ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 9

ACIM Text Reading for September 9

Chapter 29 ~ The Awakening

III.God’s Witnesses

Condemn your savior not because he thinks he is a body. For beyond his dreams is his reality. But he must learn he is a savior first, before he can remember what he is. And he must save who would be saved. On saving you depends his happiness. For who is savior but the one who gives salvation? Thus he learns it must be his to give. Unless he gives he will not know he has, for giving is the proof of having. Only those who think that God is lessened by their strength could fail to understand this must be so. For who could give unless he has, and who could lose by giving what must be increased thereby?

Think you the Father lost Himself when He created you? Was He made weak because He shared His Love? Was He made incomplete by your perfection? Or are you the proof that He is perfect and complete? Deny Him not His witness in the dream His Son prefers to his reality. He must be savior from the dream he made, that he be free of it. He must see someone else as not a body, one with him without the wall the world has built to keep apart all living things who know not that they live.

Within the dream of bodies and of death is yet one theme of truth; no more, perhaps, than just a tiny spark, a space of light created in the dark, where God still shines. You cannot wake yourself. Yet you can let yourself be wakened. You can overlook your brother’s dreams. So perfectly can you forgive him his illusions he becomes your savior from your dreams. And as you see him shining in the space of light where God abides within the darkness, you will see that God Himself is where his body is.

Before this light the body disappears, as heavy shadows must give way to light. The darkness cannot choose that it remain. The coming of the light means it is gone. In glory will you see your brother then, and understand what really fills the gap so long perceived as keeping you apart. There, in its place, God’s witness has set forth the gentle way of kindness to God’s Son. Whom you forgive is given power to forgive you your illusions. By your gift of freedom is it given unto you.

Make way for love, which you did not create, but which you can extend. On earth this means forgive your brother, that the darkness may be lifted from your mind. When light has come to him through your forgiveness, he will not forget his savior, leaving him unsaved. For it was in your face he saw the light that he would keep beside him, as he walks through darkness to the everlasting Light.

How holy are you, that the Son of God can be your savior in the midst of dreams of desolation and disaster. See how eagerly he comes, and steps aside from heavy shadows that have hidden him, and shines on you in gratitude and love. He is himself, but not himself alone. And as his Father lost not part of him in your creation, so the light in him is brighter still because you gave your light to him, to save him from the dark. And now the light in you must be as bright as shines in him. This is the spark that shines within the dream; that you can help him waken, and be sure his waking eyes will rest on you. And in his glad salvation you are saved.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 9

Lesson 253

My Self is ruler of the universe.

It is impossible that anything should come to me unbidden by myself. Even in this world, it is I who rule my destiny. What happens is what I desire. What does not occur is what I do not want to happen. This must I accept. For thus am I led past this world to my creations, children of my will, in Heaven where my holy Self abides with them and Him Who has created me.

You are the Self Whom You created Son, creating like Yourself and One with You. My Self, which rules the universe, is but Your Will in perfect union with my own, which can but offer glad assent to Yours, that it may be extended to Itself.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #220: I was taught that Jesus had to die for us to be forgiven for our sins. That never made any sense to me. If God is just, why would he make an innocent man die in order to forgive me? Why couldn’t he just forgive us in the first place? What does A Course in Miracles say about this?

A: The Course reinterprets the crucifixion, as well as the idea of sin and forgiveness. You were taught the meaning of the crucifixion that Christianity holds sacred, as were all Christians. It is the story of redemption according to Christianity. The message the Course teaches is not based on the forgiveness of sin, to the contrary: “…the content of the course never changes. Its central theme is always, ‘God’s Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation.’”(M.1.3:4,5). There is no need for forgiveness from God, much less for redemption through crucifixion. Forgiveness, as taught by the Course, is a process of undoing the belief in separation. It is the means by which we learn to no longer identify with the ego, which eventually leads to our awakening from the dream of separation. It has nothing to do with sin, because as the Course tells us, there is no sin: “God’s Will for you is perfect happiness because there is no sin, and suffering is causeless” (W.101.6:1). Since the thought of separation is an illusion, and God knows only our wholeness as His one Son, He would not “make an innocent man die in order to forgive” anyone. He would be a cruel God indeed if He required the death of His Son to appease His anger. The Course tells us that not only does God not require crucifixion or sacrifice, He does not even judge His Son: “God does not judge His guiltless Son. Having given Himself to him, how could it be otherwise?” (T.11.VI.7:6,7). Clearly it is not possible to follow the thought systems of both Christianity and A Course in Miracles, for they are not compatible, nor comparable teachings. It may be helpful for you to read the sections “The Message of the Crucifixion” (T.6.I) and “Atonement without Sacrifice” (T.3.I) for the Course’s teaching on the crucifixion and innocence.

infinite patience

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 23

ACIM Text Reading for June 23

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

X. The Incorruptible Body

From the ego came sin and guilt and death, in opposition to life and innocence, and to the Will of God Himself. Where can such opposition lie but in the sick minds of the insane, dedicated to madness and set against the peace of Heaven? One thing is sure; God, Who created neither sin nor death, wills not that you be bound by them. He knows of neither sin nor its results. The shrouded figures in the funeral procession march not in honor of their Creator, Whose Will it is they live. They are not following His Will; they are opposing it.

And what is the black-draped body they would bury? A body which they dedicated to death, a symbol of corruption, a sacrifice to sin, offered to sin to feed upon and keep itself alive; a thing condemned, damned by its maker and lamented by every mourner who looks upon it as himself. You who believe you have condemned the Son of God to this are arrogant. But you who would release him are but honoring the Will of his Creator. The arrogance of sin, the pride of guilt, the sepulchre of separation, all are part of your unrecognized dedication to death. The glitter of guilt you laid upon the body would kill it. For what the ego loves, it kills for its obedience. But what obeys it not, it cannot kill.

You have another dedication that would keep the body incorruptible and perfect as long as it is useful for your holy purpose. The body no more dies than it can feel. It does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing. It is the result of a tiny, mad idea of corruption that can be corrected. For God has answered this insane idea with His Own; an Answer Which left Him not, and therefore brings the Creator to the awareness of every mind which heard His Answer and accepted It.

You who are dedicated to the incorruptible have been given through your acceptance, the power to release from corruption. What better way to teach the first and fundamental principle in a course on miracles than by showing you the one that seems to be the hardest can be accomplished first? The body can but serve your purpose. As you look on it, so will it seem to be. Death, were it true, would be the final and complete disruption of communication, which is the ego’s goal.

Those who fear death see not how often and how loudly they call to it, and bid it come to save them from communication. For death is seen as safety, the great dark savior from the light of truth, the answer to the Answer, the silencer of the Voice That speaks for God. Yet the retreat to death is not the end of conflict. Only God’s Answer is its end. The obstacle of your seeming love for death that peace must flow across seems to be very great. For in it lie hidden all the ego’s secrets, all its strange devices for deception, all its sick ideas and weird imaginings. Here is the final end of union, the triumph of the ego’s making over creation, the victory of lifelessness on Life Itself.

Under the dusty edge of its distorted world the ego would lay the Son of God, slain by its orders, proof in his decay that God Himself is powerless before the ego’s might, unable to protect the life that He created against the ego’s savage wish to kill. My brother, child of our Father, this is a dream of death. There is no funeral, no dark altars, no grim commandments nor twisted rituals of condemnation to which the body leads you. Ask not release of it. But free it from the merciless and unrelenting orders you laid upon it, and forgive it what you ordered it to do. In its exaltation you commanded it to die, for only death could conquer life. And what but insanity could look upon the defeat of God, and think it real?

The fear of death will go as its appeal is yielded to love’s real attraction. The end of sin, which nestles quietly in the safety of your relationship, protected by your union with your brother, and ready to grow into a mighty force for God is very near. The infancy of salvation is carefully guarded by love, preserved from every thought that would attack it, and quietly made ready to fulfill the mighty task for which it was given you. Your newborn purpose is nursed by angels, cherished by the Holy Spirit and protected by God Himself. It needs not your protection; it is yours. For it is deathless, and within it lies the end of death.

What danger can assail the wholly innocent? What can attack the guiltless? What fear can enter and disturb the peace of sinlessness? What has been given you, even in its infancy, is in full communication with God and you. In its tiny hands it holds, in perfect safety, every miracle you will perform, held out to you. The miracle of life is ageless, born in time but nourished in eternity. Behold this infant, to whom you gave a resting place by your forgiveness of your brother, and see in it the Will of God. Here is the babe of Bethlehem reborn. And everyone who gives him shelter will follow him, not to the cross, but to the resurrection and the life.

When anything seems to you to be a source of fear, when any situation strikes you with terror and makes your body tremble and the cold sweat of fear comes over it, remember it is always for one reason; the ego has perceived it as a symbol of fear, a sign of sin and death. Remember, then, that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for they must stand for something other than themselves. Their meaning cannot lie in them, but must be sought in what they represent. And they may thus mean everything or nothing, according to the truth or falsity of the idea which they reflect. Confronted with such seeming uncertainty of meaning, judge it not. Remember the holy Presence of the One given to you to be the Source of judgment. Give it to Him to judge for you, and say:

“Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.
Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death, nor use it for destruction.
Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace,
But let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming.”

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 23

Lesson 174

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(157) Into His Presence would I enter now.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(158) Today I learn to give as I receive.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #383: What does Ken mean when he says “Say not no to the ego” I believe this was said in an audio-tape series.

A: We are not saying “not no” to the ego. If it was stated this way on the tape, it was misspoken. The ego can be understood as a “no” to God, and to the Identity that God has given us as His innocent Son. Saying “not no” is a way of saying that we deny the reality of the ego’s thought system, and accept the truth of who we are as God’s Son. It means we do notsay no. This is related to the idea that A Course in Miracles is a process of unlearning who we are not, so that who we are can return to our awareness. The truth does not require any affirmative response on our part to be what it is — it only requires that we say “not no.”

The Course tells us that God established our identity as His innocent Son: “I am your Father and you are My Son”(W.pII.10.5:3). We have responded: “No, I am not; I am who I say I am.” And we have a long list of who we say we are. The process of forgiveness is teaching us to let go of all these concepts of the self, attributes of our made up identities, in this process we are saying “not no.”   When we have said “not” to all of our no’s, we will have cleared our minds of all the obstacles that blocked awareness of our true selves: “When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this: I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself. Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself” (T.31.V.17:5,6,7,8,9).


Q #384: I experience a free-floating anxiety or unsettled feeling sometimes after I read A Course in Miracles. This awareness doesn’t seem to have any content other than since I believe the truth of what I read, I should feel peaceful, not unsettled. Yet, what I read doesn’t seem to “stick” in my memory as something I can draw on. My life has been filled with beliefs that have filled my time with worldly concerns about who I am in relation to others and why I am afraid of money, etc. Since I started studying the Course again, I know my fears are not real and I don’t experience fear very often. I’ve experienced some deep feelings of peace and clarity lately and I wish this would become more frequent. I think perhaps I’m trying too hard or that I’m too focused on ME as being solely responsible to learn and not asking the Holy Spirit to help me learn what I need to learn. I’ve felt alone all my life – believing in God but as somehow separate from me.

A: To your right mind, the Course’s message is one that opens the door to peace. But to your ego, or wrong mind, the Course’s message will at some level be experienced as a threat, for the purpose of the Course is to teach us how to undo the ego. So long as you remain identified with your ego in any way — as all of us here continue to do — it is not surprising that you may at times experience anxiety or other unsettled feelings as you read the Course. And you are certainly not alone in finding your memory failing you when you want to be able to apply the Course’s principles, which you may have just been reading and studying five minutes earlier and now find you haven’t a clue as to what you were looking at. Anyone who has attempted to do the workbook lessons and remember them at various intervals throughout the day has found these lapses all too familiar. But again, the “forgetting” is simply an ego defense to protect itself from being undone. The preoccupation with the things of the world –our personal and bodily needs and concerns — is yet another form of defense that keeps us rooted in our ego identity, oblivious to the actual choice such a perception of ourselves represents.

We may know intellectually that our fears are not real and experience some peace as a result of this realization. But there are layers to our fear, so while we may move beyond fear of some of those old familiar monsters under the bed, we find there are others still lurking behind the shut doors of the closets of our minds, continuing to affect us until we are willing to open the doors and let the light shine on their nothingness. But there is no need to be concerned that they still linger for, again, that is to be expected until we get to the bottom of the layers of fear and release all the guilt that is concealed beneath them. And that is a process that for most of us will take time. So be patient with yourself and yes, please don’t forget that you are not alone in this process, that in fact you cannot do it alone, and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ever present in your mind, available to help you remember the way back home, which is where we have been all along, simply with the covers pulled over ourselves so we can’t see beyond the darkness we have hidden ourselves in (T.11.VIII.13,14; T.12.II.4,5).

health is inner peace

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 15

ACIM Text Reading for June 15

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

II. Sin versus Error

It is essential that error be not confused with sin, and it is this distinction that makes salvation possible. For error can be corrected, and the wrong made right. But sin, were it possible, would be irreversible. The belief in sin is necessarily based on the firm conviction that minds, not bodies, can attack. And thus the mind is guilty, and will forever so remain unless a mind not part of it can give it absolution. Sin calls for punishment as error for correction, and the belief that punishment is correction is clearly insane.

Sin is not an error, for sin entails an arrogance which the idea of error lacks. To sin would be to violate reality, and to succeed. Sin is the proclamation that attack is real and guilt is justified. It assumes the Son of God is guilty, and has thus succeeded in losing his innocence and making himself what God created not. Thus is creation seen as not eternal, and the Will of God open to opposition and defeat. Sin is the grand illusion underlying all the ego’s grandiosity. For by it God Himself is changed, and rendered incomplete.

The Son of God can be mistaken; he can deceive himself; he can even turn the power of his mind against himself. But he cannot sin. There is nothing he can do that would really change his reality in any way, nor make him really guilty. That is what sin would do, for such is its purpose. Yet for all the wild insanity inherent in the whole idea of sin, it is impossible. For the wages of sin is death, and how can the immortal die?

A major tenet in the ego’s insane religion is that sin is not error but truth, and it is innocence that would deceive. Purity is seen as arrogance, and the acceptance of the self as sinful is perceived as holiness. And it is this doctrine that replaces the reality of the Son of God as his Father created him, and willed that he be forever. Is this humility? Or is it, rather, an attempt to wrest creation away from truth, and keep it separate?

Any attempt to reinterpret sin as error is always indefensible to the ego. The idea of sin is wholly sacrosanct to its thought system, and quite unapproachable except with reverence and awe. It is the most “holy” concept in the ego’s system; lovely and powerful, wholly true, and necessarily protected with every defense at its disposal. For here lies its “best” defense, which all the others serve. Here is its armor, its protection, and the fundamental purpose of the special relationship in its interpretation.

It can indeed be said the ego made its world on sin. Only in such a world could everything be upside down. This is the strange illusion that makes the clouds of guilt seem heavy and impenetrable. The solidness that this world’s foundation seems to have is found in this. For sin has changed creation from an Idea of God to an ideal the ego wants; a world it rules, made up of bodies, mindless and capable of complete corruption and decay. If this is a mistake, it can be undone easily by truth. Any mistake can be corrected, if truth be left to judge it. But if the mistake is given the status of truth, to what can it be brought? The “holiness” of sin is kept in place by just this strange device. As truth it is inviolate, and everything is brought to it for judgment. As a mistake, it must be brought to truth. It is impossible to have faith in sin, for sin is faithlessness. Yet it is possible to have faith that a mistake can be corrected.

There is no stone in all the ego’s embattled citadel that is more heavily defended than the idea that sin is real; the natural expression of what the Son of God has made himself to be, and what he is. To the ego, this is no mistake. For this is its reality; this is the “truth” from which escape will always be impossible. This is his past, his present and his future. For he has somehow managed to corrupt his Father, and change His Mind completely. Mourn, then, the death of God, Whom sin has killed! And this would be the ego’s wish, which in its madness it believes it has accomplished.

Would you not rather that all this be nothing more than a mistake, entirely correctable, and so easily escaped from that its whole correction is like walking through a mist into the sun? For that is all it is. Perhaps you would be tempted to agree with the ego that it is far better to be sinful than mistaken. Yet think you carefully before you allow yourself to make this choice. Approach it not lightly, for it is the choice of hell or Heaven.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 15

Lesson 166

I am entrusted with the gifts of God.

All things are given you. God’s trust in you is limitless. He knows His Son. He gives without exception, holding nothing back that can contribute to your happiness. And yet, unless your will is one with His, His gifts are not received. But what would make you think there is another will than His?

Here is the paradox that underlies the making of the world. This world is not the Will of God, and so it is not real. Yet those who think it real must still believe there is another will, and one that leads to opposite effects from those He wills. Impossible indeed; but every mind that looks upon the world and judges it as certain, solid, trustworthy and true believes in two creators; or in one, himself alone. But never in one God.

The gifts of God are not acceptable to anyone who holds such strange beliefs. He must believe that to accept God’s gifts, however evident they may become, however urgently he may be called to claim them as his own, is to be pressed to treachery against himself. He must deny their presence, contradict the truth, and suffer to preserve the world he made.

Here is the only home he thinks he knows. Here is the only safety he believes that he can find. Without the world he made is he an outcast; homeless and afraid. He does not realize that it is here he is afraid indeed, and homeless, too; an outcast wandering so far from home, so long away, he does not realize he has forgotten where he came from, where he goes, and even who he really is.

Yet in his lonely, senseless wanderings, God’s gifts go with him, all unknown to him. He cannot lose them. But he will not look at what is given him. He wanders on, aware of the futility he sees about him everywhere, perceiving how his little lot but dwindles, as he goes ahead to nowhere. Still he wanders on in misery and poverty, alone though God is with him, and a treasure his so great that everything the world contains is valueless before its magnitude.

He seems a sorry figure; weary, worn, in threadbare clothing, and with feet that bleed a little from the rocky road he walks. No one but has identified with him, for everyone who comes here has pursued the path he follows, and has felt defeat and hopelessness as he is feeling them. Yet is he really tragic, when you see that he is following the way he chose, and need but realize Who walks with him and open up his treasures to be free?

This is your chosen self, the one you made as a replacement for reality. This is the self you savagely defend against all reason, every evidence, and all the witnesses with proof to show this is not you. You heed them not. You go on your appointed way, with eyes cast down lest you might catch a glimpse of truth, and be released from self-deception and set free.

You cower fearfully lest you should feel Christ’s touch upon your shoulder, and perceive His gentle hand directing you to look upon your gifts. How could you then proclaim your poverty in exile? He would make you laugh at this perception of yourself. Where is self-pity then? And what becomes of all the tragedy you sought to make for him whom God intended only joy?

Your ancient fear has come upon you now, and justice has caught up with you at last. Christ’s hand has touched your shoulder, and you feel that you are not alone. You even think the miserable self you thought was you may not be your Identity. Perhaps God’s Word is truer than your own. Perhaps His gifts to you are real. Perhaps He has not wholly been outwitted by your plan to keep His Son in deep oblivion, and go the way you chose without your Self.

God’s Will does not oppose. It merely is. It is not God you have imprisoned in your plan to lose your Self. He does not know about a plan so alien to His Will. There was a need He did not understand, to which He gave an Answer. That is all. And you who have this Answer given you have need no more of anything but this.

Now do we live, for now we cannot die. The wish for death is answered, and the sight that looked upon it now has been replaced by vision which perceives that you are not what you pretend to be. One walks with you Who gently answers all your fears with this one merciful reply, “It is not so.” He points to all the gifts you have each time the thought of poverty oppresses you, and speaks of His Companionship when you perceive yourself as lonely and afraid.

Yet He reminds you still of one thing more you had forgotten. For His touch on you has made you like Himself. The gifts you have are not for you alone. What He has come to offer you, you now must learn to give. This is the lesson that His giving holds, for He has saved you from the solitude you sought to make in which to hide from God. He has reminded you of all the gifts that God has given you. He speaks as well of what becomes your will when you accept these gifts, and recognize they are your own.

The gifts are yours, entrusted to your care, to give to all who chose the lonely road you have escaped. They do not understand they but pursue their wishes. It is you who teach them now. For you have learned of Christ there is another way for them to walk. Teach them by showing them the happiness that comes to those who feel the touch of Christ, and recognize God’s gifts. Let sorrow not tempt you to be unfaithful to your trust.

Your sighs will now betray the hopes of those who look to you for their release. Your tears are theirs. If you are sick, you but withhold their healing. What you fear but teaches them their fears are justified. Your hand becomes the giver of Christ’s touch; your change of mind becomes the proof that who accepts God’s gifts can never suffer anything. You are entrusted with the world’s release from pain.

Betray it not. Become the living proof of what Christ’s touch can offer everyone. God has entrusted all His gifts to you. Be witness in your happiness to how transformed the mind becomes which chooses to accept His gifts, and feel the touch of Christ. Such is your mission now. For God entrusts the giving of His gifts to all who have received them. He has shared His joy with you. And now you go to share it with the world.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #946: It’s my understanding that in A Course in Miracles , Jesus is speaking to our mind not to our brain. It’s also my understanding that there is only one mind. So how can we collectively do anything if there is only one mind and we don’t exist? For example, how do we collectively dream a tsunami or any other disaster such as war?

A: To answer your questions, let’s start by thinking about how nighttime dreams work. In nighttime dreams, there seem to be various people interacting with each other. But when you wake up, you realize that it was all going on inside your head. All the characters in your dream were created, scripted, and directed by your imagination. No matter how many characters appeared, or how real they seemed, in the morning you open your eyes and find that there is still only one of you.

Similarly, A Course in Miracles makes it clear that in reality, outside of this dream of time and space, we remain in Heaven as a “Oneness joined as One” (T.25.I.7). Unfortunately, we have covered this truth over with several layers of illusion, making it virtually impossible for us to understand how this could be so. But the Course helps us understand it by explaining that it all began with one thought of separation. That thought seemed to birth a mind that was separate from its Creator — a state the mind found both thrilling and terrifying. These feelings pushed the one mind to fall more deeply asleep, seeming to fragment into billions of pieces and wind up in this world of multiplicity. But each fragment, born of a single thought, retained the entire thought system of the one mind from which it came. And so, as fragments, we can have individual (and quite different) experiences of being in this world. Yet, fragmented from the same Source, we share an experience of how this world works, and the events that take place within it.

You are correct that in the Course, Jesus is addressing our mind not our brain. But he is not appealing to the one mind which, being already one, does not need the message of the Course. Instead, Jesus speaks to our individual split minds. As the Course makes clear, each of us has three parts to our mind: the ego, the Holy Spirit, and the decision maker, which chooses between the two. Jesus’ purpose in writing his course was to remind us that we can shift from the ego to the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. And so he is really speaking to the decision making part of our mind because that is the part that can make the shift. Like the one mind, the decision maker is outside of time and space. But the choices the decision maker makes determine whether we will use this dream world as a prison or as a classroom for awakening to our true home in Heaven.

When the decision maker chooses the Holy Spirit, we automatically begin to reflect the oneness of Heaven in our thoughts, words, and actions. This is because, as the Course says, ” It is the Holy Spirit’s function to teach you how this oneness is experienced, what you must do that it can be experienced, and where you should go to do it” (T.25.I.6:4). And so the process the Course lays out for us is really one of gradually awakening to our oneness. At the very end of the journey, we will find that even the one mind is an illusion as we at last accept that “nowhere does the Father end [and] the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:4).

For a related discussion about the paradox of one mind and separate consciousness, please see Question #127: If there is only one Mind, why do I perceive myself as unique?


Q #947: A Course in Miracles tells me to withdraw from my ego goals, that the ego self is not my real self, and that to disengage from the ego is the only road to peace and joy. I want to do this, but I also want the money. How do I reconcile the two?

A: We will answer your question, but whom should we bill for the service? 🙂

Seriously, though, believe it or not, you do not have to reconcile the two. The Course does not ask us to give up anything we are still attached to. In fact, it states, “It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world…You have need to use the symbols of the world a while” (W.pI.184.9:1,2). Certainly money is one of the most potent symbols in this world. The fact that you have a special relationship with it hardly places you in a unique position. But the fact that you are willing to be honest about it gives you a wonderful opportunity to do what the Course actually advises. That means inviting the Holy Spirit to simply look at it with you. In other words, ask Him to help you watch all your financial transactions without judging or justifying them.

Remember that the Course tells us “the Holy Spirit uses special relationships, which you have chosen to support the ego, as learning experiences that point to truth. Under His teaching, every relationship becomes a lesson in love” (T.15.V.4:5). So you do not want to give up special relationships because they are the very things the Holy Spirit can use to heal your mind. Where there is a special relationship (in other words, a history of the ego running the show), there is always the presence of guilt and fear. And that certainly describes the feelings most of us have – – consciously or unconsciously — around money. So the first lesson in love the Holy Spirit might give you about money could be to have compassion for your own fear-based attachment to it. And since guilt and fear are the ego’s bread and butter, that is the beginning of withdrawing from the ego. As that happens, you will gradually find yourself feeling a greater sense of ease around money, regardless of what is happening externally.

So to summarize: When it comes to switching from the ego to the Holy Spirit, you do not have to make any withdrawals until you lose interest. And when you cannot find your balance, let Jesus reconcile the difference.

hostage or host

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 8

ACIM Text Reading for March 8

Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

II. The Difference between Imprisonment and Freedom

There is a rationale for choice. Only one Teacher knows what your reality is. If learning to remove the obstacles to that knowledge is the purpose of the curriculum, you must learn it of Him. The ego does not know what it is trying to teach. It is trying to teach you what you are without knowing what you are. It is expert only in confusion. It does not understand anything else. As a teacher, then, the ego is totally confused and totally confusing. Even if you could disregard the Holy Spirit entirely, which is impossible, you could still learn nothing from the ego, because the ego knows nothing.

Is there any possible reason for choosing a teacher such as this? Does the total disregard of anything it teaches make anything but sense? Is this the teacher to whom a Son of God should turn to find himself? The ego has never given you a sensible answer to anything. Simply on the grounds of your own experience with its teaching, should not this alone disqualify it as your future teacher? Yet the ego has done more harm to your learning than this alone. Learning is joyful if it leads you along your natural path, and facilitates the development of what you have. When you are taught against your nature, however, you will lose by your learning because your learning will imprison you. Your will is in your nature, and therefore cannot go against it.

The ego cannot teach you anything as long as your will is free, because you will not listen to it. It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God Who coerces you, because He shares His Will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit’s lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God’s cannot be out of accord because they are one. This is the undoing of everything the ego tries to teach. It is not, then, only the direction of the curriculum that must be unconflicted, but also the content.

The ego tries to teach that you want to oppose God’s Will. This unnatural lesson cannot be learned, and the attempt to learn it is a violation of your own freedom, making you afraid of your will because it is free. The Holy Spirit opposes any imprisoning of the will of a Son of God, knowing that the will of the Son is the Father’s. The Holy Spirit leads you steadily along the path of freedom, teaching you how to disregard or look beyond everything that would hold you back.

We have said that the Holy Spirit teaches you the difference between pain and joy. That is the same as saying He teaches you the difference between imprisonment and freedom. You cannot make this distinction without Him because you have taught yourself that imprisonment is freedom. Believing them to be the same, how can you tell them apart? Can you ask the part of your mind that taught you to believe they are the same, to teach you how they are different?

The Holy Spirit’s teaching takes only one direction and has only one goal. His direction is freedom and His goal is God. Yet He cannot conceive of God without you, because it is not God’s Will to be without you. When you have learned that your will is God’s, you could no more will to be without Him than He could will to be without you. This is freedom and this is joy. Deny yourself this and you are denying God His Kingdom, because He created you for this.

When I said, “All power and glory are yours because the Kingdom is His,” this is what I meant: The Will of God is without limit, and all power and glory lie within it. It is boundless in strength and in love and in peace. It has no boundaries because it’s extension is unlimited and it encompasses all things because it created all things. By creating all things, it made them part of itself. You are the Will of God because that is how you were created. Because your Creator creates only like Himself, you are like Him. You are part of Him Who is all power and glory, and are therefore as unlimited as He is.

To what else except all power and glory can the Holy Spirit appeal to restore God’s Kingdom? His appeal, then, is merely to what the Kingdom is, and for its own acknowledgment of what it is. When you acknowledge this you bring the acknowledgment automatically to everyone, because you have acknowledged everyone. By your recognition you awaken theirs, and through theirs yours is extended. Awakening runs easily and gladly through the Kingdom, in answer to the Call for God. This is the natural response of every Son of God to the Voice for his Creator, because It is the Voice for his creations and for his own extension.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 8

Lesson 67

Love created me like itself.

Today’s idea is a complete and accurate statement of what you are. This is why you are the light of the world. This is why God appointed you as the world’s savior. This is why the Son of God looks to you for his salvation. He is saved by what you are. We will make every effort today to reach this truth about you, and to realize fully, if only for a moment, that it is the truth.

In the longer practice period, we will think about your reality and its wholly unchanged and unchangeable nature. We will begin by repeating this truth about you, and then spend a few minutes adding some relevant thoughts, such as:

Holiness created me holy.
Kindness created me kind.
Helpfulness created me helpful.
Perfection created me perfect.

Any attribute which is in accord with God as He defines Himself is appropriate for use. We are trying today to undo your definition of God and replace it with His Own. We are also trying to emphasize that you are part of His definition of Himself.

After you have gone over several such related thoughts, try to let all thoughts drop away for a brief preparatory interval, and then try to reach past all your images and preconceptions about yourself to the truth in you. If love created you like itself, this Self must be in you. And somewhere in your mind It is there for you to find.

You may find it necessary to repeat the idea for today from time to time to replace distracting thoughts. You may also find that this is not sufficient, and that you need to continue adding other thoughts related to the truth about yourself. Yet perhaps you will succeed in going past that, and through the interval of thoughtlessness to the awareness of a blazing light in which you recognize yourself as love created you. Be confident that you will do much today to bring that awareness nearer, whether you feel you have succeeded or not.

It will be particularly helpful today to practice the idea for the day as often as you can. You need to hear the truth about yourself as frequently as possible, because your mind is so preoccupied with false self-images. Four or five times an hour, and perhaps even more, it would be most beneficial to remind yourself that love created you like itself. Hear the truth about yourself in this.

Try to realize in the shorter practice periods that this is not your tiny, solitary voice that tells you this. This is the Voice for God, reminding you of your Father and of your Self. This is the Voice of truth, replacing everything that the ego tells you about yourself with the simple truth about the Son of God. You were created by love like itself.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #264: A clear picture of the theoretical foundations of A Course in Miracles for me is an essential base to get into practice. Therefore I’m studying the chart on your Web site http://www.facim.org/acim/theory.htm.

[1] I see the realms: one-mindedness, wrong-mindedness and right-mindedness. Which realm is the “decision maker” in? Does it dwell somewhere between wrong- and right-mindedness? Or do you see it more as a “part” of one of these realms?

[2] It is irritating to see the Holy Spirit between truth and illusion and to see the Holy Spirit in the following description of the Trinity as belonging to one-mindedness. I have more a picture in my mind that sees the Holy Spirit as a part of the illusory world — namely the right-mind — pointing out of it towards truth — or perhaps just being this right-minded world — and thus fulfilling a mediating role between wrong-mindedness and one-mindedness. Looking at the Trinity I see God and Christ in the one-minded realm and the Holy Spirit in the right-minded realm. That view makes it possible for the “me that lives in duality” to accept the idea that the Holy Spirit is a part of me. These ideas seem to contradict what is shown on http://ww.facim.org/acim/theory.htm. Can you help me in clearing up these thoughts?

A: 1) The decision maker is the part of the mind that chooses to identify with either the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s thought system. It is never neutral; it is always choosing one or the other. On the chart it would be located on the Level Two section right in the middle, above the wrong mind / right mind boxes.

2) Within the illusion, the Holy Spirit represents the Atonement principle in our right minds. He is described in many ways by Jesus, who shares His function of helping us climb back up the ladder separation led us down. When you, as a decision-making mind outside time and space, choose once and for all to let go of the ego and identify completely with your right mind, then you become the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the same as Jesus. You would know that this is your only identity and the ego thought system of separation and individuality would be seen as totally meaningless. So the Holy Spirit is most definitely part of you, the part of your mind that contains the memory of God and your true Identity as Christ, with which you (as a decision-making mind) can choose to identify at any given instant.

There are two passages in particular that indicate that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity and also functions as mediator: “And then the Voice [the Holy Spirit] is gone, no longer to take form but to return to the eternal Formlessness of God” (C.6.5:8). Similarly, in the text, he tells us: “The Holy Spirit is the Christ Mind which is aware of the knowledge that lies beyond perception. He came into being with the separation as a protection, inspiring the Atonement principle at the same time. Before that there was no need for healing, for no one was comfortless. The Voice of the Holy Spirit is the Call to Atonement, or the restoration of the integrity of the mind. When the Atonement is complete and the whole Sonship is healed there will be no Call to return. But what God creates is eternal. The Holy Spirit will remain with the Sons of God, to bless their creations and keep them in the light of joy” (T.5.I.5:4,5,6,7).

Finally, it is helpful to keep in mind when studying the chart that we are trying to diagram what is illusory (the mind that separated from God), and also what lies totally beyond form (God, Christ, and His creations). So while charts are useful teaching aides, they can never perfectly depict the thought systems discussed in the Course, which themselves are illusory.


Q #265: Although I really love your questions and answers I have such issues with the blonde blue eyed Jesus picture you’re selling. As a black woman I do not identify with it at all. Why do you sell it — wasn’t he Mediterranean anyway!

A: The picture of Jesus that the Foundation makes available is not meant to be the likeness of the historical Jesus. Obviously no image of him is available. The voice that Helen Schucman heard and identified as Jesus’ voice is not associated with a body at all. So in neither case is the Foundation offering an image that can be said to actually portray Jesus in form. The image you refer to was used as the cover of one of the Foundation’s publications “Forgiveness and Jesus” by Kenneth Wapnick, and was made available to the public by request. The original painting by Howard Chandler Christy was later given to the Foundation. Some people like it, though it is certainly not appealing to everyone. You may find there is another representation of Jesus in form that you find inspiring and helps you to relate to Jesus in a more personal way. However, it is important for students of the Course not to confuse the voice Helen Schucman heard and identified as Jesus’, with the Jesus of traditional Christianity, nor to associate it with any particular image in form. The Course uses the term Jesus and the Holy Spirit as symbols reflecting the part of the mind of the Sonship that holds the memory of God. They are not real persons: “The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do” (C.5.2:1,2,3). However, as long as we believe we are individuals in bodies, it is helpful for us to relate to these symbols as persons in any specific form that is meaningful. This is what the Course refers to when it tells us: “You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T.18.VIII.1:7). Jesus himself joins with us in our perception of the body: “Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego” (T.8.V.6:8, italics ours).

kingdom of god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 7

ACIM Text Reading for February 7

Chapter 5 ~ Healing and Wholeness

II. The Invitation to the Holy Spirit

Healing is a thought by which two minds perceive their oneness and become glad. This gladness calls to every part of the Sonship to rejoice with them, and lets God go out into them and through them. Only the healed mind can experience revelation with lasting effect, because revelation is an experience of pure joy. If you do not choose to be wholly joyous, your mind cannot have what it does not choose to be. Remember that spirit knows no difference between having and being. The higher mind thinks according to the laws spirit obeys, and therefore honors only the laws of God. To spirit getting is meaningless and giving is all. Having everything, spirit holds everything by giving it, and thus creates as the Father created. While this kind of thinking is totally alien to having things, even to the lower mind it is quite comprehensible in connection with ideas. If you share a physical possession, you do divide its ownership. If you share an idea, however, you do not lessen it. All of it is still yours although all of it has been given away. Further, if the one to whom you give it accepts it as his, he reinforces it in your mind and thus increases it. If you can accept the concept that the world is one of ideas, the whole belief in the false association the ego makes between giving and losing is gone.

Let us start our process of reawakening with just a few simple concepts:

Thoughts increase by being given away.
The more who believe in them the stronger they become.
Everything is an idea.
How, then, can giving and losing be associated?

This is the invitation to the Holy Spirit. I have said already that I can reach up and bring the Holy Spirit down to you, but I can bring Him to you only at your own invitation. The Holy Spirit is in your right mind, as He was in mine. The Bible says, “May the mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus,” and uses this as a blessing. It is the blessing of miracle-mindedness. It asks that you may think as I thought, joining with me in Christ-thinking.

The Holy Spirit is the only part of the Holy Trinity that has a symbolic function. He is referred to as the Healer, the Comforter and the Guide. He is also described as something “separate,” apart from the Father and from the Son. I myself said, “If I go I will send you another comforter and He will abide with you.” His symbolic function makes the Holy Spirit difficult to understand, because symbolism is open to different interpretations. As a man and also one of God’s creations, my right thinking, which came from the Holy Spirit or the Universal Inspiration, taught me first and foremost that this Inspiration is for all. I could not have It myself without knowing this. The word “know” is proper in this context, because the Holy Spirit is so close to knowledge that He calls it forth; or better, allows it to come. I have spoken before of the higher or “true” perception, which is so near to truth that God Himself can flow across the little gap. Knowledge is always ready to flow everywhere, but it cannot oppose. Therefore you can obstruct it, although you can never lose it.

The Holy Spirit is the Christ Mind which is aware of the knowledge that lies beyond perception. He came into being with the separation as a protection, inspiring the Atonement principle at the same time. Before that there was no need for healing, for no one was comfortless. The Voice of the Holy Spirit is the Call to Atonement, or the restoration of the integrity of the mind. When the Atonement is complete and the whole Sonship is healed there will be no call to return. But what God creates is eternal. The Holy Spirit will remain with the Sons of God, to bless their creations and keep them in the light of joy.

God honored even the miscreations of His children because they had made them. But He also blessed His children with a way of thinking that could raise their perceptions so high they could reach almost back to Him. The Holy Spirit is the Mind of the Atonement. He represents a state of mind close enough to One-mindedness that transfer to it is at last possible. Perception is not knowledge, but it can be transferred to knowledge, or cross over into it. It might even be more helpful here to use the literal meaning of transferred or “carried over,” since the last step is taken by God.

The Holy Spirit, the shared Inspiration of all the Sonship, induces a kind of perception in which many elements are like those in the Kingdom of Heaven itself:

First, its universality is perfectly clear, and no one who attains it could believe for one instant that sharing it involves anything but gain.
Second, it is incapable of attack and is therefore truly open. This means that although it does not engender knowledge, it does not obstruct it in any way.
Finally, it points the way beyond the healing that it brings, and leads the mind beyond its own integration toward the paths of creation. It is at this point that sufficient quantitative change occurs to produce a real qualitative shift.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 7

Lesson 38

There is nothing my holiness cannot do.

Your holiness reverses all the laws of the world. It is beyond every restriction of time, space, distance and limits of any kind. Your holiness is totally unlimited in its power because it establishes you as a Son of God, at one with the Mind of his Creator.

Through your holiness the power of God is made manifest. Through your holiness the power of God is made available. And there is nothing the power of God cannot do. Your holiness, then, can remove all pain, can end all sorrow, and can solve all problems. It can do so in connection with yourself and with anyone else. It is equal in its power to help anyone because it is equal in its power to save anyone.

If you are holy, so is everything God created. You are holy because all things He created are holy. And all things He created are holy because you are. In today’s exercises, we will apply the power of your holiness to all problems, difficulties or suffering in any form that you happen to think of, in yourself or in someone else. We will make no distinctions because there are no distinctions.

In the four longer practice periods, each preferably to last a full five minutes, repeat the idea for today, close your eyes, and then search your mind for any sense of loss or unhappiness of any kind as you see it. Try to make as little distinction as possible between a situation that is difficult for you, and one that is difficult for someone else. Identify the situation specifically, and also the name of the person concerned. Use this form in applying the idea for today:

In the situation involving _____ in which I see myself, there is nothing that my holiness cannot do.
In the situation involving _____ in which _____ sees himself, there is nothing my holiness cannot do.

From time to time you may want to vary this procedure, and add some relevant thoughts of your own. You might like, for example, to include thoughts such as:

There is nothing my holiness cannot do because the power of God lies in it.

Introduce whatever variations appeal to you, but keep the exercises focused on the theme, “There is nothing my holiness cannot do.” The purpose of today’s exercises is to begin to instill in you a sense that you have dominion over all things because of what you are.

In the frequent shorter applications, apply the idea in its original form unless a specific problem concerning you or someone else arises, or comes to mind. In that event, use the more specific form in applying the idea to it.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1046: Is it possible to transcend the body and not be aware of it for sustained periods of time? I just want to have an experience where I know I am not a body. I feel like if I can’t have that experience then all this stuff that I have been learning is false — just a way of thinking to make me feel comfortable. I understand that minds can communicate, but that doesn’t prove our immortality. To me, that is like saying that radios are alive; they are just vibrations. Only when I know that I am not a body will I believe that we live forever.

A: This idea of transcending the body is the subject of “Beyond the Body” in Chapter 18 of the text (T.18.VI) . There Jesus speaks about it as the experience of “escape from limitations . . . a joining of yourself and something else in which your mind enlarges to encompass it. . . . What really happens is that you have given up the illusion of a limited awareness, and lost your fear of union. . . . You have accepted this instead of the body, and have let yourself be one with something beyond it, simply by not letting yourself be limited by it” (T.18.VI.11:3,4,7,11).

The Course’s process of getting us back to our natural state as spirit beyond the body (W.pI.72.9:3) involves reversing the steps we took to “become” bodies. As the above passages indicate, Jesus is telling us that because we have a such a fear of union (oneness), we cling to our perception of limitations in ourselves and others; and it is the body that serves this purpose of limiting our awareness. We can never know love as it truly is or ourselves as we truly are as long as we are convinced of the reality of the body: “The body is a limit on love. The belief in limited love was its origin, and it was made to limit the unlimited. . . . it was made to limit you ” (T.18.VIII.1:2,3,4) . But the way to reverse this, Jesus is teaching us, is to focus on the purpose of what we do with our bodies, rather than to try to talk ourselves into believing we are not bodies. Your insistence on experiencing yourself without a body could well be an ego setup — a way of making the error real . In other words, you would not be making this into a condition of accepting the Course as true unless you were not already convinced that you are a body.

So if we use the body to keep ourselves separate from others — through specialness, comparisons, competition, judgment, etc. — then we will always be limited by it and bound to it, for that is the secret wish behind our perception of separate interests. On the other hand, we can change that purpose by asking Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help us see that our interests are the same as everyone else’s. That would be to affirm our underlying will to regain awareness of our true state of oneness: God’s Son is one.

The Course’s means of having us get beyond the body is first to train us to think in terms of the purpose for which we use the body, and then, having chosen Jesus or the Holy Spirit as our Teacher instead of the ego, use the body for the purpose of dissolving the separation we thought existed between ourselves and everyone else — this is always a matter of our mind’s perception, not behavior. Again, this is accomplished through the recognition that our interests are the same, regardless of the different forms our lives take.

As our perceptions of separation gradually change to true perception of our oneness, then the importance of the body starts to fade. Our awareness of the body as our real identity, thus, is entirely dependent on the choice we make in our minds to see separation as real or unreal. If we choose to minimize in importance the differences among us, the body’s importance to us will likewise diminish, for our awareness will be flooded more and more with what joins us. The body’s reality in our awareness disappears to the extent to which our “fear of union” disappears. That is why the process of A Course in Miracles focuses so intently on undoing our perception that we are separate from one another. This process — forgiveness — does not focus on having us transcend the body through meditation or some other means, as do other spiritual paths; it has us focus on the cause of our thinking we are bodies in the first place, which is to maintain our existence as separate, special individuals. Again, that is not our natural state (W.pI.72.9:3) .

The “proof” of immortality that you are seeking will occur in these experiences of the holy instant and in true perception, where you realize that the boundaries that seem to separate you from others are totally false. This experience can be sustained for long periods of time, and indeed is the natural outcome of the practice of forgiveness. The sense of invulnerability that is our natural state as God’s Son will be restored in this way. But to have no awareness of the body at all is not the goal of our practice; it would be impossible to stay here without some awareness of the body. The difference would be that as your mind is healed, you would know for certain that you are not your body, and therefore that nothing in this world can affect the inner peace that is the permanent content of your mind.

*


Q #1047: Did the Jewish People have a “collective consciousness” experience of God at Mount Sinai when they received the Torah? Or were they tapping into some illusory transmission of a set of rules to guide societal living, perhaps even a “close encounter,” so it could have been a very real feeling experience but not one of God if “He” has nothing to do with our dream of separation? And if any group relates to the idea of separation/good/evil it is certainly the Jewish People! It just bothers me, as a 10 year convert to Judaism and as a new student to A Course in Miracles , that as long as one insists on the existence of “good” in the world, it continually recreates its opposite of “bad,” so one can be “right” about others being “wrong.” And yet God IS good, light, and love, correct?

A: It can be fun to speculate on what the source may be for ideas and teachings that seem to allow mankind, or parts of mankind, to take steps forward in its thinking and understanding of where it has come from and where it is heading. But at this level of explanation, we can not go much beyond speculation. However, from the perspective of mind, as the Course describes it, there can be only two possible sources for all ideas that appear within the world’s dream — either the right mind or the wrong mind. And regardless of the source, there are also only two choices for how those ideas can then be used and justified in the world — either to reinforce or to undo the belief in separation and guilt.

The Torah, like nearly all of the world’s spiritual teachings, no doubt drew some of its inspiration from the right-mind, translated into symbols that were especially meaningful to the specific time and place into which it was received, at a level at which it could be understood. Read symbolically, despite a theology very different from the Course’s, the Torah can lead the individual to look beyond himself to Something that transcends his limited existence. But as its teachings over time became the foundation for codifications and rituals, it fell into the same spirit- denying strictures that have bedeviled nearly all of the world’s formal religions, elevating form above content to justify a belief in differences, specialness, and separation. There is no reason, by the way, to believe that the Course should be immune to such a fate, and it is not difficult to see how this is already happening with its teachings. Never underestimate the power of the ego to use all duality-based symbols for its own duplicitous purposes — self-preservation after all is its only motivation. And that, as you point out, is the problem for any spiritual teaching that keeps its focus on the world and getting things right here. Once that is the premise and the purpose, there is no way to avoid the trap of opposites, and the ego’s continued existence has been assured. That is why the Course, in contrast to nearly every other spiritual teaching, insists so uncompromisingly that God has nothing to do with the world ( e.g., T.8.VI.2,3; T.11.III.3; T.11.VII.1,2; T.12.III.9; T.16.V.3:6) , for the Love that He is has no opposite ( e.g., T.in.1:8; W.pI.127.3 ; W.pII.259.2) , and this is most definitely a world of opposites and opposition.

kingdom of god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 11

ACIM Text Reading for January 11

A Course in Miracles ~ The Meaning of Miracles

VII. Distortions of Miracle Impulses
Your distorted perceptions produce a dense cover over miracle impulses, making it hard for them to reach your own awareness. The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses is a major perceptual distortion. Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. All real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will. This is because not doing it is a denial of Self. Denial of Self results in illusions, while correction of the error brings release from it. Do not deceive yourself into believing that you can relate in peace to God or to your brothers with anything external.

Child of God, you were created to create the good, the beautiful and the holy. Do not forget this. The Love of God, for a little while, must still be expressed through one body to another, because vision is still so dim. You can use your body best to help you enlarge your perception so you can achieve real vision, of which the physical eye is incapable. Learning to do this is the body’s only true usefulness.

Fantasy is a distorted form of vision. Fantasies of any kind are distortions, because they always involve twisting perception into unreality. Actions that stem from distortions are literally the reactions of those who know not what they do. Fantasy is an attempt to control reality according to false needs. Twist reality in any way and you are perceiving destructively. Fantasies are a means of making false associations and attempting to obtain pleasure from them. But although you can perceive false associations, you can never make them real except to yourself. You believe in what you make. If you offer miracles, you will be equally strong in your belief in them. The strength of your conviction will then sustain the belief of the miracle receiver. Reality is “lost” through usurpation, which produces tyranny. As long as a single “slave” remains to walk the earth, your release is not complete. Complete restoration of the Sonship is the only goal of the miracle-minded.

This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it. However, as you study these earlier sections, you will begin to see some of the implications that will be amplified later on.

A solid foundation is necessary because of the confusion between fear and awe to which I have already referred, and which is often made. I have said that awe is inappropriate in connection with the Sons of God, because you should not experience awe in the presence of your equals. However, it was also emphasized that awe is proper in the Presence of your Creator. I have been careful to clarify my role in the Atonement without either over or understating it. I am also trying to do the same with yours. I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God Himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific. Healing is of God in the end. The means are being carefully explained to you. Revelation may occasionally reveal the end to you, but to reach it the means are needed.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 11

Lesson 11
My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

This is the first idea we have had that is related to a major phase of the correction process; the reversal of the thinking of the world. It seems as if the world determines what you perceive. Today’s idea introduces the concept that your thoughts determine the world you see. Be glad indeed to practice the idea in its initial form, for in this idea is your release made sure. The key to forgiveness lies in it.

The practice periods for today’s idea are to be undertaken somewhat differently from the previous ones. Begin with your eyes closed, and repeat the idea slowly to yourself. Then open your eyes and look about, near and far, up and down, —anywhere. During the minute or so to be spent in using the idea merely repeat it to yourself, being sure to do so without haste, and with no sense of urgency or effort.

To do these exercises for maximum benefit, the eyes should move from one thing to another fairly rapidly, since they should not linger on anything in particular. The words, however, should be used in an unhurried, even leisurely fashion. The introduction to this idea, in particular, should be practiced as casually as possible. It contains the foundation for the peace, relaxation and freedom from worry that we are trying to achieve. On concluding the exercises, close your eyes and repeat the idea once more slowly to yourself.

Three practice periods today will probably be sufficient. However, if there is little or no uneasiness and an inclination to do more, as many as five may be undertaken. More than this is not recommended.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #344: In A Course in Miracles T.1.VII.1 it reads…” Your distorted perceptions produce a dense cover over miracle impulses, making it hard for them to reach your own awareness. The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses is a major perceptual distortion. Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. All real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will. This is because not doing it is a denial of Self.” I read a similar question/answer already posted around sexual impulses…but my questions are slightly different and I need some help understanding these series of phrases referenced above: Is this a different way of saying that the decision-maker constantly is choosing between the right-mind and the wrong-mind, the Holy Spirit and the ego? If a miracle is forgiveness, or a reminder that what the body’s eyes see/perceive is false, then is a miracle impulse part of a corrective thought process from the Jesus/Holy Spirit in our mind?

A: Yes, your explanation is a good one. It may still be helpful to clarify why Jesus refers to “physical impulses” as “misdirected miracle impulses” and how our “distorted perceptions… cover over miracle impulses.” We were created to be in perfect joy without ceasing, and the split mind, despite its mistaken beliefs about who it is, still remembers that state of happiness indirectly, primarily through its acute awareness that it is desperately unhappy. And so it is impelled to seek to return to a state of peace and joy, our natural state.

The miracle impulse, or the tendency to choose a miracle, is motivated by the recognition that we are unhappy in our current state of apparent separation and deserve more than what we are presently experiencing. But more than that, the miracle leads to a recognition that the deprivation that we feel is self-imposed, that is, it reflects a choice we have made. The miracle is a natural tendency of the mind, for it is a step in returning the mind to its original state of wholeness and peace, with all conflict left behind. The miracle reminds the mind that it is mind, or cause, and not a body, or effect (T.28.II.9:3). So miracle impulses are thoughts of the Correction, which the Holy Spirit represents to us in our right mind, that remind us that what we think has happened — the separation from love and all the accompanying pain and guilt — has not really happened at all. And that recognition, when fully embraced, must spell the end for the ego and its symbolic expression, our individual self.

So the ego, unable to remove what motivates the miracle impulse — our desire to return to our natural state of peace and joy — must distort and disguise the impulse so that we fail to remember our role in what we are experiencing. For if we truly remembered, we would not remain identified with the ego and separation for long. And so, to prevent our changing our mind, the ego does not ask us to deny our state of unhappiness, but through its distorted perceptual lens, convinces us that our unhappiness has nothing to do with any choice we have made but rather is the result of being born a helpless body into a world over which we have no control. And so the ego acknowledges our unhappiness and the conflict we feel, but guides us to look outside ourselves — to others, to the world — rather than within to find the joy and the peace and the love. And the search is destined to fail because it denies Who we really are and what our real Source of happiness is. Nevertheless, when we seek for pleasure in any form for the body, which we mistakenly identify as ourselves, the seeking is still motivated by a recognition — albeit unconscious — that happiness is our natural state. This is the same recognition from which the miracle impulse arises, but the seeking is misdirected. And all seeking in the world, because it reinforces our belief in separation, denying the only Identity in which real joy can be found, must in the end result in pain. Thus, Jesus concludes that “all real pleasure comes [only] from doing God’s Will.”

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Q #1211: Could you please explain the following passage: “A solid foundation is necessary because of the confusion between fear and awe to which I have already referred, and which is often made. I have said that awe is inappropriate in connection with the Sons of God, because you should not experience awe in the presence of your equals. However, it was also emphasized that awe is proper in the Presence of your Creator. I have been careful to clarify my role in the Atonement without either over- or understating it. I am also trying to do the same with yours. I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific” (T.1.VII.5:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8).

A: Jesus first spoke of awe in the second section of Chapter 1, where he emphasized that it is not an appropriate reaction to him or to miracles: “You are a perfect creation, and should experience awe only in the Presence of the Creator of perfection. . . . Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality” (T.1.II.3:3,5). Jesus is thus setting the stage for developing a relationship with him, and correcting the traditional biblical view that he is God’s only beloved Son, and we are inferior to him. If we listen carefully to what he is saying and do what he says, we will learn to trust him as our loving brother, knowing that he is always there as a source of comfort and guidance in all things. We will be less and less afraid of him and his message as we learn he is simply reflecting back to us what we have denied about ourselves.

As we settle more into this relationship and become more comfortable with his message, we will be prepared for the steps he will ask us to take later. We just need to be humble and patient, and not try to jump quickly to the top of the spiritual ladder before we are really ready for that level. We will then be able to allow the memory of God into our awareness with a minimum amount of fear. It will feel more natural, and not something imposed on us. We will accept our love for Him as our Source and Creator, and His love for us as the extension of His Love. This awareness now inspires awe in us, as it should; but awe does not entail fear unless we still believe we are somehow separate from God.

Thus, at the very beginning of the text, Jesus is cautioning us not to rush our study and practice, and not try to make ourselves spiritual on our own. We must first learn how to deal with our egos and all the barriers we have erected between ourselves and God’s Presence. If we were ready to leap right back into Heaven, we would not be here thinking we are bodies in a real physical world. Patience, gentleness, humility, and trust are essential in these early stages of our work with A Course in Miracles .

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Q #1348: Chapter 1 of A Course in Miracles says: “This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it…. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God Himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific” (T.1.VII.4:1,2,3; 5:7,6,7,8).

The above quote implies that doing the Course could in certain ways turn out to be more traumatic than helpful. How seriously should we take the above “warning” from the Course’s author to properly prepare before we start the later parts of the Course, and how would we know that we are indeed “properly prepared” in order not to fall into the trap of confusing “fear with awe”? For instance, if we study the first few chapters of the Course, when would we know that we should move on in the text and/or move perhaps on to the workbook? Aren’t the first few chapters so abstract that it is indeed difficult to understand them before the rest of the Course? What am I missing here?

A: The two paragraphs you are referring to did not originally come at the end of Chapter 1. They were part of a longer message to Helen and Bill in which Jesus stressed the importance of studying the material he was giving them (see Absence from Felicity , pp. 251,52). In one sense, this would be true of any teacher-student relationship — the teacher would urge the students to study what is being taught. Since the curriculum of A Course in Miracles involves mind training, it would be important to apply oneself diligently to the study of the material in order to be prepared for later stages in the mind training that build on the earlier ones.

Jesus essentially is talking about approaching God and experiencing His Love. We have many layers of defenses “protecting” us from the experience of God, lest we lose our cherished sense of independent existence. Therefore, the early phases of study and training establish a foundation for this process, and begin it in ways that we can tolerate without falling into a disabling panic. This prepares us for subsequent phases that bring us closer to the experience that we originally rejected and still reject in our choice to be separate and autonomous individuals. We need to become acquainted with the thought system we will be undoing and have some idea of the obstacles we have placed in our way, otherwise we will not be able to properly process what happens after the phase of undoing. That is why Jesus wants us to study the material carefully. By “carefully” he would mean that we realize that he is speaking directly to us as we experience ourselves now. He is not simply presenting a series ideas and concepts that we can approach in an impersonal way. He wants us to get used to thinking about ourselves as he describes us in his course.

Thus, it is more of an attitude toward your study, not so much comprehension of everything he is saying in these first few chapters. As you have observed, there are parts of these chapters (and all of the remaining chapters for that matter) that are difficult to understand, but he does not expect us to grasp every word and all of the implications of the ideas. That is why he comes back to the basic principles over and over and restates them in different ways throughout the three books. Thus, the aim is not intellectual mastery of the text, but rather, combined with a serious attempt to understand the thought system he is unfolding, that we recognize that we are embarking on a journey with him that will eventually penetrate deeply into areas of our lives and minds that we have sought to keep concealed. This is best done slowly and with a growing awareness that there is a loving, comforting presence within us inviting us to hold his hand every step of the way so that the journey will lead to a beatific experience.

Finally, it is helpful to remember that “the curriculum is highly individualized” (M.29.2:6). Therefore, with regard to when to begin the workbook lessons, trust what you feel and don’t force anything. There is no right or wrong in such matters.

complete forgiveness

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 10

ACIM Text Reading for January 10

Chapter 1 ~ The Meaning of Miracles

VI. The Illusion of Needs

You who want peace can find it only by complete forgiveness. No learning is acquired by anyone unless he wants to learn it and believes in some way that he needs it. While lack does not exist in the creation of God, it is very apparent in what you have made. It is, in fact, the essential difference between them. Lack implies that you would be better off in a state somehow different from the one you are in. Until the “separation,” which is the meaning of the “fall,” nothing was lacking. There were no needs at all. Needs arise only when you deprive yourself. You act according to the particular order of needs you establish. This, in turn, depends on your perception of what you are.

A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct. This sense of separation would never have arisen if you had not distorted your perception of truth, and had thus perceived yourself as lacking. The idea of order of needs arose because, having made this fundamental error, you had already fragmented yourself into levels with different needs. As you integrate you become one, and your needs become one accordingly. Unified needs lead to unified action, because this produces a lack of conflict.

The idea of orders of need, which follows from the original error that one can be separated from God, requires correction at its own level before the error of perceiving levels at all can be corrected. You cannot behave effectively while you function on different levels. However, while you do, correction must be introduced vertically from the bottom up. This is because you think you live in space, where concepts such as “up” and “down” are meaningful. Ultimately, space is as meaningless as time. Both are merely beliefs.

The real purpose of this world is to use it to correct your unbelief. You can never control the effects of fear yourself, because you made fear, and you believe in what you made. In attitude, then, though not in content, you resemble your Creator, Who has perfect faith in His creations because He created them. Belief produces the acceptance of existence. That is why you can believe what no one else thinks is true. It is true for you because it was made by you.

All aspects of fear are untrue because they do not exist at the creative level, and therefore do not exist at all. To whatever extent you are willing to submit your beliefs to this test, to that extent are your perceptions corrected. In sorting out the false from the true, the miracle proceeds along these lines:

Perfect love casts out fear.
If fear exists,
Then there is not perfect love.

But:

Only perfect love exists.
If there is fear,
It produces a state that does not exist.

Believe this and you will be free. Only God can establish this solution, and this faith is His gift.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 10

Lesson 10
My thoughts do not mean anything.

This idea applies to all the thoughts of which you are aware, or become aware in the practice periods. The reason the idea is applicable to all of them is that they are not your real thoughts. We have made this distinction before, and will do so again. You have no basis for comparison as yet. When you do, you will have no doubt that what you once believed were your thoughts did not mean anything.

This is the second time we have used this kind of idea. The form is only slightly different. This time the idea is introduced with “My thoughts” instead of “These thoughts,” and no link is made overtly with the things around you. The emphasis is now on the lack of reality of what you think you think.

This aspect of the correction process began with the idea that the thoughts of which you are aware are meaningless, outside rather than within; and then stressed their past rather than their present status. Now we are emphasizing that the presence of these “thoughts” means that you are not thinking. This is merely another way of repeating our earlier statement that your mind is really a blank. To recognize this is to recognize nothingness when you think you see it. As such, it is the prerequisite for vision.

Close your eyes for these exercises, and introduce them by repeating the idea for today quite slowly to yourself. Then add:

This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

The exercises consist, as before, in searching your mind for all the thoughts that are available to you, without selection or judgment. Try to avoid classification of any kind. In fact, if you find it helpful to do so, you might imagine that you are watching an oddly assorted procession going by, which has little if any personal meaning to you. As each one crosses your mind, say:

My thought about ___ does not mean anything.
My thought about ___ does not mean anything.

Today’s thought can obviously serve for any thought that distresses you at any time. In addition, five practice periods are recommended, each involving no more than a minute or so of mind searching. It is not recommended that this time period be extended, and it should be reduced to half a minute or less if you experience discomfort. Remember, however, to repeat the idea slowly before applying it specifically, and also to add:

This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #375: What is the meaning of “correction must be introduced vertically from the bottom up” (T.1.VI.3:3)?

A: In several places in the Course, Jesus uses the metaphor of a ladder to talk about our separating from God and then the process of undoing that separation. Our choice to separate from God initiated a series of dynamics that led us all the way down to the bottom of the ladder, which is what we now experience as our selves and our lives. Our return, therefore, must begin with where we are, and then with the Jesus gently guiding us, we go back up the ladder step by step until we reach the top: “…salvation will proceed to change the course of every step in the descent to separation, until all the steps have been retraced, the ladder gone, and all the dreaming of the world undone.…What waits for you in perfect certainty beyond salvation is not our concern. For you have barely started to allow your first, uncertain steps to be directed up the ladder separation led you down. The miracle alone is your concern at present. Here is where we must begin” (T.28.II.12:7; III.1:1,2,3,4).

Thus the correction is focused on our present experience as bodies in a physical world. That is why we need to be vigilant about not skipping steps by denying our bodies or our physical experience in an attempt to jump from the bottom of the ladder right to the top. Any healing we would experience if we did that would be short-lived, because the underlying guilt would remain. The healing process starts with our experiences as individual physical beings because that is what we believe we are, otherwise we would not be having those experiences. “The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand, and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within” (T.18.I.9:3).

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Q #242: I am confused by A Course in Miracles’ use of the word conditions. We are not to ask for help with the “release of fear,” but rather to ask “for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about.” Would you say it’s also appropriate to ask for help in bringing “proper learning conditions” about?…for help in bringing about the conditions for peace?…for help in bringing about the conditions for love?…etc. I assume it’s talking about conditions of mind.

A: Yes, the term conditions always refers to a choice made in our minds, which accounts for our lack of peace, for our not being aware of love’s presence, etc. The point of the passage you are referring to (T.2.VI.4) is that Jesus was helping Helen and all of us to learn to take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings, so that we can get back in touch with the power of our minds to choose. We essentially chose to repress this power and become mindless instead when we gave our allegiance to the ego. So Jesus is saying that it really would not be helpful to us in the long run, if he simply took our fear away from us, without our having learned that it is there only because of our ongoing choice to prefer separation to oneness (the conditions that led to the fear). He tells us several paragraphs later: “You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough” (T.2.VII.1:2,3,4,5,6,7).

So Jesus is emphasizing the importance of guarding our thoughts very carefully, just as the entire workbook comes back over and over again to the importance of our being vigilant about our thoughts. That is what he wants to help us with: looking at how willing we are to keep ourselves separate and special, how willing we are to see others as the sinners and ourselves as innocent victims. These are the conditions that result in our fear and our lack of peace, etc.

Thus is it very appropriate to ask for help in bringing about the conditions that would facilitate our learning, and that would bring about the conditions for peace and love, etc. If we were to look with him at all of our ego thoughts, and then let them go, fear and guilt would vanish forever, and then the love that had been blocked by the fear would be our only reality. All fear and guilt rest on our willingness to choose against the love of Jesus and for the ego, which ensures our survival as separate individuals.

Finally, if we ask him to help us look at our choice to keep him away, then we have already begun the process of correcting that choice. That is the kind of help that would benefit us most.

complete forgiveness

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 6

ACIM Text Reading for January 6

A Course in Miracles

Chapter 1 – II. Revelation, Time and Miracles

T-1.II.1. Revelation induces complete but temporary suspension of doubt and fear. 2 It reflects the original form of communication between God and His creations, involving the extremely personal sense of creation sometimes sought in physical relationships. 3 Physical closeness cannot achieve it. 4 Miracles, however, are genuinely interpersonal, and result in true closeness to others. 5 Revelation unites you directly with God. 6 Miracles unite you directly with your brother. 7 Neither emanates from consciousness, but both are experienced there. 8 Consciousness is the state that induces action, though it does not inspire it. 9 You are free to believe what you choose, and what you do attests to what you believe.

T-1.II.2. Revelation is intensely personal and cannot be meaningfully translated. 2 That is why any attempt to describe it in words is impossible. 3 Revelation induces only experience. 4 Miracles, on the other hand, induce action. 5 They are more useful now because of their interpersonal nature. 6 In this phase of learning, working miracles is important because freedom from fear cannot be thrust upon you. 7 Revelation is literally unspeakable because it is an experience of unspeakable love.

T-1.II.3. Awe should be reserved for revelation, to which it is perfectly and correctly applicable. 2 It is not appropriate for miracles because a state of awe is worshipful, implying that one of a lesser order stands before his Creator. 3 You are a perfect creation, and should experience awe only in the Presence of the Creator of perfection. 4 The miracle is therefore a sign of love among equals. 5 Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality. 6 It is therefore an inappropriate reaction to me. 7 An elder brother is entitled to respect for his greater experience, and obedience for his greater wisdom. 8 He is also entitled to love because he is a brother, and to devotion if he is devoted. 9 It is only my devotion that entitles me to yours. 10 There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. 11 I have nothing that does not come from God. 12 The difference between us now is that I have nothing else. 13 This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you.

T-1.II.4. “No man cometh unto the Father but by me” does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist. 2 The statement is more meaningful in terms of a vertical rather than a horizontal axis. 3 You stand below me and I stand below God. 4 In the process of “rising up”, I am higher because without me the distance between God and man would be too great for you to encompass. 5 I bridge the distance as an elder brother to you on the one hand, and as a Son of God on the other. 6 My devotion to my brothers has placed me in charge of the Sonship, which I render complete because I share it. 7 This may appear to contradict the statement “I and my Father are one,” but there are two parts to the statement in recognition that the Father is greater.

T-1.II.5. Revelations are indirectly inspired by me because I am close to the Holy Spirit, and alert to the revelation-readiness of my brothers. 2 I can thus bring down to them more than they can draw down to themselves. 3 The Holy Spirit mediates higher to lower communication, keeping the direct channel from God to you open for revelation. 4 Revelation is not reciprocal. 5 It proceeds from God to you, but not from you to God.

T-1.II.6. The miracle minimizes the need for time. 2 In the longitudinal or horizontal plane the recognition of the equality of the members of the Sonship appears to involve almost endless time. 3 However, the miracle entails a sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception. 4 This introduces an interval from which the giver and receiver both emerge farther along in time than they would otherwise have been. 5 The miracle thus has the unique property of abolishing time to the extent that it renders the interval of time it spans unnecessary. 6 There is no relationship between the time a miracle takes and the time it covers. 7 The miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years. 8 It does so by the underlying recognition of perfect equality of giver and receiver on which the miracle rests. 9 The miracle shortens time by collapsing it, thus eliminating certain intervals within it. 10 It does this, however, within the larger temporal sequence.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 6

Lesson 6
I am upset because I see something that is not there.

The exercises with this idea are very similar to the preceding ones. Again, it is necessary to name both the form of upset (anger, fear, worry, depression and so on) and the perceived source very specifically for any application of the idea. For example:

I am angry at ____ because I see something that is not there.
I am worried about ____ because I see something that is not there.

Today’s idea is useful for application to anything that seems to upset you, and can profitably be used throughout the day for that purpose. However, the three or four practice periods which are required should be preceded by a minute or so of mind searching, as before, and the application of the idea to each upsetting thought uncovered in the search.

Again, if you resist applying the idea to some upsetting thoughts more than to others, remind yourself of the two cautions stated in the previous lesson:

There are no small upsets. They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.

And:

I cannot keep this form of upset and let the others go. For the purposes of these exercises, then, I will regard them all as the same.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #327: I would appreciate some clarification of the concept of oneness and the following excerpt from the text of A Course in Miracles: “God, Who encompasses all being, created beings who have everything individually” (W.4.VII.5:1).

A: Jesus is simply using the words of our symbolic, dualistic thought system to reassure us that releasing our investment and identification with the ego will not result in any real or meaningful loss. The concept of a hologram can be helpful here, for Jesus in essence is saying that the whole is contained in every part. In reality, any experience of oneness must be beyond all concepts we may employ to attempt to describe it. It is simply an experience of total love that knows no limits, no differences, no perception of an other. That it does not encompass individuality in any real sense becomes clear in Jesus’ words later in the Course:

“Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is” (W.pI.169.5).

But Jesus is also aware of our desperate desire to cling to a sense of a separate identity, and so he reassures us, “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T.16.VI.8:1). In other words, any shift towards releasing the ego is completely our choice. If it were not, we would be a victims of forces beyond our control, a situation totally antithetical to the Course’s gentle teachings on forgiveness.

See Question #17 for a related discussion on releasing our sense of individuality.

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Q #914: A Course in Miracles mentions a longitudinal and a horizontal plane. Would you please explain these terms?

A: The passage in A Course in Miracles to which you are referring states, “The miracle minimizes the need for time. In the longitudinal or horizontal plane the recognition of the equality of the members of the Sonship appears to involve almost endless time. However, the miracle entails a sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception” (T.1.II.6:1,2,3).

That passage comes just after Jesus has told us “‘No man cometh unto the Father but by me’ does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist. The statement is more meaningful in terms of a vertical rather than a horizontal axis” (T.1.II.4:1,2).

Jesus uses the terms longitudinal and horizontal to refer to our experience of linear time within a world of form. He chooses these words because they imply something that spans a distance and follows a path from one point to another.

We believe that we were born into a world of form that existed before we did and that will continue to exist after we die. It’s a world in which events seem to follow one another and in which the past led to the present, which in turn will determine our future. Further, we seem to live as bodies, separate from each other with distance between us. So the “horizontal or vertical plane” is our seeming everyday reality — a linear, sequential, physical experience, characterized by differences and separation.

But the Course tells us that “Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion …” (W.158.4:1) and that “…space is as meaningless as time” (T.1.VI.3:5). Jesus helps us remember that we can listen to an internal teacher — the Holy Spirit — who comes from outside of this spatial, temporal dream world we think we are in. The moment we turn away from the ego and turn toward the Holy Spirit as our guide (the miracle), our mind becomes a reflection of the oneness and timelessness of Heaven. That instant is what Jesus means by “the sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception.”

The word “vertical” means to rise upright. So the “vertical plane” symbolizes our rising above the world we think we are in (or, as Jesus says, “above the battleground”). This entails returning to the non-linear mind.

The idea that Jesus is no different from us except in time is hardly reassuring from our perspective in which the gulf between our consciousness and his seems insurmountable. To us it seems like we would need millions of years of learning to go from where we are to where he is. But in fact, all we need is an internal shift from the ego, which tells us to move backward or forward (but either way keeps us firmly planted in this world) to the Holy Spirit, Who will gently help us reach the light that lies beyond this illusory world.

A final note; any term Jesus uses in the Course to describe where we are, or the process of returning to our true home in Heaven, is only a symbol. In truth there is no horizontal or vertical plane, just as there is no world. But since virtually every symbol we have placed in this dream world serves to keep us asleep, Jesus uses symbols we can relate to that will help us to awaken.

For an in depth discussion of the concept of time from the Course’s perspective, see the book A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles by Kenneth Wapnick .

For related discussions about the mind, time, and space, please see Questions #228 and #666.

Peace of God

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 4

ACIM Text Reading for January 4

A Course in Miracles

I. Principles of Miracles

  1. There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.

2. Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that matters is their Source, Which is far beyond evaluation.

3. Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.

4. All miracles mean life, and God is the Giver of life. His Voice will direct you very specifically. You will be told all you need to know.

5. Miracles are habits, and should be involuntary. They should not be under conscious control. Consciously selected miracles can be misguided.

6. Miracles are natural. When they do not occur something has gone wrong.

7. Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first.

8. Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less.

9. Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love both to the giver and the receiver.

10. The use of miracles as spectacles to induce belief is a misunderstanding of their purpose.

11. Prayer is the medium of miracles. It is a means of communication of the created with the Creator. Through prayer love is received, and through miracles love is expressed.

12. Miracles are thoughts. Thoughts can represent the lower or bodily level of experience, or the higher or spiritual level of experience. One makes the physical, and the other creates the spiritual.

13. Miracles are both beginnings and endings, and so they alter the temporal order. They are always affirmations of rebirth, which seem to go back but really go forward. They undo the past in the present, and thus release the future.

14. Miracles bear witness to truth. They are convincing because they arise from conviction. Without conviction they deteriorate into magic, which is mindless and therefore destructive; or rather, the uncreative use of mind.

15. Each day should be devoted to miracles. The purpose of time is to enable you to learn how to use time constructively. It is thus a teaching device and a means to an end. Time will cease when it is no longer useful in facilitating learning.

16. Miracles are teaching devices for demonstrating it is as blessed to give as to receive. They simultaneously increase the strength of the giver and supply strength to the receiver.

17. Miracles transcend the body. They are sudden shifts into invisibility, away from the bodily level. That is why they heal.

18. A miracle is a service. It is the maximal service you can render to another. It is a way of loving your neighbor as yourself. You recognize your own and your neighbor’s worth simultaneously.

19. Miracles make minds one in God. They depend on cooperation, because the Sonship is the sum of all that God created. Miracles therefore reflect the laws of eternity, not of time.

20. Miracles reawaken the awareness that the spirit, not the body, is the altar of truth. This is the recognition that leads to the healing power of the miracle.

21. Miracles are natural signs of forgiveness. Through miracles you accept God’s forgiveness by extending it to others.

22. Miracles are associated with fear only because of the belief that darkness can hide. You believe that what your physical eyes cannot see does not exist. This leads to a denial of spiritual sight.

23. Miracles rearrange perception and place all levels in true perspective. This is healing because sickness comes from confusing the levels.

24. Miracles enable you to heal the sick and raise the dead because you made sickness and death yourself, and can therefore abolish both. You are a miracle, capable of creating in the likeness of your Creator. Everything else is your own nightmare, and does not exist. Only the creations of light are real.

25. Miracles are part of an interlocking chain of forgiveness which, when completed, is the Atonement. Atonement works all the time and in all the dimensions of time.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 4

Lesson 4
These thoughts do not mean anything.
They are like the things I see in this room
[on this street, from this window, in this place].

Unlike the preceding ones, these exercises do not begin with the idea for the day. In these practice periods, begin with noting the thoughts that are crossing your mind for about a minute. Then apply the idea to them. If you are already aware of unhappy thoughts, use them as subjects for the idea. Do not, however, select only the thoughts you think are “bad.” You will find, if you train yourself to look at your thoughts, that they represent such a mixture that, in a sense, none of them can be called “good” or “bad.” This is why they do not mean anything.

In selecting the subjects for the application of today’s idea, the usual specificity is required. Do not be afraid to use “good” thoughts as well as “bad.” None of them represents your real thoughts, which are being covered up by them. The “good” ones are but shadows of what lies beyond, and shadows make sight difficult. The “bad” ones are blocks to sight, and make seeing impossible. You do not want either.

This is a major exercise, and will be repeated from time to time in somewhat different form. The aim here is to train you in the first steps toward the goal of separating the meaningless from the meaningful. It is a first attempt in the long-range purpose of learning to see the meaningless as outside you, and the meaningful within. It is also the beginning of training your mind to recognize what is the same and what is different.

In using your thoughts for application of the idea for today, identify each thought by the central figure or event it contains; for example:

This thought about ___ does not mean anything.
It is like the things I see in this room [on this street, and so on].

You can also use the idea for a particular thought that you recognize as harmful. This practice is useful, but is not a substitute for the more random procedures to be followed for the exercises. Do not, however, examine your mind for more than a minute or so. You are too inexperienced as yet to avoid a tendency to become pointlessly preoccupied.

Further, since these exercises are the first of their kind, you may find the suspension of judgment in connection with thoughts particularly difficult. Do not repeat these exercises more than three or four times during the day. We will return to them later.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

#13: What do you think the phrase “purification is necessary first” means?

A: Since this seventh miracle principle, “Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first” (T.1.I.7:1) comes on page 3 of the text, students of A Course in Miracles may believe that Jesus is speaking about purification of the body. Students’ past experiences will bring to mind all of their beliefs about the meaning of the word “purification.” To some, this may mean the cleansing of the “soul” through baptism, or the atonement of sin through penance and sacrifice. To others, “purification” may have the connotation of ridding oneself of human desires through meditation and disciplined practices. Whatever one believes, their belief forms the foundation on which they begin to build their understanding of the “purification process.”

What a surprise to learn, as we make our way through the text, that Jesus is not speaking to us about purifying the body at all. He couldn’t be since the Course teaches that the body is an illusion. And being an illusion, there is nothing that we have to do to it or with it. The body does not need to be purified because it is not impure. “It does nothing…. it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing. (T.19.IV.C.5:3,4,5). What is impure are our thoughts, which means it is our thoughts that have to be purified, not the body. And the Course’s method of “purification” is forgiveness; forgiveness of the one thought of guilt which keeps us separate from the love of God. The Course’s “purification process” is illustrated in this quote:

“Give Him your thoughts, and He will give them back as miracles which joyously proclaim the wholeness and the happiness God wills His Son, as proof of His eternal Love. And as each thought is thus transformed, it takes on healing power from the Mind Which saw the truth in it, and failed to be deceived by what was falsely added [guilt]. All the threads of fantasy are gone. And what remains is unified into a perfect Thought that offers its perfection everywhere (W.pI.151.14).

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Q #1: It seems that at some point all theologies converge, and in so doing, they leave behind their individual forms and become pure Truth. I am having trouble dealing with this because – it implies that the Christian forms of the Course are … (forgive me) … disposable and temporary. Knowing this I sometimes find myself becoming impatient with the continuous anthropomorphism of the text, and wish it would be more direct. Needless to say, this interferes with my personal progress, though not with my reverence. In your experience is this a common phenomenon? Does it pass with time? Is it just an ego-strategy? How should I handle it?

A: The Course’s Christian context has been a problem for students right from the beginning, and they have raised the same important question you have. To restate and slightly expand your question, why does a universal message have to come in such a specific religious framework? And does that not inevitably breed further separation, at the same time denying the universality of the specific religion?

Indeed, the Christian language of A Course in Miracles, not to mention the presence of Jesus throughout the material, can pose a great challenge to many students. If their ego is looking for a way to invalidate the material, or throw up obstacles to learning, then Jesus and Christianity can be helpful allies in this battle against the truth. On the other hand, asking the Holy Spirit for help can introduce yet another classroom in which forgiveness of our specialness can happily be learned.

While one would never want to restrict A Course in Miracles to a particular cultural group, it can nonetheless be said that in the main it is directed towards a Western audience. Its language, cultural expressions, and Freudian, Platonic, and Shakespearean elements, all speak to a reader comfortable within the Western tradition. And it can certainly be said that the predominant influence in the Western world for the past 2000 years has been Christianity, with Jesus clearly being the dominant figure, either as symbol of the love of Heaven, or the special love (and hate) of the ego. And so there could not be a Western student — Christian, Jew, agnostic, or atheist — who in one way or another has not been affected by Jesus or the religions that have evolved in his name. Thus the Christian framework of A Course in Miracles provides a natural opportunity for students to practice forgiveness of their past experiences.

In the end, of course, all specific symbols disappear into the Oneness of God. But until that day arrives, we need specifics to be the little steps of forgiveness we take towards attaining the non-dualistic reality that lies beyond all dualistic concepts and beyond all symbols. As the workbook says: “God will take this final step Himself. Do not deny the little steps He asks you take to Him” (W.pI.193.13:6,7). Thus, the Christian anthropomorphisms reflect our own anthropomorphic view of ourselves, since in truth we are not bodies or specific persons, but non-human thoughts in the mind. However, as long as we identify with the specific person whose image we see every morning in the bathroom mirror, then, again, we need a learning curriculum that uses specific symbols that meet us in the condition in which we think we exist (T.25.I.7:4). Christianity provides us with one of those sets of symbols, and for the opportunity it offers we should all be grateful.

there is nothing to fear

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 3

ACIM Text Reading for January 3

A Course in Miracles

What It Says

This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.

This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

This introduction is how A Course in Miracles begins. It makes a fundamental distinction between the real and the unreal; between knowledge and perception. Knowledge is truth, under one law, the law of love or God. Truth is unalterable, eternal, and unambiguous. It can be unrecognized, but it cannot be changed. It applies to everything that God created, and only what He created is real. It is beyond learning because it is beyond time and process. It has no opposite; no beginning and no end. It merely is.

The world of perception, on the other hand, is the world of time, of change, of beginnings and endings. It is based on interpretation, not on facts. It is the world of birth and death, founded on the belief in scarcity, loss, separation, and death. It is learned rather than given, selective in its perceptual emphases, unstable in its functioning, and inaccurate in its interpretations.

From knowledge and perception respectively, two distinct thought systems arise which are opposite in every respect. In the realm of knowledge no thoughts exist apart from God, because God and His Creation share one Will. The world of perception, however, is made by the belief in opposites and separate wills, in perpetual conflict with each other and with God. What perception sees and hears appears to be real because it permits into awareness only what conforms to the wishes of the perceiver. This leads to a world of illusions, a world which needs constant defense precisely because it is not real.

When you have been caughtWhen you have been caught in the world of perception you are caught in a dream. You cannot escape without help, because everything your senses show merely witnesses to the reality of the dream. God has provided the Answer, the only Way out, the true Helper. It is the function of His Voice, His Holy Spirit, to mediate between the two worlds. He can do this because, while on the one hand He knows the truth, on the other He also recognizes our illusions, but without believing in them. It is the Holy Spirit’s goal to help us escape from the dream world by teaching us how to reverse our thinking and unlearn our mistakes. Forgiveness is the Holy Spirit’s great learning aid in bringing this thought reversal about. However, the Course has its own definition of what forgiveness really is just as it defines the world in its own way.

The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference—the dominant ideas, wishes and emotions in our minds. “Projection makes perception” (Text, p. 445). We look inside first, decide the kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it. We make it true by our interpretations of what it is we are seeing. If we are using perception to justify our own mistakes—our anger, our impulses to attack, our lack of love in whatever form it may take—we will see a world of evil, destruction, malice, envy and despair. All this we must learn to forgive, not because we are being “good” and “charitable,” but because what we are seeing is not true. We have distorted the world by our twisted defenses, and are therefore seeing what is not there. As we learn to recognize our perceptual errors, we also learn to look past them or “forgive.” At the same time we are forgiving ourselves, looking past our distorted self-concepts to the Self That God created in us and as us.

Sin is defined as “lack of love” (Text, p. 11). Since love is all there is, sin in the sight of the Holy Spirit is a mistake to be corrected, rather than an evil to be punished. Our sense of inadequacy, weakness, and incompletion comes from the strong investment in the “scarcity principle” that governs the whole world of illusions. From that point of view, we seek in others what we feel is wanting in ourselves. We “love” another in order to get something ourselves. That, in fact, is what passes for love in the dream world. There can be no greater mistake than that, for love is incapable of asking for anything.

Only Minds Can JoinOnly minds can really join, and whom God has joined no man can put asunder (Text, p. 356). It is, however, only at the level of Christ Mind that true union is possible, and has, in fact, never been lost. The “little I” seeks to enhance itself by external approval, external possessions, and external “love.” The Self That God created needs nothing. It is forever complete, safe, loved, and loving. It seeks to share rather than to get; to extend rather than project. It has no needs and wants to join with others out of their mutual awareness of abundance.

The special relationships of the world are destructive, selfish, and childishly egocentric. Yet, if given to the Holy Spirit, these relationships can become the holiest things on earth—the miracles that point the way to the return to Heaven. The world uses its special relationships as a final weapon of exclusion and a demonstration of separateness. The Holy Spirit transforms them into perfect lessons in forgiveness and in awakening from the dream. Each one is an opportunity to let perceptions be healed and errors corrected. Each one is another chance to forgive oneself by forgiving the other. And each one becomes still another invitation to the Holy Spirit and to the remembrance of God.

Perception is a function of the body, and therefore represents a limit on awareness. Perception sees through the body’s eyes and hears through the body’s ears. It evokes the limited responses which the body makes. The body appears to be largely self-motivated and independent, yet it actually responds only to the intentions of the mind. If the mind wants to use it for attack in any form, it becomes prey to sickness, age, and decay. If the mind accepts the Holy Spirit’s purpose for it instead, it becomes a useful way of communicating with others, invulnerable as long as it is needed, and to be gently laid by when its use is over. Of itself it is neutral, as is everything in the world of perception. Whether it is used for the goals of the ego or the Holy Spirit depends entirely on what the mind wants.

The opposite of seeing through the body’s eyes is the vision of Christ, which reflects strength rather than weakness, unity rather than separation, and love rather than fear. The opposite of hearing through the body’s ears is communication through the Voice for God, the Holy Spirit, which abides in each of us. His Voice seems distant and difficult to hear because the ego, which speaks for the little, separated self, seems to be much louder. This is actually reversed. The Holy Spirit speaks with unmistakable clarity and overwhelming appeal. No one who does not choose to identify with the body could possibly be deaf to His messages of release and hope, nor could he fail to accept joyously the vision of Christ in glad exchange for his miserable picture of himself.

Christ’s VisionChrist’s vision is the Holy Spirit’s gift, God’s alternative to the illusion of separation and to the belief in the reality of sin, guilt, and death. It is the one correction for all errors of perception; the reconciliation of the seeming opposites on which this world is based. Its kindly light shows all things from another point of view, reflecting the thought system that arises from knowledge and making return to God not only possible but inevitable. What was regarded as injustices done to one by someone else, now becomes a call for help and for union. Sin, sickness, and attack are seen as misperceptions calling for remedy through gentleness and love. Defenses are laid down because where there is no attack there is no need for them. Our brothers’ needs become our own, because they are taking the journey with us as we go to God. Without us they would lose their way. Without them we could never find our own.

Forgiveness is unknown in Heaven, where the need for it would be inconceivable. However, in this world, forgiveness is a necessary correction for all the mistakes that we have made. To offer forgiveness is the only way for us to have it, for it reflects the law of Heaven that giving and receiving are the same. Heaven is the natural state of all the Sons of God as He created them. Such is their reality forever. It has not changed because it has been forgotten.

Forgiveness is the means by which we will remember. Through forgiveness the thinking of the world is reversed. The forgiven world becomes the gate of Heaven, because by its mercy we can at last forgive ourselves. Holding no one prisoner to guilt, we become free. Acknowledging Christ in all our brothers, we recognize His Presence in ourselves. Forgetting all our misperceptions, and with nothing from the past to hold us back, we can remember God. Beyond this, learning cannot go. When we are ready, God Himself will take the final step in our return to Him.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 3

Lesson 3
I do not understand anything I see in this room
[on this street, from this window, in this place].

Apply this idea in the same way as the previous ones, without making distinctions of any kind. Whatever you see becomes a proper subject for applying the idea. Be sure that you do not question the suitability of anything for application of the idea. These are not exercises in judgment. Anything is suitable if you see it. Some of the things you see may have emotionally charged meaning for you. Try to lay such feelings aside, and merely use these things exactly as you would anything else.

The point of the exercises is to help you clear your mind of all past associations, to see things exactly as they appear to you now, and to realize how little you really understand about them. It is therefore essential that you keep a perfectly open mind, unhampered by judgment, in selecting the things to which the idea for the day is to be applied. For this purpose one thing is like another; equally suitable and therefore equally useful.
Each of the first three lessons should not be done more than twice a day each, preferably morning and evening. Nor should they be attempted for more than a minute or so, unless that entails a sense of hurry. A comfortable sense of leisure is essential.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1276: I find the language at the end of paragraph 1 of the Introduction to A Course in Miracles does not logically follow. It says: “The opposite of love is fear, but what is all- encompassing can have no opposite” (T.in.1:8). Clearly what is all-encompassing must be love and not fear. Therefore, if love can have no opposite, its opposite cannot be fear. It would appear that the sentence should read: “The opposite of fear is love, but what is all- encompassing can have no opposite.”

A: We do not find a problem with the logic. Since love is all-encompassing, it cannot have an opposite. We would tend to think of fear as the opposite of love, but since there can be no opposite to what is all-encompassing, fear is impossible. That is the point — fear is not real.

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Q #1150: Am I correct in thinking A Course in Miracles is called a “course” because we all take on a compulsory “course of thinking” from the time we notice our separate beingness? It seems we have no choice but to set about learning ways and means to live our separate lives as best we can, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Survival of the fittest! So we find ourselves enmeshed in different cultures, religious traditions, and rules of behavior that best suit our needs as we see them. Our separately devised courses are clearly deeply conflicted, but we are unable to change our “course” because we only have our learned thinking to call on, which is how we got conflicted in the first place. Does the Course offer a real alternative — a “course of thinking” not based on that old, separate, self-interest pattern?

A: The term course specifically denotes the educational and academic context of the Course. It “is arranged as a teaching device,” as the Preface states (p. viii) , and it consists therefore of a text, workbook, and manual for teachers. Jesus speaks about teaching and learning, teachers and students, a curriculum, goals and objectives of the lessons, etc.

Yes, A Course in Miracles most certainly offers a real alternative. There is a section in the text with that title (T.30.IV) , and one might well describe the entire Course in those terms. As you probably know, the dictation began shortly after Helen Schucman, the scribe, and her associate William Thetford agreed to rise above their separate, self-centered interests to find a better way of relating to each other and to the other people in their lives. Their agreement to join was the invitation to the source of truth in their minds, represented by Jesus and the Holy Spirit, to express this real alternative through them. Succinctly stated, A Course in Miracles teaches that the way to remember God is by undoing guilt through forgiving others. It is a lifetime’s work that begins with the humble acknowledgment that we have been wrong about everything, and that even though we know of no other way, we trust that there is one, and that we will succeed in achieving its goals.

Peace of God