I.1. No gift of Heaven has been more misunderstood than has forgiveness. 2 It has, in fact, become a scourge; a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God. 3 Yet those who have not yet chosen to begin the steps of prayer cannot but use it thus. 4 Forgiveness’ kindness is obscure at first, because salvation is not understood, nor truly sought for . 5 What was meant to heal is used to hurt because forgiveness is not wanted. 6 Guilt becomes salvation, and the remedy appears to be a terrible alternative to life.

S-2.I.2. Forgiveness-to-destroy will therefore suit the purpose of the world far better than its true objective, and the honest means by which this goal is reached. 2 Forgiveness-to-destroy will overlook no sin, no crime, no guilt that it can seek and find and “love.” 3 Dear to its heart is error, and mistakes loom large and grow and swell within its sight. 4 It carefully picks out all evil things, and overlooks the loving as a plague; a hateful thing of danger and of death. 5 Forgiveness-to-destroy is death, and this it sees in all it looks upon and hates. 6 God’s mercy has become a twisted knife that would destroy the holy Son He loves.

S-2.I.3. Would you forgive yourself for doing this? 2 Then learn that God has given you the means by which you can return to Him in peace. 3Do not see error . 4 Do not make it real. 5 Select the loving and forgive the sin by choosing in its place the face of Christ. 6 How otherwise can prayer return to God? 7 He loves His Son. 8 Can you remember Him and hate what He created? 9 You will hate his Father if you hate the Son He loves. 10 For as you see the Son you see yourself, and as you see yourself is God to you.

S-2.I.4. As prayer is always for yourself, so is forgiveness always given you. 2 It is impossible to forgive another, for it is only your sins you see in him. 3 You want to see them there, and not in you. 4 That is why forgiveness of another is an illusion. 5 Yet it is the only happy dream in all the world; the only one that does not lead to death. 6 Only in someone else can you forgive yourself, for you have called him guilty of your sins, and in him must your innocence now be found. 7 Who but the sinful need to be forgiven? 8 And do not ever think you can see sin in anyone except yourself.

S-2.I.5. This is the great deception of the world, and you the great deceiver of yourself. 2 It always seems to be another who is evil, and in his sin you are the injured one. 3 How could freedom be possible if this were so? 4 You would be slave to everyone, for what he does entails your fate, your feelings, your despair or hope, your misery or joy. 5 You have no freedom unless he gives it to you. 6 And being evil, he can only give of what he is. 7 You cannot see his sins and not your own. 8 But you can free him and yourself as well.

S-2.I.6. Forgiveness, truly given, is the way in which your only hope of freedom lies. 2 Others will make mistakes and so will you, as long as this illusion of a world appears to be your home. 3 Yet God Himself has given all His Sons a remedy for all illusions that they think they see. 4 Christ’s vision does not use your eyes, but you can look through His and learn to see like Him. 5 Mistakes are tiny shadows, quickly gone, that for an instant only seem to hide the face of Christ, which still remains unchanged behind them all. 6 His constancy remains in tranquil silence and in perfect peace. 7 He does not know of shadows. 8 His the eyes that look past error to the Christ in you.

S-2.I.7. Ask, then, His help, and ask Him how to learn forgiveness as His vision lets it be. 2 You are in need of what He gives, and your salvation rests on learning this of Him. 3 Prayer cannot be released to Heaven while forgiveness-to-destroy remains with you. 4 God’s mercy would remove this withering and poisoned thinking from your holy mind. 5 Christ has forgiven you, and in His sight the world becomes as holy as Himself. 6 Who sees no evil in it sees like Him. 7 For what He has forgiven has not sinned, and guilt can be no more. 8 Salvation’s plan is made complete, and sanity has come.

S-2.I.8. Forgiveness is the call to sanity, for who but the insane would look on sin when he could see the face of Christ instead? 2 This is the choice you make; the simplest one, and yet the only one that you can make. 3 God calls on you to save His Son from death by offering Christ’s Love to him. 4 This is your need, and God holds out this gift to you. 5 As He would give, so must you give as well. 6 And thus is prayer restored to formlessness, beyond all limits into timelessness, with nothing of the past to hold it back from re-uniting with the ceaseless song that all creation sings unto its God.

S-2.I.9. But to achieve this end you first must learn, before you reach where learning cannot go. 2 Forgiveness is the key, but who can use a key when he has lost the door for which the key was made, and where alone it fits? 3 Therefore we make distinctions, so that prayer can be released from darkness into light. 4 Forgiveness’ role must be reversed, and cleansed from evil usage’s and hateful goals. 5 Forgiveness-to-destroy must be unveiled in all its treachery, and then let go forever and forever. 6 There can be no trace of it remaining, if the plan that God established for returning be achieved at last, and learning be complete.

S-2.I.10. This is the world of opposites. 2 And you must choose between them every instant while this world retains reality for you. 3 Yet you must learn alternatives for choice, or you will not be able to attain your freedom. 4 Let it then be clear to you exactly what forgiveness means to you, and learn what it should be to set you free. 5 The level of your prayer depends on this, for here it waits its freedom to ascend above the world of chaos into peace.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 17

Lesson 316
All gifts I give my brothers are my own.

As every gift my brothers give is mine, so every gift I give belongs to me. Each one allows a past mistake to go, and leave no shadow on the holy mind my Father loves. His grace is given me in every gift a brother has received throughout all time, and past all time as well. My treasure house is full, and angels watch its open doors that not one gift is lost, and only more are added. Let me come to where my treasures are, and enter in where I am truly welcome and at home, among the gifts that God has given me.

Father, I would accept Your gifts today. I do not recognize them. Yet I trust that You Who gave them will provide the means by which I can behold them, see their worth, and cherish only them as what I want.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #193: The Lord’s Prayer, supposedly given directly from Jesus, seems to make the world and sin real and request God’s involvement in our life. From the Course’s perspective, how would we explain this and what would be an example of valid prayer in the “dream”?

A: Since the Gospels were written down approximately 50 years after the historical Jesus’ death, there is no certainty that any of the accounts accurately report what the he actually said. In fact, Scripture scholars have established that Jesus probably did not say most of the things that are recorded in the Gospels. The Lord’s Prayer, therefore, would not necessarily have come directly from Jesus. It is compatible with the entire teaching of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, which, as you say, make sin and the world very real. From the perspective of A Course in Miracles, the only explanation for this is that the teaching of the Bible is not the teaching of the Course. They are not similar and can be compared only in contrast, since the Course uses terms found in the Bible but with a different interpretation.

Prayer in the dream is ultimately a reminder to ourselves that we have a mind with the power to choose. In the face of any conflict or distressing situation, our prayer can be simply stated: “brother, choose again” (T.31.VIII.3:2). Implicit in this prayer is the recognition that we have already made a choice. It is this choice, not the situation, that is the real cause of our distress, and we can “choose again.”. This is a very simple prayer, but to say it sincerely, with acceptance of the implications noted above, can meet with strong resistance. It requires taking full responsibility for our choices, as well as the predicaments we find ourselves in. Although this is the process involved in prayer as the Course teaches, the Course meets us on the many different levels of our learning. Because we have a need to experience the power of our own minds in symbolic form, we find prayers addressed to God our Father, or the Holy Spirit. Many of these are very beautiful “prayers” which actually speak to our hearts rather than to God, who does not hear prayers (T.16.VII.12). They are given to us to help us get in touch with the true desire of our hearts, and to encourage us to make another choice. This is the prayer of the heart that the Manual refers to, in contrast to the “prayer for specifics” (M.21.2:3). This prayer of the heart refers to what we truly desire.

The Course also tells us our prayer is heard, and we that we do receive what we ask for. Our “prayer” is always for only one of two things — the ego’s interpretation, or the Holy Spirit’s. We will receive the one we truly desire. This obviously occurs on the level of the mind where the choice is made. The effect of our prayer will be experienced in the dream in the form of peace (reflecting our choice for the Holy Spirit) or in some form of conflict (reflecting our choice for the ego). The specifics do not matter. It is always the disposition of our hearts, our willingness, that is most important. We “pray” when we look within with willingness to recognize whose voice we have chosen to listen to. Engaging in this process indicates that we have already chosen to listen to the ego. We then have the opportunity to ask ourselves if this is truly what we want to hear, and, as stated in the beginning, we can now choose again. We will know if we are in fact listening to the Holy Spirit by the peace we will eventually experience: “The part [of your mind] that is listening to the Voice for God is calm, always at rest and wholly certain. It is really the only part there is. The other part is a wild illusion, frantic and distraught, but without reality of any kind. Try today not to listen to it. Try to identify with the part of your mind where stillness and peace reign forever. Try to hear God’s Voice call to you lovingly, reminding you that your Creator has not forgotten His Son” (W.p.I.49.2). Our “prayer” is this listening.

pray-for-what-is

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 29

ACIM Text Reading for September 29
Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision
V. Self Concept versus Self

The learning of the world is built upon a concept of the self adjusted to the world’s reality. It fits it well. For this an image is that suits a world of shadows and illusions. Here it walks at home, where what it sees is one with it. The building of a concept of the self is what the learning of the world is for. This is its purpose; that you come without a self, and make one as you go along. And by the time you reach “maturity” you have perfected it, to meet the world on equal terms, at one with its demands.

A concept of the self is made by you. It bears no likeness to yourself at all. It is an idol, made to take the place of your reality as Son of God. The concept of the self the world would teach is not the thing that it appears to be. For it is made to serve two purposes, but one of which the mind can recognize. The first presents the face of innocence, the aspect acted on. It is this face that smiles and charms and even seems to love. It searches for companions and it looks, at times with pity, on the suffering, and sometimes offers solace. It believes that it is good within an evil world.

This aspect can grow angry, for the world is wicked and unable to provide the love and shelter innocence deserves. And so this face is often wet with tears at the injustices the world accords to those who would be generous and good. This aspect never makes the first attack. But every day a hundred little things make small assaults upon its innocence, provoking it to irritation, and at last to open insult and abuse.

The face of innocence the concept of the self so proudly wears can tolerate attack in self-defense, for is it not a well-known fact the world deals harshly with defenseless innocence? No one who makes a picture of himself omits this face, for he has need of it. The other side he does not want to see. Yet it is here the learning of the world has set its sights, for it is here the world’s “reality” is set, to see to it the idol lasts.

Beneath the face of innocence there is a lesson that the concept of the self was made to teach. It is a lesson in a terrible displacement, and a fear so devastating that the face that smiles above it must forever look away, lest it perceive the treachery it hides. The lesson teaches this: “I am the thing you made of me, and as you look on me, you stand condemned because of what I am.” On this conception of the self the world smiles with approval, for it guarantees the pathways of the world are safely kept, and those who walk on them will not escape.

Here is the central lesson that ensures your brother is condemned eternally. For what you are has now become his sin. For this is no forgiveness possible. No longer does it matter what he does, for your accusing finger points to him, unwavering and deadly in its aim. It points to you as well, but this is kept still deeper in the mists below the face of innocence. And in these shrouded vaults are all his sins and yours preserved and kept in darkness, where they cannot be perceived as errors, which the light would surely show. You can be neither blamed for what you are, nor can you change the things it makes you do. Your brother then is symbol of your sins to you who are but silently, and yet with ceaseless urgency, condemning still your brother for the hated thing you are.

Concepts are learned. They are not natural. Apart from learning they do not exist. They are not given, so they must be made. Not one of them is true, and many come from feverish imaginations, hot with hatred and distortions born of fear. What is a concept but a thought to which its maker gives a meaning of his own? Concepts maintain the world. But they can not be used to demonstrate the world is real. For all of them are made within the world, born in its shadow, growing in its ways and finally “maturing” in its thought. They are ideas of idols, painted with the brushes of the world, which cannot make a single picture representing truth.

A concept of the self is meaningless, for no one here can see what it is for, and therefore cannot picture what it is. Yet is all learning that the world directs begun and ended with the single aim of teaching you this concept of yourself, that you will choose to follow this world’s laws, and never seek to go beyond its roads nor realize the way you see yourself. Now must the Holy Spirit find a way to help you see this concept of the self must be undone, if any peace of mind is to be given you. Nor can it be unlearned except by lessons aimed to teach that you are something else. For otherwise, you would be asked to make exchange of what you now believe for total loss of self, and greater terror would arise in you.

Thus are the Holy Spirit’s lesson plans arranged in easy steps, that though there be some lack of ease at times and some distress, there is no shattering of what was learned, but just a re-translation of what seems to be the evidence on its behalf. Let us consider, then, what proof there is that you are what your brother made of you. For even though you do not yet perceive that this is what you think, you surely learned by now that you behave as if it were. Does he react for you? And does he know exactly what would happen? Can he see your future and ordain, before it comes, what you should do in every circumstance? He must have made the world as well as you to have such prescience in the things to come.

That you are what your brother made of you seems most unlikely. Even if he did, who gave the face of innocence to you? Is this your contribution? Who is, then, the “you” who made it? And who is deceived by all your goodness, and attacks it so? Let us forget the concept’s foolishness, and merely think of this; there are two parts to what you think yourself to be. If one were generated by your brother, who was there to make the other? And from whom must something be kept hidden? If the world be evil, there is still no need to hide what you are made of. Who is there to see? And what but is attacked could need defense?

Perhaps the reason why this concept must be kept in darkness is that, in the light, the one who would not think it true is you. And what would happen to the world you see, if all its underpinnings were removed? Your concept of the world depends upon this concept of the self. And both would go, if either one were ever raised to doubt. The Holy Spirit does not seek to throw you into panic. So He merely asks if just a little question might be raised.

There are alternatives about the thing that you must be. You might, for instance, be the thing you chose to have your brother be. This shifts the concept of the self from what is wholly passive, and at least makes way for active choice, and some acknowledgment that interaction must have entered in. There is some understanding that you chose for both of you, and what he represents has meaning that was given it by you. It also shows some glimmering of sight into perception’s law that what you see reflects the state of the perceiver’s mind. Yet who was it that did the choosing first? If you are what you chose your brother be, alternatives were there to choose among, and someone must have first decided on the one to choose, and let the other go.

Although this step has gains, it does not yet approach a basic question. Something must have gone before these concepts of the self. And something must have done the learning which gave rise to them. Nor can this be explained by either view. The main advantage of the shifting to the second from the first is that you somehow entered in the choice by your decision. But this gain is paid in almost equal loss, for now you stand accused of guilt for what your brother is. And you must share his guilt, because you chose it for him in the image of your own. While only he was treacherous before, now must you be condemned along with him.

The concept of the self has always been the great preoccupation of the world. And everyone believes that he must find the answer to the riddle of himself. Salvation can be seen as nothing more than the escape from concepts. It does not concern itself with content of the mind, but with the simple statement that it thinks. And what can think has choice, and can be shown that different thoughts have different consequence. So it can learn that everything it thinks reflects the deep confusion that it feels about how it was made and what it is. And vaguely does the concept of the self appear to answer what it does not know.

Seek not your Self in symbols. There can be no concept that can stand for what you are. What matters it which concept you accept while you perceive a self that interacts with evil, and reacts to wicked things? Your concept of yourself will still remain quite meaningless. And you will not perceive that you can interact but with yourself. To see a guilty world is but the sign your learning has been guided by the world, and you behold it as you see yourself. The concept of the self embraces all you look upon, and nothing is outside of this perception. If you can be hurt by anything, you see a picture of your secret wishes. Nothing more than this. And in your suffering of any kind you see your own concealed desire to kill.

You will make many concepts of the self as learning goes along. Each one will show the changes in your own relationships, as your perception of yourself is changed. There will be some confusion every time there is a shift, but be you thankful that the learning of the world is loosening its grasp upon your mind. And be you sure and happy in the confidence that it will go at last, and leave your mind at peace. The role of the accuser will appear in many places and in many forms. And each will seem to be accusing you. Yet have no fear it will not be undone.

The world can teach no images of you unless you want to learn them. There will come a time when images have all gone by, and you will see you know not what you are. It is to this unsealed and open mind that truth returns, unhindered and unbound. Where concepts of the self have been laid by is truth revealed exactly as it is. When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this:

“I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing,
where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself.”

Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 29
Lesson 271
Section 6. What is the Christ?

Christ is God’s Son as He created Him. He is the Self we share, uniting us with one another, and with God as well. He is the Thought which still abides within the Mind that is His Source. He has not left His holy home, nor lost the innocence in which He was created. He abides unchanged forever in the Mind of God.

Christ is the link that keeps you one with God, and guarantees that separation is no more than an illusion of despair, for hope forever will abide in Him. Your mind is part of His, and His of yours. He is the part in which God’s Answer lies; where all decisions are already made, and dreams are over. He remains untouched by anything the body’s eyes perceive. For though in Him His Father placed the means for your salvation, yet does He remain the Self Who, like His Father, knows no sin.

Home of the Holy Spirit, and at home in God alone, does Christ remain at peace within the Heaven of your holy mind. This is the only part of you that has reality in truth. The rest is dreams. Yet will these dreams be given unto Christ, to fade before His glory and reveal your holy Self, the Christ, to you at last.

The Holy Spirit reaches from the Christ in you to all your dreams, and bids them come to Him, to be translated into truth. He will exchange them for the final dream which God appointed as the end of dreams. For when forgiveness rests upon the world and peace has come to every Son of God, what could there be to keep things separate, for what remains to see except Christ’s face?

And how long will this holy face be seen, when it is but the symbol that the time for learning now is over, and the goal of the Atonement has been reached at last? So therefore let us seek to find Christ’s face and look on nothing else. As we behold His glory, will we know we have no need of learning or perception or of time, or anything except the holy Self, the Christ Whom God created as His Son.


Lesson 271

Christ’s is the vision I will use today.

Each day, each hour, every instant, I am choosing what I want to look upon, the sounds I want to hear, the witnesses to what I want to be the truth for me. Today I choose to look upon what Christ would have me see, to listen to God’s Voice, and seek the witnesses to what is true in God’s creation. In Christ’s sight, the world and God’s creation meet, and as they come together all perception disappears. His kindly sight redeems the world from death, for nothing that He looks on but must live, remembering the Father and the Son; Creator and creation unified.

Father, Christ’s vision is the way to You. What He beholds invites Your memory to be restored to me. And this I choose, to be what I would look upon today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #186: In Chapter 31 of A Course in Miracles, Section V, “Self-Concept vs Self,” Jesus says, “The role of the accuser will appear in many places and in many forms. And each will seem to be accusing you” (T.31.V.16:5,6). Can you explain what is meant by this?

A: As earlier parts of this section make clear, each judgment we hold against another is really a deeply buried self-accusation. Perhaps most graphic is the following; “No longer does it matter what he does, for your accusing finger points to him, unwavering in its deadly aim. It points to you as well, but this is kept deeper in the mists below the face of innocence” (T.31.V.6:4,5).

The section then goes on (T.31.V.15,16) to discuss how we will assume various concepts or roles for our self-identity over time (e.g., child, sibling, student, lover, spouse, parent, employee, boss) — all the while believing that we are a victim in these various relationships, treated unfairly by a world of evil that exists outside ourselves. But all the accusations we hold against others as we assume the various roles of our lives (i.e., “the role of the accuser…in many places and in many forms”) really represent the hidden accusations of guilt and sin over the original separation thought and all its seeming ramifications that we hold against ourselves. And so as we accept and put into practice the Course’s teaching on projection, it will now seem that the finger we have pointed at others is, in each case, now pointing at ourselves. But the reality of our true Self is beyond all these roles and concepts And so Jesus reassures us, “Yet have no fear it [each role] will not be undone” (T.31.V.16:7). For none of the images of good or evil that we have made of both our brother and ourselves is real. And when we no longer want any of them, we will know Who we truly are (T.31.V.17).


Q #187: So what happens when one is finally able to let go of one’s ego? Does one, as an individual, cease to exist? I know I am attached to my individuality. I like my life, basically. I don’t want to disappear into….what? I like the world and think it is beautiful. I don’t want the world to disappear. What happens when our bodies die? What happens when we awake from the dream? Do we awake from the dream when our bodies die?

A: You can rest assured that so long as you want an individual self and the world to be your reality, they will be. Jesus makes this clear in a number of passages. Speaking of the world we see, he says, “…you invented it. You can give it up as easily as you made it up. You will see it or not see it, as you wish. While you want it you will see it; when you no longer want it, it will not be there for you to see” (W.pI.32.1:2,3,4,5). And later in the workbook, “There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release….It is not pride which tells you that you made the world you see, and that it changes as you change your mind” (W.pI.132.5:1,5). And earlier in the text, he assures us, “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T.16.VI.8:1).

So you are not at this point looking for release — that is fine. Jesus has no judgment about that. He may question your sanity (T.23.II.13:4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13). But he does not judge you for preferring the world to his love. Most of us do not recognize or believe that this is the choice we are making. And so one of the purposes of A Course in Miracles is to help us see that we are choosing the world and our individual self, and that choice represents a choice against love and peace. Genuine love and peace can only be found in unity, not in separation and differences.

If the world still holds great appeal for you, the Course will be less desirable as a spiritual path. It will teach you the value of letting go of your judgments and, as a result, of having less pain, guilt and anxiety in your relationships. But the metaphysics that is the Course’s foundation for forgiveness asserts the unreality of the separation, the individual self, and the world. Such a teaching runs counter to your expressed preference for the world and at some point you may experience conflict. But the truth is, none of us would find ourselves here in the world if it were not our preference and our choice, as the passages cited above make clear.

So what is most important is that you are honest with yourself and Jesus about what you want right now and how you feel. If, over time, you come to accept that the choice you are making has a cost to you, you can reconsider your decision at that point.

When you are ready to release completely your identification with the ego self and the world, which is its defense, nothing really will happen. You will simply experience a profound shift in perception. Death has nothing to do with this shift anymore than birth has. The death of the body does not change the decision being made in the mind to be separate — it may in fact reinforce that choice, if the death in any way feels like a punishment or a deprivation or an escape. And then we will simply choose another lifetime to continue our experience of individuality and specialness.

Everything is happening in the mind and when your mind lets go of the ego, you will simply awaken to the fact that you have only been dreaming a dream of separation, And so there is no separation, no separate self and no external world. The dream may appear to continue, but you will not take it seriously, knowing it is simply a fantasy or illusion that has no real meaning or effects. You will know you are limitless mind and not a limited bodily self. And the joy that comes from the realization that the mind is truly one will make whatever joy and beauty the world seemed to offer you before seem like a pale, lifeless shadow in comparison.

See also Question #68 for a discussion of the relationship between the mind and death of the body.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 27

ACIM Text Reading for September 27

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

III. The Self-Accused
Only the self-accused condemn. As you prepare to make a choice that will result in different outcomes, there is first one thing that must be overlearned. It must become a habit of response so typical of everything you do that it becomes your first response to all temptation, and to every situation that occurs. Learn this, and learn it well, for it is here delay of happiness is shortened by a span of time you cannot realize. You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own. Whatever form his sins appear to take, it but obscures the fact that you believe them to be yours, and therefore meriting a “just” attack.

Why should his sins be sins, if you did not believe they could not be forgiven in you? Why are they real in him, if you did not believe that they are your reality? And why do you attack them everywhere except you hate yourself? Are you a sin? You answer “yes” whenever you attack, for by attack do you assert that you are guilty, and must give as you deserve. And what can you deserve but what you are? If you did not believe that you deserved attack, it never would occur to you to give attack to anyone at all. Why should you? What would be the gain to you? What could the outcome be that you would want? And how could murder bring you benefit?

Sins are in bodies. They are not perceived in minds. They are not seen as purposes, but actions. Bodies act, and minds do not. And therefore must the body be at fault for what it does. It is not seen to be a passive thing, obeying your commands, and doing nothing of itself at all. If you are sin you are a body, for the mind acts not. And purpose must be in the body, not the mind. The body must act on its own, and motivate itself. If you are sin you lock the mind within the body, and you give its purpose to its prison house, which acts instead of it. A jailer does not follow orders, but enforces orders on the prisoner.

Yet is the body prisoner, and not the mind. The body thinks no thoughts. It has no power to learn, to pardon, nor enslave. It gives no orders that the mind need serve, nor sets conditions that it must obey. It holds in prison but the willing mind that would abide in it. It sickens at the bidding of the mind that would become its prisoner. And it grows old and dies, because that mind is sick within itself. Learning is all that causes change. And so the body, where no learning can occur, could never change unless the mind preferred the body change in its appearances, to suit the purpose given by the mind. For mind can learn, and there is all change made.

The mind that thinks it is a sin has but one purpose; that the body be the source of sin, to keep it in the prison house it chose and guards and holds itself at bay, a sleeping prisoner to the snarling dogs of hate and evil, sickness and attack; of pain and age, of grief and suffering. Here are the thoughts of sacrifice preserved, for here guilt rules, and orders that the world be like itself; a place where nothing can find mercy, nor survive the ravages of fear except in murder and in death. For here are you made sin, and sin cannot abide the joyous and the free, for they are enemies which sin must kill. In death is sin preserved, and those who think that they are sin must die for what they think they are.

Let us be glad that you will see what you believe, and that it has been given you to change what you believe. The body will but follow. It can never lead you where you would not be. It does not guard your sleep, nor interfere with your awakening. Release your body from imprisonment, and you will see no one as prisoner to what you have escaped. You will not want to hold in guilt your chosen enemies, nor keep in chains, to the illusion of a changing love, the ones you think are friends.

The innocent release in gratitude for their release. And what they see upholds their freedom from imprisonment and death. Open your mind to change, and there will be no ancient penalty exacted from your brother or yourself. For God has said there is no sacrifice that can be asked; there is no sacrifice that can be made.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 27

Lesson 269
My sight goes forth to look upon Christ’s face.

I ask Your blessing on my sight today. It is the means which You have chosen to become the way to show me my mistakes, and look beyond them. It is given me to find a new perception through the Guide You gave to me, and through His lessons to surpass perception and return to truth. I ask for the illusion which transcends all those I made. Today I choose to see a world forgiven, in which everyone shows me the face of Christ, and teaches me that what I look upon belongs to me; that nothing is, except Your holy Son.

Today our sight is blessed indeed. We share one vision, as we look upon the face of Him Whose Self is ours. We are one because of Him Who is the Son of God; of Him Who is our own Identity.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #155: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for a little under a year. I would appreciate clarification on something that I just read in the text. Jesus speaks of the “immediacy of salvation,” and that the reason someone will not experience this immediacy is because there is still a small desire to be separate, and to hold onto guilt and unforgiveness. I have suffered with very disabling panic attacks for ten years, and I can completely accept and acknowledge that I have created this condition, and that my desire to be separate, guilty, and unforgiving are the erroneous thoughts that I have held onto. It is my deepest yearning to heal and release these misperceptions, because the pain of suffering this anxiety is completely unbearable and unacceptable to me. As great as my acknowledgment of my responsibility and my willingness to have my misperceptions corrected, I continue to suffer. Where is my error? Why has my deep acknowledgment and willingness not been enough to create the miracle, the immediacy of salvation promised by Jesus?

A: In the section you refer to, Jesus speaks of the space that we would maintain between ourselves and our brother as little, but because the space is small does not mean we should minimize the tremendous investment we have in keeping that distance intact. Our whole identification with this self we believe we are is maintained by keeping the thought of separation real in our mind, along with its projection into the external world as space between our body and our brother’s. And so we have a tremendous fear of losing our self if we let go completely of all of our grievances and thoughts of attack now. Jesus comments on this fear: “Salvation would wipe out the space you see between you still, and let you instantly become as one. And it is here you fear the loss would lie” (T.26.VIII.3:4,5).

So you want to learn to respect the depth of your fear, reflected in your panic attacks. The goal is to join with Jesus in looking at your fear, asking for his help in understanding its deeper source and purpose, buried in the part of the mind that wants to maintain its individual, separate existence. Patience with yourself, acknowledging that this is a process that will almost certainly take time, is also important. Resisting the feelings only pushes them down and maintains their intensity.

Salvation is immediate in the sense that in any instant, if you are willing to let go of your investment in sin and guilt and fear, even temporarily, the peace that is ever-present in your mind can be your experience — until you make the choice for guilt again as a result of re-identifying with the ego and fear. With repeated practice, as you are ready and willing, you will come to realize that that is no sin, but only a mistaken choice that will become increasingly conscious in your mind.

You do not say whether you have sought any kind of professional help for your panic attacks. Looking for outside agents (e.g., doctors, therapists, medication) to assist you in dealing with your symptoms can in fact be one expression of your willingness to no longer see yourself as separate and alone. It is only kind to be willing to open yourself to the help you need, in whatever form you are presently willing to accept (T.2.IV.4,5; M.5.II.2,3).

For other questions that are relevant in various ways to the question your raise, you may wish to read Questions #128, 142 and 148.

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 25

ACIM Text Reading for September 25

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

I. The Simplicity of Salvation
How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all. Can this be hard to learn by anyone who wants it to be true? Only unwillingness to learn it could make such an easy lesson difficult. How hard is it to see that what is false can not be true, and what is true can not be false? You can no longer say that you perceive no differences in false and true. You have been told exactly how to tell one from the other, and just what to do if you become confused. Why, then, do you persist in learning not such simple things?

There is a reason. But confuse it not with difficulty in the simple things salvation asks you learn. It teaches but the very obvious. It merely goes from one apparent lesson to the next, in easy steps that lead you gently from one to another, with no strain at all. This cannot be confusing, yet you are confused. For somehow you believe that what is totally confused is easier to learn and understand. What you have taught yourself is such a giant learning feat it is indeed incredible. But you accomplished it because you wanted to, and did not pause in diligence to judge it hard to learn or too complex to grasp.

No one who understands what you have learned, how carefully you learned it, and the pains to which you went to practice and repeat the lessons endlessly, in every form you could conceive of them, could ever doubt the power of your learning skill. There is no greater power in the world. The world was made by it, and even now depends on nothing else. The lessons you have taught yourself have been so overlearned and fixed they rise like heavy curtains to obscure the simple and the obvious. Say not you cannot learn them. For your power to learn is strong enough to teach you that your will is not your own, your thoughts do not belong to you, and even you are someone else.

Who could maintain that lessons such as these are easy? Yet you have learned more than this. You have continued, taking every step, however difficult, without complaint, until a world was built that suited you. And every lesson that makes up the world arises from the first accomplishment of learning; an enormity so great the Holy Spirit’s Voice seems small and still before its magnitude. The world began with one strange lesson, powerful enough to render God forgotten, and His Son an alien to himself, in exile from the home where God Himself established him. You who have taught yourself the Son of God is guilty, say not that you cannot learn the simple things salvation teaches you!

Learning is an ability you made and gave yourself. It was not made to do the Will of God, but to uphold a wish that it could be opposed, and that a will apart from it was yet more real than it. And this has learning sought to demonstrate, and you have learned what it was made to teach. Now does your ancient overlearning stand implacable before the Voice of truth, and teach you that Its lessons are not true; too hard to learn, too difficult to see, and too opposed to what is really true. Yet you will learn them, for their learning is the only purpose for your learning skill the Holy Spirit sees in all the world. His simple lessons in forgiveness have a power mightier than yours, because they call from God and from your Self to you.

Is this a little Voice, so small and still It cannot rise above the senseless noise of sounds that have no meaning? God willed not His Son forget Him. And the power of His Will is in the Voice That speaks for Him. Which lesson will you learn? What outcome is inevitable, sure as God, and far beyond all doubt and question? Can it be your little learning, strange in outcome and incredible in difficulty will withstand the simple lessons being taught to you in every moment of each day, since time began and learning had been made?

The lessons to be learned are only two. Each has its outcome in a different world. And each world follows surely from its source. The certain outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guilty is the world you see. It is a world of terror and despair. Nor is there hope of happiness in it. There is no plan for safety you can make that ever will succeed. There is no joy that you can seek for here and hope to find. Yet this is not the only outcome which your learning can produce. However much you may have overlearned your chosen task, the lesson that reflects the Love of God is stronger still. And you will learn God’s Son is innocent, and see another world.

The outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guiltless is a world in which there is no fear, and everything is lit with hope and sparkles with a gentle friendliness. Nothing but calls to you in soft appeal to be your friend, and let it join with you. And never does a call remain unheard, misunderstood, nor left unanswered in the selfsame tongue in which the call was made. And you will understand it was this call that everyone and everything within the world has always made, but you had not perceived it as it was. And now you see you were mistaken. You had been deceived by forms the call was hidden in. And so you did not hear it, and had lost a friend who always wanted to be part of you. The soft eternal calling of each part of God’s creation to the whole is heard throughout the world this second lesson brings.

There is no living thing that does not share the universal Will that it be whole, and that you do not leave its call unheard. Without your answer is it left to die, as it is saved from death when you have heard its calling as the ancient call to life, and understood that it is but your own. The Christ in you remembers God with all the certainty with which He knows His Love. But only if His Son is innocent can He be Love. For God were fear indeed if he whom He created innocent could be a slave to guilt. God’s perfect Son remembers his creation. But in guilt he has forgotten what he really is.

The fear of God results as surely from the lesson that His Son is guilty as God’s Love must be remembered when he learns his innocence. For hate must father fear, and look upon its father as itself. How wrong are you who fail to hear the call that echoes past each seeming call to death, that sings behind each murderous attack and pleads that love restore the dying world. You do not understand Who calls to you beyond each form of hate; each call to war. Yet you will recognize Him as you give Him answer in the language that He calls. He will appear when you have answered Him, and you will know in Him that God is Love.

What is temptation but a wish to make the wrong decision on what you would learn, and have an outcome that you do not want? It is the recognition that it is a state of mind unwanted that becomes the means whereby the choice is reassessed; another outcome seen to be preferred. You are deceived if you believe you want disaster and disunity and pain. Hear not the call for this within yourself. But listen, rather, to the deeper call beyond it that appeals for peace and joy. And all the world will give you joy and peace. For as you hear, you answer. And behold! Your answer is the proof of what you learned. Its outcome is the world you look upon.

Let us be still an instant, and forget all things we ever learned, all thoughts we had, and every preconception that we hold of what things mean and what their purpose is. Let us remember not our own ideas of what the world is for. We do not know. Let every image held of everyone be loosened from our minds and swept away.

Be innocent of judgment, unaware of any thoughts of evil or of good that ever crossed your mind of anyone. Now do you know him not. But you are free to learn of him, and learn of him anew. Now is he born again to you, and you are born again to him, without the past that sentenced him to die, and you with him. Now is he free to live as you are free, because an ancient learning passed away, and left a place for truth to be reborn.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 25

Lesson 267
My heart is beating in the peace of God.

Surrounding me is all the life that God created in His Love. It calls to me in every heartbeat and in every breath; in every action and in every thought. Peace fills my heart, and floods my body with the purpose of forgiveness. Now my mind is healed, and all I need to save the world is given me. Each heartbeat brings me peace; each breath infuses me with strength. I am a messenger of God, directed by His Voice, sustained by Him in love, and held forever quiet and at peace within His loving Arms. Each heartbeat calls His Name, and every one is answered by His Voice, assuring me I am at home in Him.

Let me attend Your Answer, not my own. Father, my heart is beating in the peace the Heart of Love created. It is there and only there that I can be at home.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1353: I wonder about gratitude and its usefulness in practicing A Course in Miracles . Other Course friends frequently bring up the practice of gratitude as being very helpful to them and how they feel. I’m not really sure what I’m to be grateful for as a Course student. I do feel grateful when I experience relief from fear or pain, joy in relationship to another, the experience of peace. But, can this be a tool? Or is it an effect? I am bothered when I hear people say that the practice of gratitude has changed their whole perception of a situation.

A: Gratitude is integral to the practice of the Course. This is particularly evident from a study of the workbook lesson “Love is the way I walk in gratitude” (W.pI.195). There Jesus contrasts the world’s view of gratitude, which reflects the ego’s strategy to keep us separate, with the Course’s view, which reflects “the Love that is the Source of all creation” (W.pI.195.10:3).

On our Web site, under Teaching Materials/Excerpts, we have posted the edited transcript of a workshop Ken presented called “Our Gratitude to God.” We refer you to that series for an in- depth discussion of this important dimension of the healing of our minds. As with most of the concepts addressed in the Course, gratitude is approached first from the ego’s point of view and then from the corrected perspective in our right minds. Our resistance to being grateful is also considered.

Briefly stated, our gratitude is threefold: 1) to God for sharing everything of Himself with us in our creation; 2) to Jesus who is present to us as a brother helping us to remember God; 3) for all the circumstances and people in our lives, for they form the classroom in which we learn to awaken from our dream of fear.

If we are honest with ourselves we would recognize within us some rather strenuous resistance to these levels of gratitude. This would have to be the case considering the thought system from which our individualized existence emanates: The ego basically said to God, “Who needs You? I can make it on my own. Watch me!” This underlying attitude is present in the minds of everyone, and therefore to the extent that we value our independence and autonomy we would find very little justification for being grateful to God for creating us. This would also have to be true of our relationship with Jesus, as he symbolizes the Love of God for us. Being grateful would conflict with our unconscious need to prove that we can make something of our lives on our own. We might need some help from others now and then, but the ideal held out to us, especially in this country, is self-reliance and independence. “I did it my way,” as the popular song proclaims. What all of this means is that before we can experience true gratitude, we must look at the ingratitude we feel and what it represents, which is basically valuing separation. As we recognize the pain associated with that, we can turn to the loving, gentle teacher within, who will look at it with us. Choosing against all else but that love, “our gratitude will pave the way to Him, and shorten our learning time by more than [we] could ever dream of” (W.pI.195.10:1).

Q #1354: I am reading “A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles” and am trying to understand the idea of the observer. I think you are saying that the observer is still part of our split mind, but on another level from form. Is this correct?

A: Yes, the observer is the decision-making part of the split mind. Form, however, has to do only with the projections of the mind, the ego’s way of trying to prevent us from looking at the content in the minds so that we will not remember that we have the power to change our minds about our having chosen the ego instead of the Holy Spirit. The observer, or decision maker, is thus the capacity of our mind to choose to identify either with the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s ( see, for example, T.14.III.4) . When it chooses the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness, it then looks at or observes all the ego thoughts in the mind without judgment. They then begin to fade, and finally they disappear, because their nothingness becomes apparent when they are seen in the light of truth (the right mind).

Your question is raised frequently by students, and so for further study, we refer you to previous discussions of this topic in the following Questions: #264, #663, #713, #715, and #814.

Peace of God

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 24

ACIM Text Reading for September 24

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

IX. Changeless Reality

Appearances deceive, but can be changed. Reality is changeless. It does not deceive at all, and if you fail to see beyond appearances you are deceived. For everything you see will change, and yet you thought it real before, and now you think it real again. Reality is thus reduced to form, and capable of change. Reality is changeless. It is this that makes it real, and keeps it separate from all appearances. It must transcend all form to be itself. It cannot change.

The miracle is means to demonstrate that all appearances can change because they are appearances, and cannot have the changelessness reality entails. The miracle attests salvation from appearances by showing they can change. Your brother has a changelessness in him beyond appearance and deception, both. It is obscured by changing views of him that you perceive as his reality. The happy dream about him takes the form of the appearance of his perfect health, his perfect freedom from all forms of lack, and safety from disaster of all kinds. The miracle is proof he is not bound by loss or suffering in any form, because it can so easily be changed. This demonstrates that it was never real, and could not stem from his reality. For that is changeless, and has no effects that anything in Heaven or on earth could ever alter. But appearances are shown to be unreal because they change.

What is temptation but a wish to make illusions real? It does not seem to be the wish that no reality be so. Yet it is an assertion that some forms of idols have a powerful appeal that makes them harder to resist than those you would not want to have reality. Temptation, then, is nothing more than this; a prayer the miracle touch not some dreams, but keep their unreality obscure and give to them reality instead. And Heaven gives no answer to the prayer, nor can a miracle be given you to heal appearances you do not like. You have established limits. What you ask is given you, but not of God Who knows no limits. You have limited yourself.

Reality is changeless. Miracles but show what you have interposed between reality and your awareness is unreal, and does not interfere at all. The cost of the belief there must be some appearances beyond the hope of change is that the miracle cannot come forth from you consistently. For you have asked it be withheld from power to heal all dreams. There is no miracle you cannot have when you desire healing. But there is no miracle that can be given you unless you want it. Choose what you would heal, and He Who gives all miracles has not been given freedom to bestow His gifts upon God’s Son. When he is tempted, he denies reality. And he becomes the willing slave of what he chose instead.

Because reality is changeless is a miracle already there to heal all things that change, and offer them to you to see in happy form, devoid of fear. It will be given you to look upon your brother thus. But not while you would have it otherwise in some respects. For this but means you would not have him healed and whole. The Christ in him is perfect. Is it this that you would look upon? Then let there be no dreams about him that you would prefer to seeing this. And you will see the Christ in him because you let Him come to you. And when He has appeared to you, you will be certain you are like Him, for He is the changeless in your brother and in you.

This will you look upon when you decide there is not one appearance you would hold in place of what your brother really is. Let no temptation to prefer a dream allow uncertainty to enter here. Be not made guilty and afraid when you are tempted by a dream of what he is. But do not give it power to replace the changeless in him in your sight of him. There is no false appearance but will fade, if you request a miracle instead. There is no pain from which he is not free, if you would have him be but what he is. Why should you fear to see the Christ in him? You but behold yourself in what you see. As he is healed are you made free of guilt, for his appearance is your own to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 24

Lesson 266
My holy Self abides in you, God’s Son.

Father, You gave me all Your Sons, to be my saviors and my counselors in sight; the bearers of Your holy Voice to me. In them are You reflected, and in them does Christ look back upon me from my Self. Let not Your Son forget Your holy Name. Let not Your Son forget his holy Source. Let not Your Son forget his Name is Yours.

This day we enter into Paradise, calling upon God’s Name and on our own, acknowledging our Self in each of us; united in the holy Love of God. How many saviors God has given us! How can we lose the way to Him, when He has filled the world with those who point to Him, and given us the sight to look on them?

 

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #456: This is a three part question:

i. My understanding of the teachings of A Course in Miracles is that eventually we realize we are all one spirit. Do we then lose our awareness or memory of the experiences we had as individuals? Jesus figured out the truth while here on earth, yet seems to interact with those of us still experiencing the dream of individuality as the individual Jesus. So will the rest of us, after we realize the truth, still retain our individual selves? I realize I am asking this question as someone who likes my “self” and the other selves I interact with, i.e., family and friends.

A: Your awareness of yourself as an individual will last only as long as you value that identity. It is never taken away by Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The focus of our study and practice is learning that our interests are really the same, not separate; and that would lead us to the next step, which is recognizing that not only do we share the same interests, but we share the same self as well. We all share the same ego thought system, and we all share the same right-minded thought system of forgiveness, as well as the power to choose between the two. As long as we are attracted to an identity as an individual self, though, we will resist this teaching rather strenuously. There would have to be some motivation to move beyond individuality, and what Jesus teaches us is that if we looked deeply and honestly at our lives as individual selves, we would conclude that we are paying a heavy price to sustain that existence. That does not mean it is bad or wrong to enjoy existing in this world. He asks only that we look openly at the picture, and not be deceived by the glitter of the frame (T.17.IV.8,9). “The body is a limit on love” (T.18.VIII.1:2). So valuing bodily existence is valuing limited love. That is the connection Jesus wants us to make, just so that we could be aware that we are deliberately (once we remember we are decision-making minds) cutting ourselves off from the totality of the love that comes with the memory of our oneness as God’s Son. Again, liking your self and your family and friends is not wrong or bad; just be aware that this is not all you are or they are. If living in this world is working for you and you are happy and content with it, then it would be foolish to change it. Recall that the Course came to two people who were no longer content with the way things were going and were determined to find a “better way.”

Jesus stands outside the dream of individuality gently helping us to awaken from it. He appears to be an individual relating to us as individuals, but if you consider the above quote about the body being a limit on love, you can begin to understand that he appears that way because we choose to see him that way. Love is abstract — formless — but our perception conforms to our identity. Were we to let go of the need to limit love, we would experience Jesus quite differently — and ourselves as well. The trouble is, we don’t consciously realize that this is what we are doing, which is why so much of the Course is directed at helping us realize that we have a mind and that practically everything we do is a defense against our realizing that. We don’t want to remember we are decision-making minds, because on some level we know where that realization would take us. We would eventually see clearly what individuality is all about, and it would not be a very pretty picture. To avoid those consequences, we try to make Jesus like us, but that will never square with what he spends so much time teaching us in the Course. It is much more helpful, and would reduce the internal conflict, to state simply and honestly, that you like being a self amidst other individual selves, and that some day you may have a reason to reconsider that choice, but right now you don’t. Period! That’s where you are, and it’s okay. Jesus’ love for you is not lessened in the least.

ii. What are our real creations? Are they what are left when we awake from the dream? Are we creating even as we dream?

A: Please see Question #103 for the definition of creations. Nothing real ever takes places in the dream. The Self that never left Its Source continually creates, which means simply that love always extends itself.

iii. If it only takes one to awake from the dream for all to awake and one cannot find Atonement alone and Jesus achieved this, why are the rest of us still dreaming?

A: From our perspective within the dream, there is no way of our comprehending this process; it cannot be solved through logical reasoning. Our framework for understanding is severely limited, because we believe we are actually here, and that belief is intended to push truth away and replace it with another system of thought that is entirely false. Very humbling! It is virtually impossible for us not to think in terms of separate bodies in time and space, but Jesus is not referring to bodies in time and space. Nevertheless, we can say at least this much — that there is one mind, and the illusion of many minds, all asleep and dreaming. When you are in the real world you know there is only one mind. So the only mind that needs to awaken is yours.

Know Yourself

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 23

ACIM Text Reading for September 23

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VIII. The New Interpretation
Would God have left the meaning of the world to your interpretation? If He had, it has no meaning. For it cannot be that meaning changes constantly, and yet is true. The Holy Spirit looks upon the world as with one purpose, changelessly established. And no situation can affect its aim, but must be in accord with it. For only if its aim could change with every situation could each one be open to interpretation which is different every time you think of it. You add an element into the script you write for every minute in the day, and all that happens now means something else. You take away another element, and every meaning shifts accordingly.

What do your scripts reflect except your plans for what the day should be? And thus you judge disaster and success, advance, retreat, and gain and loss. These judgments all are made according to the roles the script assigns. The fact they have no meaning in themselves is demonstrated by the ease with which these labels change with other judgments, made on different aspects of experience. And then, in looking back, you think you see another meaning in what went before. What have you really done, except to show there was no meaning there? But you assigned a meaning in the light of goals that change, with every meaning shifting as they change.

Only a constant purpose can endow events with stable meaning. But it must accord one meaning to them all. If they are given different meanings, it must be that they reflect but different purposes. And this is all the meaning that they have. Can this be meaning? Can confusion be what meaning means? Perception cannot be in constant flux, and make allowance for stability of meaning anywhere. Fear is a judgment never justified. Its presence has no meaning but to show you wrote a fearful script, and are afraid accordingly. But not because the thing you fear has fearful meaning in itself.

A common purpose is the only means whereby perception can be stabilized, and one interpretation given to the world and all experiences here. In this shared purpose is one judgment shared by everyone and everything you see. You do not have to judge, for you have learned one meaning has been given everything, and you are glad to see it everywhere. It cannot change because you would perceive it everywhere, unchanged by circumstance. And so you offer it to all events, and let them offer you stability.

Escape from judgment simply lies in this; all things have but one purpose, which you share with all the world. And nothing in the world can be opposed to it, for it belongs to everything, as it belongs to you. In single purpose is the end of all ideas of sacrifice, which must assume a different purpose for the one who gains and him who loses. There could be no thought of sacrifice apart from this idea. And it is this idea of different goals that makes perception shift and meaning change. In one united goal does this become impossible, for your agreement makes interpretation stabilize and last.

How can communication really be established while the symbols that are used mean different things? The Holy Spirit’s goal gives one interpretation, meaningful to you and to your brother. Thus can you communicate with him, and he with you. In symbols that you both can understand the sacrifice of meaning is undone. All sacrifice entails the loss of your ability to see relationships among events. And looked at separately they have no meaning. For there is no light by which they can be seen and understood. They have no purpose. And what they are for cannot be seen. In any thought of loss there is no meaning. No one has agreed with you on what it means. It is a part of a distorted script, which cannot be interpreted with meaning. It must be forever unintelligible. This is not communication. Your dark dreams are but the senseless, isolated scripts you write in sleep. Look not to separate dreams for meaning. Only dreams of pardon can be shared. They mean the same to both of you.

Do not interpret out of solitude, for what you see means nothing. It will shift in what it stands for, and you will believe the world is an uncertain place, in which you walk in danger and uncertainty. It is but your interpretations which are lacking in stability, for they are not in line with what you really are. This is a state so seemingly unsafe that fear must rise. Do not continue thus, my brother. We have one Interpreter. And through His use of symbols are we joined, so that they mean the same to all of us. Our common language lets us speak to all our brothers, and to understand with them forgiveness has been given to us all, and thus we can communicate again.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 23

Lesson 265
Creation’s gentleness is all I see.

I have indeed misunderstood the world, because I laid my sins on it and saw them looking back at me. How fierce they seemed! And how deceived was I to think that what I feared was in the world, instead of in my mind alone. Today I see the world in the celestial gentleness with which creation shines. There is no fear in it. Let no appearance of my sins obscure the light of Heaven shining on the world. What is reflected there is in God’s Mind. The images I see reflect my thoughts. Yet is my mind at one with God’s. And so I can perceive creation’s gentleness.

In quiet would I look upon the world, which but reflects Your Thoughts, and mine as well. Let me remember that they are the same, and I will see creation’s gentleness.

***

 

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #175: The following three questions all address the issue of death and so will be answered together:

i: I would like to know more about “death solves nothing.”

ii: It is common for us to say when a person dies that he or she is finally “at peace.” Does death of the ego not release us from it’s fear based thinking and grant us peace?

iii: Would you kindly explain what A Course in Miracles teaches regarding finding peace after death?

A: Since everyone in this world suffers the excruciating pain of believing they are separated from their true Home and their Creator, there are times throughout one’s life that the thought of escape from this pain would seem to be a blessing. In this instance, death represents escape from our pain. And yet, A Course in Miracles teaches us that we are not our bodies: “The body is the symbol of what you think you are. It is clearly a separation device, and therefore does not exist (T.6.V.A.2:2,3). Therefore we need not escape from our bodies, whether they be physical, psychological, emotional, astral, etc. What we do need to escape from, however, is the thought of separation, and this is accomplished through the process of forgiveness. If the mind has not been totally healed of the thought of separation once the body “dies,” the unforgiveness that it holds will be played out in other times and other forms until forgiveness is perfected.

“When your body and your ego and your dreams are gone, you will know that you will last forever. Perhaps you think this is accomplished through death, but nothing is accomplished through death, because death is nothing” (T.6.V.A.1:1,2).

At other times, we are may believe this world to be a spiritual testing ground, and death symbolizes an end to our testing, and our ticket back Home. Or we may believe that once we die, our egos are automatically transcended, and we will be at peace. Beliefs such as this tempt one to want death to come sooner rather than later. “There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self which God created” (T.27.VII.10:2). It is important to keep in mind that the “death of the ego” does not come from the body’s death, but rather from the process of forgiveness, which only occurs within the mind. And, our bodies may die with or without completing this process.

You can see in any of this instances how we are tempted to attribute pain to our body rather than to our mind. Once we have learned where the real problem lies, the Holy Spirit can begin to use our body to teach us our true identity as a mind: “The Holy Spirit, as always, takes what you have made [the body] and translates it into a learning device….He reinterprets what the ego uses as an argument for separation into a demonstration against it (T.6.V.A.2:4,5).

So death (which is nothing) of the body (also nothing) solves nothing (the thought of separation, another nothing). Nothing plus nothing equals nothing!

jesus there is no death

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 22

ACIM Text Reading for September 22

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VII. The Justification for Forgiveness
Anger is never justified. Attack has no foundation. It is here escape from fear begins, and will be made complete. Here is the real world given in exchange for dreams of terror. For it is on this forgiveness rests, and is but natural. You are not asked to offer pardon where attack is due, and would be justified. For that would mean that you forgive a sin by overlooking what is really there. This is not pardon. For it would assume that, by responding in a way which is not justified, your pardon will become the answer to attack that has been made. And thus is pardon inappropriate, by being granted where it is not due.

Pardon is always justified. It has a sure foundation. You do not forgive the unforgivable, nor overlook a real attack that calls for punishment. Salvation does not lie in being asked to make unnatural responses which are inappropriate to what is real. Instead, it merely asks that you respond appropriately to what is not real by not perceiving what has not occurred. If pardon were unjustified, you would be asked to sacrifice your rights when you return forgiveness for attack. But you are merely asked to see forgiveness as the natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help. Forgiveness is the only sane response. It keeps your rights from being sacrificed.

This understanding is the only change that lets the real world rise to take the place of dreams of terror. Fear cannot arise unless attack is justified, and if it had a real foundation pardon would have none. The real world is achieved when you perceive the basis of forgiveness is quite real and fully justified. While you regard it as a gift unwarranted, it must uphold the guilt you would “forgive.” Unjustified forgiveness is attack. And this is all the world can ever give. It pardons “sinners” sometimes, but remains aware that they have sinned. And so they do not merit the forgiveness that it gives.

This is the false forgiveness which the world employs to keep the sense of sin alive. And recognizing God is just, it seems impossible His pardon could be real. Thus is the fear of God the sure result of seeing pardon as unmerited. No one who sees himself as guilty can avoid the fear of God. But he is saved from this dilemma if he can forgive. The mind must think of its Creator as it looks upon itself. If you can see your brother merits pardon, you have learned forgiveness is your right as much as his. Nor will you think that God intends for you a fearful judgment that your brother does not merit. For it is the truth that you can merit neither more nor less than he.

Forgiveness recognized as merited will heal. It gives the miracle its strength to overlook illusions. This is how you learn that you must be forgiven too. There can be no appearance that can not be overlooked. For if there were, it would be necessary first there be some sin that stands beyond forgiveness. There would be an error that is more than a mistake; a special form of error that remains unchangeable, eternal, and beyond correction or escape. There would be one mistake that had the power to undo creation, and to make a world that could replace it and destroy the Will of God. Only if this were possible could there be some appearances that could withstand the miracle, and not be healed by it.

There is no surer proof idolatry is what you wish than a belief there are some forms of sickness and of joylessness forgiveness cannot heal. This means that you prefer to keep some idols, and are not prepared, as yet, to let all idols go. And thus you think that some appearances are real and not appearances at all. Be not deceived about the meaning of a fixed belief that some appearances are harder to look past than others are. It always means you think forgiveness must be limited. And you have set a goal of partial pardon and a limited escape from guilt for you. What can this be except a false forgiveness of yourself, and everyone who seems apart from you?

It must be true the miracle can heal all forms of sickness, or it cannot heal. Its purpose cannot be to judge which forms are real, and which appearances are true. If one appearance must remain apart from healing, one illusion must be part of truth. And you could not escape all guilt, but only some of it. You must forgive God’s Son entirely. Or you will keep an image of yourself that is not whole, and will remain afraid to look within and find escape from every idol there. Salvation rests on faith there cannot be some forms of guilt that you cannot forgive. And so there cannot be appearances that have replaced the truth about God’s Son.

Look on your brother with the willingness to see him as he is. And do not keep a part of him outside your willingness that he be healed. To heal is to make whole. And what is whole can have no missing parts that have been kept outside. Forgiveness rests on recognizing this, and being glad there cannot be some forms of sickness which the miracle must lack the power to heal.

God’s Son is perfect, or he cannot be God’s Son. Nor will you know him, if you think he does not merit the escape from guilt in all its consequences and its forms. There is no way to think of him but this, if you would know the truth about yourself.

“I thank You, Father, for Your perfect Son,
and in his glory will I see my own.”
Here is the joyful statement that there are no forms of evil that can overcome the Will of God; the glad acknowledgment that guilt has not succeeded by your wish to make illusions real. And what is this except a simple statement of the truth?

Look on your brother with this hope in you, and you will understand he could not make an error that could change the truth in him. It is not difficult to overlook mistakes that have been given no effects. But what you see as having power to make an idol of the Son of God you will not pardon. For he has become to you a graven image and a sign of death. Is this your savior? Is his Father wrong about His Son? Or have you been deceived in him who has been given you to heal, for your salvation and deliverance?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 22

Lesson 264
I am surrounded by the Love of God.

Father, You stand before me and behind, beside me, in the place I see myself, and everywhere I go. You are in all the things I look upon, the sounds I hear, and every hand that reaches for my own. In You time disappears, and place becomes a meaningless belief. For what surrounds Your Son and keeps him safe is Love itself. There is no source but this, and nothing is that does not share its holiness; that stands beyond Your one creation, or without the Love which holds all things within itself. Father, Your Son is like Yourself. We come to You in Your Own Name today, to be at peace within Your everlasting Love.

My brothers, join with me in this today. This is salvation’s prayer. Must we not join in what will save the world, along with us?

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1295: Traditional psychotherapy and A Course in Miracles seem to define the term ego in different ways. I’ve been in counseling for about the past two years and my therapist is working with me to build an ego. She tells me that I’ve got to get an ego first before I can give it up. It would seem that what she defines as ego and what Jesus is talking about are two different things, but I’m not completely sure just how to sort them out.

A: Counselors and therapists use the term ego thanks to Sigmund Freud. Freud divided the human personality into three parts: id, ego, and superego. According to his theory, the id operates on the pleasure principle, seeking immediate gratification for our instinctual drives. The superego is our internal, moral censor that represses the id. And the ego mediates between the id, superego, and the outside world, seeking to find means for us to express ourselves in socially acceptable ways. The ego is the conscious part of the psyche — basically the personality with which we identify.

Today’s counselors who speak of the ego do not necessarily view the psyche from a Freudian perspective. But they have largely adopted the word ego as a shortcut for saying our personality and identity as an individual . The goal of most counselors is to assist others in becoming healthier individuals — helping them to be more comfortable and functional within this world. So, we could say that they are helping their clients or patients to develop healthy egos.

When Jesus speaks of the ego in the Course, he is basically talking about the entire human psyche, conscious and unconscious. He tells us that the person we think we are is a false self, born of our mistaken belief that we could create a substitute for our true identity as God’s beloved Son. Thus, A Course in Miracles is all about recognizing that we would be happier if we released our grip on the ego and embraced the Holy Spirit instead. Therefore, for many Course students, the term ego has taken on a sinister ring — making the idea of developing a healthy one sound contradictory, if not downright frightening. However, this is the result of a misunderstanding. The Course encourages us to live in this world but know we are not of it. And doing that requires ego strength. To not develop a healthy ego represents fear, which must be unlearned if we are ever to move beyond fear to acceptance of God’s Love.

So, far from turning the ego into an enemy, Jesus would have us forgive it (and thus forgive ourselves) as the first step to moving beyond it. While he would ultimately have us let the ego go; Jesus would be the first to agree that we cannot move beyond the ego until we see it for what it is and make peace with it. Thus, like a great therapist, he asks us to simply watch it — turning our experience of being an ego (which, within this dream, seems to be the entirety of who we are) into a classroom in which we learn more and more about ourselves every day.

The Course and most forms of counseling do part ways in that, in counseling, becoming at peace with yourself within this world is typically the final goal, while in the Course, it is only a step toward awakening. Yet, despite both this fundamental difference and differences in the use of language, there is certainly no inherent conflict between the Course and the process of therapy. It is simply important for Course students to hold the aim of therapy as a means to an end and not an end itself.

teach not that i died in vain