A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 11, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for March 11
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

IX. Healing as Corrected Perception

I said before that the Holy Spirit is the Answer. He is the Answer to everything, because He knows what the answer to everything is. The ego does not know what a real question is, although it asks an endless number. Yet you can learn this as you learn to question the value of the ego, and thus establish your ability to evaluate its questions. When the ego tempts you to sickness do not ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body, for this would merely be to accept the ego’s belief that the body is the proper aim of healing. Ask, rather, that the Holy Spirit teach you the right perception of the body, for perception alone can be distorted. Only perception can be sick, because only perception can be wrong.

Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not. The reality of everything is totally harmless, because total harmlessness is the condition of its reality. It is also the condition of your awareness of its reality. You do not have to seek reality. It will seek you and find you when you meet its conditions. Its conditions are part of what it is. And this part only is up to you. The rest is of itself. You need do so little because your little part is so powerful that it, will bring the whole to you. Accept, then, your little part, and let the whole be yours.

Wholeness heals because it is of the mind. All forms of sickness, even unto death, are physical expressions of the fear of awakening. They are attempts to reinforce sleeping out of fear of waking. This is a pathetic way of trying not to see by rendering the faculties for seeing ineffectual. ‘Rest in peace’ is a blessing for the living, not the dead, because rest comes from waking, not from sleeping. Sleep is withdrawing; waking is joining. Dreams are illusions of joining, because they reflect the ego’s distorted notions about what joining is. Yet the Holy Spirit, too, has use for sleep, and can use dreams on behalf of waking if you will let Him.

How you wake is the sign of how you have used sleep. To whom did you give it? Under which teacher did you place it? Whenever you wake dispiritedly, it was not given to the Holy Spirit. Only when you awaken joyously have you utilised sleep according to His purpose. You can indeed be ‘drugged’ by sleep, if you have misused it on behalf of sickness. Sleep is no more a form of death than death is a form of unconsciousness. Complete unconsciousness is impossible. You can rest in peace only because you are awake.

Healing is release from the fear of waking and the substitution of the decision to wake. The decision to wake is the reflection of the will to love, since all healing involves replacing fear with love. The Holy Spirit cannot distinguish among degrees of error, for if He taught that one form of sickness is more serious than another, He would be teaching that one error can be more real than another. His function is to distinguish only between the false and the true, replacing the false with the true.

The ego, which always wants to weaken the mind, tries to separate it from the body in an attempt to destroy it. Yet the ego actually believes that it is protecting it. This is because the ego believes that mind is dangerous, and that to make mindless is to heal. But to make mindless is impossible, since it would mean to make nothing out of what God created. The ego despises weakness, even though it makes every effort to induce it. The ego wants only what it hates. To the ego this is perfectly sensible. Believing in the power of attack, the ego wants attack.

The Bible enjoins you to be perfect, to heal all errors, to take no thought of the body as separate and to accomplish all things in my name. This is not my name alone, for ours is a shared identification. The Name of God’s Son is one, and you are enjoined to do the works of love because we share this oneness. Our minds are whole because they are one. If you are sick you are withdrawing from me. Yet you cannot withdraw from me alone. You can only withdraw from yourself and me.

You have surely begun to realise that this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says. I would not ask you to do things you cannot do, and it is impossible that I could do things you cannot do. Given this, and given this quite literally, nothing can prevent you from doing exactly what I ask, and everything argues for your doing it. I give you no limits because God lays none upon you. When you limit yourself we are not of one mind, and that is sickness. Yet sickness is not of the body, but of the mind. All forms of sickness are signs that the mind is split, and does not accept a unified purpose.

The unification of purpose, then, is the Holy Spirit’s only way of healing. This is because it is the only level at which healing means anything. The re-establishing of meaning in a chaotic thought system is the way to heal it. Your task is only to meet the conditions for meaning, since meaning itself is of God. Yet your return to meaning is essential to His, because your meaning is part of His. Your healing, then, is part of His health, since it is part of His Wholeness. He cannot lose this, but you can not know it. Yet it is still His Will for you, and His Will must stand forever and in all things.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 11

Lesson 71

Only God’s plan for salvation will work.

1. You may not realize that the ego has set up a plan for salvation in opposition to God’s. It is this plan in which you believe. Since it is the opposite of God’s, you also believe that to accept God’s plan in place of the ego’s is to be damned. This sounds prepos­terous, of course. Yet after we have considered just what the ego’s plan is, perhaps you will realize that, however preposterous it may be, you do believe in it.

2. The ego’s plan for salvation centers around holding griev­ances. It maintains that, if someone else spoke or acted differ­ently, if some external circumstance or event were changed, you would be saved. Thus, the source of salvation is constantly per­ceived as outside yourself. Each grievance you hold is a declara­tion, and an assertion in which you believe, that says, “If this were different, I would be saved.” The change of mind necessary for salvation is thus demanded of everyone and everything except yourself.

3. The role assigned to your own mind in this plan, then, is simply to determine what, other than itself, must change if you are to be saved. According to this insane plan, any perceived source of salvation is acceptable provided that it will not work. This en­sures that the fruitless search will continue, for the illusion per­sists that, although this hope has always failed, there is still grounds for hope in other places and in other things. Another person will yet serve better; another situation will yet offer success.

4. Such is the ego’s plan for your salvation. Surely you can see how it is in strict accord with the ego’s basic doctrine, “Seek but do not find.” For what could more surely guarantee that you will not find salvation than to channelize all your efforts in search­ing for it where it is not?

5. God’s plan for salvation works simply because, by following His direction, you seek for salvation where it is. But if you are to succeed, as God promises you will, you must be willing to seek there only. Otherwise, your purpose is divided and you will at­tempt to follow two plans for salvation that are diametrically op­posed in all ways. The result can only bring confusion, misery and a deep sense of failure and despair.

6. How can you escape all this? Very simply. The idea for today is the answer. Only God’s plan for salvation will work. There can be no real conflict about this, because there is no possible alternative to God’s plan that will save you. His is the only plan that is certain in its outcome. His is the only plan that must succeed.

7. Let us practice recognizing this certainty today. And let us rejoice that there is an answer to what seems to be a conflict with no resolution possible. All things are possible to God. Salvation must be yours because of His plan, which cannot fail.

8. Begin the two longer practice periods for today by thinking about today’s idea, and realizing that it contains two parts, each making equal contribution to the whole. God’s plan for your salvation will work, and other plans will not. Do not allow your­self to become depressed or angry at the second part; it is inher­ent in the first. And in the first is your full release from all your own insane attempts and mad proposals to free yourself. They have led to depression and anger; but God’s plan will succeed. It will lead to release and joy.

9. Remembering this, let us devote the remainder of the extended practice periods to asking God to reveal His plan to us. Ask Him very specifically:

What would You have me do?
Where would You have me go?
What would You have me say, and to whom?

Give Him full charge of the rest of the practice period, and let Him tell you what needs to be done by you in His plan for your salvation. He will answer in proportion to your willingness to hear His Voice. Refuse not to hear. The very fact that you are doing the exercises proves that you have some willingness to lis­ten. This is enough to establish your claim to God’s answer.

10. In the shorter practice periods, tell yourself often that God’s plan for salvation, and only His, will work. Be alert to all temptation to hold grievances today, and respond to them with this form of today’s idea:

Holding grievances is the opposite of God’s plan for salvation. And only His plan will work.

Try to remember today’s idea some six or seven times an hour. There could be no better way to spend a half minute or less than to remember the Source of your salvation, and to see It where It is.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) How did the ego originate, and what is to prevent the separation from happening again?

A) This is unquestionably the most frequently asked question of all, and it seems as if every student of A Course in Miracles has wondered about this at one time or another. We have been impressed over the years by the ingenuity with which Course students have framed this question in many different forms; yet the basic question itself can be restated in this way: “If God is perfect and unified, and has a perfect and unified Son, how could an imperfect thought of separation and division have possibly arisen within such a Mind?”‘

Jesus’ answer to this question in the Course comes within a non-dualistic framework, and will hardly satisfy an intellectually inquisitive mind that demands an answer on its own terms. However, within the dualistic framework that we experience as our reality, the question is really a statement masquerading in question form, “asked” by an ego mind in order to establish its own reality and unique identity. Therefore, the questioner is really saying: “I believe I am here, and now I want you to explain to me how I got here.”

Consciousness, being the first split introduced into the mind of the dreaming Son, is an ego state where a perceiver and a perceived seem to exist as separate “realities.” Consciousness results in a concept of a limited false self that is separate and uncertain, seeming to experience an opposite to the true Self as God created It. And it is this false self that believes it is “here” and “asks” the question about its own seeming origin, thereby seeking to verify it. In truth, however, imperfection cannot emanate from perfection, and an imperfect thought of separation and division cannot arise from the perfect Mind of God’s perfect Son, in which opposites cannot exist. Only in a world of dreams can these absurdities, and the beliefs that foster such uncertainty lead to musings like this.

The question therefore can only be asked by those who believe and experience that they are indeed separate and distinct, and it can only be answered by someone who agrees with this premise that the impossible has in fact happened, and therefore requires and even demands an explanation. Thus, only a dreaming ego would ask such a question, since a Son of God, certain of his Identity in Heaven and awake in God, could not even conceive of the separation which is the basis for asking the question in the first place. And obviously, if in reality the separation never happened once, how could it possibly happen a second time? Therefore, once again, it is a trick question, much like the comedian’s question, “When did you stop beating your wife?” which, if answered, can only incriminate the person responding.

Jesus directly addresses this question two times: The first is found in the text, where he gives a very practical answer to what was originally a question posed by William Thetford, Helen’s colleague and friend, as she was taking down the dictation:

It is reasonable to ask how the mind could ever have made the ego. In fact, it is the best question you could ask, There is, however, no point in giving an answer in terms of the past because the past does not matter, and history would not exist if the same errors were not being repeated in the present (T-4.II.1:1-3).

In other words, why worry about how and why the separation happened in the distant past, when you are still making the same choice to be separate in the present?

The next answer comes in two parts, and is found in the clarification of terms, the appendix to the manual for teachers. Here, Jesus’ answer is much more to the point as it addresses the pseudo-nature of the question itself, and his answer is reflected in our discussion above:

The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, “How did the impossible occur?”, “To what did the impossible happen?”, and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you (C-in.4).Who asks you to define the ego and explain how it arose can be but he who thinks it real, and seeks by definition to ensure that its illusive nature is concealed behind the words that seem to make it so.

There is no definition for a lie that serves to make it true (C-2.2:5-3: 1).

forgiveness is still

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 10

ACIM Text Reading for March 10

Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

VIII. The Body as Means or End

Attitudes toward the body are attitudes toward attack. The ego’s definitions of anything are childish, and are always based on what it believes the thing is for. This is because it is incapable of true generalisations, and equates with what it sees with the function it ascribes to it. It does not equate it with what it is. To the ego the body is to attack with. Equating you with the body, it teaches that you are to attack with. The body, then, is not the source of its own health. The body’s condition lies solely in your interpretation of its function. Functions are part of being since they arise from it, but the relationship is not reciprocal. The whole does define the part, but the part does not define the whole. Yet to know in part is to know entirely because of the fundamental difference between knowledge and perception. In perception the whole is built up of parts that can separate and reassemble in different constellations. But knowledge never changes, so its constellation is permanent. The idea of part-whole relationships has meaning only at the level of perception, where change is possible. Otherwise, there is no difference between the part and whole.

The body exists in a world that seems to contain two voices fighting for its possession. In this perceived constellation the body is seen as capable of shifting its allegiance from one to the other, making the concepts of both health and sickness meaningful. The ego makes a fundamental confusion between means and end as it always does. Regarding the body as an end, the ego has no real use for it because it is not an end. You must have noticed an outstanding characteristic of every end that the ego has accepted as its own. When you have achieved it, it has not satisfied you. That is why the ego is forced to shift ceaselessly from one goal to another, so that you will continue to hope it can yet offer you something.

It has been particularly difficult to overcome the ego’s belief in the body as an end, because it is synonymous with the belief in attack as an end. The ego has a profound investment in sickness. If you are sick, how can you object to the ego’s firm belief that you are not invulnerable? This is an appealing argument from the ego’s point of view, because it obscures the obvious attack that underlies the sickness. If you recognised this and also decided against attack, you could not give this false witness to the ego’s stand.

It is hard to perceive sickness as a false witness, because you do not realise that it is entirely out of keeping with what you want. This witness, then, appears to be innocent and trustworthy because you have not seriously cross-examined him. If you had, you would not consider sickness such a strong witness on behalf of the ego’s views. A more honest statement would be that those who want the ego are predisposed to defend it. Therefore, their choice of witnesses should be suspect from the beginning. The ego does not call upon witnesses who would disagree with its case, nor does the Holy Spirit. I have said that judgement is the function of the Holy Spirit, and one He is perfectly equipped to fulfil. The ego as a judge gives anything but an impartial judgement. When the ego calls on a witness, it has already made the witness an ally.

It is still true that the body has no function of itself, because it is not an end. The ego, however, establishes it as an end because, as such, its true function is obscured. This is the purpose of everything the ego does. Its sole aim is to lose sight of the function of everything. A sick body does not make any sense. It could not make sense because sickness is not what the body is for. Sickness is meaningful only if the two basic premises on which the ego’s interpretation of the body rests are true; that the body is for attack, and that you are a body. Without these premises sickness is inconceivable.

Sickness is a way of demonstrating that you can be hurt. It is a witness to your frailty, your vulnerability, and your extreme need to depend on external guidance. The ego uses this as its best argument for your need for its guidance. It dictates endless prescriptions for avoiding catastrophic outcomes. The Holy Spirit, perfectly aware of the same situation, does not bother to analyse it at all. If data are meaningless there is no point in analysing them. The function of truth is to collect information that is true. Any way you handle error results in nothing. The more complicated the results become the harder it may be to recognise their nothingness, but it is not necessary to examine all possible outcomes to which premises give rise in order to judge them truly.

A learning device is not a teacher. It cannot tell you how you feel. You do not know how you feel because you have accepted the ego’s confusion, and you therefore believe that a learning device can tell you how you feel. Sickness is merely another example of your insistence on asking guidance of a teacher who does not know the answer. The ego is incapable of knowing how you feel. When I said that the ego does not know anything, I said the one thing about the ego that is wholly true. But there is a corollary; if only knowledge has being and the ego has no knowledge, then the ego has no being.

You might well ask how the voice of something that does not exist can be so insistent. Have you thought about the distorting power of something you want, even if it is not real? There are many instances of how what you want distorts perception. No one can doubt the ego’s skill in building up false cases. Nor can anyone doubt your willingness to listen until you choose not to accept anything except truth. When you lay the ego aside, it will be gone. The Holy Spirit’s Voice is as loud as your willingness to listen. It cannot be louder without violating your freedom of choice, which the Holy Spirit seeks to restore, never to undermine.

The Holy Spirit teaches you to use your body only to reach your brothers, so He can teach His message through you. This will heal them and therefore heal you. Everything used in accordance with its function as the Holy Spirit sees it cannot be sick. Everything used otherwise is. Do not allow the body to be a mirror of a split mind. Do not let it be an image of your own perception of littleness. Do not let it reflect your decision to attack. Health is seen as the natural state of everything when interpretation is left to the Holy Spirit, Who perceives no attack on anything. Health is the result of relinquishing all attempts to use the body lovelessly. Health is the beginning of the proper perspective on life under the guidance of the one Teacher Who knows what life is, being the Voice for Life Itself.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 10

Lesson 70

My salvation comes from me.

1. All temptation is nothing more than some form of the basic temptation not to believe the idea for today. Salvation seems to come from anywhere except from you. So, too, does the source of guilt. You see neither guilt nor salvation as in your own mind and nowhere else. When you realize that all guilt is solely an invention of your mind, you also realize that guilt and salvation must be in the same place. In understanding this you are saved.

2. The seeming cost of accepting today’s idea is this: It means that nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace. But it also means that nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way. Today’s idea places you in charge of the universe, where you belong because of what you are. This is not a role that can be partially accepted. And you must surely begin to see that accept­ing it is salvation.

3. It may not, however, be clear to you why the recognition that guilt is in your own mind entails the realization that salvation is there as well. God would not have put the remedy for the sickness where it cannot help. That is the way your mind has work­ed, but hardly His. He wants you to be healed, so He has kept the Source of healing where the need for healing lies.

4. You have tried to do just the opposite, making every attempt, however distorted and fantastic it might be, to separate healing from the sickness for which it was intended, and thus keep the sickness. Your purpose was to ensure that healing did not occur. God’s purpose was to ensure that it did.

5. Today we practice realizing that God’s Will and ours are really the same in this. God wants us to be healed, and we do not really want to be sick, because it makes us unhappy. Therefore, in accepting the idea for today, we are really in agreement with God. He does not want us to be sick. Neither do we. He wants us to be healed. So do we.

6. We are ready for two longer practice periods today, each of which should last some ten to fifteen minutes. We will, however, still let you decide when to undertake them. We will follow this practice for a number of lessons, and it would again be well to decide in advance when would be a good time to lay aside for each of them, and then adhering to your own decisions as closely as possible.

7. Begin these practice periods by repeating the idea for today, adding a statement signifying your recognition that salvation comes from nothing outside of you. You might put it this way:

My salvation comes from me. It cannot come from anywhere else.

Then devote a few minutes, with your eyes closed, to reviewing some of the external places where you have looked for salvation in the past;—in other people, in possessions, in various situations and events, and in self-concepts that you sought to make real. Recognize that it is not there, and tell yourself:

My salvation cannot come from any of these things. My salvation comes from me and only from me.

8. Now we will try again to reach the light in you, which is where your salvation is. You cannot find it in the clouds that surround the light, and it is in them you have been looking for it. It is not there. It is past the clouds and in the light beyond. Remember that you will have to go through the clouds before you can reach the light. But remember also that you have never found anything in the cloud patterns you imagined that endured, or that you wanted.

9. Since all illusions of salvation have failed you, surely you do not want to remain in the clouds, looking vainly for idols there, when you could so easily walk on into the light of real salvation. Try to pass the clouds by whatever means appeals to you. If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy.

10. For the short and frequent practice periods today, remind yourself that your salvation comes from you, and nothing but your own thoughts can hamper your progress. You are free from all external interference. You are in charge of your salvation. You are in charge of the salvation of the world. Say, then:

My salvation comes from me. Nothing outside of me can hold me back. Within me is the world’s salvation and my own.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Why does A Course in Miracles use masculine language in denoting the Trinity? Is Jesus a sexist?

A) No, Jesus is not a sexist, nor was the Course’s scribe, Helen Schucman a reverse one. Indeed, A Course in Miracles is written linguistically within the male-dominated Judaeo-Christian tradition, and uses the patriarchal biblical language on which that tradition is based. Consequently, the Course conforms to this religious culture by using Trinitarian terms that are exclusively masculine. It must be understood, however, that the Trinity is neither masculine nor feminine, and the Holy One knows nothing of gender, since It did not create bodies. This point is a further testimony to the difference between the biblical creator-God and the God of A Course in Miracles. In fact, Jesus himself speaks of his use of ego-oriented language:

This course remains within the ego framework, where it is needed….
It uses words, which are symbolic, and cannot express what lies
beyond symbols (manual, p. 73; C-in.3:1,3).

And so it is clear that the Course’s meaning in using this masculine language lies elsewhere. While the form of the Course’s words is the same as the twenty-five-hundred-year-old Western tradition, its content is exactly the opposite. This provides a good example of a principle enunciated twice in the text, that the Holy Spirit does not take our special relationships (the form) away from us, but instead transforms them (by changing their purpose — the content) (text, pp. 333, 351; T-17.IV.2:3-6; T-18.11.6). Therefore, the reader is given a wonderful opportunity to practice forgiveness by having whatever buried judgmental thoughts are unconsciously present be raised to awareness by the Course’s “sexist” language, so that they may now be looked at differently with the Holy Spirit’s help. In this way, a special hate (or love) relationship with patriarchal authorities — religious or secular — may be transformed into a holy relationship, the relationship now having forgiveness and peace as its purpose, instead of judgment and attack.

In like manner, we can understand the Course’s usage of the term Son of God. For two thousand years, it has exclusively been used in Christian theology to denote only Jesus, the biblical God’s only begotten Son, and Second Person of the Trinity. Moreover, Jesus’ specialness was accentuated by St. Paul’s relegating the rest of humanity to the status of “adopted sons” of God (Galatians 4:4). To accentuate the point that he is our equal, Jesus in A Course in Miracles uses the same term that heretofore had excluded everyone except himself. Now, however, it denotes all people: God’s children who yet believe they are bodies and separate from their Source and therefore different from Him. And even more specifically, the term Son of God denotes the students who are reading and studying A Course in Miracles, a usage clearly made regardless of their gender.

This term is thus deliberately used to help correct two thousand years of what A Course in Miracles sees as Christianity’s distortion of Jesus’ basic message, in this case the perfect equality and unity of the Sonship of God. And so in the Course Jesus presents himself as no different from anyone else in reality (although certainly he is different from us in time). Therefore, to state it once again, the same term — Son of God — that was used only for Jesus is now used for all of us. Moreover, the term is also used to denote Christ, God’s pre-separation creation, His one Son. Again, we see usage of the same form as in traditional Christianity, but with a totally different content. The phrase Son of Godcan also be easily understood as synonymous with child, a term which is also often used in the Course.

The reinterpretation of Son of God from exclusive to totally inclusive is crucial to the Course’s thought system. And because of Jesus’ reason for using this term, students — men and women alike — should be vigilant against the temptation to change the Course’s “offensive” language. While such practice is understandable, it does serve to undermine one of Jesus’ pedagogical purposes. It would be much more in keeping with the teachings of A Course in Miracles to leave the form as it is, and change one’s mind instead. In these circumstances, one would do well to paraphrase a famous line from the text: Therefore, seek not to change the course, but choose to change your mind about the course (text, p. 415; T-2l.in.1:7). Therefore, since the Course’s form will not be changed, students would be wise to use their reactions as a classroom in which they can learn to forgive, not only Jesus, Helen, or A Course in Miracles itself, but also all those in the past (or present) who have been perceived as treating them or others unfairly.

One final note on the subject of the Course’s masculine language: It has long been a grammatical convention that pronouns referring back to a neuter noun, such as “one” or “person,” take the masculine form of “he.” Clearly, since a central teaching of A Course in Miracles is that we are not bodies — and so the members of the Trinity are not bodies either — the issue, once again, is merely one of form or style.

the mind that serves spirit

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 9, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for March 9

Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

VII. The Body as a Means of Communication

Attack is always physical. When attack in any form enters your mind you are equating yourself with a body, since this is the ego’s interpretation of the body. You do not have to attack physically to accept this interpretation. You are accepting it simply by the belief that attack can get you something you want. If you did not believe this, the idea of attack would have no appeal for you. When you equate yourself with a body you will always experience depression. When a child of God thinks of himself in this way he is belittling himself, and seeing his brothers as similarly belittled. Since he can find himself only in them, he has cut himself off from salvation.

Remember that the Holy Spirit interprets the body only as a means of communication. Being the communication link between God and His separated Sons, the Holy Spirit interprets everything you have made in the light of what He is. The ego separates through the body. The Holy Spirit reaches through it to others. You do not perceive your brothers as the Holy Spirit does, because you do not regard bodies solely as a means of joining minds and uniting them with yours and mine. This interpretation of the body will change your mind entirely about its value. Of itself it has none.

If you use the body for attack, it is harmful to you. If you use it only to reach the minds of those who believe they are bodies, and teach them through the body that this is not so, you will understand the power of the mind that is in you. If you use the body for this and only for this, you cannot use it for attack. In the service of uniting it becomes a beautiful lesson in communion, which has value until communion is. This is God’s way of making unlimited what you have limited. The Holy Spirit does not see the body as you do, because He knows the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it.

Communication ends separation. Attack promotes it. The body is beautiful or ugly, peaceful or savage, helpful or harmful, according to the use to which it is put. And in the body of another you will see the use to which you have put yours. If the body becomes a means you give to the Holy Spirit to use on behalf of union of the Sonship, you will not see anything physical except as what it is. Use it for truth and you will see it truly. Misuse it and you will misunderstand it, because you have already done so by misusing it. Interpret anything a art from the Holy Spirit and you will mistrust it. This will lead you to hatred and attack and loss of peace.

Yet all loss comes only from your own misunderstanding. Loss of any kind is impossible. But when you look upon a brother as a physical entity, his power and glory are ‘lost’ to you and so are yours. You have attacked him, but you must have attacked yourself first. Do not see him this way for your own salvation, which must bring him his. Do not allow him to belittle himself in your mind, but give him freedom from his belief in littleness, and thus escape from yours. As part of you, he is holy. As part of me, you are. To communicate with part of God Himself is to reach beyond the Kingdom to its Creator, through His Voice Which He has established as part of you.

Rejoice, then, that of yourself you can do nothing. You are not of yourself. He of Whom you are has willed your power and glory for you, with which you can perfectly accomplish His holy Will for you when you accept it for yourself. He has not withdrawn His gifts from you, but you believe you have withdrawn them from Him. Let no Son of God remain hidden for His Name’s sake, because His Name is yours.

The Bible says, ‘The word (or thought) was made flesh’. Strictly speaking this is impossible, since it seems to involve the translation of one order of reality into another. Different orders of reality merely appear to exist, just as different orders of miracles do. Thought cannot be made into flesh except by belief, since thought is not physical. Yet thought is communication, for which the body can be used. This is the only natural use to which it can be put. To use the body unnaturally is to lose sight of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and thus to confuse the goal of His curriculum.

There is nothing so frustrating to a learner as a curriculum he cannot learn. His sense of adequacy suffers, and he must become depressed. Being faced with an impossible learning situation is the most depressing thing in the world. In fact, it is ultimately why the world itself is depressing. The Holy Spirit’s curriculum is never depressing, because it is a curriculum of joy. Whenever the reaction to learning is depression, it is because the true goal of the curriculum has been lost sight of.

In this world, not even the body is perceived as whole. Its purpose is seen as fragmented into many functions with little or no relationship to each other, so that it appears to be ruled by chaos. Guided by the ego, it is. Guided by the Holy Spirit, it is not. It becomes a means by which the part of the mind you tried to separate from spirit can reach beyond its distortions and return to spirit. The ego’s temple thus becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, where devotion to Him replaces devotion to the ego. In this sense the body does become a temple to God; His Voice abides in it by directing the use to which it is put.

Healing is the result of using the body solely for communication. Since this is natural it heals by making whole, which is also natural. All mind is whole, and the belief that part of it is physical, or not mind, is a fragmented or sick interpretation. Mind cannot be made physical, but it can be made manifest through the physical if it uses the body to go beyond itself. By reaching out, the mind extends itself. It does not stop at the body, for if it does it is blocked in its purpose. A mind that has been blocked has allowed itself to be vulnerable to attack, because it has turned against itself.

The removal of blocks, then, is the only way to guarantee help and healing. Help and healing are the normal expressions of a mind that is working through the body, but not in it. If the mind believes the body is its goal it will distort its perception of the body, and by blocking its own extension beyond it, will induce illness by fostering separation. Perceiving the body as a separate entity cannot but foster illness, because it is not true. A medium of communication loses its usefulness if it is used for anything else. To use a medium of communication as a medium of attack is an obvious confusion in purpose.

To communicate is to join and to attack is to separate. How can you do both simultaneously with the same thing and not suffer? Perception of the body can be unified only by one purpose. This releases the mind from the temptation to see the body in many lights, and gives it over entirely to the One Light in Which it can be really understood. To confuse a learning device with a curriculum goal is a fundamental confusion that blocks the understanding of both. Learning must lead beyond the body to the re-establishment of the power of the mind in it. This can be accomplished only if the mind extends to other minds, and does not arrest itself in its extension. This arrest is the cause of all illness, because only extension is the mind’s function.

The opposite of joy is depression. When your learning promotes depression instead of joy, you cannot be listening to God’s joyous Teacher and learning His lessons. To see a body as anything except a means of communication is to limit your mind and to hurt yourself. Health is therefore nothing more than united purpose. If the body is brought under the purpose of the mind, it becomes whole because the mind’s purpose is one. Attack can only be an assumed purpose of the body, because apart from the mind the body has no purpose at all.

You are not limited by the body, and thought cannot be made flesh. Yet mind can be manifested through the body if it goes beyond it and does not interpret it as limitation. Whenever you see another as limited to or by the body, you are imposing this limit on yourself. Are you willing to accept this, when your whole purpose for learning should be to escape from limitations? To conceive of the body as a means of attack and to believe that joy could possibly result, is a clear-cut indication of a poor learner. He has accepted a learning goal in obvious contradiction to the unified purpose of the curriculum, and one that is interfering with his ability to accept its purpose as his own.

Joy is unified purpose, and unified purpose is only God’s. When yours is unified it is His. Believe you can interfere with His purpose, and you need salvation. You have condemned yourself, but condemnation is not of God. Therefore it is not true. No more are any of its seeming results. When you see a brother as a body, you are condemning him because you have condemned yourself. Yet if all condemnation is unreal, and it must be unreal since it is a form of attack, then it can have no results.

Do not allow yourself to suffer from imagined results of what is not true. Free your mind from the belief that this is possible. In its complete impossibility lies your only hope for release. But what other hope would you want? Freedom from illusions lies only in not believing them. There is no attack, but there is unlimited communication and therefore unlimited power and wholeness. The power of wholeness is extension. Do not arrest your thought in this world, and you will open your mind to creation in God.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 9

Lesson 69

My grievances hide the light of the world in me.

1. No one can look upon what your grievances conceal. Because your grievances are hiding the light of the world in you, every­one stands in darkness, and you beside him. But as the veil of your grievances is lifted, you are released with him. Share your salvation now with him who stood beside you when you were in hell. He is your brother in the light of the world that saves you both.

2. Today let us make another real attempt to reach the light in you. Before we undertake this in our more extended practice period, let us devote several minutes to thinking about what we are trying to do. We are literally attempting to get in touch with the salvation of the world. We are trying to see past the veil of darkness that keeps it concealed. We are trying to let the veil be lifted, and to see the tears of God’s Son disappear in the sunlight.

3. Let us begin our longer practice period today with the full real­ization that this is so, and with real determination to reach what is dearer to us than all else. Salvation is our only need. There is no other purpose here, and no other function to fulfill. Learning salvation is our only goal. Let us end the ancient search today by finding the light in us, and holding it up for everyone who searches with us to look upon and rejoice.

4. Very quietly now, with your eyes closed, try to let go of all the content that generally occupies your consciousness. Think of your mind as a vast circle, surrounded by a layer of heavy, dark clouds. You can see only the clouds because you seem to be standing outside the circle and quite apart from it.

5. From where you stand, you can see no reason to believe there is a brilliant light hidden by the clouds. The clouds seem to be the only reality. They seem to be all there is to see. Therefore, you do not attempt to go through them and past them, which is the only way in which you would be really convinced of their lack of substance. We will make this attempt today.

6. After you have thought about the importance of what you are trying to do for yourself and the world, try to settle down in perfect stillness, remembering only how much you want to reach the light in you today,—now! Determine to go past the clouds. Reach out and touch them in your mind. Brush them aside with your hand; feel them resting on your cheeks and forehead and eyelids as you go through them. Go on; clouds cannot stop you.

7. If you are doing the exercises properly, you will begin to feel a sense of being lifted up and carried ahead. Your little effort and small determination call on the power of the universe to help you, and God Himself will raise you from darkness into light. You are in accord with His Will. You cannot fail because your will is His.

8. Have confidence in your Father today, and be certain that He has heard you and answered you. You may not recognize His answer yet, but you can indeed be sure that it is given you and you will yet receive it. Try, as you attempt to go through the clouds to the light, to hold this confidence in your mind. Try to remember that you are at last joining your will to God’s. Try to keep the thought clearly in mind that what you undertake with God must succeed. Then let the power of God work in you and through you, that His Will and yours be done.

9. In the shorter practice periods, which you will want to do as often as possible in view of the importance of today’s idea to you and your happiness, remind yourself that your grievances are hiding the light of the world from your awareness. Remind yourself also that you are not searching for it alone, and that you do know where to look for it. Say, then:

My grievances hide the light of the world in me. I cannot see what I have hidden. Yet I want to let it be revealed to me, for my salvation and the salvation of the world.

Also, be sure to tell yourself:

If I hold this grievance the light of the world will be hidden from me,

if you are tempted to hold anything against anyone today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

 Q) Does A Course in Miracles really mean that God did not create the entire physical universe?

A) We answer this question with a resounding affirmative! Since nothing of form, matter, or substance can be of God, then nothing of the physical universe can be real, and there is no exception to this. Workbook Lesson 43 states, in the context of perception, which is the realm of duality and separation:

Perception is not an attribute of God. His is the realm of knowledge….In God you cannot see.  Perception has no function in God, and does not exist (W-pI.43.1:1-2; 2:1-2).

In the clarification of terms we find the following crystal clear statement about the illusory nature of the world of perception, which God did not create:

The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever. Some things will last in time a little while longer than others [e.g., the greater cosmos, as we shall see below in a passage from the text). But the time will come when all things visible will have an end (C-4. 1).

And finally, a similar statement in the text:

God’s laws do not obtain directly to a world perception rules, for such a world could not have been created by the Mind to which perception has no meaning. Yet are His laws reflected everywhere [through the Holy Spirit]. Not that the world where this reflection is, is real at all.  Only because His Son believes it is, and from His Son’s belief He could not let Himself be separate entirely. He could not enter His Son insanity with him … (T-25.111.2; italics ours).

These passages are important, because they clarify a source of misunderstanding for many students of A Course in Miracles who maintain that Jesus is teaching that God did in fact create the world. They assert that all the Course is teaching is that he did not create our misperceptions of it. Statements which contain the phrase “the world you see,” as in the above passage from the manual for teachers, do not apply simply to the world we perceive through our wrong-minded lens, but rather to the fact that we see at all. Again, the entire physical universe, the world of perception and form, is illusory and outside the Mind of God.

Therefore, nothing that can be observed — nothing that has form, physicality, moves, changes, deteriorates, and ultimately dies — is of God. A Course in Miracles is unequivocal about this, which is why we speak of it as being a perfect non-dualistic thought system: It contains no exceptions. And so the seeming majesty of the cosmos and perceived glory of nature are all expressions of the ego’s thought system of separation, as we see in this wonderful passage from the text:

What seems eternal all will have an end. The stars will disappear, and night and day will be no more. All things that come and go, the tides, the seasons and the lives of men; all things that change with time and bloom and fade will not return. Where time has set an end is not where the eternal is (T-29.VI.2:7- I0).

To attempt to make an exception to this fact is to attempt a compromise with truth, exactly what the ego wants in order to establish its own existence. As Jesus states in the workbook: “What is false is false, and what is true has never changed” (W-pII.10.1:1). And again in the text:

How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be.  The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all (T-31.1.1:1-4).

In conclusion, therefore, no aspect of the illusion can be accorded truth, which means that absolutely nothing in the material universe has come from God, or is even known by Him. His reality is totally outside the world of dreams.

teach not that i died in vain

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 8, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for March 8

Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

VI. The Treasure of God

We are the joint will of the Sonship, whose wholeness is for all. We begin the journey back by setting out together, and gather in our brothers as we continue together. Every gain in our strength is offered for all, so they too can lay aside their weakness and add their strength to us. God’s welcome waits for us all, and He will welcome us as I am welcoming you. Forget not the Kingdom of God for anything the world has to offer.

The world can add nothing to the power and the glory of God and His holy Sons, but it can blind the Sons to the Father if they behold it. You cannot behold the world and know God. Only one is true. I am come to tell you that the choice of which is true is not yours to make. If it were, you would have destroyed yourself. Yet God did not will the destruction of His creations, having created them for eternity. His Will has saved you, not from yourself but from your illusion of yourself. He has saved you for yourself.

Let us glorify Him Whom the world denies, for over His Kingdom the world has no power. No one created by God can find joy in anything except the eternal; not because he is deprived of anything else, but because nothing else is worthy of him. What God and His Sons create is eternal, and in this and this only is their joy.

Listen to the story of the prodigal son, and learn what God’s treasure is and yours: This son of a loving father left his home and thought he had squandered everything for nothing of any value, although he had not understood its worthlessness at the time. He was ashamed to return to his father, because he thought he had hurt him. Yet when he came home the father welcomed him with joy, because the son himself was his father’s treasure. He wanted nothing else.

God wants only His Son because His Son is His only treasure. You want your creations as He wants His. Your creations are your gift to the Holy Trinity, created in gratitude for your creation. They do not leave you any more than you left your Creator, but they extend your creation as God extended Himself to you. Can the creations of God Himself take joy in what is not real? And what is real except the creations of God and those that are created like His? Your creations love you as you love your Father for the gift of creation. There is no other gift that is eternal, and therefore there is no other gift that is true. How, then, can you accept anything else or give anything else, and expect joy in return? And what else but joy would you want? You made neither yourself nor your function. You made only the decision to be unworthy of both. Yet you cannot make yourself unworthy because you are the treasure of God, and what He values is valuable. There can be no question of its worth, because its value lies in God’s sharing Himself with it and establishing its value forever.

Your function is to add to God’s treasure by creating yours. His Will to you is His Will for you. He would not withhold creation from you because His joy is in it. You cannot find joy except as God does. His joy lay in creating you, and He extends His Fatherhood to you so that you can extend yourself as He did. You do not understand this because you do not understand Him. No one who does not accept his function can understand what it is, and no one can accept his function unless he knows what he is. Creation is the Will of God. His Will created you to create. Your will was not created separate from His, and so you must will as He wills.

An ‘unwilling will’ does not mean anything, being a contradiction in terms that actually means nothing. When you think you are unwilling to will with God, you are not thinking. God’s Will is thought. It cannot be contradicted by thought. God does not contradict Himself, and His Sons, who are like Him, cannot contradict themselves or Him. Yet their thought is so powerful that they can even imprison the mind of God’s Son, if they so choose. This choice does make the Son’s function unknown to him, but never to his Creator. And because it is not unknown to his Creator, it is forever knowable to him.

There is no question but one you should ever ask of yourself;—’Do I want to know my Father’s Will for me?’ He will not hide it. He has revealed it to me because I asked it of Him, and learned of what He had already given. Our function is to work together, because apart from each other we cannot function at all. The whole power of God’s Son lies in all of us, but not in any of us alone. God would not have us be alone because He does not will to be alone. That is why He created His Son, and gave him the power to create with Him. Our creations are as holy as we are, and we are the Sons of God Himself, as holy as He is. Through our creations we extend our love, and thus increase the joy of the Holy Trinity. You do not understand this, because you who are God’s Own treasure do not regard yourself as valuable. Given this belief, you cannot understand anything.

I share with God the knowledge of the value He puts upon you. My devotion to you is of Him, being born of my knowledge of myself and Him. We cannot be separated. Whom God has joined cannot be separated, and God has joined all His Sons with Himself. Can you be separated from your life and your being? The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained. I can make you aware of the conditions of truth, but the experience is of God. Together we can meet its conditions, but truth will dawn upon you of itself.

What God has willed for you is yours. He has given His Will to His treasure, whose treasure it is. Your heart lies where your treasure is, as His does. You who are beloved of God are wholly blessed. Learn this of me, and free the holy will of all those who are as blessed as you are.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 8

Lesson 68

Love holds no grievances.

1. You who were created by love like itself can hold no griev­ances and know your Self. To hold a grievance is to forget who you are. To hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body. To hold a grievance is to let the ego rule your mind and to condemn the body to death. Perhaps you do not yet fully realize just what holding grievances does to your mind. It seems to split you off from your Source and make you unlike Him. It makes you believe that He is like what you think you have become, for no one can conceive of his Creator as unlike himself.

2. Shut off from your Self, which remains aware of Its likeness to Its Creator, your Self seems to sleep, while the part of your mind that weaves illusions in its sleep appears to be awake. Can all this arise from holding grievances? Oh, yes! For he who holds grievances denies he was created by love, and his Creator has become fearful to him in his dream of hate. Who can dream of hatred and not fear God?

3. It is as sure that those who hold grievances will redefine God in their own image, as it is certain that God created them like Himself, and defined them as part of Him. It is as sure that those who hold grievances will suffer guilt, as it is certain that those who forgive will find peace. It is as sure that those who hold grievances will forget who they are, as it is certain that those who forgive will remember.

4. Would you not be willing to relinquish your grievances if you believed all this were so? Perhaps you do not think you can let your grievances go. That, however, is simply a matter of motivation. Today we will try to find out how you would feel without them. If you succeed even by ever so little, there will never be a problem in motivation ever again.

5. Begin today’s extended practice period by searching your mind for those against whom you hold what you regard as major grievances. Some of these will be quite easy to find. Then think of the seemingly minor grievances you hold against those you like and even think you love. It will quickly become apparent that there is no one against whom you do not cherish grievances of some sort. This has left you alone in all the universe in your perception of yourself.

6. Determine now to see all these people as friends. Say to them all, thinking of each one in turn as you do so:

I would see you as my friend, that I may remember you are part of me and come to know myself.

Spend the remainder of the practice period trying to think of yourself as completely at peace with everyone and everything, safe in a world that protects you and loves you, and that you love in return. Try to feel safety surrounding you, hovering over you and holding you up. Try to believe, however briefly, that nothing can harm you in any way. At the end of the practice period tell yourself:

Love holds no grievances. When I let all my grievances go I will know I am perfectly safe.

7. The short practice periods should include a quick application of today’s idea in this form, whenever any thought of grievance arises against anyone, physically present or not:

Love holds no grievances. Let me not betray my Self.

In addition, repeat the idea several times an hour in this form:

Love holds no grievances. I would wake to my Self by laying all my grievances aside and wakening in Him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Does enlightenment or resurrection mean freedom from the body? 

A) No, because the mind is not imprisoned in the body, but only in its own decision to identify with the ego thought system; hence, enlightenment can be understood as awakening from the dream, a process occurring only on the level of the mind. As the Course says: “Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all” (W-pI.188.1:4). Therefore, it can be understood as the acceptance of ourselves as God created us, and the recognition that no change is necessary because in truth the separation from God never occurred. This recognition is what A Course in Miracles means by accepting the Atonement for oneself. Moreover, the Course’s definition of resurrection is the awakening from the ego’s dream of death, as is seen in the manual’s answer to the question, “What is the resurrection?” where the process of “overcoming” death is clearly placed in the mind, since death has nothing to do with the body: 

Very simply, the resurrection is the overcoming or surmounting of death. It is a reawakening or a rebirth; a change of mind about the  meaning of the world. It is the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world’s purpose; the acceptance of the Atonement  for oneself. It is the end of dreams of misery, and the glad awareness of the Holy Spirit’s final dream…. The resurrection is the denial of death, being the assertion of life. Thus is all the thinking of the world reversed entirely (M-28.1:1-4; 2:1-2; italics ours).

And from “The Message of the Crucifixion” in Chapter 6 of the text, where Jesus speaks of himself and his importance to us as a model, we read: 

Your resurrection is your reawakening. I am the model for rebirth, but rebirth itself is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it. God placed it there Himself, and so it is true forever (T-6.1.7:1-3; italics ours).

The emphasis that both these passages place on the mind clearly points to it, and not the body as the site of resurrection (or the process of forgiveness). It is the split mind that is the source of all dreams, and therefore it is only there that correction is needed and can be truly efficacious. 

Therefore, one can be enlightened and still have the appearance of remaining in the body, as did Jesus for example, being fully aware that his reality was outside the dream of bodies.  Resurrection, thus, only means freedom from the belief that we actually exist within a body and are a body. It is the culmination of the process, once again, that occurs only on the level of the mind, because the ego’s dream of separation exists only there and nowhere else. Ideas always remain within their source, as Jesus frequently teaches in the Course, and so the idea of a separated world and body has never left its source in the split mind.

accept only love

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 7, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for March 7

Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

V. The Undivided Will of the Sonship

Can you be separated from your identification and be at peace? Dissociation is not a solution; it is a delusion. The delusional believe that truth will assail them, and they do not recognise it because they prefer the delusion. Judging truth as something they do not want, they perceive their illusions which block knowledge. Help them by offering them your unified mind on their behalf, as I am offering you mine on behalf of yours. Alone we can do nothing, but together our minds fuse into something whose power is far beyond the power of its separate parts. By not being separate, the Mind of God is established in ours and as ours. This Mind is invincible because it is undivided.

The undivided will of the Sonship is the perfect creator, being wholly in the likeness of God, Whose Will it is. You cannot be exempt from it if you are to understand what it is and what you are. By the belief that your will is separate from mine, you are exempting yourself from the Will of God which is yourself. Yet to heal is still to make whole. Therefore, to heal is to unite with those who are like you, because perceiving this likeness is to recognise the Father. If your perfection is in Him and only in Him, how can you know it without recognising Him? The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself. There is no separation of God and His creation. You will realise this when you understand that there is no separation between your will and mine. Let the Love of God shine upon you by your acceptance of me. My reality is yours and His. By joining your mind with mine you are signifying your awareness that the Will of God is one.

God’s Oneness and ours are not separate, because His Oneness encompasses ours. To join with me is to restore His power to you because we are sharing it. I offer you only the recognition of His power in you, but in that lies all truth. As we unite, we unite with Him. Glory be to the union of God and His holy Sons! All glory lies in Them because They are united. The miracles we do bear witness to the Will of the Father for His Son, and to our joy in uniting with His Will for us.

When you unite with me you are uniting without the ego, because I have renounced the ego in myself and therefore cannot unite with yours. Our union is therefore the way to renounce the ego in you. The truth in both of us is beyond the ego. Our success in transcending the ego is guaranteed by God, and I share this confidence for both of us and all of us. I bring God’s peace back to all His children because I received it of Him for us all. Nothing can prevail against our united wills because nothing can prevail against God’s.

Would you know the Will of God for you? Ask it of me who knows it for you and you will find it. I will deny you nothing, as God denies me nothing. Ours is simply the journey back to God Who is our home. Whenever fear intrudes anywhere along the road to peace, it is because the ego has attempted to join the journey with us and cannot do so. Sensing defeat and angered by it, the ego regards itself as rejected and becomes retaliative. You are invulnerable to its retaliation because I am with you. On this journey you have chosen me as your companion instead of the ego. Do not attempt to hold on to both, or you will try to go in different directions, and will lose the way.

The ego’s way is not mine, but it is also not yours. The Holy Spirit has one direction for all minds, and the one He taught me is yours. Let us not lose sight of His direction through illusions, for only illusions of another direction can obscure the one for which God’s Voice speaks in all of us. Never accord the ego the power to interfere with the journey. It has none, because the journey is the way to what is true. Leave all illusions behind, and reach beyond all attempts of the ego to hold you back. I go before you because I am beyond the ego. Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego. My strength will never be wanting, and if you choose to share it you will do so. I give it willingly and gladly, because I need you as much as you need me.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 7

Lesson 67

Love created me like itself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What happens when we die, and where do we go? Are the near-death experiences that many people report relevant to students of A Course in Miracles?

A) The “transition” to death can be likened to the following: 1) shifting from one sleeping dream to another; 2) completing the viewing of one video tape and beginning another; 3) changing channels from one television station to another at the completion of a program, or even before its completion if one so chooses; or finally 4) leaving one room and going into another, as was taught by the great 19th-century Indian sage Ramakrishna.  Since consciousness is inherent in the split mind, and not found in the brain or body (although it is experienced there), physical death is but an illusion of an end to one’s mental state, which is retained at death. Despite this thought of separation being projected onto the body, it still remains within its source: the wrong mind. Therefore, one does not go anywhere at death. Returning to the analogy of changing television channels, one physically remains in the living room chair, even though one’s attention has shifted from the location seen on one television channel to another.

Moreover, it is important to realize that what we call death does not bring about a state of enlightenment or peace. If one does not complete the letting go of the ego’s thought system in its entirety, thereby letting go of the wrong mind, enlightenment or resurrection cannot be attainable. In fact, Jesus specifically cautions against such an escapist view of death:

What could you choose between but life or death, waking or sleeping, peace or war, your dreams or your reality? There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self which God created. Yet a thing can never be its opposite. And death is opposite to peace, because it is the opposite of life. And life is peace. Awaken [the meaning of resurrection] and forget all thoughts of death, and you will find you have the peace of God (T-27.VII.10:1-6; italics ours).

A recent variation of this belief that physical death brings freedom or release from the body is found in many people’s “near-death” experiences, and questions about these experiences often are raised during our classes and workshops. The reports usually include the person’s experience of leaving the body and proceeding through a dark tunnel to a circle or being of light, often identified as Jesus. This all-loving and gentle presence sometimes reviews the life with the person, and then “sends” the person back to complete lessons, accept certain responsibilities, or assume an important function (always a favorite of the ego’s specialness needs).

It is not for anyone to judge these near-death experiences, and it would be foolish to deny the very positive effects such experiences have had for people. However, one cancomment on the “theology” of such experiences and the conclusions drawn from them about the meaning of life, death, and the so-called after-life, or “life after life.”

The reader must keep in mind that A Course in Miracles states quite clearly that the mind is not in the body, though it certainly can appear otherwise. For example, from the workbook:

The mind can think it sleeps, but that is all. It cannot change what is its waking state.  It cannot make a body, nor abide within a body. What is alien to the mind does not exist, because it has no source….What seems to be the opposite of life is merely sleeping. When the mind elects to be what it is not [the body], and to assume an alien power which it does not have, a foreign state [the body] it cannot enter, or a false condition not within its Source, it merely seems to go to sleep a while. It dreams of time; an interval in which what seems to happen never has occurred, the changes wrought are substanceless, and all events are nowhere. When the mind awakes, it but continues as it always was (W-pI.167.6:1-4; 9; italics ours).

And from “Beyond the Body” in the text:

The home of vengeance [the body] is not yours; the place you set aside to house your hate is not a prison, but an illusion of yourself. The body is a limit imposed on the universal communication that is an eternal property of mind. But the communication is internal. 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-I 8.VI.8:2-11; italics ours in sentences 5,7).

Therefore, when we consider such near-death experiences from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, we can see that they make no sense on the level of form. How can one leave one’s body, travel through a tunnel, and greet a great light, if one were never in the body in the first place? Remember that the self remains in the mind and not the body, just as a dreamer’s self is not in the dream, though parts of this self are reflected there. Again, this is not to deny or invalidate a personal experience, but it is to say that however valid an experience is for the person, the interpretation is purely subjective and should not be taken for “objective” truth. For example, everyone experiences the sun as rising and setting every day, and many people report very significant aesthetic and even spiritual feelings associated with sunrises and sunsets. And yet, we know scientifically that the sun does not rise or set, but rather it is the earth that does the movement: rotating on its axis and revolving around the sun. The experience is contrary to the true explanation. Similarly, we all experience the earth as flat as we go through our daily lives, even though we understand intellectually that it is round. And so, one’s experience of a near-death occurrence, or of a place to which one goes upon death (or near death) does not necessarily mean that what is understood as the experience is what truly is.  And again, when one looks at such experiences through the lens of A Course in Miracles, one would understand them quite differently: expressions of forgiveness that were projected from the mind onto the body and its world of life, death, and near death.

As we have seen, therefore, there cannot in truth be an out-of-body experience since the mind is never in the body to begin with. And so the mind cannot leave the body, travel through a tunnel, and meet with Jesus after having left the body. Moreover, there is a danger in believing this way, because it strongly suggests — as do many people who have had such an experience — that such peace, joy, and happiness can only come to a person after having “died” and left the body. The whole focus of A Course in Miracles is on choosing and having a holy instant right now, on choosing Jesus or the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. One does not have to die to go to Heaven, since Heaven is an awareness of perfect Oneness, within the mind, and nothing else besides that. The wonderful experience of forgiveness that is frequently reported can be had in a holy instant, again, without having left the body, going through a tunnel, etc. Holding up near-death experiences to be idealized and sought for (as was depicted in the popular movie Flatliners) actually serves well the ego’s fundamental strategy of first making the body real, and then turning it into a repulsive thing. This sets up a situation in which people would wish to be free of its prison of darkness, yearning to escape into the non-corporeal light. And all the while, the ego’s thought system of separation, guilt, and specialness nestles comfortably in the mind, protected by the belief that there is indeed a body that is real, and one that truly exists in the physical world.

Thus, believing in the reality of such experiences is the very compromise with truth — giving light and darkness equal power and reality — that Jesus cautions against in A Course in Miracles. We see a clear statement of such a caution in the section on death in the manual for teachers, and we quote from this extremely important passage now. It begins with a reference to the standard religious belief that upon death the soul is freed to return to God, or to continue on its journey as in the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. However, the contemporary interest in near-death experiences, as we have just seen, falls into the same category of not recognizing the illusory nature of the entire physical universe and of individual existence — body, mind, and what is mistakenly referred to as “spirit”:

The curious belief that there is part of dying things [i.e., a soul, or “life force”] that may go on apart from what will die, does not proclaim a loving God nor re-establish any grounds for trust. If death is real for anything, there is no life.  Death denies life. But if there is reality in life, death is denied. No compromise in this is possible. There is either a god of fear or One of Love. The world attempts a thousand compromises, and will attempt a thousand more. Not one can be acceptable to God’s teachers, because not one could be acceptable to God. He did not make death because He did not make fear. Both are equally meaningless to Him.The “reality” of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s Son is a body. And if God created bodies, death would indeed be real. But God would not be loving. There is no point at which the contrast between the perception of the real world and that of the world of illusions becomes more sharply evident….

“And the last to be overcome will be death” [the famous statement of St. Paul from his first letter to the Corinthians, 15:26]. Of course! Without the idea of death there is no world. All dreams will end with this one. This is salvation’s final goal; the end of all illusions.  And in death are all illusions born. What can be born of death and still have life? But what is born of God and still can die? The inconsistencies, the compromises and the rituals the world fosters in its vain attempts to cling to death and yet to think love real are mindless magic, ineffectual and meaningless. God is, and in Him all created things must be eternal.  Do you not see that otherwise He has an opposite, and fear would be as real as love?

Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which death plays a part. Do not believe in cruelty, nor let attack conceal the truth from you. What seems to die [the body that had been “alive”] has but been misperceived and carried to illusion. Now it becomes your task to let the illusion be carried to the truth. Be steadfast but in this; be not deceived by the “reality” of any changing form. Truth neither moves nor wavers nor sinks down to death and dissolution, And what is the end of death? Nothing but this; the realization that the Son of God is guiltless now and forever. Nothing but this. But do not let yourself forget it is not less than this (M-27.4:1-5:4; 6-7; italics ours).

In conclusion, therefore, we can understand that anything that seems to live and then die, that changes, grows, and subsequently deteriorates, or that appears to be separate from others, cannot be of God and therefore cannot be real. And so all categories that relate to bodies in any way — including death and near death — have no true meaning because they do not truly exist. Their only meaning within the illusion comes in their serving as classrooms in which we learn the lesson of discerning between the meaningless and the meaningful.

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 6, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for March 6

Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

IV. The Gift of Freedom

If God’s Will for you is complete peace and joy, unless you experience only this you must be refusing to acknowledge His Will. His Will does not vacillate, being changeless forever. When you are not at peace it can only be because you do not believe you are in Him. Yet He is All in all. His peace is complete, and you must be included in it. His laws govern you because they govern everything. You cannot exempt yourself from His laws, although you can disobey them. Yet if you do, and only if you do, you will feel lonely and helpless, because you are denying yourself everything.

I am come as a light into a world that does deny itself everything. It does this simply by dissociating itself from everything. It is therefore an illusion of isolation, maintained by fear of the same loneliness that is its illusion. I said that I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. That is why I am the light of the world. If I am with you in the loneliness of the world, the loneliness is gone. You cannot maintain the illusion of loneliness if you are not alone. My purpose, then, is still to overcome the world. I do not attack it, but my light must dispel it because of what it is. Light does not attack darkness, but it does shine it away. If my light goes with you everywhere, you shine it away with me. The light becomes ours, and you cannot abide in darkness any more than darkness can abide wherever you go. The remembrance of me is the remembrance of yourself, and of Him Who sent me to you.

You were in darkness until God’s Will was done completely by any part of the Sonship. When this was done, it was perfectly accomplished by all. How else could it be perfectly accomplished? My mission was simply to unite the will of the Sonship with the Will of the Father by being aware of the Father’s Will myself. This is the awareness I came to give you, and your problem in accepting it is the problem of this world. Dispelling it is salvation, and in this sense I am the salvation of the world. The world must therefore despise and reject me, because the world is the belief that love is impossible. If you will accept the fact that I am with you, you are denying the world and accepting God. My will is His, and your decision to hear me is the decision to hear His Voice and abide in His Will. As God sent me to you so will I send you to others. And I will go to them with you, so we can teach them peace and union.

Do you not think the world needs peace as much as you do? Do you not want to give it to the world as much as you want to receive it? For unless you do, you will not receive it. If you want to have it of me, you must give it. Healing does not come from anyone else. You must accept guidance from within. The guidance must be what you want, or it will be meaningless to you. That is why healing is a collaborative venture. I can tell you what to do, but you must collaborate by believing that I know what you should do. Only then will your mind choose to follow me. Without this choice you could not be healed because you would have decided against healing, and this rejection of my decision for you makes healing impossible.

Healing reflects our joint will. This is obvious when you consider what healing is for. Healing is the way in which the separation is overcome. Separation is overcome by union. It cannot be overcome by separating. The decision to unite must be unequivocal, or the mind itself is divided and not whole. Your mind is the means by which you determine your own condition, because mind is the mechanism of decision. It is the power by which you separate or join, and experience pain or joy accordingly. My decision cannot overcome yours, because yours is as powerful as mine. If it were not so the Sons of God would be unequal. All things are possible through our joint decision, but mine alone cannot help you. Your will is as free as mine, and God Himself would not go against it. I cannot will what God does not will. I can offer my strength to make yours invincible, but I cannot oppose your decision without competing with it and thereby violating God’s Will for you.

Nothing God created can oppose your decision, as nothing God created can oppose His Will. God gave your will its power, which I can only acknowledge in honour of His. If you want to be like me I will help you, knowing that we are alike. If you want to be different, I will wait until you change your mind. I can teach you, but only you can choose to listen to my teaching. How else can it be, if God’s Kingdom is freedom? Freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of any kind, and the perfect equality of all God’s Sons cannot be recognised through the dominion of one mind over another. God’s Sons are equal in will, all being the Will of their Father. This is the only lesson I came to teach.

If your will were not mine it would not be our Father’s. This would mean you have imprisoned yours, and have not let it be free. Of yourself you can do nothing, because of yourself you are nothing. I am nothing without the Father and you are nothing without me, because by denying the Father you deny yourself. I will always remember you, and in my remembrance of you lies your remembrance of yourself. In our remembrance of each other lies our remembrance of God. And in this remembrance lies your freedom because your freedom is in Him. Join, then, with me in praise of Him and you whom He created. This is our gift of gratitude to Him, which He will share with all His creations, to whom He gives equally whatever is acceptable to Him. Because it is acceptable to Him it is the gift of freedom, which is His Will for all His Sons. By offering freedom you will be free.

Freedom is the only gift you can offer to God’s Sons, being an acknowledgement of what they are and what He is. Freedom is creation, because it is love. Whom you seek to imprison you do not love. Therefore, when you seek to imprison anyone, including yourself, you do not love him and you cannot identify with him. When you imprison yourself you are losing sight of your true identification with me and with the Father. Your identification is with the Father and with the Son. It cannot be with one and not the other. If you are part of one you must be part of the other, because they are one. The Holy Trinity is holy because It is One. If you exclude yourself from this union, you are perceiving the Holy Trinity as separated. You must be included in It, because It is everything. Unless you take your place in It and fulfil your function as part of It, the Holy Trinity is as bereft as you are. No part of It can be imprisoned if Its truth is to be known.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 6

Lesson 66

My Happiness and my function are one.

1. You have surely noticed an emphasis throughout our recent lessons on the connection between fulfilling your function and achieving happiness. This is because you do not really see the connection. Yet there is more than just a connection between them; they are the same. Their forms are different, but their content is completely one.

2. The ego does constant battle with the Holy Spirit on the funda­mental question of what your function is. So does it do constant battle with the Holy Spirit about what your happiness is. It is not a two-way battle. The ego attacks and the Holy Spirit does not respond. He knows what your function is. He knows that it is your happiness.

3. Today we will try to go past this wholly meaningless battle and arrive at the truth about your function. We will not engage in senseless arguments about what it is. We will not become hopelessly involved in defining happiness and determining the means for achieving it. We will not indulge the ego by listening to its attacks on truth. We will merely be glad that we can find out what truth is.

4. Our longer practice period today has as its purpose your acceptance of the fact that not only is there a very real connection between the function God gave you and your happiness, but that they are actually identical. God gives you only happiness. Therefore, the function He gave you must be happiness, even if it appears to be different. Today’s exercises are an attempt to go beyond these differences in appearance, and recognize a common content where it exists in truth.

5. Begin the ten-to-fifteen-minute practice period by reviewing these thoughts:

God gives me only happiness.
He has given my function to me.
Therefore my function must be happiness.

Try to see the logic in this sequence, even if you do not yet accept the conclusion. It is only if the first two thoughts are wrong that the conclusion could be false. Let us, then, think about the prem­ises for a while, as we are practicing.

6. The first premise is that God gives you only happiness. This could be false, of course, but in order to be false it is necessary to define God as something He is not. Love cannot give evil, and what is not happiness is evil. God cannot give what He does not have, and He cannot have what He is not. Unless God gives you only happiness, He must be evil. And it is this definition of Him you are believing if you do not accept the first premise.

7. The second premise is that God has given you your function. We have seen that there are only two parts of your mind. One is ruled by the ego, and is made up of illusions. The other is the home of the Holy Spirit, where truth abides. There are no other guides but these to choose between, and no other outcomes possible as a result of your choice but the fear that the ego always engenders, and the love that the Holy Spirit always offers to replace it.

8. Thus, it must be that your function is established by God through His Voice, or is made by the ego which you have made to replace Him. Which is true? Unless God gave your function to you, it must be the gift of the ego. Does the ego really have gifts to give, being itself an illusion and offering only the illusion of gifts?

9. Think about this during the longer practice period today. Think also about the many forms the illusion of your function has taken in your mind, and the many ways in which you tried to find salvation under the ego’s guidance. Did you find it? Were you happy? Did they bring you peace? We need great honesty today. Remember the outcomes fairly, and consider also whether it was ever reasonable to expect happiness from anything the ego ever proposed. Yet the ego is the only alternative to the Holy Spirit’s Voice.

10. You will listen to madness or hear the truth. Try to make this choice as you think about the premises on which our conclusion rests. We can share in this conclusion, but in no other. For God Himself shares it with us. Today’s idea is another giant stride in the perception of the same as the same, and the different as differ­ent. On one side stand all illusions. All truth stands on the other. Let us try today to realize that only the truth is true.

11. In the shorter practice periods, which would be most helpful today if undertaken twice an hour, this form of the application is suggested:

My happiness and function are one, because God has given me both.

It will not take more than a minute, and probably less, to repeat these words slowly and think about them a little while as you say them.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is meant by the Sonship, and who or what is included?

A) The term Sonship, or Son of God in the Course is used in two ways: to denote the states of reality and illusion. In Heaven, Sonship refers to God’s one creation, the Christ Who is God’s one Son. That Son, as we have already seen, is totally unified and at one with Himself and with His Creator. On the level of the dream, Sonship refers to all parts of the one split mind that believed it could accomplish the separation, wherein each fragment appears to have a form and “life” of its own. Thus, the so-called animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms are all as much a part of the Sonship as is homo sapiens. Distinctions of what is animate and inanimate were arbitrarily introduced by homo sapiens, following the ego’s teachings, in order to be able to categorize and control an illusory world and to have “dominion over every living thing” (Genesis, 1:26,28). Such a belief is what A Course in Miracles refers to as the first law of chaos, that there is a “hierarchy of illusions” (T-23.11.2:3) wherein some aspects of the illusion are considered to be higher, more evolved, or more spiritually inclined than others, as when scientists speak of the “chain of being,” for example, where, by implication, there is a range of life and non-life. In fact, however, all the forms of “life” are the same, because they all are equal in their being projections of the ego thought of life-apart-from-God. This is the defense against the thought (or memory) of Life that is held by the Holy Spirit in the minds of all the seeming fragments. This is what is meant by the following passage, given in the form of a prayer from Jesus to God our Father:

I thank You, Father, knowing You will come to close each little gap that lies between the broken pieces of Your holy Son. Your holiness, complete and perfect, lies in every one of them [through the Holy Spirit]. And they are joined because what is in one is in them all. How holy is the smallest grain of sand, when it is recognized as being part of the completed picture of God’s Son! The forms the broken pieces seem to take mean nothing. For the whole is in each one. And every aspect of the Son of God is just the same as every other part (T-28.IV.9; italics ours).

The thought of the separated Son in the mind, therefore, is not form, but content. And this is the thought that one could be separate from one’s Creator, and independent of Him. The form this thought takes — animate or inanimate, a single-celled organism or mammal — is irrelevant, because the thought remains the same. And beyond each thought is the Thought of God, held in safekeeping by the Holy Spirit until the instant we return to it.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 4, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for March 4

Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

II. The Difference Between Imprisonment and Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 4

Lesson 64

Let me not forget my function.

1. Today’s idea is merely another way of saying “Let me not wan­der into temptation.” The purpose of the world you see is to obscure your function of forgiveness, and provide you with a justification for forgetting it. It is the temptation to abandon God and His Son by taking on a physical appearance. It is this the body’s eyes look upon.

2. Nothing the body’s eyes seem to see can be anything but a form of temptation, since this was the purpose of the body itself. Yet we have learned that the Holy Spirit has another use for all the illusions you have made, and therefore He sees another purpose in them. To the Holy Spirit, the world is a place where you learn to forgive yourself what you think of as your sins. In this perception, the physical appearance of temptation becomes the spiritual recognition of salvation.

3. To review our last few lessons, your function here is to be the light of the world, a function given you by God. It is only the arrogance of the ego that leads you to question this, and only the fear of the ego that induces you to regard yourself as unworthy of the task assigned to you by God Himself. The world’s salvation awaits your forgiveness, because through it does the Son of God escape from all illusions, and thus from all temptation. The Son of God is you.

4. Only by fulfilling the function given you by God will you be happy. That is because your function is to be happy by using the means by which happiness becomes inevitable. There is no other way. Therefore, every time you choose whether or not to fulfill your function, you are really choosing whether or not to be happy.

5. Let us remember this today. Let us remind ourselves of it in the morning and again at night, and all through the day as well. Prepare yourself in advance for all the decisions you will make today by remembering they are all really very simple. Each one will lead to happiness or unhappiness. Can such a simple decision really be difficult to make? Let not the form of the decision deceive you. Complexity of form does not imply complexity of content. It is impossible that any decision on earth can have a content different from just this one simple choice. That is the only choice the Holy Spirit sees. Therefore it is the only choice there is.

6. Today, then, let us practice with these thoughts:

Let me not forget my function.
Let me not try to substitute mine for God’s.
Let me forgive and be happy.

At least once devote ten or fifteen minutes today to reflecting on this with closed eyes. Related thoughts will come to help you, if you remember the crucial importance of your function to you and to the world.

7. In the frequent applications of today’s idea throughout the day, devote several minutes to reviewing these thoughts, and then thinking about them and about nothing else. This will be diffi­cult, at first particularly, since you are not proficient in the mind discipline that it requires. You may need to repeat “Let me not forget my function” quite often to help you concentrate.

8. Two forms of shorter practice periods are required. At times, do the exercises with your eyes closed, trying to concentrate on the thoughts you are using. At other times, keep your eyes open after reviewing the thoughts, and then look slowly and unselectively around you, telling yourself:

This is the world it is my function to save.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

 Q) Where is the mind? 

A) Mind, as taught in A Course in Miracles and as we have just seen, is non-corporeal or non-material, unlike the brain. Therefore it is invisible and intangible. Since it is also non-spatial and non-temporal, it is impossible to answer this question, which rests on the assumption that time and space are real. The very word where connotes a spatial dimension, which is unknown to the mind. Therefore, to answer this question would be to deny the very nature of the mind, and reinforce the belief that the body is real and independent of the mind which projected it and is its true cause. 

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 3

ACIM Text Reading for March 3

Chapter 8

THE JOURNEY BACK

I. The Direction of the Curriculum

Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This is the prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is the condition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. Knowledge can be restored only when you meet its conditions. This is not a bargain made by God, Who makes no bargains. It is merely the result of your misuse of His laws on behalf of an imaginary will that is not His. Knowledge is His Will. If you are opposing His Will, how can you have knowledge? I have told you what knowledge offers you, but perhaps you do not yet regard this as wholly desirable. If you did you would not be so ready to throw it away when the ego asks for your allegiance.

The distractions of the ego may seem to interfere with your learning, but the ego bas no power to distract you unless you give it the power to do so. The ego’s voice is an hallucination. You cannot expect it to say ‘I am not real’. Yet you are not asked to dispel your hallucinations alone. You are merely asked to evaluate them in terms of their results to you. If you do not want them on the basis of loss of peace, they will be removed from your mind for you.

Every response to the ego is a call to war, and war does deprive you of peace. Yet in this war there is no opponent. This is the reinterpretation of reality that you must make to secure peace, and the only one you need ever make. Those whom you perceive as opponents are part of your peace, which you are giving up by attacking them. How can you have what you give up? You share to have, but you do not give it up yourself. When you give up peace, you are excluding yourself from it. This is a condition so alien to the Kingdom that you cannot understand the state that prevails within it.

Your past learning must have taught you the wrong things, simply because it has not made you happy. On this basis alone its value should be questioned. If learning aims at change, and that is always its purpose, are you satisfied with the changes your learning has brought you? Dissatisfaction with learning outcomes is a sign of learning failure, since it means that you did not get what you wanted.

The curriculum of the Atonement is the opposite of the curriculum you have established for yourself, but so is its outcome. If the outcome of yours has made you unhappy, and if you want a different one, a change in the curriculum is obviously necessary. The first change to be introduced is a change in direction. A meaningful curriculum cannot be inconsistent. If it is planned by two teachers, each believing in diametrically opposed ideas, it cannot be integrated. If it is carried out by these two teachers simultaneously, each one merely interferes with the other. This leads to fluctuation, but not to change. The volatile have no direction. They cannot choose one because they cannot relinquish the other, even if it does not exist. Their conflicted curriculum teaches them that all directions exist, and gives them no rationale for choice.

The total senselessness of such a curriculum must be fully recognised before a real change in direction becomes possible. You cannot learn simultaneously from two teachers who are in total disagreement about everything. Their joint curriculum presents an impossible learning task. They are teaching you entirely different things in entirely different ways, which might be possible except that both are teaching you about yourself. Your reality is unaffected by both, but if you listen to both, your mind will be split about what your reality is.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 3

Lesson 63

The light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness.

1. How holy are you who have the power to bring peace to every mind! How blessed are you who can learn to recognize the means for letting this be done through you! What purpose could you have that would bring you greater happiness?

2. You are indeed the light of the world with such a function. The Son of God looks to you for his redemption. It is yours to give him, for it belongs to you. Accept no trivial purpose or meaningless desire in its place, or you will forget your function and leave the Son of God in hell. This is no idle request that is being asked of you. You are being asked to accept salvation that it may be yours to give.

3. Recognizing the importance of this function, we will be happy to remember it very often today. We will begin the day by ack­nowledging it, and close the day with the thought of it in our awareness. And throughout the day we will repeat this as often as we can:

The light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness. I am the means God has appointed for the salvation of the world.

4. If you close your eyes, you will probably find it easier to let the related thoughts come to you in the minute or two that you should devote to considering this. Do not, however, wait for such an opportunity. No chance should be lost for reinforcing today’s idea. Remember that God’s Son looks to you for his sal­vation. And Who but your Self must be His Son?

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Why does Jesus repeatedly say in A Course in Miracles that I need to forgive him? What for?

A) For many students of A Course in Miracles this is a problematic issue. Why, they ask, do I have to forgive Jesus; I am not angry at him. I (Gloria) remember many years ago when I had my own group that met to discuss the Course. This issue was almost responsible for World War III breaking out in my dining room, where the group met every week. It was certainly not a neutral topic, and forgiving Jesus is indeed a central issue that goes to the heart of the Course’s teaching about undoing the ego thought system. Let us begin our answer by looking at some representative passages from the Course where Jesus discusses this. The first two come in the section, “The Obstacles to Peace” in Chapter 19 of the text, where he states:

I am made welcome in the state of grace, which means you have at last forgiven me.  For I became the symbol of your sin, and so I had to die instead of you….Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon your brother as you would look on me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness he will remember who he is, and forget what never was.  I ask for your forgiveness, for if you are guilty, so must I be. But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me. Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or of the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you you see within yourself?  (T-19.IV-A.17:1-2; T-19.IV-B.6)

And then at the beginning of the next chapter, in the section “Holy Week” which was written during the week preceding Easter, Jesus returns to this important point:

You stand beside your brother, thorns in one hand and lilies in the other [thorns and lilies are the Course’s symbols, respectively, for attack and forgiveness, crucifixion and resurrection], uncertain which to give.  Join now with me and throw away the thorns, offering the lilies to replace them. This Easter I would have the gift of your forgiveness offered by you to me, and returned by me to you. We cannot be united in crucifixion and in death. Nor can the resurrection be complete until your forgiveness rests on Christ, along with mine …. I was a stranger and you took me in, not knowing who I was.  Yet for your gift of lilies you will know. In your forgiveness of this stranger, alien to you and yet your ancient Friend, lies his release and your redemption with him (T-20.I.2:6-10; 4:3-5).

Jesus has to be forgiven on two levels. The first relates to the “bitter idols” the world has made of him, which clearly reflects its projections and has nothing to do with him at all. These idols have come in both special hate and love forms, where he has either been made into a figure of judgment and punishment who demands suffering and sacrifice of his followers, or else a magical savior who, upon petition, will solve problems and reward good deeds and faithful discipleship with his love and beneficence. Once again, such images reflect the specialness needs of the image-makers, with no reference to the real Jesus at all, who clearly is beyond such ego concerns. And so it can be seen here that Jesus is to be forgiven for what he has never done, and even more to the point, forgiven for what he has never been.

To the ego, Jesus is the most threatening figure imaginable, as we have already indicated in our answers to earlier questions, for if he is real, then the ego thought system cannot be. And so the part of anyone’s mind that still clings to specialness and individuality — the hallmarks of the ego thought system — would inevitably fear, and therefore attack Jesus to protect itself.  This attack reflects the original ego thought that the Son of God had  sinfully separated himself from the Love of God. Guilt over such attacks on Jesus — the Western world’s greatest embodiment of this Love — can only lead to denial. Guilt (or self-hatred) is such an overwhelming experience that it is almost inevitably buried in our minds. This reflects the magical belief that, like the proverbial ostrich, if we do not see the problem, it is not there. This ego dynamic of avoiding the pain of our guilt culminates in projecting our belief in sin and guilt onto Jesus.

This is the meaning of the passages quoted above from the text. Rather than our accepting responsibility for our guilt — which the ego teaches us must lead to death as justified punishment for our sin — we hope, once again magically, that by projecting the guilt out onto Jesus, leading to his death, we will be off the hook. For the ego would kill rather than have its existence undone. And thus two thousand years of belief in vicarious salvation, which Christian theology espouses, proclaims that “Jesus did it for us.” This insane dynamic reflects the ego’s “bread-and-butter” dynamic of the guilt-attack cycle, wherein the guiltier we feel, the greater is our need to attack others in “self-defense,” which in turn reinforces the guilt which always remains repressed in our minds. And then the cycle begins all over again. This is why Christians have always worshiped a slain savior, and why Catholics specifically commemorate Jesus’ death by reenacting it every day at Mass. Our guilt impels us continually to kill him off. And so what we forgive in Jesus is simply the projection of what remains unforgiven in ourselves.

What we find here is that this first level of forgiving Jesus for our projections onto him, is really the defense against the underlying level which reflects our real need for forgiveness: Jesus has to be forgiven for who he truly is. Again, if the Jesus of reality is indeed present within our minds as the perfect embodiment of God’s Love — the pure expression of the Holy Spirit’s Atonement principle — then our entire identity as a separated physical and psychological being is undone. It is truly this that we hold against Jesus. He is the living proof within the dream of our own existence, that we are wrong and he is right. He is the clear and unmistakable presence from outside the dream that attests to our sleeping minds that the dream itself is unreal. To accept this is to accept that we are truly not here, but dreaming a dream where we made up an individual self to replace the Self that God created. And so to preserve this made-up self, we must attack and destroy the truth.  We have already examined this idea in some depth, but let us return to it once more by quoting some expressive lines from one of Helen’s later poems, “Stranger on the Road,” which so graphically portray this fear of confronting the truth of Jesus’ existence. In effect, Jesus’ presence in our minds denies the “truth” of our own thought system of fear and death, which in our strange insanity we believe is comforting to us and therefore needs to be protected from him:

The road is long. I will not lift my eyes,
For fear has gripped my heart, and fear I know —
The shield that keeps me safe from rising hope;
The friend that keeps You stranger still to me.Why should You walk with me along the road,
An unknown whom I almost think I fear
Because You seem like someone in a dream
Of deathlessness, when death alone is real?

Do not disturb me now. I am content
With death, for grief is kinder now than hope.
While there was hope I suffered. Now I go
In certainty, for death has surely come.

Do not disturb the ending. What is done
Is done forever. Neither hope nor tears
Can touch finality. Do not arouse
The dead. Come, Stranger, let us say “Amen.”
                             (The Gifts of God, p. 103)

And so in all honesty we need to look at how we fear and hate Jesus, feelings that are almost always buried in our unconscious minds, under layers and layers of defenses. Through forgiving him for who he truly is, we learn at the same time to forgive ourselves for trying to pretend that we are not who we truly are, and then seeking to blame him for it. Were the presence of Jesus not so explicitly clear in A Course in Miracles, many students would not have the opportunity of dealing with this deeply buried layer of unforgiveness and guilt in themselves.

you have no idea

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for April 2

ACIM Text Reading for April 2

Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

IX. Healing as Corrected Perception

I said before that the Holy Spirit is the Answer. He is the Answer to everything, because He knows what the answer to everything is. The ego does not know what a real question is, although it asks an endless number. Yet you can learn this as you learn to question the value of the ego, and thus establish your ability to evaluate its questions. When the ego tempts you to sickness do not ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body, for this would merely be to accept the ego’s belief that the body is the proper aim of healing. Ask, rather, that the Holy Spirit teach you the right perception of the body, for perception alone can be distorted. Only perception can be sick, because only perception can be wrong.

Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not. The reality of everything is totally harmless, because total harmlessness is the condition of its reality. It is also the condition of your awareness of its reality. You do not have to seek reality. It will seek you and find you when you meet its conditions. Its conditions are part of what it is. And this part only is up to you. The rest is of itself. You need do so little because your little part is so powerful that it will bring the whole to you. Accept, then, your little part, and let the whole be yours.

Wholeness heals because it is of the mind. All forms of sickness, even unto death, are physical expressions of the fear of awakening. They are attempts to reinforce sleeping out of fear of waking. This is a pathetic way of trying not to see by rendering the faculties for seeing ineffectual. ‘Rest in peace’ is a blessing for the living, not the dead, because rest comes from waking, not from sleeping. Sleep is withdrawing; waking is joining. Dreams are illusions of joining, because they reflect the ego’s distorted notions about what joining is. Yet the Holy Spirit, too, has use for sleep, and can use dreams on behalf of waking if you will let Him.

How you wake is the sign of how you have used sleep. To whom did you give it? Under which teacher did you place it? Whenever you wake dispiritedly, it was not given to the Holy Spirit. Only when you awaken joyously have you utilised sleep according to His purpose. You can indeed be ‘drugged’ by sleep, if you have misused it on behalf of sickness. Sleep is no more a form of death than death is a form of unconsciousness. Complete unconsciousness is impossible. You can rest in peace only because you are awake.

Healing is release from the fear of waking and the substitution of the decision to wake. The decision to wake is the reflection of the will to love, since all healing involves replacing fear with love. The Holy Spirit cannot distinguish among degrees of error, for if He taught that one form of sickness is more serious than another, He would be teaching that one error can be more real than another. His function is to distinguish only between the false and the true, replacing the false with the true.

The ego, which always wants to weaken the mind, tries to separate it from the body in an attempt to destroy it. Yet the ego actually believes that it is protecting it. This is because the ego believes that mind is dangerous, and that to make mindless is to heal. But to make mindless is impossible, since it would mean to make nothing out of what God created. The ego despises weakness, even though it makes every effort to induce it. The ego wants only what it hates. To the ego this is perfectly sensible. Believing in the power of attack, the ego wants attack.

The Bible enjoins you to be perfect, to heal all errors, to take no thought of the body as separate and to accomplish all things in my name. This is not my name alone, for ours is a shared identification. The Name of God’s Son is one, and you are enjoined to do the works of love because we share this oneness. Our minds are whole because they are one. If you are sick you are withdrawing from me. Yet you cannot withdraw from me alone. You can only withdraw from yourself and me.

You have surely begun to realise that this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says. I would not ask you to do things you cannot do, and it is impossible that I could do things you cannot do. Given this, and given this quite literally, nothing can prevent you from doing exactly what I ask, and everything argues for your doing it. I give you no limits because God lays none upon you. When you limit yourself we are not of one mind, and that is sickness. Yet sickness is not of the body, but of the mind. All forms of sickness are signs that the mind is split, and does not accept a unified purpose.

The unification of purpose, then, is the Holy Spirit’s only way of healing. This is because it is the only level at which healing means anything. The re-establishing of meaning in a chaotic thought system is the way to heal it. Your task is only to meet the conditions for meaning, since meaning itself is of God. Yet your return to meaning is essential to His, because your meaning is part of His. Your healing, then, is part of His health, since it is part of His Wholeness. He cannot lose this, but you can not know it. Yet it is still His Will for you, and His Will must stand forever and in all things.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 2

Lesson 72

Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation.

While we have recognized that the ego’s plan for salvation is the opposite of God’s, we have not yet emphasized that it is an active attack on His plan, and a deliberate attempt to destroy it. In the attack, God is assigned the attributes which are actually associated with the ego, while the ego appears to take on the attributes of God.

The ego’s fundamental wish is to replace God. In fact, the ego is the physical embodiment of that wish. For it is that wish that seems to surround the mind with a body, keeping it separate and alone, and unable to reach other minds except through the body that was made to imprison it. The limit on communication cannot be the best means to expand communication. Yet the ego would have you believe that it is.

Although the attempt to keep the limitations that a body would impose is obvious here, it is perhaps not so apparent why holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation. But let us consider the kinds of things you are apt to hold grievances for. Are they not always associated with something a body does? A person says something you do not like. He does something that displeases you. He “betrays” his hostile thoughts in his behavior.

You are not dealing here with what the person is. On the contrary, you are exclusively concerned with what he does in a body. You are doing more than failing to help in freeing him from the body’s limitations. You are actively trying to hold him to it by confusing it with him, and judging them as one. Herein is God attacked, for if His Son is only a body, so must He be as well. A creator wholly unlike his creation is inconceivable.

If God is a body, what must His plan for salvation be? What could it be but death? In trying to present Himself as the Author of life and not of death, He is a liar and a deceiver, full of false promises and offering illusions in place of truth. The body’s apparent reality makes this view of God quite convincing. In fact, if the body were real, it would be difficult indeed to escape this conclusion. And every grievance that you hold insists that the body is real. It overlooks entirely what your brother is. It reinforces your belief that he is a body, and condemns him for it. And it asserts that his salvation must be death, projecting this attack onto God, and holding Him responsible for it.

To this carefully prepared arena, where angry animals seek for prey and mercy cannot enter, the ego comes to save you. God made you a body. Very well. Let us accept this and be glad. As a body, do not let yourself be deprived of what the body offers. Take the little you can get. God gave you nothing. The body is your only savior. It is the death of God and your salvation.

This is the universal belief of the world you see. Some hate the body, and try to hurt and humiliate it. Others love the body, and try to glorify and exalt it. But while the body stands at the center of your concept of yourself, you are attacking God’s plan for salvation, and holding your grievances against Him and His creation, that you may not hear the Voice of truth and welcome It as Friend. Your chosen savior takes His place instead. It is your friend; He is your enemy.

We will try today to stop these senseless attacks on salvation. We will try to welcome it instead. Your upside-down perception has been ruinous to your peace of mind. You have seen yourself in a body and the truth outside you, locked away from your awareness by the body’s limitations. Now we are going to try to see this differently.

The light of truth is in us, where it was placed by God. It is the body that is outside us, and is not our concern. To be without a body is to be in our natural state. To recognize the light of truth in us is to recognize ourselves as we are. To see our Self as separate from the body is to end the attack on God’s plan for salvation, and to accept it instead. And wherever His plan is accepted, it is accomplished already.

Our goal in the longer practice periods today is to become aware that God’s plan for salvation has already been accomplished in us. To achieve this goal, we must replace attack with acceptance. As long as we attack it, we cannot understand what God’s plan for us is. We are therefore attacking what we do not recognize. Now we are going to try to lay judgment aside, and ask what God’s plan for us is:

What is salvation, Father? I do not know.
Tell me, that I may understand.

Then we will wait in quiet for His answer. We have attacked God’s plan for salvation without waiting to hear what it is. We have shouted our grievances so loudly that we have not listened to His Voice. We have used our grievances to close our eyes and stop our ears.

Now we would see and hear and learn. “What is salvation, Father?” Ask and you will be answered. Seek and you will find. We are no longer asking the ego what salvation is and where to find it. We are asking it of truth. Be certain, then, that the answer will be true because of Whom you ask.

Whenever you feel your confidence wane and your hope of success flicker and go out, repeat your question and your request, remembering that you are asking of the infinite Creator of infinity, Who created you like Himself:

What is salvation, Father? I do not know.
Tell me, that I may understand.

He will answer. Be determined to hear.

One or perhaps two shorter practice periods an hour will be enough for today, since they will be somewhat longer than usual. These exercises should begin with this:

Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation.
Let me accept it instead. What is salvation, Father?

Then wait a minute or so in silence, preferably with your eyes closed, and listen for His answer.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #149: If one is terribly ill and in pain with cancer and, as a student of A Course in Miracles, strives to have the Holy Spirit help with forgiveness and peace in the matter, but still suffers physically, what does this mean? The Course indicates that when our mind is healed we will feel no pain.

A: You already know the answer to your question! When our mind is healed, we will feel no pain. Until our mind is healed, we will feel pain. And because our mind is not healed, we will experience pain as if it were in the body, caused by factors outside of our control, rather than recognizing that it is in the mind that has thought it could separate itself from love — a very painful state. And that is how we protect the thought of separation in our split mind.

We use pain to convince ourselves that the body is real, for we still want the body to be real. Jesus tells us that “pain is a wrong perspective. When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception… Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is… The body is the Son of God, corruptible in death” (W.pI.190.1:1,2; 2:3; 3:7).

What is most important though is that, while we continue to experience pain — whether it’s the pain of cancer or the pain of a broken leg or the pain of emotional abuse or any other form of pain we experience — we do not judge ourselves for feeling it. That would serve no purpose but the ego’s. Because of our fear of losing ourselves, we heal the pain in our mind through forgiveness in small steps.

And in those moments when we accept that we do not know the truth about ourselves but there is a Comforter Who does, with Whom we are always joined in perfect peace and joy, then the seemingly painful concerns of the body will fade from our awareness. Because of our fear, we will most likely not be ready to embrace fully the healing in the mind and release our limited bodily identity, and so we will turn again back to pain for the defense that it provides. But with each moment of recognition, shared in the holy instant of healing, our investment in guilt and pain will diminish. And we will never again be totally convinced that the world, or anything outside our mind, can cause us pain.

For a consideration of some other issues related to the question you raise, you may also wish to look at Question #142.


Q #150: I attacked someone but the next day I imploringly asked for forgiveness and truly forgave all that had hurt me and made me attack. Since then, however, because of the attack, the other person has broken off all communication. I have tried to renew it but without success. Keeping in mind that it was my attack in the first place that brought this situation about, how can I look at it with Jesus and regain my peace of mind? Obviously I have caused irrevocable pain.

A: You may first want to begin by looking at the thought that you have caused “irrevocable pain.” Believe it or not, it is arrogant to claim such power for yourself. You may have reinforced a perception of pain that your friend already held, but you can not be the cause of it. To believe that you could is to deny the power of your friend’s mind to choose its experiences, and to see your mind as more powerful. And that is the arrogance.

This is not to say that you may not have been unkind, even cruel, in your attack. But none of us can feel attacked unless we want to feel attacked (T.28.VI.4:3,4,5,6,7). And we all want to feel attacked so that the guilt we carry in our own mind over the separation — believing we have attacked and destroyed God (another arrogant thought!) — can be projected on to someone else.

The pain is already there in each of our own minds, by our own choice, caused by our own thoughts (W.pI.190.5:1,2,3,4,5). When we think we feel pain over someone else’s attack, the pain that has always been there in our mind is just brought to the surface so that we can attribute it to someone else — always the ego’s goal.

So, in genuine humility, let yourself off the hook for how your friend feels. If you can recognize that this friend simply shares the same ego-based thought system that you do, and that you both have been calling out for the help that only forgiveness can offer, then you can become a reminder to your friend that you both have the same choice to see the situation differently. And that is all that you need to do. That recognition in your mind reinforces the power of decision in your friend’s mind to make a different choice about how to perceive the situation. Whether you at this point say or do anything else with your friend will not be your concern. Nor will your friend’s readiness to accept what you are offering be your concern. For you will have placed the Holy Spirit in charge of the forgiveness process, knowing that whatever is needed for healing has already been provided.

hostage or host

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for April 1

ACIM Text Reading for April 1

Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back

VIII. The Body as Means or End

Attitudes toward the body are attitudes toward attack. The ego’s definitions of anything are childish, and are always based on what it believes the thing is for. This is because it is incapable of true generalisations, and equates with what it sees with the function it ascribes to it. It does not equate it with what it is. To the ego the body is to attack with. Equating you with the body, it teaches that you are to attack with. The body, then, is not the source of its own health. The body’s condition lies solely in your interpretation of its function. Functions are part of being since they arise from it, but the relationship is not reciprocal. The whole does define the part, but the part does not define the whole. Yet to know in part is to know entirely because of the fundamental difference between knowledge and perception. In perception the whole is built up of parts that can separate and reassemble in different constellations. But knowledge never changes, so its constellation is permanent. The idea of part-whole relationships has meaning only at the level of perception, where change is possible. Otherwise, there is no difference between the part and whole.

The body exists in a world that seems to contain two voices fighting for its possession. In this perceived constellation the body is seen as capable of shifting its allegiance from one to the other, making the concepts of both health and sickness meaningful. The ego makes a fundamental confusion between means and end as it always does. Regarding the body as an end, the ego has no real use for it because it is not an end. You must have noticed an outstanding characteristic of every end that the ego has accepted as its own. When you have achieved it, it has not satisfied you. That is why the ego is forced to shift ceaselessly from one goal to another, so that you will continue to hope it can yet offer you something.

It has been particularly difficult to overcome the ego’s belief in the body as an end, because it is synonymous with the belief in attack as an end. The ego has a profound investment in sickness. If you are sick, how can you object to the ego’s firm belief that you are not invulnerable? This is an appealing argument from the ego’s point of view, because it obscures the obvious attack that underlies the sickness. If you recognised this and also decided against attack, you could not give this false witness to the ego’s stand.

It is hard to perceive sickness as a false witness, because you do not realise that it is entirely out of keeping with what you want. This witness, then, appears to be innocent and trustworthy because you have not seriously cross-examined him. If you had, you would not consider sickness such a strong witness on behalf of the ego’s views. A more honest statement would be that those who want the ego are predisposed to defend it. Therefore, their choice of witnesses should be suspect from the beginning. The ego does not call upon witnesses who would disagree with its case, nor does the Holy Spirit. I have said that judgement is the function of the Holy Spirit, and one He is perfectly equipped to fulfil. The ego as a judge gives anything but an impartial judgement. When the ego calls on a witness, it has already made the witness an ally.

It is still true that the body has no function of itself, because it is not an end. The ego, however, establishes it as an end because, as such, its true function is obscured. This is the purpose of everything the ego does. Its sole aim is to lose sight of the function of everything. A sick body does not make any sense. It could not make sense because sickness is not what the body is for. Sickness is meaningful only if the two basic premises on which the ego’s interpretation of the body rests are true; that the body is for attack, and that you are a body. Without these premises sickness is inconceivable.

Sickness is a way of demonstrating that you can be hurt. It is a witness to your frailty, your vulnerability, and your extreme need to depend on external guidance. The ego uses this as its best argument for your need for itsguidance. It dictates endless prescriptions for avoiding catastrophic outcomes. The Holy Spirit, perfectly aware of the same situation, does not bother to analyse it at all. If data are meaningless there is no point in analysing them. The function of truth is to collect information that is true. Any way you handle error results in nothing. The more complicated the results become the harder it may be to recognise their nothingness, but it is not necessary to examine all possible outcomes to which premises give rise in order to judge them truly.

A learning device is not a teacher. It cannot tell you how you feel. You do not know how you feel because you have accepted the ego’s confusion, and you therefore believe that a learning device can tell you how you feel. Sickness is merely another example of your insistence on asking guidance of a teacher who does not know the answer. The ego is incapable of knowing how you feel. When I said that the ego does not know anything, I said the one thing about the ego that is wholly true. But there is a corollary; if only knowledge has being and the ego has no knowledge, then the ego has no being.

You might well ask how the voice of something that does not exist can be so insistent. Have you thought about the distorting power of something you want, even if it is not real? There are many instances of how what you want distorts perception. No one can doubt the ego’s skill in building up false cases. Nor can anyone doubt your willingness to listen until you choose not to accept anything except truth. When you lay the ego aside, it will be gone. The Holy Spirit’s Voice is as loud as your willingness to listen. It cannot be louder without violating your freedom of choice, which the Holy Spirit seeks to restore, never to undermine.

The Holy Spirit teaches you to use your body only to reach your brothers, so He can teach His message through you. This will heal them and therefore heal you. Everything used in accordance with its function as the Holy Spirit sees it cannot be sick. Everything used otherwise is. Do not allow the body to be a mirror of a split mind. Do not let it be an image of your own perception of littleness. Do not let it reflect your decision to attack. Health is seen as the natural state of everything when interpretation is left to the Holy Spirit, Who perceives no attack on anything. Health is the result of relinquishing all attempts to use the body lovelessly. Health is the beginning of the proper perspective on life under the guidance of the one Teacher Who knows what life is, being the Voice for Life Itself.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 1

Lesson 71

Only God’s plan for salvation will work.

You may not realize that the ego has set up a plan for salvation in opposition to God’s. It is this plan in which you believe. Since it is the opposite of God’s, you also believe that to accept God’s plan in place of the ego’s is to be damned. This sounds preposterous, of course. Yet after we have considered just what the ego’s plan is, perhaps you will realize that, however preposterous it may be, you do believe in it.

The ego’s plan for salvation centers around holding grievances. It maintains that, if someone else spoke or acted differently, if some external circumstance or event were changed, you would be saved. Thus, the source of salvation is constantly perceived as outside yourself. Each grievance you hold is a declaration, and an assertion in which you believe, that says, “If this were different, I would be saved.” The change of mind necessary for salvation is thus demanded of everyone and everything except yourself.

The role assigned to your own mind in this plan, then, is simply to determine what, other than itself, must change if you are to be saved. According to this insane plan, any perceived source of salvation is acceptable provided that it will not work. This ensures that the fruitless search will continue, for the illusion persists that, although this hope has always failed, there is still grounds for hope in other places and in other things. Another person will yet serve better; another situation will yet offer success.

Such is the ego’s plan for your salvation. Surely you can see how it is in strict accord with the ego’s basic doctrine, “Seek but do not find.” For what could more surely guarantee that you will not find salvation than to channelize all your efforts in searching for it where it is not?

God’s plan for salvation works simply because, by following His direction, you seek for salvation where it is. But if you are to succeed, as God promises you will, you must be willing to seek there only. Otherwise, your purpose is divided and you will attempt to follow two plans for salvation that are diametrically opposed in all ways. The result can only bring confusion, misery and a deep sense of failure and despair.

How can you escape all this? Very simply. The idea for today is the answer. Only God’s plan for salvation will work. There can be no real conflict about this, because there is no possible alternative to God’s plan that will save you. His is the only plan that is certain in its outcome. His is the only plan that must succeed.

Let us practice recognizing this certainty today. And let us rejoice that there is an answer to what seems to be a conflict with no resolution possible. All things are possible to God. Salvation must be yours because of His plan, which cannot fail.

Begin the two longer practice periods for today by thinking about today’s idea, and realizing that it contains two parts, each making equal contribution to the whole. God’s plan for your salvation will work, and other plans will not. Do not allow yourself to become depressed or angry at the second part; it is inherent in the first. And in the first is your full release from all your own insane attempts and mad proposals to free yourself. They have led to depression and anger; but God’s plan will succeed. It will lead to release and joy.

Remembering this, let us devote the remainder of the extended practice periods to asking God to reveal His plan to us. Ask Him very specifically:

What would You have me do?
Where would You have me go?
What would You have me say, and to whom?

Give Him full charge of the rest of the practice period, and let Him tell you what needs to be done by you in His plan for your salvation. He will answer in proportion to your willingness to hear His Voice. Refuse not to hear. The very fact that you are doing the exercises proves that you have some willingness to listen. This is enough to establish your claim to God’s answer.

In the shorter practice periods, tell yourself often that God’s plan for salvation, and only His, will work. Be alert to all temptation to hold grievances today, and respond to them with this form of today’s idea:

Holding grievances is the opposite of God’s plan
for salvation. And only His plan will work.

Try to remember today’s idea some six or seven times an hour. There could be no better way to spend a half minute or less than to remember the Source of your salvation, and to see It where It is.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #212: I have a question about judgment. Let’s say I walk by a home which has dogs behind a fence and the dogs bark at me and I recognize they believe I am a threat; yet I do not feel resentful, but wish they knew I mean them no harm. Am I still judging them? Is there a difference between a “mechanical judgement” and a judgment based on emotion? Is a “mechanical judgment” the same as resentment, even if I feel no malice? How should I view such distinctions about judgment?

A: The kind of judgment that A Course in Miracles focuses on, almost exclusively, is the judgment in which we condemn ourselves or another person in some way, or the judgment that presumes that we know everything and therefore can reach valid conclusions about everything. If you find yourself insisting that you are right about something, or feeling superior or inferior, better or worse than someone else — any comparative judgment along those lines — then you have gotten involved with the kind of judgment that needs to be addressed through the process of forgiveness, because your perception is grounded in separation. If you do not feel resentment, if you have no investment in the dogs’ accepting your invitation to join with you, and you are feeling only kindness and compassion towards them, then you have not judged. Simply sizing up the situation, i.e., that the dogs are threatened by you even though you mean them no harm, is not the kind of judgment that Jesus wants us to be vigilant about.

We all are engaged in judging all the time: for example, judging what outfit is best in terms of the weather forecast; which route to take in order to arrive at our destination on time; which doctor to go to, etc. We cannot avoid judging, and Jesus never tells us not to judge. His emphasis is always on changing our teacher from the ego to him or the Holy Spirit, which would then put us in a position where judgment through us rather than by us can occur (M.10.2:7). This would mean that we would be free of all attack thoughts and thoughts of separation, and we would not be perceiving our interests as separate from everyone else’s.


 Q #213: I am having difficulty with someone. I know that the hatred I feel for her is a projection of the guilt and self-hatred in my mind, and I know that we are both a part of a larger whole. I know that this situation is allowing me to see the hatred in my mind. I have asked Jesus for help to see her differently, but nothing happens. I then ask for help with my resistance to seeing her differently and sometimes I have a shift, but the hatred comes back later. It feels like a solid rock in my heart. I can feel my resistance to letting it go. I know this process takes time and I am continuing to work with it, but meanwhile I am having trouble containing my hatred and hostility toward her on the level of form. Help!

A: You have a good intellectual understanding of at least part of the process, but there is another step or two you need to consider. You keep asking for help to change your perception of this other person, but that is not the real problem. The change you want help with is in your perception of yourself. For the hatred that you continue to displace outside yourself onto this other person is really directed at yourself. But until you allow yourself to acknowledge and accept this, you will continue to try to direct the hatred outside yourself and will be unwilling to see the other person differently.

Once you have acknowledged where the real problem lies — with the guilt within your own mind — the other person will have served the Holy Spirit’s purpose of leading you back within yourself and will no longer be your concern. You hate yourself for what you accuse yourself of doing. You believe that you have attacked and destroyed love out of total self-interest, leaving yourself abandoned, hopeless, and bereft of love. And it is with this self-hatred that you really need help.

Turning to that presence of love within — Jesus or the Holy Spirit, using symbols of A Course in Miracles’ — will have to begin to undo your self-accusation. For how could you have destroyed love if it is still there within you? And so, through joining with that love, you will begin to question the justification for your self-hatred over destroying love. That is the shift in perception with which you need the help, for you can’t make it on your own. And as the self-hatred within your own mind begins to dissolve, you will no longer need to project it. And then you will see those outside of you as simply caught in their own attempts to project their own self-hatred outside themselves. But rather than reacting from your own guilt, if you have released it, you can only respond with compassion and kindness. If you fail to look within, you will not be addressing the source of the resistance to releasing your judgment and condemnation. The key is, whatever you first see within yourself is what you will then see outside yourself, and so your focus for change only needs to be within.

today belongs to love