A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 28, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 28

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

I. Right Teaching and Right Learning

A good teacher clarifies his own ideas and strengthens them by teaching them. Teacher and pupil are alike in the learning process. They are in the same order of learning, and unless they share their lessons conviction will be lacking. A good teacher must believe in the ideas he teaches, but he must meet another condition; he must believe in the student to whom he offers the ideas.

Many stand guard over their ideas because they want to protect their thought systems as they are, and learning means change. Change is always fearful to the separated, because they cannot conceive of it as a move towards healing the separation. They always perceive it as a move toward further separation, because the separation was their first experience of change. You believe that if you allow no change to enter into your ego you will find peace. This profound confusion is possible only if you maintain that the same thought system can stand on two foundations. Nothing can reach spirit from the ego, and nothing can reach the ego from spirit. Spirit can neither strengthen the ego nor reduce the conflict within it. The ego is a contradiction. Your self and God’s Self are in opposition. They are opposed in source, in direction and in outcome. They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive and the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication. Nevertheless, the ego can learn, even though its maker can be misguided. He cannot, however, make the totally lifeless out of the life-given.

Spirit need not be taught, but the ego must be. Learning is ultimately perceived as frightening because it leads to the relinquishment, not the destruction, of the ego to the light of spirit. This is the change the ego must fear, because it does not share my charity. My lesson was like yours, and because I learned it I can teach it. I will never attack your ego, but I am trying to teach you how its thought system arose. When I remind you of your true creation, your ego cannot but respond with fear.

Teaching and learning are your greatest strengths now, because they enable you to change your mind and help others to change theirs. Refusing to change your mind will not prove that the separation has not occurred. The dreamer who doubts the reality of his dream while he is still dreaming is not really healing his split mind. You dream of a separated ego and believe in a world that rests upon it. This is very real to you. You cannot undo it by not changing your mind about it. If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.

Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will one day no longer need him. This is the one true goal of the teacher. It is impossible to convince the ego of this, because it goes against all of its own laws. But remember that laws are set up to protect the continuity of the system in which the lawmaker believes. It is natural for the ego to try to protect itself once you have made it, but it is not natural for you to want to obey its laws unless you believe them. The ego cannot make this choice because of the nature of its origin. You can, because of the nature of yours.

Egos can clash in any situation, but spirit cannot clash at all. If you perceive a teacher as merely ‘a larger ego’ you will be afraid, because to enlarge an ego would be to increase anxiety about separation. I will teach with you and live with you if you will think with me, but my goal will always be to absolve you finally from the need for a teacher. This is the opposite of the ego-oriented teacher’s goal. He is concerned with the effect of his ego on other egos, and therefore interprets their interaction as a means of ego preservation. I would not be able to devote myself to teaching if I believed this, and you will not be a devoted teacher as long as you believe it. I am constantly being perceived as a teacher either to be exalted or rejected, but I do not accept either perception for myself.

Your worth is not established by teaching or learning. Your worth is established by God. As long as you dispute this everything you do will be fearful, particularly any situation that lends itself to the belief in superiority and inferiority. Teachers must be patient and repeat their lessons until they are learned. I am willing to do this, because I have no right to set your learning limits for you. Again, – nothing you do or think or wish or make is necessary to establish your worth. This point is not debatable except in delusions. Your ego is never at stake because God did not create it. Your spirit is never at stake because He did. Any confusion on this point is delusional, and no form of devotion is possible as long as this delusion lasts.

The ego tries to exploit all situations into forms of praise for itself in order to overcome its doubts. It will remain doubtful as long as you believe in its existence. You who made it cannot trust it, because in your right mind you realise it is not real. The only sane solution is not to try to change reality, which is indeed a fearful attempt, but to accept it as it is. You are part of reality, which stands unchanged beyond the reach of your ego but within easy reach of spirit. When you are afraid, be still and know that God is real, and you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. Do not let your ego dispute this, because the ego cannot know what is as far beyond its reach as you are.

God is not the author of fear. You are. You have chosen to create unlike Him, and have therefore made fear for yourself. You are not at peace because you are not fulfilling your function. God gave you a very lofty function that you are not meeting. Your ego has chosen to be afraid instead of meeting it. When you awaken you will not be able to understand this, because it is literally incredible. Do not believe the incredible now. Any attempt to increase its believable-ness is merely to postpone the inevitable. The word ‘inevitable’ is fearful to the ego, but joyous to the spirit. God is inevitable, and you cannot avoid Him any more than He can avoid you.

The ego is afraid of the spirit’s joy, because once you have experienced it you will withdraw all protection from the ego, and become totally without investment in fear. Your investment is great now because fear is a witness to the separation, and your ego rejoices when you witness to it. Leave it behind! Do not listen to it and do not preserve it. Listen only to God, Who is as incapable of deception as is the spirit He created. Release yourself and release others. Do not present a false and unworthy picture of yourself to others, and do not accept such a picture of them yourself.

The ego has built a shabby and un-sheltering home for you, because it cannot build otherwise. Do not try to make this impoverished house stand. Its weakness is your strength. Only God could make a home that is worthy of His creations, who have chosen to leave it empty by their own dispossession. Yet His home will stand forever, and is ready for you when you choose to enter it. Of this you can be wholly certain. God is as incapable of creating the perishable as the ego is of making the eternal.

Of your ego you can do nothing to save yourself or others, but of your spirit you can do everything for the salvation of both. Humility is a lesson for the ego, not for the spirit. Spirit is beyond humility, because it recognises its radiance and gladly sheds its light everywhere. The meek shall inherit the earth because their egos are humble, and this gives them truer perception. The Kingdom of Heaven is the spirit’s right, whose beauty and dignity are far beyond doubt, beyond perception, and stand forever as the mark of the Love of God for His creations, who are wholly worthy of Him and only of Him. Nothing else is sufficiently worthy to be a gift for a creation of God Himself.

I will substitute for your ego if you wish, but never for your spirit. A father can safely leave a child with an elder brother who has shown himself responsible, but this involves no confusion about the child’s origin. The brother can protect the child’s body and his ego, but he does not confuse himself with the father because he does this. I can be entrusted with your body and your ego only because this enables you not to be concerned with them, and lets me teach you their unimportance. I could not understand their importance to you if I had not once been tempted to believe in them myself. Let us undertake to learn this lesson together so we can be free of them together. I need devoted teachers who share my aim of healing the mind. Spirit is far beyond the need of your protection or mine. Remember this:

In this world you need not have tribulation because I have overcome the world. That is why you should be of good cheer.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 28

Lesson 28

Above all else I want to see things differently.

1. Today we are really giving specific application to the idea for yesterday. In these practice periods, you will be making a series of definite commitments. The question of whether you will keep them in the future is not our concern here. If you are willing at least to make them now, you have started on the way to keeping them. And we are still at the beginning.

2. You may wonder why it is important to say, for example, “Above all else I want to see this table differently.” In itself it is not important at all. Yet what is by itself? And what does “in itself” mean? You see a lot of separate things about you, which really means you are not seeing at all. You either see or not. When you have seen one thing differently, you will see all things differently. The light you will see in any one of them is the same light you will see in them all.

3. When you say, “Above all else I want to see this table differ­ently,” you are making a commitment to withdraw your precon­ceived ideas about the table, and open your mind to what it is, and what it is for. You are not defining it in past terms. You are asking what it is, rather than telling it what it is. You are not binding its meaning to your tiny experience of tables, nor are you limiting its purpose to your little personal thoughts.

4. You will not question what you have already defined. And the purpose of these exercises is to ask questions and receive the an­swers. In saying, “Above all else I want to see this table differ­ently,” you are committing yourself to seeing. It is not an exclusive commitment. It is a commitment that applies to the table just as much as to anything else, neither more nor less.

5. You could, in fact, gain vision from just that table, if you would withdraw all your own ideas from it, and look upon it with a completely open mind. It has something to show you; something beautiful and clean and of infinite value, full of happiness and hope. Hidden under all your ideas about it is its real purpose, the purpose it shares with all the universe.

6. In using the table as a subject for applying the idea for today, you are therefore really asking to see the purpose of the universe. You will be making this same request of each subject that you use in the practice periods. And you are making a commitment to each of them to let its purpose be revealed to you, instead of placing your own judgment upon it.

7. We will have six two-minute practice periods today, in which the idea for the day is stated first, and then applied to whatever you see about you. Not only should the subjects be chosen randomly, but each one should be accorded equal sincerity as to­day’s idea is applied to it, in an attempt to acknowledge the equal value of them all in their contribution to your seeing.

8. As usual, the applications should include the name of the subject your eyes happen to light on, and you should rest your eyes on it while saying:

Above all else I want to see this _________ differently.

Each application should be made quite slowly, and as thoughtfully as possible. There is no hurry.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Are babies born innocent? 

A) The only true state of innocence is in Heaven, the real home of God’s Son. With very, very few exceptions — the Teachers of teachers referred to in the manual for teachers (M-26.2) — only those who retain guilt in their minds “come here” and are born. Workbook Lesson 182 provides a poignant portrait of all inhabitants of this world: 

We speak today for everyone who walks this world, for he is not at home. He goes uncertainly about in endless search, seeking in darkness what he cannot find; not recognizing what it is he seeks. A thousand homes he makes, yet none contents his restless mind. He does not understand he builds in vain. The home he seeks can not be made by him. There is no substitute for Heaven. All he ever made was hell (W-pI.182.3).

And yet it is this very belief that there is a substitute for Heaven that constitutes sin, and the resultant and inevitable guilt continually propels the separated Son to review mentally the thought of separation and its effects that have already gone by. Thus all who come here share this guilt over their lost innocence. Moreover, their egos’ purpose for their manifestation in the world is the reinforcement of this guilt. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit’s purpose once people believe they are here, is the unlearning of this guilt through the practice of forgiveness that undoes the belief in victimization. This eventually restores to all the separated ones their awareness of the innocence that is rightly and eternally theirs as God’s one Son, the Christ He created as One with Him. 

In this context, one can understand that the popular view that babies are born innocent and are corrupted by society — Rousseau’s “noble savage” thesis — falls very nicely within the ego’s strategic plan to convince us that the world is real and has victimizing effects on us. The ego thought system upholds the idea that we are not the dreamer of the dream that is the world, but that rather the dream is dreaming us. Therefore, it is the world that is responsible for the loss of my innocence. It was not that I gave it away by my thoughts, but rather that it was taken from me, the innocent victim of a world I did not make or choose. This fundamental ego principle is the subject of the following passage from “The Hero of the Dream”: 

The body’s serial adventures, from the time of birth to dying are the theme of every dream the world has ever had. The “hero” of this dream will never change, nor will its purpose. Though the dream itself takes many forms, and seems to show a great variety of places and events wherein its “hero” finds itself, the dream has but one purpose, taught in many ways. This single lesson does it try to teach again, and still again, and yet once more; that it is cause and not effect, And you are its effect, and cannot be its cause. Thus are you not the dreamer, but the dream. And so you wander idly in and out of places and events that it contrives. That this is all the body does is true, for it is but a figure in a dream (T-27.VIII.3:1-4:3; italics ours).

Since ultimately our lives are our dreams — the outpicturing of the thoughts in our minds — only we can be responsible for the loss of innocence that is the central theme of everyone’s dream. No one is born innocent; only Christ is innocent, and He was never born. But through the process of forgiveness and accepting the correction for our mistaken thoughts, we can remember that we never truly sinned. In truth, therefore, we are innocent of any belief that we separated ourselves from Innocence Itself. 

accept only love

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 12

A Course in Miracles Text Reading for February 12

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

VII. Creating versus the Self-Image

Every system of thought must have a starting point. It begins with either a making or a creating, a difference we have already discussed. Their resemblance lies in their power as foundations. Their difference lies in what rests upon them. Both are cornerstones for systems of belief by which one lives. It is a mistake to believe that a thought system based on lies is weak. Nothing made by a child of God is without power. It is essential to realise this, because otherwise you will be unable to escape from the prison you have made.

You cannot resolve the authority problem by depreciating the power of your mind. To do so is to deceive yourself, and this will hurt you because you really understand the strength of the mind. You also realise that you cannot weaken it, any more than you can weaken God. The ‘devil’ is a frightening concept because he seems to be extremely powerful and extremely active. He is perceived as a force in combat with God, battling Him for possession of His creations. The devil deceives by lies, and builds kingdoms in which everything is in direct opposition to God. Yet he attracts men rather than repels them, and they are willing to ‘sell’ him their souls in return for gifts of no real worth. This makes absolutely no sense.

We have discussed the fall or separation before, but its meaning must be clearly understood. The separation is a system of thought real enough in time, though not in eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer. The fruit of only one tree was ‘forbidden’ in the symbolic garden. But God could not have forbidden it, or it could not have been eaten. If God knows His children, and I assure you that He does, would He have put them in a position where their own destruction was possible? The ‘forbidden tree’ was named the ‘tree of knowledge’. Yet God created knowledge and gave it freely to His creations. The symbolism here has been given many interpretations, but you may be sure that any interpretation that sees either God or His creations as capable of destroying Their Own purpose is in error.

Eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a symbolic expression for usurping the ability for self-creating. This is the only sense in which God and His creations are not co-creators. The belief that they are is implicit in the ‘self-concept’, or the tendency of the self to make an image of itself. Images are perceived, not known. Knowledge cannot deceive, but perception can. You can perceive yourself as self-creating, but you cannot do more than believe it. You cannot make it true. And, as I said before, when you finally perceive correctly you can only be glad that you cannot. Until then, however, the belief that you can is the foundation stone in your thought system, and all your defences are used to attack ideas that might bring it to light. You still believe you are an image of your own making. Your mind is split with the Holy Spirit on this point, and there is no resolution while you believe the one thing that is literally inconceivable. That is why you cannot create and are filled with fear about what you make.

The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the ‘devil’. It is powerful, active, destructive and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Look at your life and see what the devil has made. But realise that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth, because its foundation is a lie. Your creation by God is the only Foundation that cannot be shaken, because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning. Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. Your Self s still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death.

The branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of life, and your own thought system will stand corrected. It cannot stand otherwise. You who fear salvation are choosing death. Life and death, light and darkness, knowledge and perception, are irreconcilable. To believe that they can be reconciled is to believe that God and His Son can not. Only the oneness of knowledge is free of conflict. Your kingdom is not of this world because it was given you from beyond this world. Only in this world is the idea of an authority problem meaningful. The world is not left by death but by truth, and truth can be known by all those for whom the Kingdom was created, and for whom it waits.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 12

Lesson 28

Above all else I want to see things differently.

Today we are really giving specific application to the idea for yesterday. In these practice periods, you will be making a series of definite commitments. The question of whether you will keep them in the future is not our concern here. If you are willing at least to make them now, you have started on the way to keeping them. And we are still at the beginning.

You may wonder why it is important to say, for example, “Above all else I want to see this table differently.” In itself it is not important at all. Yet what is by itself? And what does “in itself” mean? You see a lot of separate things about you, which really means you are not seeing at all. You either see or not. When you have seen one thing differently, you will see all things differently. The light you will see in any one of them is the same light you will see in them all.

When you say, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are making a commitment to withdraw your preconceived ideas about the table, and open your mind to what it is, and what it is for. You are not defining it in past terms. You are asking what it is, rather than telling it what it is. You are not binding its meaning to your tiny experience of tables, nor are you limiting its purpose to your little personal thoughts.

You will not question what you have already defined. And the purpose of these exercises is to ask questions and receive the answers. In saying, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are committing yourself to seeing. It is not an exclusive commitment. It is a commitment that applies to the table just as much as to anything else, neither more nor less.

You could, in fact, gain vision from just that table, if you would withdraw all your own ideas from it, and look upon it with a completely open mind. It has something to show you; something beautiful and clean and of infinite value, full of happiness and hope. Hidden under all your ideas about it is its real purpose, the purpose it shares with all the universe.

In using the table as a subject for applying the idea for today, you are therefore really asking to see the purpose of the universe. You will be making this same request of each subject that you use in the practice periods. And you are making a commitment to each of them to let its purpose be revealed to you, instead of placing your own judgment upon it.

We will have six two-minute practice periods today, in which the idea for the day is stated first, and then applied to whatever you see about you. Not only should the subjects be chosen randomly, but each one should be accorded equal sincerity as today’s idea is applied to it, in an attempt to acknowledge the equal value of them all in their contribution to your seeing.

As usual, the applications should include the name of the subject your eyes happen to light on, and you should rest your eyes on it while saying

Above all else I want to see this ______ differently.

Each application should be made quite slowly, and as thoughtfully as possible. There is no hurry.

 

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #45: My question refers to the process of helping others. In studying the Course, I realize that the world’s salvation and my own is my only function. However, is there an accredited program or some kind of certification based on the Course that could be pursued, in a field such as psychotherapy or counseling.

A: To address the second part of your question first, sorry, but there can be no formal training based on the Course to prepare someone for the role of therapist or counselor because the Course has nothing to say about specific forms or roles. This does not mean that there may not be those who offer such a curriculum, but it is not really in line with the intentions of the Course as a spiritual teaching. You could be trained, for example, in psychoanalysis or behavioral therapy or Rogerian counseling, each of which employs a very different theoretical model and different techniques and practices from the other approaches, and still utilize the principles of the Course in your work with patients. This is because the Course is intended to help you change how you perceive situations and relationships within your own mind and has nothing to say about how you behave or act with others. And so any form of therapeutic practice, even if it may have initially been made to maintain separation, can be used for a truly healing outcome when it is placed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The pamphlet, Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice, does provide a helpful application of Course principles in a therapeutic context, but a careful reading of it makes it very clear that Jesus is only talking about what is going on within the mind of the therapist and is never making recommendations for how the therapist should act with the patient or client. The insights a therapist develops from the Course about the nature of reality and the purpose of the world and the self — first from the ego’s perspective of the reality of sin and guilt, and then from the perspective of the Holy Spirit’s healed perception — may or may not be things that would be appropriate to discuss with a patient. But it would always be the content of forgiveness and not any specific words or concepts that the therapist would want to share with the patient. And the content is shared in any instant when the therapist has released all the judgments he may be holding in his own mind against the patient, which are nothing more than the projections of judgments he is holding against himself. The pamphlet describes this process: “The therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself, and is thus given another chance to look at it, open it to reevaluation and forgive it. When this occurs, he sees his sins as gone into a past that is no longer here….The patient is his screen for the projections of his sins, enabling him to let them go” (P.2.VI.6:3,4,6,7).

And to turn to your opening comments with just a few clarifications. When you speak of helping others, and observe that the Course speaks of the world’s salvation and our own as our only function, you want to be sure that you understand what the world’s salvation means. The workbook says that “salvation of the world depends on me” (W.pI.186.h). But the world’s salvation does not refer to doing anything in the world or to having an effect on anything external, including others, in the world. The salvation of the world depends on my withdrawing the projections of guilt that I have placed upon the world, and then releasing those judgments from myself as well – – the same process that we have just read from the Psychotherapy pamphlet. In the end, having no further purpose, the external world will disappear, just as the guilt we have projected on to it vanishes in the light of forgiveness. In other words, “there is no world” to save (W.pI.132.6:2).

And so, in the meantime, before our mind is completely healed, we would not want any actions we take in the world to come from our own perception of what help others need — we do not know. All of our perceptions are based on a belief in the reality of separation, scarcity, lack and loss, so our own interventions will only serve to reinforce that belief in ourselves and others. We cannot possibly know or understand what real help is, in a separated state of mind. But when we release our own judgments, grievances and guilt, then the part of our mind — the Holy Spirit — that does know is free to express Itself through us. And the help will then always be a reminder that sin and guilt and separation are not real, expressed in a form that can be accepted in another without increasing fear (T.2.IV.5). But we will have not made the decision on our own about how that is best done. As Jesus not so subtly observes, “Your function here is only to decide against deciding what you want, in recognition that you do not know. How, then, can you decide what you should do? Leave all decisions to the One Who speaks for God, and for your function as He knows it” (T.14.IV.5:2,3,4).


Q #46: What does the course say about feelings??? I know it says we shouldn’t deny our feelings. Could you say more on this. Are we to listen to what our feelings are telling us?

A: Feelings is not used very often in the Course, since it’s focus is on thoughts. But in order to access our thoughts, it is very important that we be in touch with our feelings. If we are not aware of how we feel, then we are that much farther removed from our thoughts. So one of the first practical steps a student of the Course may take is that of becoming more and more aware of how they feel. This can often times be a painful process, since more often than not, our painful feelings are denied. Once we allow these feelings to arise within us, we are tempted to shove them back down again because they are unpleasant. For some of us, we may only deny particular feelings, such as anger, grief, or jealousy, etc. Society teaches us what we “should” and “should not” feel, and then the Course comes along, and as spiritual seekers, we impose additional “shoulds” and “should nots.” It is no wonder no one knows how they feel!

Once we are in touch we how we feel, we can then begin the process of discovering what thought caused the feeling. We do not have to don our Sherlock Holmes hats and search and search for these thoughts, as over-intellectualizing the process simply becomes another obstacle. Search your mind as best you can, but more importantly, give Jesus or the Holy Spirit your willingness to know what the thought is. And in most instances, even those having to do with anger, you will find that your thoughts have to do with loss of some kind. Once you are aware of the thought you then have the choice to change the thought, or not. But at least you have found the true source of your pain. It is not anything outside of you, but rather the thoughts you hold within.

As Jesus tells us in the text:

This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:

I am responsible for what I see.

I choose the [thoughts and] feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.

And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear (T.21.II.2:1,2,3,4,5,6,7).


Q #47: Seven months ago, I thought I made a decision in a peaceful and loving way. I had advice and support in my decision. Now, I have recently been given information that has made me question the action. At the time, I felt this was the most loving and kind thing. I find this very disturbing and have revisited the tapes on “Rules for Decision.” I think I’ve never given up the guilt or the blame for taking the action. I know the Course is a process; I’ve been a student for 12 years, but when this happened I questioned that I’ve made any progress. I know that the Course is not about doing things in this world. Am I dealing with 2 different situations or am I still in the original one problem?

A: If you felt you did the most loving and kind thing, then you should stay with that. You know, we have limited ourselves so much, and have erected so many layers of defenses by choosing to think we are bodies, that we simply are not in touch with what is going on beneath the surface of our conscious awareness. We cannot see the larger picture at all; therefore, we do not know where we are on our Atonement path. So it is not helpful to question our progress. That is where having Jesus as our teacher is so helpful. By following his directions in his Course, we are led deeper and deeper into our minds, and we slowly begin to get in touch with the underlying motivations for our actions and thought patterns.

So the experience you had is not at all uncommon. We all can look back at decisions we’ve made that seem to have been the right ones, but now, because we have uncovered more of what we had kept hidden about ourselves in our minds, we realize that we had overlooked something or had simply deceived ourselves. That is to be expected as we go along, but feeling guilty over it is not helpful. Feeling guilty will only reinforce the problem and keep the solution concealed.

The “proper” response is to feel grateful that you have learned something more about how your ego operates, so that you now can be more vigilant for those kinds of ploys. It is a humbling experience, but if you accept that your purpose is to journey — with Jesus’ love guiding you — into the darkness in your mind, you will not be so surprised to discover these instances of self-deception. Ultimately, you will recognize that the whole thing is a defense against the light and the love that is there, and that is our true reality.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 28

ACIM Text Reading for January 28

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

I. Introduction
The Bible says that you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks. It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey. Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either. It can lead only to mutual progress. The result of genuine devotion is inspiration, a word which properly understood is the opposite of fatigue. To be fatigued is to be dis-spirited, but to be inspired is to be in the spirit. To be egocentric is to be dis-spirited, but to be self-centered in the right sense is to be inspired or in spirit. The truly inspired are enlightened and cannot abide in darkness.

You can speak from the spirit or from the ego, as you choose. If you speak from spirit you have chosen to “Be still and know that I am God.” These words are inspired because they reflect knowledge. If you speak from the ego you are disclaiming knowledge instead of affirming it, and are thus dis-spiriting yourself. Do not embark on useless journeys, because they are indeed in vain. The ego may desire them, but spirit cannot embark on them because it is forever unwilling to depart from its Foundation.

The journey to the cross should be the last “useless journey.” Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. If you can accept it as your own last useless journey, you are also free to join my resurrection. Until you do so your life is indeed wasted. It merely re-enacts the separation, the loss of power, the futile attempts of the ego at reparation, and finally the crucifixion of the body, or death. Such repetitions are endless until they are voluntarily given up. Do not make the pathetic error of “clinging to the old rugged cross.” The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. This is not the Gospel I intended to offer you. We have another journey to undertake, and if you will read these lessons carefully they will help prepare you to undertake it.

*

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 28

Lesson 28
Above all else I want to see things differently.

Today we are really giving specific application to the idea for yesterday. In these practice periods, you will be making a series of definite commitments. The question of whether you will keep them in the future is not our concern here. If you are willing at least to make them now, you have started on the way to keeping them. And we are still at the beginning.

You may wonder why it is important to say, for example, “Above all else I want to see this table differently.” In itself it is not important at all. Yet what is by itself? And what does “in itself” mean? You see a lot of separate things about you, which really means you are not seeing at all. You either see or not. When you have seen one thing differently, you will see all things differently. The light you will see in any one of them is the same light you will see in them all.

When you say, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are making a commitment to withdraw your preconceived ideas about the table, and open your mind to what it is, and what it is for. You are not defining it in past terms. You are asking what it is, rather than telling it what it is. You are not binding its meaning to your tiny experience of tables, nor are you limiting its purpose to your little personal thoughts.

You will not question what you have already defined. And the purpose of these exercises is to ask questions and receive the answers. In saying, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are committing yourself to seeing. It is not an exclusive commitment. It is a commitment that applies to the table just as much as to anything else, neither more nor less.

You could, in fact, gain vision from just that table, if you would withdraw all your own ideas from it, and look upon it with a completely open mind. It has something to show you; something beautiful and clean and of infinite value, full of happiness and hope. Hidden under all your ideas about it is its real purpose, the purpose it shares with all the universe.

In using the table as a subject for applying the idea for today, you are therefore really asking to see the purpose of the universe. You will be making this same request of each subject that you use in the practice periods. And you are making a commitment to each of them to let its purpose be revealed to you, instead of placing your own judgment upon it.

We will have six two-minute practice periods today, in which the idea for the day is stated first, and then applied to whatever you see about you. Not only should the subjects be chosen randomly, but each one should be accorded equal sincerity as today’s idea is applied to it, in an attempt to acknowledge the equal value of them all in their contribution to your seeing.

As usual, the applications should include the name of the subject your eyes happen to light on, and you should rest your eyes on it while saying

Above all else I want to see this ______ differently.

Each application should be made quite slowly, and as thoughtfully as possible. There is no hurry.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #747: I am still having a little doubt as to the nature of the ego. Is it such an evil entity always attempting to separate us from God? Isn’t it better just to think of a corpus of wrong ideas we have created of ourselves that serves the simple purpose of giving wrong answers when facing a situation? Isn’t it just a point of reference with which to compare the divine peace of Heaven? Why do we have to see it as such an entity? In my case this idea contributed to building a new kind of fear I had to deal with.

A: In A Course in Miracles , Jesus tells us exactly what the ego is : “What is the ego ? But a dream of what you really are. A thought you are apart from your Creator and a wish to be what He created not. It is a thing of madness, not reality at all. A name for namelessness is all it is. A symbol of impossibility; a choice for options that do not exist. We name it but to help us understand that it is nothing but an ancient thought that what is made has immortality. But what could come of this except a dream which, like all dreams, can only end in death?” (C.2.1:4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, italics ours ) The ego cannot then be an entity; it has no substance. It is the thought of separation, which is given power only by a choice in the mind to believe that it is true. The ego/thought exists in our experience because we want it to. We choose it over the Holy Spirit because we prefer our specialness as separate bodies to our truth as God’s innocent Son. We fear it because we fear the power of our minds that would recognize the nothingness of the ego. If the ego is nothing, so is the world and so is the body. That recognition is terrifying to those who cling to specialness in a body.

The world and the body arise in our experience as the result of choosing to identify with the thought of separation (ego) in the mind. Thus, the ego is not a thing outside of ourselves that exists on its own, acting as an agent that can tempt us to anything. We alone are responsible for bringing it into existence by believing in it and allowing it to thrive on the guilt that inevitably follows the choice to be other than the Son that God created. We would prefer to believe that the ego has a life of its own so we could dissociate from it. That would allow us to have our cake and eat it too; i.e., have an ego-free life as bodies outside of Heaven. However, Jesus tells us in the Course that neither the ego nor the body exists, because nothing exists outside of Heaven: “ Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere” (T.23.II.19:6). To ears that cling to “life” in a body this is not good news, and does indeed seem to instill fear. The fear, however, comes only from unwillingness to accept that truth be true. Yet in this same statement lies our hope for escape from the nightmare of separation. It tells us the ego has no life, and therefore no power and no effects. In another passage we are told: “ It [the ego] has no meaning. It does not exist. Do not try to understand it because, if you do, you are believing that it can be understood and is therefore capable of being appreciated and loved. That would justify its existence, which cannot be justified” (T.7.VI.11:6,7,8,9). That is good news. We are free to fix our attention on the path of forgiveness that is our only function here, and let the thought of separation be gradually undone. The ego, like the world, will then “fade into the nothingness from which it came.…” (M.13.1:2)

Q #748: If time is money, can we save it by spending less on our investment in the ego thought system. Will Jesus show us how to write this off? Could He be viewed as our ultimate financial advisor? Just wondering.

A: A helpful perspective! Sounds like a reflection on the section in the text of A Course in Miracles called “The Investment in Reality” (T.12.III) . Yes, we have invested heavily and almost exclusively in the ego thought system, and our losses have mounted accordingly. A diversified portfolio is always a wiser approach! And, yes, Jesus is showing us how to write off this bad debt. We could not find a better financial advisor. Unfortunately, we have not been listening to what he has been telling us for eons. Thankfully, he’s still saying it, and we will never run out of chances to change our minds and turn back to him as our advisor. Essentially he is showing us how we got into trouble and how to get out of it, without losing anything of value. What a deal! The only condition is that we muster up the humility to question our own judgment and agree to learn how to judge everything with him , which should not be hard to do, given our dismal performance thus far. Accepting him as our advisor is the best decision we could ever make, because it will give us everything we truly have longed for, and no sacrifice will ever have been asked. A no brainer!