A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 31, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for May 31

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

V. The Healed Relationship

The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world. Like everything about salvation, the holy instant is a practical device, witnessed to by its results. The holy instant never fails. The experience of it is always felt. Yet without expression it is not remembered. The holy relationship is a constant reminder of the experience in which the relationship became what it is. And as the unholy relationship is a continuing hymn of hate in praise of its maker, so is the holy relationship a happy song of praise to the Redeemer of relationships.

The holy relationship, a major step toward the perception of the real world, is learned. It is the old, unholy relationship, transformed and seen anew. The holy relationship is a phenomenal teaching accomplishment. In all its aspects, as it begins, develops and becomes accomplished, it represents the reversal of the unholy relationship. Be comforted in this; the only difficult phase is the beginning. For here, the goal of the relationship is abruptly shifted to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit, to use for His purposes.

This invitation is accepted immediately, and the Holy Spirit wastes no time in introducing the practical results of asking Him to enter. At once His goal replaces yours. This is accomplished very rapidly, but it makes the relationship seem disturbed, disjunctive and even quite distressing. The reason is quite clear. For the relationship as it is, is out of line with its own goal, and clearly unsuited to the purpose that has been accepted for it. In its unholy condition, your goal was all that seemed to give it meaning. Now it seems to make no sense. Many relationships have been broken off at this point, and the pursuit of the old goal re-established in another relationship. For once the unholy relationship has accepted the goal of holiness, it can never again be what it was.

The temptation of the ego becomes extremely intense with this shift in goals. For the relationship has not as yet been changed sufficiently to make its former goal completely without attraction, and its structure is ‘threatened’ by the recognition of its inappropriateness for meeting its new purpose. The conflict between the goal and the structure of the relationship is so apparent that they cannot coexist. Yet now the goal will not be changed. Set firmly in the unholy relationship, there is no course except to change the relationship to fit the goal. Until this happy solution is seen and accepted as the only way out of the conflict, the relationship may seem to be severely strained.

It would not be kinder to shift the goal more slowly, for the contrast would be obscured, and the ego given time to reinterpret each slow step according to its liking. Only a radical shift in purpose could induce a complete change of mind about what the whole relationship is for. As this change develops and is finally accomplished, it grows increasingly beneficent and joyous. But at the beginning, the situation is experienced as very precarious. A relationship, undertaken by two individuals for their unholy purposes, suddenly has holiness for its goal. As these two contemplate their relationship from the point of view of this new purpose, they are inevitably appalled. Their perception of the relationship may even become quite disorganised. And yet, the former organisation of their perception no longer serves the purpose they have agreed to meet.

This is the time for faith. You let this goal be set for you. That was an act of faith. Do not abandon faith, now that the rewards of faith are being introduced. If you believed the Holy Spirit was there to accept the relationship, why would you now not still believe that He is there to purify what He has taken under His guidance? Have faith in your brother in what but seems to be a trying time. The goal is set. And your relationship has sanity as its purpose. For now you find yourself in an insane relationship, recognised as such in the light of its goal.

Now the ego counsels thus; substitute for this another relationship to which your former goal was quite appropriate. You can escape from your distress only by getting rid of your brother. You need not part entirely if you choose not to do so. But you must exclude major areas of fantasy from your brother, to save your sanity. Hear not this now! Have faith in Him Who answered you. He heard. Has He not been very explicit in His answer? You are not now wholly insane. Can you deny that He has given you a most explicit statement? Now He asks for faith a little longer, even in bewilderment. For this will go, and you will see the justification for your faith emerge, to bring you shining conviction. Abandon Him not now, nor your brother. This relationship has been reborn as holy.

Accept with gladness what you do not understand, and let it be explained to you as you perceive its purpose work in it to make it holy. You will find many opportunities to blame your brother for the ‘failure’ of your relationship, for it will seem at times to have no purpose. A sense of aimlessness will come to haunt you, and to remind you of all the ways you once sought for satisfaction and thought you found it. Forget not now the misery you really found, and do not breathe life into your failing ego. For your relationship has not been disrupted. It has been saved.

You are very new in the ways of salvation, and think you have lost your way. Your way is lost, but think not this is loss. In your newness, remember that you and your brother have started again, together. And take his hand, to walk together along a road far more familiar than you now believe. Is it not certain that you will remember a goal unchanged throughout eternity? For you have chosen but the goal of God, from which your true intent was never absent.

Throughout the Sonship is the song of freedom heard, in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship. Join in His blessing, and withhold not yours upon it. For all it needs now is your blessing, that you may see that in it rests salvation. Condemn salvation not, for it has come to you. And welcome it together, for it has come to join you and your brother together in a relationship in which all the Sonship is together blessed.

You undertook, together, to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise. Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work. And He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him. Nor does He see the mistakes at all. Have you been similarly grateful to your brother? Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts, and overlooked mistakes? Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes? Perhaps you are now entering upon a campaign to blame him for the discomfort of the situation in which you find yourself. And by this lack of thanks and gratitude you make yourself unable to express the holy instant, and thus lose sight of it.

The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time, but not concealed within it. The instant remains: But where are you? To give thanks to your brother is to appreciate the holy instant, and thus enable its results to be accepted and shared. To attack your brother is not to lose the instant, but to make it powerless in its effects.

You have received the holy instant, but you may have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realise that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack your brother, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself, and to recognise what has been given and received by you.

You and your brother stand together in the holy presence of truth itself. Here is the goal, together with you. Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? It is just this same discrepancy between the purpose that has been accepted and the means as they stand now which seems to make you suffer, but which makes Heaven glad. If Heaven, were outside you, you could not share in its gladness. Yet because it is within, the gladness, too, is yours. You are joined in purpose, but remain still separate and divided on the means. Yet the goal is fixed, firm and unalterable, and the means will surely fall in place because the goal is sure. And you will share the gladness of the Sonship that it is so.

As you begin to recognise and accept the gifts you have so freely given to your brother, you will also accept the effects of the holy instant and use them to correct all your mistakes and free you from their results. And learning this, you will have also learned how to release all the Sonship, and offer it in gladness and thanksgiving to Him Who gave you your release, and Who would extend it through you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 31

Lesson 46

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(131) No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.

(132) I loose the world from all I thought it was.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the relationship of A Course in Miracles to other spiritual paths, and specifically to the Bible?

A) This is an extremely important question, because the incorrect understanding of the answer inevitably leads to serious distortion of what A Course in Miracles actually teaches and how it is meant to be practiced. We live in an age where many followers of spiritual paths — usually grouped together in what is termed the “new age” — emphasize unity instead of diversity. While this is an admirable spiritual goal, certainly, it does serve to deny the “fact” of our separated world; namely, that we are all different, and that different spiritual paths are thus required.  Once this is accepted, then it is clear that different paths will be different. This is clearly obvious on one level, but is frequently obscured by the need to blur differences for the sake of a spurious unity. This does every spiritual path a disservice, and Jesus always made it clear to Helen personally, as well as in A Course in Miracles itself, how different his Course was from other paths. This does not necessarily mean it is better, but it does mean that it is unique.

Near the beginning of the manual for teachers, Jesus says of A Course in Miracles:

This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome (M-1.4:1-2).

And we have already examined Jesus’ special message to Helen — “I Need Do Nothing” — where Jesus contrasts his Course with other spiritualities that emphasize meditation and contemplation.

Therefore, on the one hand, the Course’s relationship to other spiritual paths is that it shares the same goal of returning home to God. It is different, however, because its theology and practice are different. Jesus summarizes this relationship in his pithy comment:

A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary (C-in.2:5).

As we have already seen, A Course in Miracles is a non-dualistic spirituality, while almost all others are dualistic. Confusing the Course with other spiritual thought systems, saying “the Course is just like … (fill in your favorite spirituality)” is simply in the end a subtle ego ploy for changing A Course in Miracles so that its teachings will be less threatening. We, of course, have seen in our Western history a notable example of this ego device when the Christian world made Jesus and his teachings into an extension of Judaism and the Old Testament, rather than accepting him and his message as the radical gift it was, independent of all that preceded it. Students of A Course in Miraclesshould profit from this mistake of the past, and grow into the Course, rather than attempting to scale it down to their own level of understanding.

Another form of this mistake is the common practice of including A Course in Miracles with what Aldous Huxley termed “the perennial philosophy,” a catch-all phrase used to embrace the major mystical traditions of the world.  Again, this does the Course a profound disservice, because it blurs what is its distinctive contribution to the world’s spiritualities: the idea that not only was the physical universe an illusion that God did not create, but that it was also “made as an attack” on Him (W-pII.3.2:1). This profound and sophisticated psychological principle, integrated with a pure non-dualistic metaphysics is what renders A Course in Miracles unique among the spiritual and religious thought systems of the world.

Comparing A Course in Miracles specifically with the Bible, we can see four major areas of differences, making these two spiritual paths totally incompatible. We quote from the introduction to A Course in Miracles and ChristianityA Dialogue by Kenneth and the Jesuit philosopher Father Norris Clarke, which explores these differences in greater depth:

1) A Course in Miracles teaches that God did not create the physical universe, which includes all matter, form, and the body; the Bible states that He did.2) The God of A Course in Miracles does not even know about the sin of separation (since to know about it would make it real), let alone react to it; the God of the Bible perceives sin directly, as is portrayed in the Garden of Eden story … and His responses to it are vigorous, dramatic, and at times
punitive, to say the very least.

3) A Course in Miracles‘ Jesus is equal to everyone else, a part of God’s one Son or Christ; the Bible’s Jesus is seen as special, apart, and therefore ontologically different from everyone else, being God’s only begotten Son, the second person of the Trinity.

4) The Jesus of A Course in Miracles is not sent by God to suffer and die on the cross in a sacrificial act of atonement for sin, but rather teaches that there is no sin by demonstrating that nothing happened to him in reality, for sin has no effect on the Love of God; the Jesus of the Bible agonizes, suffers, and dies for the sins of the world in an act that brings vicarious salvation to humanity, thereby establishing sin and death as real, and moreover clearly reflecting that God has been affected by Adam’s sin and must respond to its actual presence in the world by sacrificing His beloved Son. (pp. 2-3 from the Dialogue)

While our answer has focused on the Bible, the same basic message can be given regarding any other spiritual path. While there certainly can be nothing wrong with reading other spiritualities or being interested in learning more about them, nor in attending religious services, spiritual meetings, etc., a student of A Course in Miracles should at least be cautious — to make the point again — about attempting to blend together theologies or spiritual approaches that ultimately do not mix. Some spiritualities lend themselves to such “blending together”; A Course in Miracles does not.

INTERESTED READERS WILL FIND EXCERPTS FROM A COURSE IN MIRACLES AND CHRISTIANITY: A DIALOGUE
BEGINNING AT http://www.miraclestudies.net/Dialogue_Pref.html

The Journey to God

 

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 15, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for February 15

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

III. The Relinquishment of Attack

As we have already emphasised, every idea begins in the mind of the thinker. Therefore, what extends from the mind is still in it, and from what it extends it knows itself. The word ‘knows’ is correct here, because the Holy Spirit still holds knowledge safe in your mind through His impartial perception. By attacking nothing, He presents no barrier to the communication of God. Therefore, being is never threatened. Your Godlike mind can never be defiled. The ego never was and never will be part of it, but through the ego you can hear and teach and learn what is not true. You have taught yourself to believe that you are not what you are. You cannot teach what you have not learned, and what you teach you strengthen in yourself because you are sharing it. Every lesson you teach you are learning.

That is why you must teach only one lesson. If you are to be conflict-free yourself, you must learn only from the Holy Spirit and teach only by Him. You are only love, but when you deny this, you make what you are something you must learn to remember. I said before that the message of the crucifixion was, ‘Teach only love, for that is what you are’. This is the one lesson that is perfectly unified, because it is the only lesson that is one. Only by teaching it can you learn it. ‘As you teach so will you learn’. If that is true, and it is true indeed, do not forget that what you teach is teaching you. And what you project or extend you believe.

The only safety lies in extending the Holy Spirit, because as you see His gentleness in others your own mind perceives itself as totally harmless. Once it can accept this fully, it sees no need to protect itself. The protection of God then dawns upon it, assuring it that it is perfectly safe forever. The perfectly safe are wholly benign. They bless because they know that they are blessed. Without anxiety the mind is wholly kind, and because it extends beneficence it is beneficent. Safety is the complete relinquishment of attack. No compromise is possible in this. Teach attack in any form and you have learned it, and it will hurt you. Yet this learning is not immortal, and you can unlearn it by not teaching it.

Since you cannot not teach, your salvation lies in teaching the exact opposite of everything the ego believes. This is how you will learn the truth that will set you free, and will keep you free as others learn it of you. The only way to have peace is to teach peace. By teaching peace you must learn it yourself, because you cannot teach what you still dissociate. Only thus can you win back the knowledge that you threw away. An idea that you share you must have. It awakens in your mind through the conviction of teaching it. Everything you teach you are learning. Teach only love, and learn that love is yours and you are love.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 15

Lesson 46

God is the love in which I forgive.

1. God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. For­giveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.

2. Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions dis­appear.

3. Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.

4. If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:

God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].

5. The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:

God is the Love in which I forgive myself.

Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:

God is the Love with which I love myself.
God is the Love in which I am blessed.

6. The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:

I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.

The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.

7. The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to any­one, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:

God is the Love in which I forgive you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is there a difference between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and does it matter to whom I go for help?

A) The difference between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a theological one, not a practical one. According to the Course’s theory, the Holy Spirit was created by God in response to the thought of separation in His Son’s mind. In reality of course, as we have mentioned several times before, such a description in A Course in Miracles is metaphoric, because how can God give an answer to something that never happened? At any rate, the Holy Spirit can be more properly understood as the memory of God’s Love and the Son’s true Identity as Christ that he carried with him into his dream. The Holy Spirit, therefore, is a principle or a thought in the Son’s mind that reminds him that what he believes about himself and his Creator is false. This correction is what is known in A Course in Miracles as the principle of the Atonement.

Jesus, on the other hand, is a part of the Sonship, and is as tangible and specific as is the Son’s belief about himself. He is the part of the Son’s one mind that “remembered to laugh” at the tiny, mad idea. And therefore Jesus becomes a manifestation of the Atonement principle, or of the more abstract presence of the Holy Spirit. That is what is meant in the clarification of terms by the previously quoted statement that the Holy Spirit “established Jesus as the leader in carrying out His plan” (C-6.2:2), and by the passage in the text that is a direct reference to Jesus:

The Atonement principle was in effect long before the Atonement began. The principle was love [the Holy Spirit] and the Atonement was an act of love [Jesus] (T-2.11.4:2-3).

On the level of practice, however, there is no difference. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit serve as our inner Teachers, to whom we go for help in learning how to forgive. The Holy Spirit offers the student a more abstract Teacher, if Jesus is a problem; while Jesus is a more specific and personal form for the student to relate to. Either one will do, however, for Their function remains the same. Nonetheless, if Jesus is indeed a problem figure for students of his Course, then it would definitely be in keeping with the Course’s very principles for such students to look at their unforgiveness of him. Thus they may explore its deeper roots so that they may be undone, just as with any unforgiveness that is present within their minds.

the mind that serves spirit

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

ACIM Text Reading for March 7

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

I. The Message of the Crucifixion

For learning purposes, let us consider the crucifixion again. I did not dwell on it before because of the fearful connotations you may associate with it. The only emphasis laid upon it so far has been that it was not a form of punishment. Nothing, however, can be explained in negative terms only. There is a positive interpretation of the crucifixion that is wholly devoid of fear, and therefore wholly benign in what it teaches, if it is properly understood.

The crucifixion is nothing more than an extreme example. Its value, like the value of any teaching device, lies solely in the kind of learning it facilitates. It can be, and has been, misunderstood. This is only because the fearful are apt to perceive fearfully. I have already told you that you can always call on me to share my decision, and thus make it stronger. I have also told you that the crucifixion was the last useless journey the Sonship need take, and that it represents release from fear to anyone who understands it. While I emphasised only the resurrection before, the purpose of the crucifixion and how it actually led to the resurrection was not clarified then. Nevertheless, it has a definite contribution to make to your own life, and if you will consider it without fear, it will help you understand your own role as a teacher.

You have probably reacted for years as if you were being crucified. This is a marked tendency of the separated, who always refuse to consider what they have done to themselves. Projection means anger, anger fosters assault, and assault promotes fear. The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another. This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible. Otherwise, I cannot serve as a model for learning.

Assault can ultimately be made only on the body. There is little doubt that one body can assault another, and can even destroy it. Yet if destruction itself is impossible, anything that is destructible cannot be real. Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger. To the extent to which you believe that it does, you are accepting false premises and teaching them to others. The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot bepersecuted. If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely.

I have made it perfectly clear that I am like you. and you are like me, but our fundamental equality can be demonstrated only through joint decision. You are free to perceive yourself as persecuted if you choose. When you do choose to react that way, however, you might remember that I was persecuted as the world judges, and did not share this evaluation for myself. And because I did not share it, I did not strengthen it. I therefore offered a different interpretation of attack, and one which I want to share with you. If you will believe it, you will help me teach it.

As I have said before, ‘As you teach so shall you learn’. If you react as if you are persecuted, you are teaching persecution, This is not a lesson a Son of God should want to teach if he is to realise his own salvation. Rather, teach your own perfect immunity, which is the truth in you, and realise that it cannot be assailed. Do not try to protect it yourself, or you are believing that it is assailable. You are not asked to be crucified, which was part of my own teaching contribution. You are merely asked to follow my example in the face of much less extreme temptations to misperceive, and not to accept them as false justifications for anger. There can be no justification for the unjustifiable. Do not believe there is, and do not teach that there is. Remember always that what you believe you will teach. Believe with me, and we will become equal as teachers.

Your resurrection is your reawakening. I am the model for rebirth, but rebirth itself is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it. God placed it there Himself, and so it is true forever. I believed in it, and therefore accepted it as true for me. Help me to teach it to our brothers in the name of the Kingdom of God, but first believe that it is true for you, or you will teach amiss. My brothers slept during the so-called ‘agony in the garden’, but I could not be angry with them because I knew I could not beabandoned.

I am sorry when my brothers do not share my decision to hear only one Voice, because it weakens them as teachers and as learners. Yet I know they cannot really betray themselves or me, and that it is still on them that I must build my church. There is no choice in this, because only you can be the foundation of God’s church. A church is where an altar is, and the presence of the altar is what makes the church holy. A church that does not inspire love has a hidden altar that is not serving the purpose for which God intended it. I must found His church on you, because those who accept me as a model are literally my disciples. Disciples are followers, and if the model they follow has chosen to save them pain in all respects, they are unwise not to follow him.

I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed. It was clear that this was only because of the projection of others onto me, since I had not harmed anyone and had healed many.

We are still equal as learners, although we do not need to have equal experiences. The Holy Spirit is glad when you can learn from mine, and be reawakened by them. That is their only purpose, and that is the only way in which I can be perceived as the way, the truth and the life. When you hear only one Voice you are never called on to sacrifice. On the contrary, by being able to hear the Holy Spirit in others you can learn from their experiences, and can gain from them without experiencing them directly yourself. That is because the Holy Spirit is one, and anyone who listens is inevitably led to demonstrate His way for all.

You are not persecuted, nor was I. You are not asked to repeat my experiences because the Holy Spirit, Whom we share, makes this unnecessary. To use my experiences constructively, however, you must still follow my example in how to perceive them. My brothers and yours are constantly engaged in justifying the unjustifiable. My one lesson, which I must teach as I learned it, is that no perception that is out of accord with the judgement of the Holy Spirit can be justified. I undertook to show this was true in an extreme case, merely because it would serve as a good teaching aid to those whose temptation to give in to anger and assault would not be so extreme. I will with God that none of His Sons should suffer.

The crucifixion cannot be shared because it is the symbol of projection, but the resurrection is the symbol of sharing because the reawakening of every Son of God is necessary to enable the Sonship to know its wholeness. Only this is knowledge.

The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear:

Teach only love, for that is what you are.

If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the ‘wrath of God’ as His retaliatory weapon. Nor could they speak of the crucifixion entirely without anger, because their sense of guilt had made them angry.

These are some of the examples of upside-down thinking in the New Testament, although its gospel is really only the message of love. If the Apostles had not felt guilty, they never could have quoted me as saying, ‘I come not to bring peace but a sword’. This is clearly the opposite of everything I taught. Nor could they have described my reactions to Judas as they did, if they had really understood me. I could not have said, ‘Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?’ unless I believed in betrayal. The whole message of the crucifixion was simply that I did not. The ‘punishment’ I was said to have called forth upon Judas was a similar mistake. Judas was my brother and a Son of God, as much a part of the Sonship as myself. Was it likely that I would condemn him when I was ready to demonstrate that condemnation is impossible?

As you read the teachings of the Apostles, remember that I told them myself that there was much they would understand later, because they were not wholly ready to follow me at the time. I do not want you to allow any fear to enter into the thought system toward which I am guiding you. I do not call for martyrs but for teachers. No one is punished for sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners. Any concept of punishment involves the projection of blame, and reinforces the idea that blame is justified. The result is a lesson in blame, for all behaviour teaches the beliefs that motivate it. The crucifixion was the result of clearly opposed thought systems; the perfect symbol of the ‘conflict’ between the ego and the Son of God. This conflict seems just as real now, and its lessons must be learned now as well as then.

I do not need gratitude, but you need to develop your weakened ability to be grateful, or you cannot appreciate God. He does not need your appreciation, but you do. You cannot love what you do not appreciate, for fear makes appreciation impossible. When you are afraid of what you are you do not appreciate it, and will therefore reject it. As a result, you will teach rejection.

The power of the Sons of God is present all the time, because they were created as creators. Their influence on each other is without limit, and must be used for their joint salvation. Each one must learn to teach that all forms of rejection are meaningless. The separation is the notion of rejection. As long as you teach this you will believe it. This is not as God thinks, and you must think as He thinks if you are to know Him again.

Remember that the Holy Spirit is the communication link between God the Father and His separated Sons. If you will listen to His Voice you will know that you cannot either hurt or be hurt, and that many need your blessing to help them hear this for themselves. When you perceive only this need in them, and do not respond to any other, you will have learned of me and will be as eager to share your learning as I am.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 7

Lesson 46

God is the Love in which I forgive.

God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.

Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.

Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.

If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:

God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].

The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:

God is the Love in which I forgive myself.

Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:

God is the Love with which I love myself God is the Love in which I am blessed.

The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:

I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.

The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.

The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:

God is the Love in which I forgive you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1230In A Course in Miracles, Workbook Lesson 20 says: “Yet you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced, and if you give in to resentment and opposition” (W.pI.20.1:6). But the thing is, most of the time I regard myself as being coerced by any person I interact with, so I’m used to living like this and it is giving me trouble to do the lessons without this feeling. Is it all right to continue doing the lessons even if I do them uncomfortably?

A: It might help you to go back over each lesson with the intention of noticing how much Jesus emphasizes gentleness and patience. Focus on his loving nature as a teacher and guide who wants more than anything to help you let go of everything that is causing you pain. Try to sense his loving intention, totally free of judgment and coercion, even though you may not be used to feeling it in another person or in yourself. Then know that your feelings of coercion and discomfort are coming from your own guilt projected onto other people. That is exactly what Jesus wants to help you get past. So just look at those feelings as they come up; don’t deny them and don’t judge yourself for having them. You don’t have to let go of them. It is important that you not force yourself to do anything — you never want to fight against yourself. But simply learning how to look at or observe your feelings is a big step in the process of releasing them to Jesus’ love.

Issues similar to yours have come up for other students. You might find it helpful to look at our discussions of these in Questions #71, 146, 184, 315, 934.


Q #1231If God did not create the world and our collective mind did, how is possible that it made such a complex universe from beginning to end? It would seem only God could do this. And this universe seems to be made of all the same stuff. What is it made of? I thought it was all made of God.

A: The complexity of the universe is deliberate, but it is not of divine origin. From the perspective of A Course in Miracles , the world is the result of a series of steps in the ego’s strategy to obliterate from our awareness any sense of the oneness of reality and of the Sonship. “The Substitute Reality” in Chapter 18 explains this process of fragmentation and its result, along with the Course’s approach to the reversal of fragmentation (T.18.I.4,5,6) .

When you think of it, inherent in complexity is separation, whether you are talking about the microscosmic or macrocosmic level. In addition, this complexity produces what seems like an infinite number of problems demanding our attention, just so that we can survive as individuals, as nations, as a planet, etc. This is also important to the ego’s strategy, for as long as we, as physical-psychological individuals, are preoccupied with what is going on in the world (including our bodies), we will never go back into our minds and discover that all of our perceptions are chosen and deliver to us the experiences we want. “Projection makes perception. . . . [the world] is the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:1, 5) “ [Perception] is the outward picture of a wish; an image that you wanted to be true” (T.24.VII.8:10). The world, thus, is not at all what it appears to be. It is the projection of a guilty mind seeking escape from its guilt and fear. As Jesus explains in a rather striking passage, “The world you see is the delusional system of those made mad by guilt” (T.13.in.2:2; see also W.pII.3.2:1).

Safely mindless in the world, we are oblivious to our own mind and its power to choose the Holy Spirit’s thought system instead of the ego’s. Keeping this realization out of our awareness is the ultimate goal of the ego, and our continual involvement in an impossibly complex world is among its most effective ways of achieving this end. This is the direct opposite of Heaven, which is “an awareness of perfect Oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within” (T.18.VI.1:6). Our primary goal as students of this course, thus, is to learn to reflect this Oneness in our daily interactions by recognizing that we all share the same interests and the same split mind with the power to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit.

For further discussion of the relationship between God and the world, see Questions #764 and #904.

be of good cheer

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 15

ACIM Text Reading for February 15

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

II. The Message of the Crucifixion

For learning purposes, let us consider the crucifixion again. I did not dwell on it before because of the fearful connotations you may associate with it. The only emphasis laid upon it so far has been that it was not a form of punishment. Nothing, however, can be explained in negative terms only. There is a positive interpretation of the crucifixion that is wholly devoid of fear, and therefore wholly benign in what it teaches, if it is properly understood.

The crucifixion is nothing more than an extreme example. Its value, like the value of any teaching device, lies solely in the kind of learning it facilitates. It can be, and has been, misunderstood. This is only because the fearful are apt to perceive fearfully. I have already told you that you can always call on me to share my decision, and thus make it stronger. I have also told you that the crucifixion was the last useless journey the Sonship need take, and that it represents release from fear to anyone who understands it. While I emphasized only the resurrection before, the purpose of the crucifixion and how it actually led to the resurrection was not clarified then. Nevertheless, it has a definite contribution to make to your own life, and if you will consider it without fear, it will help you understand your own role as a teacher.

You have probably reacted for years as if you were being crucified. This is a marked tendency of the separated, who always refuse to consider what they have done to themselves. Projection means anger, anger fosters assault, and assault promotes fear. The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another. This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible. Otherwise, I cannot serve as a model for learning.

Assault can ultimately be made only on the body. There is little doubt that one body can assault another, and can even destroy it. Yet if destruction itself is impossible, anything that is destructible cannot be real. Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger. To the extent to which you believe that it does, you are accepting false premises and teaching them to others. The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted. If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely.

I have made it perfectly clear that I am like you and you are like me, but our fundamental equality can be demonstrated only through joint decision. You are free to perceive yourself as persecuted if you choose. When you do choose to react that way, however, you might remember that I was persecuted as the world judges, and did not share this evaluation for myself. And because I did not share it, I did not strengthen it. I therefore offered a different interpretation of attack, and one which I want to share with you. If you will believe it, you will help me teach it.

As I have said before, “As you teach so shall you learn.” If you react as if you are persecuted, you are teaching persecution. This is not a lesson a Son of God should want to teach if he is to realize his own salvation. Rather, teach your own perfect immunity, which is the truth in you, and realize that it cannot be assailed. Do not try to protect it yourself, or you are believing that it is assailable. You are not asked to be crucified, which was part of my own teaching contribution. You are merely asked to follow my example in the face of much less extreme temptations to misperceive, and not to accept them as false justifications for anger. There can be no justification for the unjustifiable. Do not believe there is, and do not teach that there is. Remember always that what you believe you will teach. Believe with me, and we will become equal as teachers.

Your resurrection is your reawakening. I am the model for rebirth, but rebirth itself is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it. God placed it there Himself, and so it is true forever. I believed in it, and therefore accepted it as true for me. Help me to teach it to our brothers in the name of the Kingdom of God, but first believe that it is true for you, or you will teach amiss. My brothers slept during the “agony in the garden,” but I could not be angry with them because I knew I could not be abandoned.

I am sorry when my brothers do not share my decision to hear only one Voice, because it weakens them as teachers and as learners. Yet I know they cannot really betray themselves or me, and that it is still on them that I must build my church. There is no choice in this, because only you can be the foundation of God’s church. A church is where an altar is, and the presence of the altar is what makes the church holy. A church that does not inspire love has a hidden altar that is not serving the purpose for which God intended it. I must found His church on you, because those who accept me as a model are literally my disciples. Disciples are followers, and if the model they follow has chosen to save them pain in all respects, they are unwise not to follow him.

I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed. It was clear that this was only because of the projection of others onto me, since I had not harmed anyone and had healed many.

We are still equal as learners, although we do not need to have equal experiences. The Holy Spirit is glad when you can learn from mine, and be reawakened by them. That is their only purpose, and that is the only way in which I can be perceived as the way, the truth and the life. When you hear only one Voice you are never called on to sacrifice. On the contrary, by being able to hear the Holy Spirit in others you can learn from their experiences, and can gain from them without experiencing them directly yourself. That is because the Holy Spirit is one, and anyone who listens is inevitably led to demonstrate His way for all.

You are not persecuted, nor was I. You are not asked to repeat my experiences because the Holy Spirit, Whom we share, makes this unnecessary. To use my experiences constructively, however, you must still follow my example in how to perceive them. My brothers and yours are constantly engaged in justifying the unjustifiable. My one lesson, which I must teach as I learned it, is that no perception that is out of accord with the judgment of the Holy Spirit can be justified. I undertook to show this was true in an extreme case, merely because it would serve as a good teaching aid to those whose temptation to give in to anger and assault would not be so extreme. I will with God that none of His Sons should suffer.

The crucifixion cannot be shared because it is the symbol of projection, but the resurrection is the symbol of sharing because the reawakening of every Son of God is necessary to enable the Sonship to know its wholeness. Only this is knowledge.

The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear:

“Teach only love, for that is what you are.”

If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the “wrath of God” as His retaliatory weapon. Nor could they speak of the crucifixion entirely without anger, because their sense of guilt had made them angry.

These are some of the examples of upside-down thinking in the New Testament, although its gospel is really only the message of love. If the Apostles had not felt guilty, they never could have quoted me as saying, “I come not to bring peace but a sword.” This is clearly the opposite of everything I taught. Nor could they have described my reactions to Judas as they did, if they had really understood me. I could not have said, “Betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?” unless I believed in betrayal. The whole message of the crucifixion was simply that I did not. The “punishment” I was said to have called forth upon Judas was a similar mistake. Judas was my brother and a Son of God, as much a part of the Sonship as myself. Was it likely that I would condemn him when I was ready to demonstrate that condemnation is impossible?

As you read the teachings of the Apostles, remember that I told them myself that there was much they would understand later, because they were not wholly ready to follow me at the time. I do not want you to allow any fear to enter into the thought system toward which I am guiding you. I do not call for martyrs but for teachers. No one is punished for sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners. Any concept of punishment involves the projection of blame, and reinforces the idea that blame is justified. The result is a lesson in blame, for all behavior teaches the beliefs that motivate it. The crucifixion was the result of clearly opposed thought systems; the perfect symbol of the “conflict” between the ego and the Son of God. This conflict seems just as real now, and its lessons must be learned now as well as then.

I do not need gratitude, but you need to develop your weakened ability to be grateful, or you cannot appreciate God. He does not need your appreciation, but you do. You cannot love what you do not appreciate, for fear makes appreciation impossible. When you are afraid of what you are you do not appreciate it, and will therefore reject it. As a result, you will teach rejection.

The power of the Sons of God is present all the time, because they were created as creators. Their influence on each other is without limit, and must be used for their joint salvation. Each one must learn to teach that all forms of rejection are meaningless. The separation is the notion of rejection. As long as you teach this you will believe it. This is not as God thinks, and you must think as He thinks if you are to know Him again.

Remember that the Holy Spirit is the communication link between God the Father and His separated Sons. If you will listen to His Voice you will know that you cannot either hurt or be hurt, and that many need your blessing to help them hear this for themselves. When you perceive only this need in them, and do not respond to any other, you will have learned of me and will be as eager to share your learning as I am.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 15

Lesson 46

God is the Love in which I forgive.

God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.

Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.

Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.

If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:

God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].

The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:

God is the Love in which I forgive myself.

Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:

God is the Love with which I love myself God is the Love in which I am blessed.

The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:

I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.

The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.

The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:

God is the Love in which I forgive you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1176: You teach that we don’t change the world out there through forgiveness; we only change our perception. In my ego experience, however, when I catch the principle behind the problem the problem is gone, and it doesn’t occur anymore to me. If that is what you call change of perception, I’m with you. Nothing needs to be projected once I understand the content behind the “problem.” Is it correct to conclude that everything that I bring from darkness into light — forgiveness — won’t “hide” anymore in form, and, therefore, the principle/content brought to awareness won’t happen again in my illusory world?

A: To use an extreme example of what we mean . . . if you were living under the control of a repressive, cruel dictator with no way of leaving, you could practice forgiveness by realizing that this dictator cannot take away the peace that is within you, regardless of the harsh external restrictions affecting you physically. You can thus be at peace internally, having no ill feelings toward the dictator, while your external living conditions remain wretchedly inadequate. In this case, your perception would have changed in the sense that you no longer are projecting your guilt from your mind onto anything external, including your own body. You have brought the darkness of judgment and hatred to the light of Jesus’ love in your mind, and so you now look on everything through the eyes of that love. All grievances have thus dissolved and only love remains. Your problem is gone, because you have let go of the ego in this instance.

Sometimes what happens in a relationship where there are conflicts and grievances is that when one person chooses to shift from the ego’s purpose (to keep separation alive) to the Holy Spirit’s purpose (to see shared interests, thus undoing separation), the other person also breaks the special-relationship bargain with the ego, and then the relationship changes for the better. But this is not always the case, and one should have no investment in that happening. As Jesus emphasizes in A Course in Miracles , our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement for ourselves (T.2.V.5:1) . When we accept the Atonement (that the separation never happened), there is no more guilt in our minds; and if there is no more guilt, there is no need for the defenses of denial and projection against the pain of that guilt. This is the essence of what Jesus teaches us in Lessons 79 and 80 — there is only one problem and it has been solved already (W.pI.79,80). Regardless of what is going on externally, our inner peace would never be disturbed once we let go of our identification with the ego thought system.

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 16

ACIM Text Reading for February 16

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

III. The Relinquishment of Attack

As we have already emphasised, every idea begins in the mind of the thinker. Therefore, what extends from the mind is still in it, and from what it extends it knows itself. The word ‘knows’ is correct here, because the Holy Spirit still holds knowledge safe in your mind through His impartial perception. By attacking nothing, He presents no barrier to the communication of God. Therefore, being is never threatened. Your Godlike mind can never be defiled. The ego never was and never will be part of it, but through the ego you can hear and teach and learn what is not true. You have taught yourself to believe that you are not what you are. You cannot teach what you have not learned, and what you teach you strengthen in yourself because you are sharing it. Every lesson you teach you are learning.

That is why you must teach only one lesson. If you are to be conflict-free yourself, you must learn only from the Holy Spirit and teach only by Him. You are only love, but when you deny this, you make what you are something you must learn to remember. I said before that the message of the crucifixion was, ‘Teach only love, for that is what you are’. This is the one lesson that is perfectly unified, because it is the only lesson that is one. Only by teaching it can you learn it. ‘As you teach so will you learn’. If that is true, and it is true indeed, do not forget that what you teach is teaching you. And what you project or extend you believe.

The only safety lies in extending the Holy Spirit, because as you see His gentleness in others your own mind perceives itself as totally harmless. Once it can accept this fully, it sees no need to protect itself. The protection of God then dawns upon it, assuring it that it is perfectly safe forever. The perfectly safe are wholly benign. They bless because they know that they are blessed. Without anxiety the mind is wholly kind, and because it extends beneficence it is beneficent. Safety is the complete relinquishment of attack. No compromise is possible in this. Teach attack in any form and you have learned it, and it will hurt you. Yet this learning is not immortal, and you can unlearn it by not teaching it.

Since you cannot not teach, your salvation lies in teaching the exact opposite of everything the ego believes. This is how you will learn the truth that will set you free, and will keep you free as others learn it of you. The only way to have peace is to teach peace. By teaching peace you must learn it yourself, because you cannot teach what you still dissociate. Only thus can you win back the knowledge that you threw away. An idea that you share you must have. It awakens in your mind through the conviction of teaching it. Everything you teach you are learning. Teach only love, and learn that love is yours and you are love.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 16

Lesson 46
God is the Love in which I forgive.

God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.

Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.

Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.

If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:

God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].

The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:

God is the Love in which I forgive myself.

Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:

God is the Love with which I love myself God is the Love in which I am blessed.

The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:

I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.

The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.

The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:

God is the Love in which I forgive you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #210: There seems to be a conflict between the ego consciousness and God consciousness that ebbs and flows. I’ve been studying A Course in Miracles for three months and am able to observe the “struggle” almost as a spectator would. Comments appreciated.

A: Our minds are split between the part that identifies with the ego thought system of separation (wrong-mindedness) and the part that identifies with the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness (right-mindedness). We are constantly choosing between the two thought systems, although we generally are not aware of making this choice. That is the point of the training in the Course: first, to help us catch the thoughts that precede our experience, which, in the workbook lessons, Jesus refers to as the process of mind searching, where we would observe what is going on in our minds. Then eventually, we would be able to catch ourselves choosing either the ego or the Holy Spirit as our teacher. This is a process that continues throughout our lives.

You perhaps are referring to the fear that we experience when we ask for help to change our teacher from the ego to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. That could be perceived as a struggle in which we are attracted to the healing love in our right minds, but are still reluctant to let go of everything else. We always are identified with one or the other, though, and over a period of time we would become more and more clear about which one we have chosen. We go back and forth between our right mind and our wrong mind, but there is no neutral state. If we are observing our inner state with the ego, then we would be fearful, judgmental, or self-glorifying. If we are observing our inner state with Jesus, we would be peaceful, non-judgmental, and patient, knowing that we are in the process of undoing something that never happened, and therefore we would not take any of our thoughts all that seriously.

*

Q #211: Is it possible to get a disease if you have no knowledge of its existence, and therefore no fear of it?

A: Yes, it is. And if you think about it, you can see that it happens all the time, from the very first cases of new diseases such as AIDS or SARS, before they are identified in the media, to illnesses that affect children congenitally or very early in life, before we would see them as having any “knowledge” of the disease. So how does this happen, in light of A Course in Miracles’ teachings on how we choose our illnesses?

All diseases and illnesses in the body are the effects of a decision made in the mind (W.pI.136.2,3,4,5), not the brain. Like every other decision about what happens to us in our lifetime, these decisions are made outside of time and space. The brain that we believe — incorrectly — is the seat of consciousness and decision-making is only an effect. Much of what is contained in the mind remains out of our conscious awareness, but at a deeper level we do know all of its contents. It is our fear of the power of our mind however that keeps it all buried (T.2.VI.9), so that our defenses can work and we do not seem to be responsible for the things that happen to us — we can see ourselves as victims of forces beyond our control. In that way, the pain that comes from our choosing the thought of separation seems instead to come from what others do to us. And our guilt over separation remains buried and protected, along with the thought of separation.

Having said this, we also need to be clear that the goal is not to make the unconscious conscious so that we can make better choices for our body’s health and well-being. It is not really fear of the illness itself that causes us to choose it — we actually want the illness for its value as a defense. Our goal is to learn over time to forgive ourselves for the illusory guilt over separation. For it is this guilt that we believe calls for punishment, which in turn demonstrates that the guilt and separation are serious and real. And that punishment can assume many different forms, disease being just one among many. So the problem is not the punishment, what ever form it may take, but our mistaken belief in our guilt. And that is what we want to make conscious. For that is where the only real healing can occur.

For a related discussion, see also Question #117.

you have no idea

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 15

ACIM Text Reading for February 15

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
II. The Alternative to Projection

Any split in mind must involve a rejection of part of it, and this is the belief in separation. The wholeness of God, which is His peace, cannot be appreciated except by a whole mind that recognises the wholeness of God’s creation. By this recognition it knows its Creator. Exclusion and separation are synonymous, as are separation and dissociation. We have said before that the separation was and is dissociation, and that once it occurs projection becomes its main defence, or the device that keeps it going. The reason, however, may not be so obvious as you think.

What you project you disown, and therefore do not believe is yours. You are excluding yourself by the very judgement that you are different from the one on whom you project. Since you have also judged against what you project, you continue to attack it because you continue to keep it separated. By doing this unconsciously, you try to keep the fact that you attacked yourself out of awareness, and thus imagine that you have made yourself safe.

Yet projection will always hurt you. It reinforces your belief in your own split mind, and its only purpose is to keep the separation going. It is solely a device of the ego to make you feel different from your brothers and separated from them. The ego justifies this on the grounds that it makes you seem ‘better’ than they are, thus obscuring your equality with them still further. Projection and attack are inevitably related, because projection is always a means of justifying attack. Anger without projection is impossible. The ego uses projection only to destroy your perception of both yourself and your brothers. The process begins by excluding something that exists in you but which you do not want, and leads directly to excluding you from your brothers.

We have learned, however, that there is an alternative to projection. Every ability of the ego has a better use, because its abilities are directed by the mind, which has a better Voice. The Holy Spirit extends and the ego projects. As their goals are opposed, so is the result.

The Holy Spirit begins by perceiving you as perfect. Knowing this perfection is shared He recognises it in others, thus strengthening it in both. Instead of anger this arouses love for both, because it establishes inclusion. Perceiving equality, the Holy Spirit perceives equal needs. This invites Atonement automatically, because Atonement is the one need in this world that is universal. To perceive yourself this way is the only way in which you can find happiness in the world. That is because it is the acknowledgement that you are not in this world, for the world is unhappy.

How else can you find joy in a joyless place except by realising that you are not there? You cannot be anywhere God did not put you, and God created you as part of Him. That is both where you are and what you are. It is completely unalterable. It is total inclusion. You cannot change it now or ever. It is forever true. It is not a belief, but a Fact. Anything that God created is as true as He is. Its truth lies only in its perfect inclusion in Him Who alone is perfect. To deny this is to deny yourself and Him, since it is impossible to accept one without the other.

The perfect equality of the Holy Spirit’s perception is the reflection of the perfect equality of God’s knowing. The ego’s perception has no counterpart in God, but the Holy Spirit remains the bridge between perception and knowledge. By enabling you to use perception in a way that reflects knowledge, you will ultimately remember it. The ego would prefer to believe that this memory is impossible, yet it is your perception the Holy Spirit guides. Your perception will end where it began. Everything meets in God, because everything was created by Him and in Him.

God created His Sons by extending His Thought, and retaining the extensions of His Thought in His Mind. All His Thoughts are thus perfectly united within themselves and with each other. The Holy Spirit enables you to perceive this wholeness now. God created you to create. You cannot extend His Kingdom until you know of its wholeness.

Thoughts begin in the mind of the thinker, from which they reach outward. This is as true of God’s Thinking as it is of yours. Because your mind is split, you can perceive as well as think. Yet perception cannot escape the basic laws of mind. You perceive from your mind and project your perceptions outward. Although perception of any kind is unreal, you made it and the Holy Spirit can therefore use it well. He can inspire perception and lead it toward God. This convergence seems to be far in the future only because your mind is not in perfect alignment with the idea, and therefore does not want it now.

The Holy Spirit uses time, but does not believe in it. Coming from God He uses everything for good, but He does not believe in what is not true. Since the Holy Spirit is in your mind, your mind can also believe only what is true. The Holy Spirit can speak only for this, because He speaks for God. He tells you to return your whole mind to God, because it has never left Him. If it has never left Him, you need only perceive it as it is to be returned. The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred. The ego cannot prevail against this because it is an explicit statement that the ego never occurred.

The ego can accept the idea that return is necessary because it can so easily make the idea seem difficult. Yet the Holy Spirit tells you that even return is unnecessary, because what never happened cannot be difficult. However, you can make the idea of return both necessary and difficult. Yet it is surely clear that the perfect need nothing, and you cannot experience perfection as a difficult accomplishment, because that is what you are. This is the way in which you must perceive God’s creations, bringing all of your perceptions into the one line the Holy Spirit sees. This line is the direct line of communication with God, and lets your mind converge with His. There is no conflict anywhere in this perception, because it means that all perception is guided by the Holy Spirit, Whose Mind is fixed on God. Only the Holy Spirit can resolve conflict, because only the Holy Spirit is conflict-free. He perceives only what is true in your mind, and extends outward only to what is true in other minds.

The difference between the ego’s projection and the Holy Spirit’s extension is very simple. The ego projects to exclude, and therefore to deceive. The Holy Spirit extends by recognising Himself in every mind, and thus perceives them as one. Nothing conflicts in this perception, because what the Holy Spirit perceives is all the same. Wherever He looks He sees Himself, and because He is united He offers the whole Kingdom always. This is the one message God gave to Him and for which He must speak, because that is what He is. The peace of God lies in that message, and so the peace of God lies in you. The great peace of the Kingdom shines in your mind forever, but it must shine outward to make you aware of it.

The Holy Spirit was given you with perfect impartiality, and only by recognising Him impartially can you recognise Him at all. The ego is legion, but the Holy Spirit is one. No darkness abides anywhere in the Kingdom, but your part is only to allow no darkness to abide in your own mind. This alignment with light is unlimited, because it is in alignment with the light of the world. Each of us is the light of the world, and by joining our minds in this light we proclaim the Kingdom of God together and as one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 15

Lesson 46
God is the Love in which I forgive.

God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.

Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.

Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.

If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:

God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].

The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:

God is the Love in which I forgive myself.

Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:

God is the Love with which I love myself God is the Love in which I am blessed.

The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:

I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.

The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.

The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:

God is the Love in which I forgive you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #108: As I continue to study A Course in Miracles, I am beginning to understand that the emotion that is commonly called “love” in this world is not at all the same as the “love” referred to in the Course. In fact, I have discovered that in many cases, my ego uses the idea of “love” to cover up a lot of very dysfunctional thinking and behavior. What is the relationship between love as we understand it in the world, and love as expressed in the Course, and how can we use that to guide our lives?

A: The distinction you make between the “love” the Course is referring to and what is called “love” in this world is correct. They are not the same thing. The love of this world is always what the Course calls “special love,” and it is the foundation of the “special relationship.” It not only has properties that are in direct opposition to the love the Course refers to, it is actually a mask for hatred: “It is in the special relationship, born of the hidden wish for special love from God, that the ego’s hatred triumphs. For the special relationship is the renunciation of the Love of God, and the attempt to secure for the self the specialness that He denied” (T.16.V.4:1,2). We are secretly saying to anyone or anything we have a special love relationship with: “God did not love me with the specialness I want, so I will use you to get the special love I think I cannot live without.” What we call “love,” therefore, is our substitute for God’s love. Furthermore, the Course tells us it is hate: “…any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate” (T.21.III1:3). This “hate” is based on the misperception that we are different, incomplete, and needy. In the special love relationship an agreement is made for mutual needs to be met, and thus we seek to fill the void left by our seeming separation from God. And, true to the ego’s mandate “seek but do not find” (T.16.V.6:5), this substitute for God’s love will never satisfy our need, no matter how we try to make it work. Even the most fulfilling “love” relationship will eventually end in death.

What the Course is inviting us to do is to look at our special love relationships from this new perspective, as shocking as it may seem to be, so that we will become willing to open ourselves to a new purpose, and a new interpretation: “A holy relationship starts from a different premise. Each one has looked within and seen no lack. Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining with another, whole as himself. He sees no difference between these selves, for differences are only of the body. Therefore, he looks on nothing he would take. He denies not his own reality because it is the truth”(T.22.in.3:1,2,3,4,5,6).

The important thing to remember is that it is normal, not sinful, to have special relationships, and they will not be taken away. In fact, they can be useful in our lives if we give them to the Holy Spirit to be transformed into holy relationships: “I have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them” (T.17.IV.2:3). In this way, the love we experience with another person becomes a reflection of the love of God in the dream, not a substitute for it.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 15

ACIM Text Reading for February 15

II. The Alternative to Projection

Any split in mind must involve a rejection of part of it, and this is the belief in separation. The wholeness of God, which is His peace, cannot be appreciated except by a whole mind that recognises the wholeness of God’s creation. By this recognition it knows its Creator. Exclusion and separation are synonymous, as are separation and dissociation. We have said before that the separation was and is dissociation, and that once it occurs projection becomes its main defence, or the device that keeps it going. The reason, however, may not be so obvious as you think.

What you project you disown, and therefore do not believe is yours. You are excluding yourself by the very judgement that you are different from the one on whom you project. Since you have also judged against what you project, you continue to attack it because you continue to keep it separated. By doing this unconsciously, you try to keep the fact that you attacked yourself out of awareness, and thus imagine that you have made yourself safe.

Yet projection will always hurt you. It reinforces your belief in your own split mind, and its only purpose is to keep the separation going. It is solely a device of the ego to make you feel different from your brothers and separated from them. The ego justifies this on the grounds that it makes you seem ‘better’ than they are, thus obscuring your equality with them still further. Projection and attack are inevitably related, because projection is always a means of justifying attack. Anger without projection is impossible. The ego uses projection only to destroy your perception of both yourself and your brothers. The process begins by excluding something that exists in you but which you do not want, and leads directly to excluding you from your brothers.

We have learned, however, that there is an alternative to projection. Every ability of the ego has a better use, because its abilities are directed by the mind, which has a better Voice. The Holy Spirit extends and the ego projects. As their goals are opposed, so is the result.

The Holy Spirit begins by perceiving you as perfect. Knowing this perfection is shared He recognises it in others, thus strengthening it in both. Instead of anger this arouses love for both, because it establishes inclusion. Perceiving equality, the Holy Spirit perceives equal needs. This invites Atonement automatically, because Atonement is the one need in this world that is universal. To perceive yourself this way is the only way in which you can find happiness in the world. That is because it is the acknowledgement that you are not in this world, for the world is unhappy.

How else can you find joy in a joyless place except by realising that you are not there? You cannot be anywhere God did not put you, and God created you as part of Him. That is both where you are and what you are. It is completely unalterable. It is total inclusion. You cannot change it now or ever. It is forever true. It is not a belief, but a Fact. Anything that God created is as true as He is. Its truth lies only in its perfect inclusion in Him Who alone is perfect. To deny this is to deny yourself and Him, since it is impossible to accept one without the other.

The perfect equality of the Holy Spirit’s perception is the reflection of the perfect equality of God’s knowing. The ego’s perception has no counterpart in God, but the Holy Spirit remains the bridge between perception and knowledge. By enabling you to use perception in a way that reflects knowledge, you will ultimately remember it. The ego would prefer to believe that this memory is impossible, yet it is your perception the Holy Spirit guides. Your perception will end where it began.  Everything meets in God, because everything was created by Him and in Him.

God created His Sons by extending His Thought, and retaining the extensions of His Thought in His Mind. All His Thoughts are thus perfectly united within themselves and with each other. The Holy Spirit enables you to perceive this wholeness now. God created you to create. You cannot extend His Kingdom until you know of its wholeness.

Thoughts begin in the mind of the thinker, from which they reach outward. This is as true of God’s Thinking as it is of yours. Because your mind is split, you can perceive as well as think. Yet perception cannot escape the basic laws of mind. You perceive from your mind and project your perceptions outward. Although perception of any kind is unreal, you made it and the Holy Spirit can therefore use it well. He can inspire perception and lead it toward God. This convergence seems to be far in the future only because your mind is not in perfect alignment with the idea, and therefore does not want it now.

The Holy Spirit uses time, but does not believe in it. Coming from God He uses everything for good, but He does not believe in what is not true. Since the Holy Spirit is in your mind, your mind can also believe only what is true. The Holy Spirit can speak only for this, because He speaks for God. He tells you to return your whole mind to God, because it has never left Him. If it has never left Him, you need only perceive it as it is to be returned. The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred. The ego cannot prevail against this because it is an explicit statement that the ego never occurred.

The ego can accept the idea that return is necessary because it can so easily make the idea seem difficult. Yet the Holy Spirit tells you that even return is unnecessary, because what never happened cannot be difficult. However, you can make the idea of return both necessary and difficult. Yet it is surely clear that the perfect need nothing, and you cannot experience perfection as a difficult accomplishment, because that is what you are. This is the way in which you must perceive God’s creations, bringing all of your perceptions into the one line the Holy Spirit sees. This line is the direct line of communication with God, and lets your mind converge with His. There is no conflict anywhere in this perception, because it means that all perception is guided by the Holy Spirit, Whose Mind is fixed on God. Only the Holy Spirit can resolve conflict, because only the Holy Spirit is conflict-free. He perceives only what is true in your mind, and extends outward only to what is true in other minds.

The difference between the ego’s projection and the Holy Spirit’s extension is very simple. The ego projects to exclude, and therefore to deceive. The Holy Spirit extends by recognising Himself in every mind, and thus perceives them as one. Nothing conflicts in this perception, because what the Holy Spirit perceives is all the same. Wherever He looks He sees Himself, and because He is united He offers the whole Kingdom always. This is the one message God gave to Him and for which He must speak, because that is what He is. The peace of God lies in that message, and so the peace of God lies in you. The great peace of the Kingdom shines in your mind forever, but it must shine outward to make you aware of it.

The Holy Spirit was given you with perfect impartiality, and only by recognising Him impartially can you recognise Him at all. The ego is legion, but the Holy Spirit is one. No darkness abides anywhere in the Kingdom, but your part is only to allow no darkness to abide in your own mind. This alignment with light is unlimited, because it is in alignment with the light of the world. Each of us is the light of the world, and by joining our minds in this light we proclaim the Kingdom of God together and as one.

Listen to a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Text Reading HERE

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 15

Lesson 46

God is the Love in which I forgive.

God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.

Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.

Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.

If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:

God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].

The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:

God is the Love in which I forgive myself.

Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:

God is the Love with which I love myself God is the Love in which I am blessed.

The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:

I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.

The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.

The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:

God is the Love in which I forgive you.

Listen to a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Workbook Lesson HERE