A Course in Miracles Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 11

ACIM Reading for December 11

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

3.- II. Is Psychotherapy a Profession?1. Strictly speaking the answer is no. How could a separate profession be one in which everyone is engaged? And how could any limits be laid on an interaction in which everyone is both patient and therapist in every relationship in which he enters? Yet practically speaking, it can still be said that there are those who devote themselves primarily to healing of one sort or another as their chief function. And it is to them that a large number of others turn for help. That, in effect, is the practice of therapy. These are therefore “officially” helpers. They are devoted to certain kinds of needs in their professional activities, although they may be far more able teachers outside of them. These people need no special rules, of course, but they may be called upon to use special applications of the general principles of healing.

2. First, the professional therapist is in an excellent position to demonstrate that there is no order of difficulty in healing. For this, however, he needs special training, because the curriculum by which he became a therapist probably taught him little or nothing about the real principles of healing. In fact, it probably taught him how to make healing impossible. Most of the world’s teaching follows a curriculum in judgment, with the aim of making the therapist a judge.

3. Even this the Holy Spirit can use, and will use, given the slightest invitation. The unhealed healer may be arrogant, selfish, unconcerned, and actually dishonest. He may be uninterested in healing as his major goal. Yet something happened to him, however slight it may have been, when he chose to be a healer, however misguided the direction he may have chosen. That “something” is enough. Sooner or later that something will rise and grow; a patient will touch his heart, and the therapist will silently ask him for help. He has himself found a therapist. He has asked the Holy Spirit to enter the relationship and heal it. He has accepted the Atonement for himself.

4. God is said to have looked on all He created and pronounced it good. No, He declared it perfect, and so it was. And since His creations do not change and last forever, so it is now. Yet neither a perfect therapist nor a perfect patient can possibly exist. Both must have denied their perfection, for their very need for each other implies a sense of lack. A one-to-one relationship is not one Relationship. Yet it is the means of return; the way God chose for the return of His Son. In that strange dream a strange correction must enter, for only that is the call to awake. And what else should therapy be? Awake and be glad, for all your sins have been forgiven you. This is the only message that any two should ever give each other.

5. Something good must come from every meeting of patient and therapist. And that good is saved for both, against the day when they can recognize that only that was real in their relationship. At that moment the good is returned to them, blessed by the Holy Spirit as a gift from their Creator as a sign of His Love. For the therapeutic relationship must become like the relationship of the Father and the Son. There is no other, for there is nothing else. The therapists of this world do not expect this outcome, and many of their patients would not be able to accept help from them if they did. Yet no therapist really sets the goal for the relationships of which he is a part. His understanding begins with recognizing this, and then goes on from there.

6. It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs. In some relationships this point is never reached, although both patient and therapist may change their dreams in the process. Yet it will not be the same dream for both of them, and so it is not the dream of forgiveness in which both will someday wake. The good is saved; indeed is cherished. But only little time is saved. The new dreams will lose their temporary appeal and turn to dreams of fear, which is the content of all dreams. Yet no patient can accept more than he is ready to receive, and no therapist can offer more than he believes he has. And so there is a place for all relationships in this world, and they will bring as much good as each can accept and use.

7. Yet it is when judgment ceases that healing occurs, because only then it can be understood that there is no order of difficulty in healing. This is a necessary understanding for the healed healer. He has learned that it is no harder to wake a brother from one dream than from another. No professional therapist can hold this understanding consistently in his mind, offering it to all who come to him. There are some in this world who have come very close, but they have not accepted the gift entirely in order to stay and let their understanding remain on earth until the closing of time. They could hardly be called professional therapists. They are the Saints of God. They are the Saviors of the world. Their image remains, because they have chosen that it be so. They take the place of other images, and help with kindly dreams.

8. Once the professional therapist has realized that minds are joined, he can also recognize that order of difficulty in healing is meaningless. Yet well before he reaches this in time he can go towards it. Many holy instants can be his along the way. A goal marks the end of a journey, not the beginning, and as each goal is reached another can be dimly seen ahead. Most professional therapists are still at the very start of the beginning stage of the first journey. Even those who have begun to understand what they must do may still oppose the setting-out. Yet all the laws of healing can be theirs in just an instant. The journey is not long except in dreams.

9. The professional therapist has one advantage that can save enormous time if it is properly used. He has chosen a road in which there is great temptation to misuse his role. This enables him to pass by many obstacles to peace quite quickly, if he escapes the temptation to assume a function that has not been given him. To understand there is no order of difficulty in healing, he must also recognize the equality of himself and the patient. There is no halfway point in this. Either they are equal or not. The attempts of therapists to compromise in this respect are strange indeed. Some utilize the relationship merely to collect bodies to worship at their shrine, and this they regard as healing. Many patients, too, consider this strange procedure as salvation. Yet at each meeting there is One Who says, “My brother, choose again.”

1. Do not forget that any form of specialness must be defended, and will be. The defenseless therapist has the strength of God with him, but the defensive therapist has lost sight of the Source of his salvation. He does not see and he does not hear. How, then, can he teach? Because it is the Will of God that he take his place in the plan for salvation. Because it is the Will of God that his patient be helped to join with him there. Because his inability to see and hear does not limit the Holy Spirit in any way. Except in time. In time there can be a great lag between the offering and the acceptance of healing. This is the veil across the face of Christ. Yet it can be but an illusion, because time does not exist and the Will of God has always been exactly as it is.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 11

LESSON 310

In fearlessness and love I spend today.

1. This day, my Father, would I spend with You, as You have chosen all my days should be. And what I will experience is not of time at all. The joy that comes to me is not of days nor hours, for it comes from Heaven to Your Son. This day will be Your sweet reminder to remember You, Your gracious calling to Your holy Son, the sign Your grace has come to me, and that it is Your Will I be set free today.

2. We spend this day together, you and I. And all the world joins with us in our song of thankfulness and joy to Him Who gave salvation to us, and Who set us free. We are restored to peace and holiness. There is no room in us for fear today, for we have welcomed love into our hearts.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is the Jesus of A Course in Miracles the same Jesus written about in the Bible, and the same person who walked the earth in Palestine two thousand years ago?

A) Yes, it is definitely the same Jesus who appeared in the world two thousand years ago, with the same message of truth — in content obviously, not form. However, it is extremely hard to believe that the Jesus of A Course in Miracles is the same figure written about in the Bible, just as it would be difficult to accept that the biblical Jesus resembles the truly historical one. This is not the place to delve into issues of scripture scholarship and how the gospels were written, but suffice it to state for our purposes here that the figure found in the four gospels, as well as the teachings recorded in the other books of the New Testament, are often diametrically opposed to what we find in the Course. Rather than attempt a procrustean fit of a round peg in a square hole, it seems much safer and intellectually honest for students of A Course in Miracles to accept that the biblical Jesus represents the collective projections of the various authors of the gospels and epistles, while the voice and person of Jesus in A Course in Miracles represents the ego-free being who lived and taught two thousand years ago. In conclusion, the Jesus of the Bible and the Course are mutually exclusive figures, with only the common name linking them together.

For a more thorough discussion of these differences, the reader is referred to A Course in Miracles and Christianity: A Dialogue. [See excerpts from this book on the Web beginning at: http://www.miraclestudies.net/Dialogue_Pref.html]

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A Course in Miracles Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 10

ACIM Reading for December 10

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

3. The Practice of Psychotherapy- I. The Selection of Patients1. Everyone who is sent to you is a patient of yours. This does not mean that you select him, nor that you choose the kind of treatment that is suitable. But it does mean that no one comes to you by mistake. There are no errors in God’s plan. It would be an error, however, to assume that you know what to offer everyone who comes. This is not up to you to decide. There is a tendency to assume that you are being called on constantly to make sacrifices of yourself for those who come. This could hardly be true. To demand sacrifice of yourself is to demand a sacrifice of God, and He knows nothing of sacrifice. Who could ask of Perfection that He be imperfect?

2. Who, then, decides what each brother needs? Surely not you, who do not yet recognize who he is who asks. There is Something in him that will tell you, if you listen. And that is the answer; listen. Do not demand, do not decide, do not sacrifice. Listen. What you hear is true. Would God send His Son to you and not be sure you recognize his needs? Think what God is telling you; He needs your voice to speak for Him. Could anything be holier? Or a greater gift to you? Would you rather choose who would be god, or hear the Voice of Him Who is God in you?

3. Your patients need not be physically present for you to serve them in the Name of God. This may be hard to remember, but God will not have His gifts to you limited to the few you actually see. You can see others as well, for seeing is not limited to the body’s eyes. Some do not need your physical presence. They need you as much, and perhaps even more, at the instant they are sent. You will recognize them in whatever way can be most helpful to both of you. It does not matter how they come. They will be sent in whatever form is most helpful; a name, a thought, a picture, an idea, or perhaps just a feeling of reaching out to someone somewhere. The joining is in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It cannot fail to be accomplished.

4. A holy therapist, an advanced teacher of God, never forgets one thing; he did not make the curriculum of salvation, nor did he establish his part in it. He understands that his part is necessary to the whole, and that through it he will recognize the whole when his part is complete. Meanwhile he must learn, and his patients are the means sent to him for his learning. What could he be but grateful for them and to them? They come bearing God. Would he refuse this Gift for a pebble, or would he close the door on the savior of the world to let in a ghost? Let him not betray the Son of God. Who calls on him is far beyond his understanding. Yet would he not rejoice that he can answer, when only thus will he be able to hear the call and understand that it is his?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 10

LESSON 309

I will not fear to look within today.

1. Within me is eternal innocence, because it is God’s Will that it be there forever and forever. I, His Son, whose will is limitless as is His Own, can will no change in this. For to deny my Father’s Will is to deny my own. To look within is but to find my will as God created it, and as it is. I fear to look within because I think I made another will that is not true, and made it real. Yet it has no effects. Within me is the Holiness of God. Within me is the memory of Him.

2. The step I take today, my Father, is my sure release from idle dreams of sin. Your altar stands serene and undefiled. It is the holy altar to my Self, and there I find my true Identity.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If, as A Course in Miracles suggests, the world totally misunderstood Jesus’ message two thousand years ago, why did he wait so long to correct it?

A) Again, this thoughtful question is based upon a linear view of time, in which two thousand years appear to be an inordinately long period of time for the error to be corrected. Clearly, the ones asking such a question are projecting onto Jesus their own impatience and, most likely, their unforgiveness of the various Christian Churches that have superimposed the ego thought system onto the ego-free teachings of the true Jesus.

A more profound way of addressing this question is to consider that being ego-free, anyone in the real world — as is Jesus — does not really choose to do anything. Having chosen the Holy Spirit once and for all, there is nothing more to choose. Therefore, there is no longer a decision maker in the mind that activates the body and interacts with the world, as is the ego’s very important need. Truly advanced teachers of God — Teachers of teachers — God do not do; they are. They do not plan, choose, deliberate, or behave as does a person who believes in the reality of the ego thought system. Their simple presence of love takes its shape around the needs of those who still identify with a world of form, much as water takes its shape according to the container in which it has been put, or the bed of the river shapes the flow of the water coursing through it.

In this context, therefore, we can understand that the appearance of Jesus within the world’s dream two thousand years ago was the result of the Son’s readiness to experience the Love of God within his dream. It is as if the mind of the Son — the only true sphere of experience there is — partially opened the door of his mind that had screened out the presence of the Holy Spirit. The mind, previously darkened by guilt, thus allowed some light in, and this light took the form of Jesus, the Son of Light, whose presence within the ego’s world of darkness reminds us all that we too are children of the Light.

The fear that this light engendered — for it constitutes a grave threat to the ego’s thought system of darkness — led to the Son’s closing the door to protect his individual self, and this took the form of seeking to destroy Jesus and then his message, as the history of Christianity attests. This is why the gospel writers changed the entire message of Jesus and rooted it in the crucifixion, which reflected the ego’s underlying plan to perpetuate its own thought system of betrayal, suffering, and death. Jesus comments on this dynamic in the Course in several places. We look at two such passages; one general to the dynamics of the Son’s mind, and the other specific to Jesus himself.

As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear and sometimes to stark terror (T- 1 8.111.2: 1).All who believe in separation have a basic fear of retaliation and abandonment.  They believe in attack and rejection, so that is what they perceive and leach and learn.  These insane ideas are clearly the result of dissociation and projection. What you teach you are, but it is quite apparent that you can teach wrongly, and can therefore teach yourself wrong. Many thought I was attacking them, even though it was apparent I was not. An insane learner learns strange lessons. What you must recognize is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them. This is because everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centers on what you believe you are (T-6.V-B.1:1-9).

The reader should also consult “Atonement without Sacrifice” and “The Message of the Crucifixion,” the opening sections of Chapters 3 and 6 in the text, for even more specific comments by Jesus about the misunderstanding of his message, and how and why it happened.

And now, two thousand years later, we see that the door to the Son’s closed mind opened again to allow in the light of truth, and the result is the original message of Jesus, presented in a contemporary twentieth (soon to be twenty-first) century form. Needless to say, there have been other expressions of this light in the Christian (and non-Christian) world, but, again, we shall remain only within the context of A Course in Miracles.

The advantage of answering the question in this way is that one is able to avoid the anthropomorphizing of Jesus — making him think, plan, and behave the way we would — which would only once again foster the belief that we have captured him within the ego’s dream, making him one of us, instead of our becoming like him. Above all, it is always essential to keep in mind that God has no true response to the thought of separation, even though, as we have already seen, the metaphoric language of A Course in Miraclesoften portrays it so.  First and foremost, if God knew about the “tiny, mad idea,” it would have had to be real. Therefore, the Holy Spirit and Jesus — as messengers of God within the dream, and being the Voices of the plan of the Atonement which states that the dream of separation never happened — would also have to share in this non-response to error. It is Their simple light-filled presence within our minds — darkened by thoughts of sin, guilt, and fear — that help us. They do nothing; it is only our egos that act and react. And as long as we experience this thought of separation in the specific forms of specialness that comprise our individual lives, we must experience this Help in specific forms as well. But these forms are determined by our ego scripts, not by any specific intervention of the divine.

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A Course in Miracles Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 9

ACIM Reading for December 9

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

3. The Practice of Psychotherapy- I. The Selection of Patients1. Everyone who is sent to you is a patient of yours. This does not mean that you select him, nor that you choose the kind of treatment that is suitable. But it does mean that no one comes to you by mistake. There are no errors in God’s plan. It would be an error, however, to assume that you know what to offer everyone who comes. This is not up to you to decide. There is a tendency to assume that you are being called on constantly to make sacrifices of yourself for those who come. This could hardly be true. To demand sacrifice of yourself is to demand a sacrifice of God, and He knows nothing of sacrifice. Who could ask of Perfection that He be imperfect?

2. Who, then, decides what each brother needs? Surely not you, who do not yet recognize who he is who asks. There is Something in him that will tell you, if you listen. And that is the answer; listen. Do not demand, do not decide, do not sacrifice. Listen. What you hear is true. Would God send His Son to you and not be sure you recognize his needs? Think what God is telling you; He needs your voice to speak for Him. Could anything be holier? Or a greater gift to you? Would you rather choose who would be god, or hear the Voice of Him Who is God in you?

3. Your patients need not be physically present for you to serve them in the Name of God. This may be hard to remember, but God will not have His gifts to you limited to the few you actually see. You can see others as well, for seeing is not limited to the body’s eyes. Some do not need your physical presence. They need you as much, and perhaps even more, at the instant they are sent. You will recognize them in whatever way can be most helpful to both of you. It does not matter how they come. They will be sent in whatever form is most helpful; a name, a thought, a picture, an idea, or perhaps just a feeling of reaching out to someone somewhere. The joining is in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It cannot fail to be accomplished.

4. A holy therapist, an advanced teacher of God, never forgets one thing; he did not make the curriculum of salvation, nor did he establish his part in it. He understands that his part is necessary to the whole, and that through it he will recognize the whole when his part is complete. Meanwhile he must learn, and his patients are the means sent to him for his learning. What could he be but grateful for them and to them? They come bearing God. Would he refuse this Gift for a pebble, or would he close the door on the savior of the world to let in a ghost? Let him not betray the Son of God. Who calls on him is far beyond his understanding. Yet would he not rejoice that he can answer, when only thus will he be able to hear the call and understand that it is his?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 9

LESSON 308

This instant is the only time there is.

1. I have conceived of time in such a way that I defeat my aim. If I elect to reach past time to timelessness, I must change my perception of what time is for. Time’s purpose cannot be to keep the past and future one. The only interval in which I can be saved from time is now. For in this instant has forgiveness come to set me free. The birth of Christ is now, without a past or future. He has come to give His present blessing to the world, restoring it to timelessness and love. And love is ever-present, here and now.

2. Thanks for this instant, Father. It is now I am redeemed. This in­stant is the time You have appointed for Your Son’s release, and for salvation of the world in him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If Jesus is the first to have accepted the Atonement for himself, as A Course in Miracles states, what about people like the Buddha?

A) This reference comes in the section in the clarification of terms called “The Holy Spirit” and states:

He [the Holy Spirit) has established Jesus as the leader in carrying out His plan [the Atonement] since he was the first to complete his own part perfectly (C-6.2:2; italics ours).

It would be tempting for students of A Course in Miracles to use this passage as a way of establishing bragging rights that “our guy” (Jesus) is better than “your guy” (Buddha, or any other enlightened teacher).  But can one really believe that Jesus would indulge in such spiritual specialness? A better way to understand this passage is to recall the fact that time is not linear, and so there is nothing in A Course in Miracles to suggest when it was that Jesus accepted the Atonement for himself. And since, again, time is not linear, the whole question becomes meaningless, except for being a valuable learning opportunity in which students may release their own thoughts of specialness. It is also helpful for the student to recall that Jesus states the following, in the section in fact right before the one where the above statement appears:

Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one. Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change. But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal. Their names are legion, but we will not go beyond the names the course itself employs (C-5. 1:3-6).

In other words, he is speaking only within a Christian framework, and so it would be inappropriate to discuss Teachers from other spiritualities, whose “names are legion.”

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A Course in Miracles Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 7

ACIM Reading for December 7

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

2.- VI. The Definition of Healing

1. The process of psychotherapy, then, can be defined simply as forgiveness, for no healing can be anything else. The unforgiving are sick, believing they are unforgiven. The hanging-on to guilt, its hugging-close and sheltering, its loving protection and alert defense,–all this is but the grim refusal to forgive. “God may not enter here” the sick repeat, over and over, while they mourn their loss and yet rejoice in it. Healing occurs as a patient begins to hear the dirge he sings, and questions its validity. Until he hears it, he cannot understand that it is he who sings it to himself. To hear it is the first step in recovery. To question it must then become his choice.

2. There is a tendency, and it is very strong, to hear this song of death only an instant, and then dismiss it uncorrected. These fleeting awarenesses represent the many opportunities given us literally “to change our tune.” The sound of healing can be heard instead. But first the willingness to question the “truth” of the song of condemnation must arise. The strange distortions woven inextricably into the self-concept, itself but a pseudo-creation, make this ugly sound seem truly beautiful. “The rhythm of the universe,” “the herald angel’s song,” all these and more are heard instead of loud discordant shrieks.

3. The ear translates; it does not hear. The eye reproduces; it does not see. Their task is to make agreeable whatever is called on, however disagreeable it may be. They answer the decisions of the mind, reproducing its desires and translating them into acceptable and pleasant forms. Sometimes the thought behind the form breaks through, but only very briefly, and the mind grows fearful and begins to doubt its sanity. Yet it will not permit its slaves to change the forms they look upon; the sounds they hear. These are its “remedies”; its “safeguards” from insanity.

4. These testimonies which the senses bring have but one purpose; to justify attack and thus keep unforgiveness unrecognized for what it is. Seen undisguised it is intolerable. Without protection it could not endure. Here is all sickness cherished, but without the recognition that
this is so. For when an unforgiveness is not recognized, the form it takes seems to be something else. And now it is the “something else” that seems to terrify. But it is not the “something else” that can be healed. It is not sick, and needs no remedy. To concentrate your healing efforts here is but futility. Who can cure what cannot be sick and make it well?

5. Sickness takes many forms, and so does unforgiveness. The forms of one but reproduce the forms of the other, for they are the same illusion. So closely is one translated into the other, that a careful study of the form a sickness takes will point quite clearly to the form of unforgiveness that it represents. Yet seeing this will not effect a cure. That is achieved by only one recognition; that only forgiveness heals an unforgiveness, and only an unforgiveness can possibly give rise to sickness of any kind.

6. This realization is the final goal of psychotherapy. How is it reached? The therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself, and is thus given another chance to look at it, open it to re-evaluation and forgive it. When this occurs, he sees his sins as gone into a past that is no longer here. Until he does this, he must think of evil as besetting him here and now.
The patient is his screen for the projection of his sins, enabling him to let them go. Let him retain one spot of sin in what he looks upon, and his release is partial and will not be sure.

7. No one is healed alone. This is the joyous song salvation sings to all who hear its Voice. This statement cannot be too often remembered by all who see themselves as therapists. Their patients can but be seen as the bringers of forgiveness, for it is they who come to demonstrate their sinlessness to eyes that still believe that sin is there to look upon. Yet will the proof of sinlessness, seen in the patient and accepted in the therapist, offer the mind of both a covenant in which they meet and join and are as one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 7

LESSON 306

The gift of Christ is all I seek today.

1. What but Christ’s vision would I use today, when it can offer me a day in which I see a world so like to Heaven that an ancient memory returns to me? Today I can forget the world I made. Today I can go past all fear, and be restored to love and holiness and peace. Today I am redeemed, and born anew into a world of mercy and of care; of loving kindness and the peace of God.

2. And so, our Father, we return to You, remembering we never went away; remembering Your holy gifts to us. In gratitude and thankfulness we come, with empty hands and open hearts and minds, asking but what You give. We cannot make an offering sufficient for Your Son. But in Your Love the gift of Christ is his.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

 Q) If I practice A Course in Miracles faithfully, will I disappear?

A) This is a very commonly expressed concern of Course students, and reflects the same confusion of levels that we have commented on earlier. Level One, which is our term for the Course’s metaphysical foundation, is uncompromising in seeing no reconciliation between truth and illusion, eternity and time. On this level, it takes no time to return to the formlessness of Heaven because we have never left it. To recall this important and previously quoted line: “You are at home in God, dreaming of exile.” Our “journey without a distance” (T-8.VI.9:7) requires no time to complete. On Level Two, however, which reflects our temporal experience within the dream, our journey home takes as long as we require. In fact, early in the text, Jesus observes that the collective end of the dream will occur over “millions” of years (T-2.VIII.2:5), certainly suggesting that he is aware of the need to undo the Son’s fear slowly and gently. Indeed, as we have already seen, many, many passages in A Course in Miracles reflect this awareness. Therefore, students should take comfort in a line like the following, which indicates that their fears of disappearing “into the Heart of God” are groundless:

Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality (T-16.VI.8:1).

The process of growth that is fostered by A Course in Miracles is always a gradual one, under the gentle and patient guidance of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Using his own words, we can speak of a “slowly evolving training program,” which is a “fairly slow process” (M-9.1:7; 2:4). Students of A Course in Miracles should beware of those who counsel them to “speed-up” this process of forgiveness. While on the larger level the spirituality of A Course in Miracles does save time, as Jesus repeatedly emphasizes, there is a quite different emphasis on the level of individual experience. There, students must proceed slowly and gently, otherwise, as indicated above, they will precipitate a panic attack. This same concern on Jesus’ part is expressed at the very end of Chapter I in the text where he urges his students to prepare themselves for the later parts of their journey, so that they will not become “too fearful” and their experiences “traumatic.”

And so, students of A Course in Miracles need not be afraid of losing their identity or individuality. As they progress in their study and practice of the Course, what they will lose will be their guilt, anxiety, depression, fear, etc., and what they will discover will be learning to “smile more frequently” (W-pI.155.1:2). The “last step,” which belongs to God whereby He reaches down and “lifts us to Himself,” does not occur until we have completed all the “little steps He asks [us to] take to Him” (W-pI.193.13:7).

In conclusion, therefore, “instant enlightenment” is not something A Course in Miracles teaches, just as the “holy relationship” and the “real world” are not achieved in one year. The spirituality of the Course is beyond the platitudes and postures that the ego mind conjures up. There is nothing in A Course in Miracles that would reinforce such misguided endeavors as instant enlightenment, achieved through being in the presence of a realized individual, instantaneous acquisitions of holy relationships, or even entering into the real world. Followers of such magical hopes will ultimately find that their efforts have come to naught, for they but reinforce more hallucinatory experiences of salvation. Indeed, it requires serious study over long years of hard work and practice to achieve the ultimate holy instant, which is the attainment of the real world.

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A Course in Miracles Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 29

ACIM Reading for November 29

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

1. The Purpose of Psychotherapy1. Very simply, the purpose of psychotherapy is to remove the blocks to truth. Its aim is to aid the patient in abandoning his fixed delusional system, and to begin to reconsider the spurious cause and effect relationships on which it rests. No one in this world escapes fear, but everyone can reconsider its causes and learn to evaluate them correctly. God has given everyone a Teacher Whose wisdom and help far exceed whatever contributions an earthly therapist can provide. Yet there are times and situations in which an earthly patient-therapist relationship becomes the means through which He offers His greater gifts to both.

2. What better purpose could any relationship have than to invite the Holy Spirit to enter into it and give it His Own great gift of rejoicing? What higher goal could there be for anyone than to learn to call upon God and hear His Answer? And what more transcendent aim can there be than to recall the way, the truth and the life, and to remember God? To help in this is the proper purpose of psychotherapy. Could anything be holier? For psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it. And in his healing is the therapist forgiven with him.

3. Everyone who needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself, and his peace of mind is suffering in consequence. These tendencies are often described as “self-destructive,” and the patient often regards them in that way himself. What he does not realize and needs to learn is that this “self,” which can attack and be attacked as well, is a concept he made up. Further, he cherishes it, defends it, and is sometimes even willing to “sacrifice” his “life” on its behalf. For he regards it as himself. This self he sees as being acted on, reacting to external forces as they demand, and helpless midst the power of the world.

4. Psychotherapy, then, must restore to his awareness the ability to make his own decisions. He must become willing to reverse his thinking, and to understand that what he thought projected its effects on him were made by his projections on the world. The world he sees does therefore not exist. Until this is at least in part accepted, the patient cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions. And he will fight against his freedom because he thinks that it is slavery.

5. The patient need not think of truth as God in order to make progress in salvation. But he must begin to separate truth from illusion, recognizing that they are not the same, and becoming increasingly willing to see illusions as false and to accept the truth as true. His Teacher will take him on from there, as far as he is ready to go. Psychotherapy can only save him time.

The Holy Spirit uses time as He thinks best, and He is never wrong. Psychotherapy under His direction is one of the means He uses to save time, and to prepare additional teachers for His work. There is no end to the help that He begins and He directs. By whatever routes He chooses, all psychotherapy leads to God in the end. But that is up to Him. We are all His psychotherapists, for He would have us all be healed in Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 29

LESSON 298

I love You, Father, and I love Your Son.

1. My gratitude permits my love to be accepted without fear. And thus am I restored to my reality at last. All that intruded on my holy sight forgiveness takes away. And I draw near the end of senseless journeys, mad careers and artificial values. I accept instead what God establishes as mine, sure that in that alone I will be saved; sure that I go through fear to meet my Love.

2. Father, I come to You today, because I would not follow any way but Yours. You are beside me. Certain is Your way. And I am grateful for Your holy gifts of certain sanctuary, and escape from everything that would obscure my love for God my Father and His holy Son.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What does A Course in Miracles mean by “releasing your brother”? How can I save him if the world is an hallucination in my mind?

A) The reader should recall our earlier discussion in question 5 of Jesus’ use of metaphor in the Course.  In other words, students of A Course in Miracles need to allow themselves to be led beyond the form of its words to their underlying content. This is a process that occurs slowly over time, beginning with a more literal understanding of the Course’s teachings. At first, therefore, phrases like “releasing your brother,” or parallel ones about being your brother’s savior, or the workbook emphasis on being the light of the world, help students undo their negative self-image such as is summarized in workbook

Lesson 93:

You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. You think if what is true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible (W-pl.93.1).

It is a healing correction to be told that our thoughts about ourselves are not true, and that not only are we loved by God as an extension of His Will (as the rest of the lesson makes clear) but that we have the power to heal and bless others as well. It is only as we progress in our work with A Course in Miracles that it becomes clear that the process of “releasing” one’s brother has nothing to do with our brother, but everything to do with ourselves. Indeed, this process of forgiveness can have nothing to do with our brother because in truth it is our dream, and he is but a figure in this dream. In one rather strong passage, Jesus asks his students:

What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? (T-20.VIII.7:3-5)

In other words, our world and lives are our dreams, just as our sleeping dreams — with all their figures and events — are present only in our dreaming minds that in a sense are but hallucinations, too. Moreover, since the content of the ego’s dream is fear, hate, victimization, and unforgiveness, all dream figures will have the above themes scripted throughout the dreaming we call “life.” Therefore, there is no one to forgive because, again, all the people in our lives are simply made-up figures in our dreams. Who needs to be forgiven is ourselves — for dreaming in the first place instead of remembering our Identity as Christ, awake in God.

Our function of “releasing our brothers” through forgiveness relates to a function and process that truly occurs only within our minds — the home of dreams — although it is experienced by us as occurring between two separated individuals. By choosing Jesus as our teacher instead of the ego, by listening to his voice of forgiveness instead of the ego’s voice of attack, we join with him as expressions of the Alternative that is in everyone’s mind. And thus we become the reminders to our brothers that they can make the same choice we did, and thus be released from their guilt since we both scripted each other into our respective dreams. Therefore, we can choose either to be symbols of guilt or forgiveness for one another. This process of healing through forgiveness is summarized in this wonderfully clear passage from the manual for teachers, which discusses the role of the teacher of God when confronted by sickness:

To them [the sick] God’s teachers come, to represent another choice which they had forgotten. The simple presence of a teacher of God is a reminder … They stand for the Alternative. With God’s Word in their minds they come in benediction, not to heal the sick but to remind them of the remedy God has already given them…. Very gently they call to their brothers to turn away from death: “Behold, you Son of God, what Life can offer you. Would you choose sickness in place of this?” (M-5.III.2:1-2,6-7,11-12)

Therefore, we save the world and everyone in it by saving or changing our thoughts about the world. By releasing ourselves from our own guilt, we release the world because we are one with it, since it is our projection. That is what the Course means by saying that we “arose with him [Jesus] when he began to save the world” (C-6.5:5). Our minds are one, and Jesus’ remaining one with the Holy Spirit becomes the shining reminder in the Sonship’s mind to do the same. Our making that choice allows us to be Jesus’ manifestation to our brothers, just as he is the Holy Spirit’s manifestation for us all (C-6.5:1-2). It is this call to remember and to choose that is the true release that heals.

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ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 8

ACIM Reading for December 8

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice

3.- III. The Question of Payment1. No one can pay for therapy, for healing is of God and He asks for nothing. It is, however, part of His plan that everything in this world be used by the Holy Spirit to help in carrying out the plan. Even an advanced therapist has some earthly needs while he is here.  Should he need money it will be given him, not in payment, but to help him better serve the plan. Money is not evil. It is nothing. But no one here can live with no illusions, for he must yet strive to have the last illusion be accepted by everyone everywhere. He has a mighty part in this one purpose, for which he came. He stays here but for this. And while he stays he will be given what he needs to stay.

2. Only an unhealed healer would try to heal for money, and he will not succeed to the extent to which he values it. Nor will he find his healing in the process. There will be those of whom the Holy Spirit asks some payment for His purpose. There will be those from whom He does not ask. It should not be the therapist who makes these decisions. There is a difference between payment and cost. To give money where God’s plan allots it has no cost. To withhold it from where it rightfully belongs has enormous cost. The therapist who would do this loses the name of healer, for he could never understand what healing is. He cannot give it, and so he does not have it.

3. The therapists of this world are indeed useless to the world’s salvation. They make demands, and so they cannot give. Patients can pay only for the exchange of illusions. This, indeed, must demand payment, and the cost is great. A “bought” relationship cannot offer the only gift whereby all healing is accomplished. Forgiveness, the Holy Spirit’s only dream, must have no cost. For if it does, it merely crucifies God’s Son again. Can this be how he is forgiven? Can this be how the dream of sin will end?

4. The right to live is something no one need fight for. It is promised him, and guaranteed by God. Therefore it is a right the therapist and patient share alike. If their relationship is to be holy, whatever one needs is given by the other; whatever one lacks the other supplies. Herein is the relationship made holy, for herein both are healed. The therapist repays the patient in gratitude, as does the patient repay him. There is no cost to either. But thanks are due to both, for the release from long imprisonment and doubt. Who would not be grateful for such a gift?
Yet who could possibly imagine that it could be bought?

5. It has well been said that to him who hath shall be given. Because he has, he can give.
And because he gives, he shall be given. This is the law of God, and not of the world. So it is with God’s healers. They give because they have heard His Word and understood it. All that they need will thus be given them. But they will lose this understanding unless they remember that all they have comes only from God. If they believe they need anything from a brother, they will recognize him as a brother no longer. And if they do this, a light goes out even in Heaven. Where God’s Son turns against himself, he can look only upon darkness. He has himself denied the light, and cannot see.

6. One rule should always be observed: No one should be turned away because he cannot pay. No one is sent by accident to anyone. Relationships are always purposeful. Whatever their purpose may have been before the Holy Spirit entered them, they are always His potential temple; the resting place of Christ and home of God Himself. Whoever comes has been sent. Perhaps he was sent to give his brother the money he needed. Both will be blessed thereby. Perhaps he was sent to teach the therapist how much he needs forgiveness, and how valueless is money in comparison. Again will both be blessed. Only in terms of cost could one have more. In sharing, everyone must gain a blessing without cost.

7. This view of payment may well seem impractical, and in the eyes of the world it would be so. Yet not one worldly thought is really practical. How much is gained by striving for illusions? How much is lost by throwing God away? And is it possible to do so? Surely it is impractical to strive for nothing, and to attempt to do what is impossible. Then stop a while, long enough to think of this: You have perhaps been seeking for salvation without recognizing where to look. Whoever asks your help can show you where. What greater gift than this could you be given? What greater gift is there that you would give?

8. Physician, healer, therapist, teacher, heal thyself. Many will come to you carrying the gift of healing, if you so elect. The Holy Spirit never refuses an invitation to enter and abide with you. He will give you endless opportunities to open the door to your salvation, for such is His function. He will also tell you exactly what your function is in every circumstance and at all times. Whoever He sends you will reach you, holding out his hand to his Friend. Let the Christ in you bid him welcome, for that same Christ is in him as well. Deny him entrance, and you have denied the Christ in you. Remember the sorrowful story of the world, and the glad tidings of salvation. Remember the plan of God for the restoration of joy and peace. And do not forget how very simple are the ways of God:

You were lost in the darkness of the world until you asked for light.
And then God sent His Son to give it to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 8

Lesson 342

I let forgiveness rest upon all things,
For thus forgiveness will be given me.

I thank You, Father, for Your plan to save me from the hell I made. It is not real. And You have given me the means to prove its unreality to me. The key is in my hand, and I have reached the door beyond which lies the end of dreams. I stand before the gate of Heaven, wondering if I should enter in and be at home. Let me not wait again today. Let me forgive all things, and let creation be as You would have it be and as it is. Let me remember that I am Your Son, and opening the door at last, forget illusions in the blazing light of truth, as memory of You returns to me.

Brother, forgive me now. I come to you to take you home with me. And as we go, the world goes with us on our way to God.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1055In all the years that Helen Schucman was “talking” to Jesus, did she ever ask him any questions about historical data that concerned his life on earth?

A: No, Jesus’ life on earth seemed to be of no interest to her. At one point when he was speaking to her about the fruitlessness of studying the past, he said to her. “Even My personal history is of no value to you except as it teaches you that I can help you now ” ( Absence from Felicity , p. 287).


Q #1056A Course in Miracles speaks frequently of the one question that we are to “ask” God instead of the many that make up our “lives” on earth. What exactly would that question be if it cannot be asked with words? A feeling of direct “communication”, i.e. “being”? Is the “communion with God” the Course speaks of not also an illusion in that it implies one (separated) aspect of God is talking to another separated aspect?

A: This “question” always pertains to content, not form. Thus, it would always be about our accepting the Atonement, or some variant of that. As an example, Jesus twice pleads with us: “Why wait for Heaven?” (W.pI.131.6:1; W.pI.188.1:1) ; and again in the workbook he tells us that we should ask “a thousand times a day,” “‘Who walks with me?’” (W.pI.156.8:1,2) . Then, in the lovely prose poem “The Gifts of God,” Jesus directs our thoughts to the gifts we can give to God. In one of many beautifully moving pleas to us, he exclaims, “Child of Eternal Love, what gift is there your Father wants of you except yourself? And what is there that you would rather give, for what is there that you would rather have? . . . What trifling gifts made out of sickly fear and evil dreams of suffering and death can be the substitute you really want for the rememberance of Christ in You?” ( The Gifts of God , p. 125)

Since imploring God’s help with our world and our lives has been the focal point of prayer in practically all religions, East and West, Jesus uses that form in his process of correcting our thinking about who we are and Who God is. But he obviously does not think real communication with God occurs in the dream; it can’t. This becomes clear as you comprehend the thought system of A Course in Miracles in its fullness. We are really praying to ourselves to recognize, first, our unquestioned commitment to the ego, and then to turn to the memory of truth in our right minds — symbolized by Jesus and the Holy Spirit — for help in seeing our mistake, so that we may make the choice to end our self- imposed exile from Love, now that we realize that that is what we have done. As our minds are healed of all thoughts of separation from God and from each other, we simply become Love, once again, God’s gift to us in our creation.

shine it away

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 7

ACIM Reading for December 7

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice

3.- II. Is Psychotherapy a Profession?1. Strictly speaking the answer is no. How could a separate profession be one in which everyone is engaged? And how could any limits be laid on an interaction in which everyone is both patient and therapist in every relationship in which he enters? Yet practically speaking, it can still be said that there are those who devote themselves primarily to healing of one sort or another as their chief function. And it is to them that a large number of others turn for help.  That, in effect, is the practice of therapy. These are therefore “officially” helpers. They are devoted to certain kinds of needs in their professional activities, although they may be far more able teachers outside of them. These people need no special rules, of course, but they may be called upon to use special applications of the general principles of healing.

2. First, the professional therapist is in an excellent position to demonstrate that there is no order of difficulty in healing. For this, however, he needs special training, because the curriculum by which he became a therapist probably taught him little or nothing about the real principles of healing. In fact, it probably taught him how to make healing impossible. Most of the world’s teaching follows a curriculum in judgment, with the aim of making the therapist a judge.

3. Even this the Holy Spirit can use, and will use, given the slightest invitation. The unhealed healer may be arrogant, selfish, unconcerned, and actually dishonest. He may be uninterested in healing as his major goal. Yet something happened to him, however slight it may have been, when he chose to be a healer, however misguided the direction he may have chosen. That “something” is enough. Sooner or later that something will rise and grow; a patient will touch his heart, and the therapist will silently ask him for help. He has himself found a therapist. He has asked the Holy Spirit to enter the relationship and heal it. He has accepted the Atonement for himself.

4. God is said to have looked on all He created and pronounced it good. No, He declared it perfect, and so it was. And since His creations do not change and last forever, so it is now. Yet neither a perfect therapist nor a perfect patient can possibly exist. Both must have denied their perfection, for their very need for each other implies a sense of lack. A one-to-one relationship is not one Relationship. Yet it is the means of return; the way God chose for the return of His Son. In that strange dream a strange correction must enter, for only that is the call to awake. And what else should therapy be? Awake and be glad, for all your sins have been forgiven you. This is the only message that any two should ever give each other.

5. Something good must come from every meeting of patient and therapist. And that good is saved for both, against the day when they can recognize that only that was real in their relationship. At that moment the good is returned to them, blessed by the Holy Spirit as a gift from their Creator as a sign of His Love. For the therapeutic relationship must become like the relationship of the Father and the Son. There is no other, for there is nothing else. The therapists of this world do not expect this outcome, and many of their patients would not be able to accept help from them if they did. Yet no therapist really sets the goal for the relationships of which he is a part. His understanding begins with recognizing this, and then goes on from there.

6. It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs. In some relationships this point is never reached, although both patient and therapist may change their dreams in the process. Yet it will not be the same dream for both of them, and so it is not the dream of forgiveness in which both will someday wake. The good is saved; indeed is cherished. But only little time is saved. The new dreams will lose their temporary appeal and turn to dreams of fear, which is the content of all dreams. Yet no patient can accept more than he is ready to receive, and no therapist can offer more than he believes he has. And so there is a place for all relationships in this world, and they will bring as much good as each can accept and use.

7. Yet it is when judgment ceases that healing occurs, because only then it can be understood that there is no order of difficulty in healing. This is a necessary understanding for the healed healer. He has learned that it is no harder to wake a brother from one dream than from another. No professional therapist can hold this understanding consistently in his mind, offering it to all who come to him. There are some in this world who have come very close, but they have not accepted the gift entirely in order to stay and let their understanding remain on earth until the closing of time. They could hardly be called professional therapists. They are the Saints of God. They are the Saviors of the world. Their image remains, because they have chosen that it be so. They take the place of other images, and help with kindly dreams.

8. Once the professional therapist has realized that minds are joined, he can also recognize that order of difficulty in healing is meaningless. Yet well before he reaches this in time he can go towards it. Many holy instants can be his along the way. A goal marks the end of a journey, not the beginning, and as each goal is reached another can be dimly seen ahead. Most professional therapists are still at the very start of the beginning stage of the first journey. Even those who have begun to understand what they must do may still oppose the setting-out. Yet all the laws of healing can be theirs in just an instant. The journey is not long except in dreams.

9. The professional therapist has one advantage that can save enormous time if it is properly used. He has chosen a road in which there is great temptation to misuse his role. This enables him to pass by many obstacles to peace quite quickly, if he escapes the temptation to assume a function that has not been given him. To understand there is no order of difficulty in healing, he must also recognize the equality of himself and the patient. There is no halfway point in this. Either they are equal or not. The attempts of therapists to compromise in this respect are strange indeed. Some utilize the relationship merely to collect bodies to worship at their shrine, and this they regard as healing. Many patients, too, consider this strange procedure as salvation. Yet at each meeting there is One Who says, “My brother, choose again.”

10. Do not forget that any form of specialness must be defended, and will be. The defenseless therapist has the strength of God with him, but the defensive therapist has lost sight of the Source of his salvation. He does not see and he does not hear. How, then, can he teach? Because it is the Will of God that he take his place in the plan for salvation. Because it is the Will of God that his patient be helped to join with him there. Because his inability to see and hear does not limit the Holy Spirit in any way. Except in time. In time there can be a great lag between the offering and the acceptance of healing. This is the veil across the face of Christ. Yet it can be but an illusion, because time does not exist and the Will of God has always been exactly as it is.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 7

Lesson 341

Section 13. What is a Miracle?

A miracle is a correction. It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness. Thus it stays within time’s limits. Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love’s awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it brings.

A miracle contains the gift of grace, for it is given and received as one. And thus it illustrates the law of truth the world does not obey, because it fails entirely to understand its ways. A miracle inverts perception which was upside down before, and thus it ends the strange distortions that were manifest. Now is perception open to the truth. Now is forgiveness seen as justified.

Forgiveness is the home of miracles. The eyes of Christ deliver them to all they look upon in mercy and in love. Perception stands corrected in His sight, and what was meant to curse has come to bless. Each lily of forgiveness offers all the world the silent miracle of love. And each is laid before the Word of God, upon the universal altar to Creator and creation in the light of perfect purity and endless joy.

The miracle is taken first on faith, because to ask for it implies the mind has been made ready to conceive of what it cannot see and does not understand. Yet faith will bring its witnesses to show that what it rested on is really there. And thus the miracle will justify your faith in it, and show it rested on a world more real than what you saw before; a world redeemed from what you thought was there.

Miracles fall like drops of healing rain from Heaven on a dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die. Now they have water. Now the world is green. And everywhere the signs of life spring up, to show that what is born can never die, for what has life has immortality.


Lesson 341

I can attack but my own sinlessness,
And it is only that which keeps me safe.

Father, Your Son is holy. I am he on whom You smile in love and tenderness so dear and deep and still the universe smiles back on You, and shares Your Holiness. How pure, how safe, how holy, then, are we, abiding in Your Smile, with all Your Love bestowed upon us, living one with You, in brotherhood and Fatherhood complete; in sinlessness so perfect that the Lord of Sinlessness conceives us as His Son, a universe of Thought completing Him.

Let us not, then, attack our sinlessness, for it contains the Word of God to us. And in its kind reflection we are saved.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1053If God does not take the “last step” who or what is taking that step that we are supposed to refrain from taking?

A: God cannot not take the last step. There really is only one step and He already took it. It seems that we are on a journey with multiple steps only because our fear of awakening is so great. We therefore proceed gently, “step by step” through the healing process. To accommodate our fear and resistance, Jesus uses an expression such as God taking a step because it makes sense to us. Since we think in terms of linear time, and believe that the separation has been accomplished, we perceive the need for a gradual process of undoing. Our only concern is the steps of forgiveness we are asked to take. We don’t even have to refrain from the last step. It is a given, once the blocks of resistance are removed. In the end, we will awaken from the dream of separation and remember the first and only step that God took in creating His Son. That is the meaning of what Jesus tells us in the text: “ For God will take the last step swiftly, when you have reached the real world and have been made ready for Him” (T.17.II.4:5).


Q #1054Over the years I’ve had an experience from time to time while sleeping, where my mind wakes up and I feel I’m in an astral plane racing up to higher levels. It feels very real and I feel cool air and my mind feels very electric, like I’ve left my body. I get a little fearful and try to pull myself back and wake up my body. This has shown me that there are much deeper levels in my mind that I normally wouldn’t experience in my everyday life. It seems like I really fear letting go of my body and the world when I have this experience. Now I see why no matter what good intentions I have for letting go of my ego and being at peace, I’m so entrenched in my ego/body identity. For 40 years it’s a chipping away process, little by little, because of the deep rooted fear/guilt I don’t even notice on the surface. Is this why we rarely experience the deeper levels of our mind because of the massive block of guilt and fear?

A: Yes, the guilt experienced by the mind for choosing against itself, and thereby against God, is very deep. It has been covered over by layers of denial spurned by fear of God’s punishment. Experiences that indicate we are not physical bodies, such as the one you describe, often evoke feelings of fear that reflect the mind’s fear of recognizing its identity as mind. Your insight into the fear of losing the body’s identity is very helpful. It explains why it is so difficult to understand the Course, regardless of Jesus’ assurance that it is very simple ( T.11.VIII.1:1). Though it is difficult, practicing it and applying its teachings to our lives is much more so, due to our tremendous resistance to letting go of the ego’s thought system. The process begins with the recognition of resistance by an honest admission of how firmly we hold on to the ego. Seeing the blocks of resistance makes the need for setting a gentle pace in the undoing process obvious. It also accomplishes one of the most important steps in learning the Holy Spirit’s curriculum: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” (T.16.IV.6:1).

In the manual, Jesus refers to resistance in a way that applies to your experience. He tells us that resistance to healing is “enormous” because it requires the acceptance that our experience of the world is the result of a choice in the mind (See: M.5.II.1) . This returns responsibility for it to the mind, and in the process undoes all belief in the decision- making power of the body. The ego has taught us (and we have learned the lesson well) that the body makes decisions and “rules” the world. This belief makes both the body and the world real in our experience. Clinging to this belief we resist Jesus’ teaching in order to protect the world and the body, and to maintain the thought of separation.

An experience of the astral body, although still within the realm of the ego, may serve as a reminder to the mind that it cannot be contained in a body. Indeed, it does not belong to the body at all, neither astral nor physical. Therein lies the threat to the body’s “existence” that evokes fear in the form of resistance calling to mind Jesus’ words of caution: “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough” (T.18.IV.2:1,2). A healthy respect for the intensity of attachment to the body sets a firm foundation for proceeding with patience and gentleness through the learning process. It helps dispel the fantasy of instant success and keeps the mind calmly focused on the path of forgiveness. Your insight into the depths of the searing guilt that permeates the dream of separation is therefore of great value. Neither the guilt nor the resistance will prevail. Acknowledging them can only save time by not wasting it on escapades into deeper forays of denial. We are not asked not to have the blocks of resistance, but countless times we are asked to look in order to find them. In few words Jesus puts the simple task before us: “Be vigilant…” (T.6.V.C) . And when you find the blocks it will not be the ego that has led you.

You but mistake interpretation

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 6

ACIM Reading for December 6

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

3. The Practice of Psychotherapy- I. The Selection of Patients 

1. Everyone who is sent to you is a patient of yours. This does not mean that you select him, nor that you choose the kind of treatment that is suitable. But it does mean that no one comes to you by mistake. There are no errors in God’s plan. It would be an error, however, to assume that you know what to offer everyone who comes. This is not up to you to decide.

There is a tendency to assume that you are being called on constantly to make sacrifices of yourself for those who come. This could hardly be true. To demand sacrifice of yourself is to demand a sacrifice of God, and He knows nothing of sacrifice. Who could ask of Perfection that He be imperfect?

2. Who, then, decides what each brother needs? Surely not you, who do not yet recognize who he is who asks. There is Something in him that will tell you, if you listen. And that is the answer; listen. Do not demand, do not decide, do not sacrifice. Listen. What you hear is true. Would God send His Son to you and not be sure you recognize his needs? Think what God is telling you; He needs your voice to speak for Him. Could anything be holier? Or a greater gift to you? Would you rather choose who would be god, or hear the Voice of Him Who is God in you?
3. Your patients need not be physically present for you to serve them in the Name of God.  This may be hard to remember, but God will not have His gifts to you limited to the few you actually see. You can see others as well, for seeing is not limited to the body’s eyes. Some do not need your physical presence. They need you as much, and perhaps even more, at the instant they are sent. You will recognize them in whatever way can be most helpful to both of you. It does not matter how they come. They will be sent in whatever form is most helpful; a name, a thought, a picture, an idea, or perhaps just a feeling of reaching out to someone somewhere. The joining is in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It cannot fail to be accomplished.

4. A holy therapist, an advanced teacher of God, never forgets one thing; he did not make the curriculum of salvation, nor did he establish his part in it. He understands that his part is necessary to the whole, and that through it he will recognize the whole when his part is complete. Meanwhile he must learn, and his patients are the means sent to him for his learning. What could he be but grateful for them and to them? They come bearing God. Would he refuse this Gift for a pebble, or would he close the door on the savior of the world to let in a ghost? Let him not betray the Son of God. Who calls on him is far beyond his understanding. Yet would he not rejoice that he can answer, when only thus will he be able to hear the call and understand that it is his?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 6

Lesson 340

I can be free of suffering today.

Father, I thank You for today, and for the freedom I am certain it will bring. This day is holy, for today Your Son will be redeemed. His suffering is done. For he will hear Your Voice directing him to find Christ’s vision through forgiveness, and be free forever from all suffering. Thanks for today, my Father. I was born into this world but to achieve this day, and what it holds in joy and freedom for Your holy Son and for the world he made, which is released along with him today.

Be glad today! Be glad! There is no room for anything but joy and thanks today. Our Father has redeemed His Son this day. Not one of us but will be saved today. Not one who will remain in fear, and none the Father will not gather to Himself, awake in Heaven in the Heart of Love.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #954A Course in Miracles says that it is only one of many paths home. Yet I’ve heard that the only way home is to leave the dream. But since no other paths say this world is a dream, or explain how we got here, or the ego thought system, or ontological guilt, or that bodies don’t exist, or that there’s only one of us here not billions and billions, etc., etc., how can there really be other paths that lead us to peace and then home? The metaphysics is so essential that in my opinion, the Course is the only way home . Please explain what other paths the Course refers to in the aforementioned statement. And can we really get home without understanding our own psychology and why we act the way we do? It seems to me that the Course was written because no other path had awakened us to these ideas.

A: You are correct that the metaphysics and psychology of A Course in Miracles are unique. And it is almost inevitable that if the Course speaks to you, it will feel like the only possible way home. But followers of most paths would make exactly the same assertion — and, as world history attests, all too often do so in very unkind ways. The certainty that ours is the one and only way is a result of confusion between form and content.

When we consider spiritual paths, we could think of the content as being synonymous with the purpose or goal , and the form as being the method for achieving that goal . The Course tells us that the holy instant, the holy relationship, and the Holy Spirit’s teaching “are all but aspects of the plan to change your dreams of fear to happy dreams, from which you waken easily to knowledge” (T.18.VI.1:4). Indeed, that is an excellent summation of the purpose of the Course itself. It seeks to help us shift our mind from our imagined guilt (symbolized in the Course by the ego), to the memory of God’s all-inclusive Love (symbolized in the Course as the Holy Spirit). Within this dream world, once we have made that shift, we will go from projecting guilt everywhere, to extending love. How and when that shift leads to our awakening from the dream is neither our concern, nor the concern of the Course — which tells us that God Himself will be responsible for that final step (T.18.IX.10) .

The Course, then, is not our way home. Rather it is a tool for creating the conditions in our mind in which we can find our way home. While the Course can lead us to truth, we should not confuse its words, metaphysics, and psychology, with truth itself. As the Course says, “words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality” (M.21.1:9,10). So while the love that inspired the Course is real, at some point we must realize that the Course itself is still part of the illusion.

If it is the part of the illusion that helps us awaken to what lies beyond the illusion, then that is a marvelous thing. But that does not mean that it is the only thing in this dream that can serve that purpose, or that it will serve that purpose for everyone . To some, the Course’s explanation of how we got here and why we do what we do might make no sense at all. But that certainly does not mean that they cannot awaken to the Love of God. A person could have a right-minded experience while reading the Course, watching a sunset, reading the Bible, thumbing through the phone book, in the middle of a war zone, or in a million other scenarios. This is why the Course says that there are “many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome” (M.1.4:1,2) . In statements such as that, Jesus is really saying that form is irrelevant — it is the meaning, or purpose, that we give the form that matters. Therefore, Jesus is not referring to other specific forms. Rather he is acknowledging that the prerequisite to awakening is not any specific knowledge, form, or world-view, but rather a single decision . And what leads anyone else to make that decision, or why it does so, is beyond our comprehension and not our concern.

In this regard, it is helpful to remember that: “A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s” (M.1.1:2).

Into Christ's Presence

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 3

ACIM Reading for December 3

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice

2.- V. The Process of Healing1. While truth is simple, it must still be taught to those who have already lost their way in endless mazes of complexity. This is the great illusion. In its wake comes the inevitable belief that, to be safe, one must control the unknown. This strange belief relies on certain steps which never reach to consciousness. First, it is ushered in by the belief that there are forces to be overcome to be alive at all. And next, it seems as if these forces can be held at bay only by an inflated sense of self that holds in darkness what is truly felt, and seeks to raise illusions to the light.

2. Let us remember that the ones who come to us for help are bitterly afraid. What they believe will help can only harm; what they believe will harm alone can help. Progress becomes impossible until the patient is persuaded to reverse his twisted way of looking at the world; his twisted way of looking at himself. The truth is simple. Yet it must be taught to those who think it will endanger them. It must be taught to those who will attack because they feel endangered, and to those who need the lesson of defenselessness above all else, to show them what is strength.

3. If this world were ideal, there could perhaps be ideal therapy. And yet it would be useless in an ideal state. We speak of ideal teaching in a world in which the perfect teacher could not long remain; the perfect psychotherapist is but a glimmer of a thought not yet conceived. But still we speak of what can yet be done in helping the insane within the bounds of the attainable. While they are sick, they can and must be helped. No more than that is asked of psychotherapy; no less than all he has to give is worthy of the therapist. For God Himself holds out his brother as his savior from the world.

4. Healing is holy. Nothing in the world is holier than helping one who asks for help. And two come very close to God in this attempt, however limited, however lacking in sincerity.  Where two have joined for healing, God is there. And He has guaranteed that He will hear and answer them in truth. They can be sure that healing is a process He directs, because it is according to His Will. We have His Word to guide us, as we try to help our brothers. Let us not forget that we are helpless of ourselves, and lean upon a strength beyond our little scope for what to teach as well as what to learn.

5. A brother seeking aid can bring us gifts beyond the heights perceived in any dream. He offers us salvation, for he comes to us as Christ and Savior. What he asks is asked by God through him. And what we do for him becomes the gift we give to God. The sacred calling of God’s holy Son for help in his perceived distress can be but answered by his Father. Yet He needs a voice through which to speak His holy Word; a hand to reach His Son and touch his heart. In such a process, who could not be healed? This holy interaction is the plan of God Himself, by which His Son is saved.

6. For two have joined. And now God’s promises are kept by Him. The limits laid on both the patient and the therapist will count as nothing, for the healing has begun. What they must start their Father will complete. For He has never asked for more than just the smallest willingness, the least advance, the tiniest of whispers of His Name. To ask for help, whatever form it takes, is but to call on Him. And He will send His Answer through the therapist who best can serve His Son in all his present needs. Perhaps the answer does not seem to be a gift from Heaven. It may even seem to be a worsening and not a help. Yet let the outcome not be judged by us.

7. Somewhere all gifts of God must be received. In time no effort can be made in vain. It is not our perfection that is asked in our attempts to heal. We are deceived already, if we think there is a need of healing. And the truth will come to us only through one who seems to share our dream of sickness. Let us help him to forgive himself for all the trespasses with which he would condemn himself without a cause. His healing is our own. And as we see the sinlessness in him come shining through the veil of guilt that shrouds the Son of God, we will behold in him the face of Christ, and understand that it is but our own.

8. Let us stand silently before God’s Will, and do what it has chosen that we do. There is one way alone by which we come to where all dreams began. And it is there that we will lay them down, to come away in peace forever. Hear a brother call for help and answer him. It will be God to Whom you answer, for you called on Him. There is no other way to hear His Voice. There is no other way to seek His Son. There is no other way to find your Self. Holy is healing, for the Son of God returns to Heaven through its kind embrace. For healing tells him, in the Voice for God, that all his sins have been forgiven him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 3

Lesson 337

My sinlessness protects me from all harm.

My sinlessness ensures me perfect peace, eternal safety, everlasting love, freedom forever from all thought of loss; complete deliverance from suffering. And only happiness can be my state, for only happiness is given me. What must I do to know all this is mine? I must accept Atonement for myself, and nothing more. God has already done all things that need be done. And I must learn I need do nothing of myself, for I need but accept my Self, my sinlessness, created for me, now already mine, to feel God’s Love protecting me from harm, to understand my Father loves His Son; to know I am the Son my Father loves.

You Who created me in sinlessness are not mistaken about what I am. I was mistaken when I thought I sinned, but I accept Atonement for myself. Father, my dream is ended now. Amen.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1125What does A Course in Miracles teach about spiritual verbal communication through mediums? Who talks to us in these communications? In Brazil, people present at Kardec Centers ‘receive’ messages they say are given by ‘spirits’ that identify themselves with their real names or a name they give just to have one. There are even many, many books published in Brazil about what they say. I am not a Kardecist and never have been, but Kardec, as well as his books, is well known the world over.

A: Since we are all only split off parts of the one ego self, we are only ever talking to ourselves, no matter who seems to be speaking. And since that self is illusory, all conversations, whether seeming to happen with other physical bodies or with discarnate voices, are simply hallucinations. Now that answer may be the truth, but it is not particularly satisfying from the perspective of where we seem to find ourselves.

While the Course does not address the issue of mediumship specifically, the book’s very existence would have to be considered support for the validity and helpfulness of the process, since Helen Schucman viewed Jesus and not herself as the source of the material she wrote down. But she also understood that Jesus did not exist as an entity outside herself, but rather as a presence within her mind that was always available to her, whether or not she was willing to be available to him!

As a point of clarification, the Course uses the word spirit differently from its more common usage, as in the case of spirit mediumship that Kardec researched and explored in the nineteenth century. In the Course, spirit refers to our reality as Christ in the Mind of God, beyond the ego split mind and any sense of individual identity (T.3.V.7:3,4; C.1.1,2,3,4) . Since, as the Course teaches, mind is never inside the body e.g., T.28.II.2:8; T.29.I.5;W.pI.72.8; W.pI.96.4:4; W.pI.167.6; W.pI.199.7:2) , spirit as typically used would simply be, from the Course’s perspective, any seemingly separate fragment of the ego mind, whether it happens to believe that it is currently incarnated within a body or not. And all communication therefore occurs only between minds, and not between bodies, despite what our experience seems to tell us to the contrary see Question #1122 for a more in-depth discussion .

If this is understood, it should be apparent that the fact that a message seems to be coming from a discarnate voice in no way assures that the message is reflecting a higher or more healed perspective. Nor does identification with a physical body necessarily preclude more advanced understanding of the true nature of reality and the means for remembering it. It is helpful to recognize that, at the level of content, there are only two possible sources for any message we receive — the ego or the Holy Spirit — regardless of where in the world of form it may seem to come from. From the Course’s perspective, preoccupation with specifics and differences is a red flag that the ego is the likely source, or is at least a filter that is coloring and distorting the message. Reminders that help us step back from our judgments and recognize what we all share in common are likely to have the Holy Spirit as their Source.

Near the end of the Course, Jesus speaks of the one source behind all messages of healing despite the various forms through which they may seem to be expressed and also explains why we need to experience the medium as specific:

“Why is the illusion of many necessary? Only because reality is not understandable to the deluded. Only very few can hear God’s Voice at all, and even they cannot communicate His messages directly through the Spirit which gave them. They need a medium through which communication becomes possible to those who do not realize that they are spirit. A body they can see. A voice they understand and listen to, without the fear that truth would encounter in them. Do not forget that truth can come only where it is welcomed without fear. So do God’s teachers need a body, for their unity could not be recognized directly” (M.12.3).

That we are all mediums who are channeling all the time — channeling either the ego or the Holy Spirit — is a helpful perspective on the whole issue of mediumship and channeling that minimizes differences and takes away the sense of specialness that our egos would like to attribute to the process. This perspective is developed and elaborated on in the audio set, The Inner Voice, by Kenneth Wapnick.

hostage or host

 

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 4

ACIM Reading for December 4

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice
2.- VI. The Definition of Healing 

1. The process of psychotherapy, then, can be defined simply as forgiveness, for no healing can be anything else. The unforgiving are sick, believing they are unforgiven. The hanging-on to guilt, its hugging-close and sheltering, its loving protection and alert defense,–all this is but the grim refusal to forgive. “God may not enter here” the sick repeat, over and over, while they mourn their loss and yet rejoice in it. Healing occurs as a patient begins to hear the dirge he sings, and questions its validity. Until he hears it, he cannot understand that it is he who sings it to himself. To hear it is the first step in recovery. To question it must then become his choice.

2. There is a tendency, and it is very strong, to hear this song of death only an instant, and then dismiss it uncorrected. These fleeting awarenesses represent the many opportunities given us literally “to change our tune.” The sound of healing can be heard instead. But first the willingness to question the “truth” of the song of condemnation must arise. The strange distortions woven inextricably into the self-concept, itself but a pseudo-creation, make this ugly sound seem truly beautiful. “The rhythm of the universe,” “the herald angel’s song,” all these and more are heard instead of loud discordant shrieks.

3. The ear translates; it does not hear. The eye reproduces; it does not see. Their task is to make agreeable whatever is called on, however disagreeable it may be. They answer the decisions of the mind, reproducing its desires and translating them into acceptable and pleasant forms. Sometimes the thought behind the form breaks through, but only very briefly, and the mind grows fearful and begins to doubt its sanity. Yet it will not permit its slaves to change the forms they look upon; the sounds they hear. These are its “remedies”; its “safeguards” from insanity.

4. These testimonies which the senses bring have but one purpose; to justify attack and thus keep unforgiveness unrecognized for what it is. Seen undisguised it is intolerable. Without protection it could not endure. Here is all sickness cherished, but without the recognition that this is so. For when an unforgiveness is not recognized, the form it takes seems to be something else. And now it is the “something else” that seems to terrify. But it is not the “something else” that can be healed. It is not sick, and needs no remedy. To concentrate your healing efforts here is but futility. Who can cure what cannot be sick and make it well?

5. Sickness takes many forms, and so does unforgiveness. The forms of one but reproduce the forms of the other, for they are the same illusion. So closely is one translated into the other, that a careful study of the form a sickness takes will point quite clearly to the form of unforgiveness that it represents. Yet seeing this will not effect a cure. That is achieved by only one recognition; that only forgiveness heals an unforgiveness, and only an unforgiveness can possibly give rise to sickness of any kind.

6. This realization is the final goal of psychotherapy. How is it reached? The therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself, and is thus given another chance to look at it, open it to re-evaluation and forgive it. When this occurs, he sees his sins as gone into a past that is no longer here. Until he does this, he must think of evil as besetting him here and now. The patient is his screen for the projection of his sins, enabling him to let them go. Let him retain one spot of sin in what he looks upon, and his release is partial and will not be sure.

7. No one is healed alone. This is the joyous song salvation sings to all who hear its Voice. This statement cannot be too often remembered by all who see themselves as therapists. Their patients can but be seen as the bringers of forgiveness, for it is they who come to demonstrate their sinlessness to eyes that still believe that sin is there to look upon. Yet will the proof of sinlessness, seen in the patient and accepted in the therapist, offer the mind of both a covenant in which they meet and join and are as one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 4

Lesson 338

I am affected only by my thoughts.

It needs but this to let salvation come to all the world. For in this single thought is everyone released at last from fear. Now has he learned that no one frightens him, and nothing can endanger him. He has no enemies, and he is safe from all external things. His thoughts can frighten him, but since these thoughts belong to him alone, he has the power to change them and exchange each fear thought for a happy thought of love. He crucified himself. Yet God has planned that His beloved Son will be redeemed.

Your plan is sure, my Father,—only Yours. All other plans will fail. And I will have thoughts that will frighten me, until I learn that You have given me the only Thought that leads me to salvation. Mine alone will fail, and lead me nowhere. But the Thought You gave me promises to lead me home, because it holds Your promise to Your Son.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #310: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for over 10 years, and I recently entered a Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. One of the difficulties I have is that I am learning psychological material that is often at odds with the Course. On an intellectual level, I understand and can accept the distinctions. However sometimes I can’t, and this causes me some frustration. I worry about how to help another, although I also recognize where the answer lies — to turn and trust in the Holy Spirit. I even understand that much of what I am learning can be helpful if placed under the direction of the Holy Spirit — the problem is that I often forget. I guess my question is: if I’m inclined toward a particular psychological orientation and practice, say psychoanalysis or narrative therapy, is it okay to follow my interest, but with the Holy Spirit as guide?

A: It is never the form but only the content that can ever conflict with the Course. In other words, it is the purpose for which you use the particular psychological orientation and practice that determines whether or not it will be at odds with the Course, and not its particular theoretical model of mental illness and health, with its specific applications. Use it for ego purposes, and you will judge and attack the differences it helps you identify between yourself and your clients. Use it for the Holy Spirit’s purpose and you will see it as a means for uncovering the ego’s patterns and plots and schemes and connivings, both in your client and in yourself, so that they can be released to the healing light of forgiveness.

So study whatever therapeutic model appeals to you and become as good at its practice as you possibly can. For training in the symbols of the world enables you to accept a teaching role in the plan for the healing of the Son’s mind (W.pI.184.9:1,2). Just never forget that the only true healing comes from the one Therapist Who knows no healing is necessary. Your role is to become an instrument for that healing by first allowing your own guilt and attack thoughts to be healed. When your own blocks have been removed, the healing love can then simply flow through you (T.9.V.7,8).


Q #311: It is obvious that Helen and Bill had specific, individual purposes in bringing A Course in Miracles to the world, besides the purpose we all share, which is to forgive and to wake up to knowing ourselves as the one Son of God. I can presume, as the Course says, that we all have an individual part to play in God’s plan for salvation; but does that also mean a part in the world?

A: Since the Courses teaches that the world is an illusion, made by the mind of the separated Son as an attack on God (W.pI.155.2:1, W.pII.3.2:1), it follows that it would not tell us that God’s plan for salvation means we have a specific role to play in the world as individuals. It is important to remember that the Course is addressing the mind; specifically, the decision making part of the mind, because nothing exists outside of it: “Mind reaches to itself. It is not made up of different parts, which reach each other. It does not go out. Within itself it has no limits, and there is nothing outside it. It encompasses everything. It encompasses you entirely; you within it and it within you. There is nothing else, anywhere or ever” (T.18.VI.8:5,6,7,8,9,10,11). Every reference to our role or function in the world, therefore, must be interpreted with these metaphysical principles in mind. There is only one role assigned to us by God: to be His innocent Son. The Holy Spirit’s function is healing the mind of the thought of separation, and our only function is accepting this healing through forgiveness. Many passages in the Course seem to imply that each individual has a specific and unique role from God: “To each He (the Holy Spirit) gives a special function in salvation he alone can fill; a part for only him” (T.25.VI.4:2), (See also:T.25.VI.7). However, this “part” is to accept the Atonement for himself. It is “special,” in other words “specific,” because we have chosen to identify with our individual bodies in the illusion, and have assigned different roles to ourselves, and to every body. Although these specifics (being a son, daughter, parent, teacher, nurse, CEO) are irrelevant to the outcome, they are important because they make up the classroom the Holy Spirit uses to teach us the truth about ourselves. Each part of the Sonship, therefore, has to play his part by accepting the Atonement “as an individual” in his specific classroom and, as you mention, by ultimately accepting his only role and identity as God’s Son.

secret of salvation