A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 18, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 18

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement 

VIII. The Meaning of the Last Judgement

One of the ways in which you can correct the magic-miracle confusion is to remember that you did not create yourself. You are apt to forget this when you become egocentric, and this puts you in a position where a belief in magic is virtually inevitable. Your will to create was given you by your Creator, Who was expressing the same Will in His Creation. Since creative ability rests in the mind, everything you create is necessarily a matter of will. It also follows that whatever you alone make is real in your own sight, though not in the Mind of God. This basic distinction leads directly into the real meaning of the Last Judgement.

The Last Judgement is one of the most threatening ideas in your thinking. This is because you do not understand it. Judgement is not an attribute of God. It was brought into being only after the separation, when it became one of the many learning devices to be built into the overall plan to. Just as the separation occurred over millions of years, the Last Judgement will extend over a similarly long period, and perhaps an even longer one. Its length, however, can be greatly shortened by miracles, the device for shortening but not abolishing time. If a sufficient number become truly miracle-minded, this shortening process can be virtually immeasurable. It is essential, however, that you free yourself from fear quickly, because you must emerge from the conflict if you are to bring peace to other minds.

The Last Judgement is generally thought of as a procedure undertaken by God. Actually it will be undertaken by my brothers with my help. It is a final healing rather than a meting out of punishment, however much you may think that punishment is deserved. Punishment is a concept totally opposed to right-mindedness, and the aim of the Last Judgement is to restore right-mindedness to you. The Last Judgement might be called a process of right evaluation. It simply means that everyone will finally come to understand what is worthy and what is not. After this, the ability to choose can be directed rationally. Until this distinction is made, however the vacillations between free and imprisoned will cannot but continue.

The first step toward freedom involves a sorting out of the false from the true. This is a process of separation in the constructive sense, and reflects the true meaning of the Apocalypse. Everyone will ultimately look upon his own creations and choose to preserve only what is good, just as God Himself looked upon what He had created and knew that it was good. At this point, the mind can begin to look with love on its own creations because of their worthiness. At the same time the mind will inevitably disown its miscreations which, without belief, will no longer exist.

The term ‘Last Judgement’ is frightening not only because it has been projected onto God, but also because of the association of ‘last’ with death. This is an outstanding example of upside-down perception. If the meaning of the Last Judgement is objectively examined, it is quite apparent that it is really the doorway to life. No one who lives in fear is really alive. Your own last judgement cannot be directed toward yourself, because you are not your own creation. You can, however, apply it meaningfully and at any time to everything you have made, and retain in your memory only what is creative and good. This is what your right-mindedness cannot but dictate. The purpose of time is solely to ‘give you time’ to achieve this judgement. It is your own perfect judgement of your own perfect creations. When everything you retain is loveable, there is no reason for fear to remain with you. This is your part in the Atonement.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 18

Lesson 18

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

1. The idea for today is another step in learning that the thoughts which give rise to what you see are never neutral or unimportant. It also emphasizes the idea that minds are joined, which will be given increasing stress later on.

2. Today’s idea does not refer to what you see as much as to how you see it. Therefore, the exercises for today emphasize this aspect of your perception. The three or four practice periods which are recommended should be done as follows:

3. Look about you, selecting subjects for the application of the idea for today as randomly as possible, and keeping your eyes on each one long enough to say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of how I see _____.

Conclude each practice period by repeating the more general statement:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

A minute or so, or even less, will be sufficient for each practice period.

***

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).

be of good cheer

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 17

ACIM Text Reading for January 17

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

VII. Cause and Effect

You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough. You may feel that at this point it would take a miracle to enable you to do this, which is perfectly true. You are not used to miracle-minded thinking, but you can be trained to think that way. All miracle workers need that kind of training.

I cannot let you leave your mind unguarded, or you will not be able to help me. Miracle working entails a full realisation of the power of thought in order to avoid miscreation. Otherwise a miracle will be necessary to set the mind itself straight, a circular process that would not foster the time collapse for which the miracle was intended. The miracle worker must have genuine respect for true cause and effect as a necessary condition for the miracle to occur.

Both miracles and fear come from thoughts. If you are not free to choose one, you would also not be free to choose the other. By choosing the miracle you have rejected fear, if only temporarily. You have been fearful of everyone and everything. You are afraid of God, of me and of yourself. You have misperceived or miscreated Us, and believe in what you have made. You would not have done this if you were not afraid of your own thoughts. The fearful must miscreate, because they misperceive creation. When you miscreate you are in pain. The cause and effect principle now becomes a real expediter, though only temporarily. Actually, ‘Cause’ is a term properly belonging to God, and His ‘Effect’ is His Son. This entails a set of Cause and Effect relationships totally different from those you introduce into miscreation. The fundamental conflict in this world, then, is between creation and miscreation. All fear is implicit in the second, and all love in the first. The conflict is therefore one between love and fear.

It has already been said that you believe you cannot control fear because you yourself made it, and your belief in it seems to render it out of your control. Yet any attempt to resolve the error through attempting the mastery of fear is useless. In fact, it asserts the power of fear by the very assumption that it need be mastered. The true resolution rests entirely on mastery through love. In the interim, however, the sense of conflict is inevitable, since you have placed yourself in a position where you believe in the power of what does not exist.

Nothing and everything cannot coexist. To believe in one is to deny the other. Fear is really nothing and love is everything. Whenever light enters darkness, the darkness is abolished. What you believe is true for you. In this sense the separation has occurred, and to deny it is merely to use denial inappropriately. However, to concentrate on error is only a further error. The initial corrective procedure is to recognise temporarily that there is a problem, but only as an indication that immediate correction is needed. This establishes a state of mind in which the Atonement can be accepted without delay. It should be emphasised, however, that ultimately no compromise is possible between everything and nothing. Time is essentially a device by which all compromise in this respect can be given up. It only seems to be abolished by degrees, because time itself involves intervals that do not exist. Miscreation made this necessary as a corrective device. The statement ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ needs only one slight correction to be meaningful in this context; ‘He gave it to His only begotten Son’.

It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its Oneness transcends the sum of its parts. However this is obscured as long as any of its parts is missing. That is why the conflict cannot ultimately be resolved until all the parts of the Sonship have returned. Only then can the meaning of wholeness in the true sense be understood. Any part of the Sonship can believe in error or incompleteness if he so chooses. However, if he does so, he is believing in the existence of nothingness. The correction of this error is the Atonement.

I have already briefly spoken about readiness, but some additional points might be helpful here. Readiness is only the prerequisite for accomplishment. The two should not be confused. As soon as a state of readiness occurs, there is usually some degree of desire to accomplish, but it is by no means necessarily undivided. The state does not imply more than a potential for a change of mind. Confidence cannot develop fully until mastery has been accomplished. We have already attempted to correct the fundamental error that fear can be mastered, and have emphasised that the only real mastery is through love. Readiness is only be beginning of confidence. You may think this implies that an enormous amount of time is necessary between readiness and mastery, but let me remind you that time and space are under my control.

 ***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 17

Lesson 17

I see no neutral things.

1. This idea is another step in the direction of identifying cause and effect as it really operates in the world. You see no neutral things because you have no neutral thoughts. It is always the thought that comes first, despite the temptation to believe that it is the other way around. This is not the way the world thinks, but you must learn that it is the way you think. If it were not so, perception would have no cause, and would itself be the cause of reality. In view of its highly variable nature, this is hardly likely.

2. In applying today’s idea, say to yourself, with eyes open:

I see no neutral things because I have no neutral thoughts.

Then look about you, resting your glance on each thing you note long enough to say:

I do not see a neutral _____, because my thoughts about _________ are not neutral.

For example, you might say:

I do not see a neutral wall, because my thoughts about walls are not neutral.
I do not see a neutral body, because my thoughts about bodies are not neutral.

3. As usual, it is essential to make no distinctions between what you believe to be animate or inanimate; pleasant or unpleasant. Regardless of what you may believe, you do not see anything that is really alive or really joyous. That is because you are un­aware as yet of any thought that is really true, and therefore really happy.

4. Three or four specific practice periods are recommended, and no less than three are required for maximum benefit, even if you experience resistance. However, if you do, the length of the prac­tice period may be reduced to less than the minute or so that is otherwise recommended.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What does A Course in Miracles mean by creation?

A) In A Course in Miraclescreation does not refer to anything physical, and therefore has nothing to do with material or artistic creation. Rather, creation involves only spirit, and can be defined as the sum of all God’s Thoughts; infinite, unlimited, without beginning or end (W-pII.11.1:1). Christ, the one Son of God, is the term the Course uses to denote God’s creation. Christ is at one with His Creator, and there is nowhere where God ends and the Son begins (W-pI.132.12:4). Therefore, while God is the First Cause and Christ is His Effect, in a non-dualistic Heaven — the state of perfect Oneness — there can be no separation or distinction between Creator and created. Cause and Effect are thus indivisible and unseparated. Furthermore, God’s creation must share in the non-dualistic, non-physical attributes of its Source.  As the Creator is perfect, changeless, formless spirit, eternal life, and infinite love — whole and unified within Itself — so too must Its creation, Christ, be the same. Therefore, God and Christ are not bodies, nor are They physical and psychological entities with personalities. In “What Is Creation?” from Part 11 of the workbook, we find this lovely, summarizing paragraph:

Creation is the opposite of all illusions, for creation is the truth. Creation is the holy Son of God, for in creation is His Will complete in every aspect,    making every part container of the Whole. Its oneness is forever guaranteed inviolate; forever held within His holy Will, beyond all possibility of harm, of separation, imperfection and of any spot upon its sinlessness ( W-pII.11.3).

the way to god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 16, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 16

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

VI. Fear and Conflict

Being afraid seems to be involuntary; something beyond your own control. Yet I have said already that only constructive acts should be involuntary. My control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose. Fear cannot be controlled by me, but it can be self-controlled. Fear prevents me from giving you my control. The presence of fear shows that you have raised body thoughts to the level of the mind. This removes them from my control, and makes you feel personally responsible for them. This is an obvious confusion of levels.

I do not foster level confusion, but you must choose to correct it. You would not excuse insane behaviour on your part by saying you could not help it. Why should you condone insane thinking? There is a confusion here that you would do well to look at clearly. You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate yourself from the truth by ‘giving’ autonomy to behaviour. This is controlled by me automatically as soon as you place what you think under my guidance. Whenever you are afraid, it is a sure sign that you have allowed your mind to miscreate and have not allowed me to guide it.

It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome of mis-thought can result in healing. When you are fearful, you have chosen wrongly. That is why you feel responsible for it. You must change your mind, not your behaviour, and this is a matter of willingness. You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where change is possible. Change does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work.

The correction of fear is your responsibility. When you ask for release from fear, you are implying that it is not. You should ask, instead, for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about. These conditions always entail a willingness to be separate. At that level you can help it. You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, and are passively condoning your mind’s miscreations. The particular result does not matter, but the fundamental error does. The correction is always the same. Before you choose to do anything, ask me if your choice is in accord with mine. If you are sure that it is, there will be no fear.

Fear is always a sign of strain, arising whenever what you want conflicts with what you do. This situation arises in two ways: First, you can choose to do conflicting things, either simultaneously or successively. This produces conflicted behaviour, which is intolerable to you because the part of the mind that wants to do something else is outraged. Second, you can behave as you think you should, but without entirely wanting to do so. This produces consistent behaviour, but entails great strain. In both cases, the mind and the behaviour are out of accord, resulting in a situation in which you are doing what you do not wholly want to do. This arouses a sense of coercion that usually produces rage, and projection is likely to follow. Whenever there is fear, it is because you have not made up your mind. Your mind is therefore split, and your behaviour inevitably becomes erratic. Correcting at the behavioural level can shift the error from the first to the second type, but will not obliterate the fear.

It is possible to reach a state in which you bring your mind under my guidance without conscious effort, but this implies a willingness that you have not developed as yet. The Holy Spirit cannot ask more than you are willing to do. The strength to do comes from your undivided decision. There is no strain in doing God’s Will as soon as you recognise that it is also your own. The lesson here is quite simple, but particularly apt to be overlooked. I will therefore repeat it, urging you to listen. Only your mind can produce fear. It does so whenever it is conflicted in what it wants, producing inevitable strain because wanting and doing are discordant. This can be corrected only by accepting a unified goal.

The first corrective step in undoing the error is to know first that the conflict is an expression of fear. Say to yourself that you must somehow have chosen not to love, or the fear could not have arisen. Then the whole process of correction becomes nothing more than a series of pragmatic steps in the larger process of accepting the Atonement as the remedy. These steps may be summarised in this way:

Know first that this is fear.

Fear arises from lack of love.

The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.

Perfect love is the Atonement.

I have emphasised that the miracle, or the expression of Atonement, is always a sign of respect from the worthy to the worthy. The recognition of this worth is re-established by the Atonement. It is obvious, then, that when you are afraid, you have placed yourself in a position where you need Atonement. You have done something loveless, having chosen without love. This is precisely the situation for which the Atonement was offered. The need for the remedy inspired its establishment. As long as you recognise only the need for the remedy, you will remain fearful. However, as soon as you accept the remedy, you have abolished the fear. This is how true healing occurs.

Everyone experiences fear. Yet it would take very little right thinking to realise why fear occurs. Few appreciate the real power of the mind, and no one remains fully aware of it all the time. However, if you hope to spare yourself from fear there are some things you must realise, and realise fully. The mind is very powerful, and never loses its creative force. It never sleeps. Every instant it is creating. It is hard to recognise that thought and belief combine into a power surge that can literally move mountains. It appears at first glance that to believe such power about yourself is arrogant, but that is not the real reason you do not believe it. You prefer to believe that your thoughts cannot exert real influence because you are actually afraid of them. This may allay awareness of the guilt, but at the cost of perceiving the mind as impotent. If you believe that what you think is ineffectual you may cease to be afraid of it, but you are hardly likely to respect it There are no idle thoughts. All thinking produces form at some level.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 16

Lesson 16

I have no neutral thoughts.

1. The idea for today is a beginning step in dispelling the belief that your thoughts have no effect. Everything you see is the result of your thoughts. There is no exception to this fact. Thoughts are not big or little; powerful or weak. They are merely true or false. Those that are true create their own likeness. Those that are false make theirs.

2. There is no more self-contradictory concept than that of “idle thoughts.” What gives rise to the perception of a whole world can hardly be called idle. Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions. You can indeed multiply nothing, but you will not extend it by doing so.

3. Besides your recognizing that thoughts are never idle, salva­tion requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war; either love or fear. A neutral result is impossible because a neutral thought is impossible. There is such a temptation to dismiss fear thoughts as unimportant, trivial and not worth bothering about that it is essential you rec­ognize them all as equally destructive, but equally unreal. We will practice this idea in many forms before you really under­stand it.

4. In applying the idea for today, search your mind for a minute or so with eyes closed, and actively seek not to overlook any “little” thought that may tend to elude the search. This is quite difficult until you get used to it. You will find that it is still hard for you not to make artificial distinctions. Every thought that occurs to you, regardless of the qualities that you assign to it, is a suitable subject for applying today’s idea.

5. In the practice periods, first repeat the idea to yourself, and then as each one crosses your mind hold it in awareness while you tell yourself:

This thought about _________ is not a neutral thought.
That thought about _________ is not a neutral thought.

As usual, use today’s idea whenever you are aware of a particu­lar thought that arouses uneasiness. The following form is sug­gested for this purpose:

This thought about ____________ is not a neutral thought, because I have no neutral thoughts.

6. Four or five practice periods are recommended, if you find them relatively effortless. If strain is experienced, three will be enough. The length of the exercise period should also be re­duced if there is discomfort.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the nature of God?

A) To begin with, it is imperative to recognize that the true living God spoken of in A Course in Miracles is a non-dualistic Being, in Whom absolutely no opposites reside. The Holy One is the Creator of all life, a Being of pure Love and the Source and First Cause of non-physical reality and totality, the perfect One Who is all-encompassing, outside of Whom is literally nothing, for He is Everything. Our Source’s nature cannot be described or really understood at all, as Jesus comments in the workbook:

Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is. We cannot speak nor write nor even think of this at all (W-pI.169.5:1-6: 1).

Jesus states that the nature of God and His Oneness cannot be written about because it is a pure non-dualistic reality, and the spoken and written word which expresses the thinking of a split mind is dualistic. Therefore, any attempt to describe non-dualism must fail, and inevitably fall short of expressing the reality of oneness that lies beyond all expression. Again, it simply is. At best, therefore, all we can do is describe God’s nature, always keeping in mind that our words are but “symbols of symbols,” and “are thus twice removed from reality” (M-21.1:9-10).

complete forgiveness

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 15

ACIM Text Reading for January 15

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

A. Special Principles of Miracle Workers

  1. The miracle abolishes the need for lower-order concerns. Since it is an out-of-pattern time interval, the ordinary considerations of time and space do not apply. When you perform a miracle, I will arrange both time and space to adjust to it.

  2. A clear distinction between what is created and what is made is essential. All forms of healing rest on this fundamental correction in level perception.

  3. Never confuse right- and wrong-mindedness. Responding to any form of error with anything except a desire to heal is an expression of this confusion.

  4. The miracle is always a denial of this error and an affirmation of the truth. Only right-mindedness can correct in a way that has any real effect. Pragmatically, what has no real effect has no existence. Its effect, then, is emptiness. Being without substantial content, it lends itself to projection.

  5. The level-adjustment power of the miracle induces the right perception for healing. Until this has occurred healing cannot be understood. Forgiveness is an empty gesture unless it entails correction. Without this it is essentially judgemental, rather than healing.

  6. Miracle-minded forgiveness is only correction. It has no element of judgement at all. The statement ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ in no way evaluates what they do. It is an appeal to God to heal their minds. There is no reference to the outcome of the error. That does not matter.

  7. The injunction ‘Be of one mind’ is the statement for revelation-readiness. My request ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ is the appeal for co-operation from miracle workers. The two statements are not in the same order of reality. Only the latter involves an awareness of time, since to remember is to recall the past in the present. Time is under my direction, but timelessness belongs to God. In time we exist for and with each other. In timelessness we coexist with God.

  8. You can do much on behalf of your own healing and that of others if, in a situation calling for help, you think of it this way:

I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 15

Lesson 15

My thoughts are images I have made.

1. It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as im­ages that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them. This is how your “seeing” was made. This is the function you have given your body’s eyes. It is not seeing. It is image making. It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.

2. This introductory idea to the process of image making that you call seeing will not have much meaning for you. You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.

3. As we go along, you may have many “light episodes.” They may take many different forms, some of them quite unexpected. Do not be afraid of them. They are signs that you are opening your eyes at last. They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge. These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you. But they will prepare the way to it.

4. In practicing the idea for today, repeat it first to yourself, and then apply it to whatever you see around you, using its name and letting your eyes rest on it as you say:

This _________ is an image that I have made.
That _________ is an image that I have made.

It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today’s idea. It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself. The idea should be repeated quite slowly each time.

5. Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible. Less than a minute will do for the practice periods, if you begin to feel uneasy. Do not have more than three application periods for today’s idea unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and do not exceed four. However, the idea can be applied as needed throughout the day.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the nature of reality?

A) Reality as defined by A Course in Miracles is not a physical realm, dimension, or experience, since reality is created by God and as God is formless, changeless, eternal, infinite love, and limitless and unified perfection — a non-dualistic oneness. Reality in the Course is synonymous with Heaven and obviously cannot be related in any way to the universe of form that the world calls reality. Being changeless, true reality is permanent and fixed, and therefore any thought of separation — which ischange — is impossible and thus never was. As a non-dualistic state, reality is beyond perception, since perception presupposes a subject-object dichotomy which is inherently dualistic and so cannot be real. In A Course in Miraclesreality is also synonymous with knowledge, the state of being that is Heaven.

A representative passage from “Changeless Reality” near the end of the text provides a nice summary of the nature of reality:

Reality is changeless. It is this that makes it real, and keeps it separate from all appearances.  It must transcend all form to be itself. It cannot change.The miracle is means to demonstrate that all appearances can change because they are appearances, and cannot have the changelessness reality entails….

Reality is changeless. Miracles but show what you have     interposed between reality and your awareness is unreal, and does not interfere at all (T-30.VIII.1:6-2:1; 4:1-2).

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 14, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 14

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

V. The Function of the Miracle Worker

Before miracle workers are ready to undertake their function in this world, it is essential that they fully understand the fear of release. Otherwise they may unwittingly foster the belief that release is imprisonment, a belief that is already very prevalent. This misperception arises in turn from the belief that harm can be limited to the body. That is because of the underlying fear that the mind can hurt itself. None of these errors is meaningful, because the miscreations of the mind do not really exist. This recognition is a far better protective device than any form of level confusion, because it introduces correction at the level of the error. It is essential to remember that only the mind can create, and that correction belongs at the thought level. To amplify an earlier statement, spirit is already perfect and therefore does not require correction. The body does not exist except as a learning device for the mind. This learning device is not subject to errors of its own, because it cannot create, It is obvious, then, that inducing the mind to give up its miscreations is the only application of creative ability that is truly meaningful.

Magic is the mindless or the miscreative use of mind. Physical medications are forms of ‘spells’, but if you are afraid to use the mind to heal, you should not attempt to do so. The very fact that you are afraid makes your mind vulnerable to miscreation. You are therefore likely to misunderstand any healing that might occur, and because egocentricity and fear usually occur together, you may be unable to accept the real Source of the healing. Under these conditions, it is safer for you to rely temporarily on physical healing devices, because you cannot misperceive them as your own creations. As long as your sense of vulnerability persists, you should, not attempt to perform miracles.

I have already said that miracles are expressions of miracle-mindedness, and miracle-mindedness means right-mindedness. The right-minded neither exalt nor depreciate the mind of the miracle worker or the miracle receiver. However, as a correction, the miracle need not await the right-mindedness of the receiver. In fact, its purpose is to restore him to his right mind. It is essential, however, that the miracle worker be in his right mind, however briefly, or he will be unable to re-establish right-mindedness in someone else.

The healer who relies on his own readiness is endangering his understanding. You are perfectly safe as long as you are completely unconcerned about your readiness, but maintain a consistent trust in mine. If your miracle working inclinations are not functioning properly, it is always because fear has intruded on your right-mindedness and has turned it upside down. All forms of not-right-mindedness are the result of refusal to accept the Atonement for yourself. If you do accept it, you are in a position to recognise that those who need healing are simply those who have not realised that right-mindedness is healing.

The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself. This means you recognise that mind is the only creative level, and that its errors are healed by the Atonement. Once you accept this, your mind can only heal. By denying your mind any destructive potential and reinstating its purely constructive powers, you place yourself in a position to undo the level confusion of others. The message you then give to them is the truth that their minds are similarly constructive, and their miscreations cannot hurt them. By affirming this you release the mind from over-evaluating its own learning device, and restore the mind to its true position as the learner.

It should be emphasised again that the body does not learn any more than it creates. As a learning device it merely follows the learner, but if it is falsely endowed with self-initiative, it becomes a serious obstruction to the very learning it should facilitate. Only the mind is capable of illumination. Spirit is already illuminated and the body in itself is too dense. The mind, however, can bring its illumination to the body by recognising that it is not the learner, and is therefore unamenable to learning. The body is, however, easily brought into alignment with a mind that has learned to look beyond it toward the light.

Corrective learning always begins with the awakening of spirit, and the turning away from the belief in physical sight. This often entails fear, because you are afraid of what your spiritual sight will show you. I said before that the Holy Spirit cannot see error, and is capable only of looking beyond it to the defence of Atonement. There is no doubt that this may produce discomfort, yet the discomfort is not the final outcome of the perception. When the Holy Spirit is permitted to look upon the defilement of the altar, He also looks immediately toward the Atonement. Nothing He perceives can induce fear. Everything that results from spiritual awareness is merely channelised toward correction. Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need for correction into awareness.

The fear of healing arises in the end from an unwillingness to accept unequivocally that healing is necessary. What the physical eye sees is not corrective, nor can error be corrected by any device that can be seen physically. As long as you believe in what your physical sight tells you, your attempts at correction will be misdirected. The real vision is obscured, because you cannot endure to see your own defiled altar. But since the altar has been defiled, your state becomes doubly dangerous unless it is perceived.

Healing is an ability that developed after the separation, before which it was unnecessary. Like all aspects of the belief in space and time, it is temporary. However, as long as time persists, healing is needed as a means of protection. This is because healing rests on charity, and charity is a way of perceiving the perfection of another even if you cannot perceive it in yourself. Most of the loftier concepts of which you are capable now are time-dependent. Charity is really a weaker reflection of a much more powerful love-encompassment that is far beyond any form of charity you can conceive of as yet. Charity is essential to right-mindedness in the limited sense in which it can now be attained.

Charity is a way of looking at another as if he had already gone far beyond his actual accomplishments in time. Since his own thinking is faulty he cannot see the Atonement for himself, or he would have no need of charity. The charity that is accorded him is both an acknowledgement that he needs help, and a recognition that he will accept it. Both of these perceptions clearly imply their dependence on time, making it apparent that charity still lies within the limitations of this world. I said before that only revelation transcends time. The miracle, as an expression of charity, can only shorten it. It must be understood, however, that whenever you offer a miracle to another, you are shortening the suffering of both of you. This corrects retroactively as well as progressively.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 14

Lesson 14

God did not create a meaningless world.

1. The idea for today is, of course, the reason why a meaningless world is impossible. What God did not create does not exist. And everything that does exist exists as He created it. The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist.

2. The exercises for today are to be practiced with eyes closed throughout. The mind-searching period should be short, a min­ute at most. Do not have more than three practice periods with today’s idea unless you find them comfortable. If you do, it will be because you really understand what they are for.

3. The idea for today is another step in learning to let go the thoughts that you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place. The early steps in this exchange, which can truly be called salvation, can be quite difficult and even quite painful. Some of them will lead you directly into fear. You will not be left there. You will go far beyond it. Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace.

4. With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind. Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its reality. God did not create it, and so it is not real. Say, for example:

God did not create that war, and so it is not real.
God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real.
God did not create that disaster [specify], and so it is not real.

5. Suitable subjects for the application of today’s idea also in­clude anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned. In each case, name the “disaster” quite specifically. Do not use general terms. For example, do not say, “God did not create illness,” but, “God did not create cancer,” or heart attacks, or whatever may arouse fear in you.

6. This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking. These things are part of the world you see. Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell. It does not matter. What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His. Therefore, it has no meaning. In recognition of this fact, conclude the practice periods by repeat­ing today’s idea:

God did not create a meaningless world.

7. The idea for today can, of course, be applied to anything that disturbs you during the day, aside from the practice periods. Be very specific in applying it. Say:

God did not create a meaningless world. He did not create [specify the situation which is disturbing you], and so it is not real.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the nature of life?

A) In A Course in Miracles, life as created by God has nothing to do with what we call or know of as life in the body. Life is spirit: non-material, non-dualistic, and eternal. Perhaps the clearest statement in the Course on the essence of life — what it is and what it is not — comes in this very powerful passage from “The Laws of Chaos” in Chapter 23 of the text. It begins with a telling and gentle mockery of our worship of the body:

Can you paint rosy lips upon a skeleton, dress it in loveliness, pet it and pamper it, and make it live? And can you be content with an illusion that you are living?There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life [Heaven], there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven [in the physical world] life is illusion. At best it seems like life [when the body is “alive”]; at worst, like death [when the body “dies”]. Yet both are judgments on what is not life, equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere. Outside of Heaven, only the conflict of illusion stands; senseless, impossible and beyond all reason, and yet perceived as an eternal barrier to Heaven. Illusions are  but forms. Their content is never true (T-23.11.18:8-19:9).

Very carefully, therefore, Jesus is explaining that life is Oneness with our Source in Heaven where the Mind of Christ and the Mind of God are One. Life, spirit, and Mind are terms basically synonymous with each other, sharing the characteristics of formlessness, changelessness, and eternal life. What we in the world have identified as life in the body, such as brain waves and heartbeats, is clearly not what the Course calls life. Indeed, one workbook lesson (167) is entitled: “There is one life, and that I share with God.” Therefore, what we experience as life, as a physical and psychological organism, is a travesty or parody of our true Self, the Christ that God created as true life. It is important to understand how life is seen in A Course in Miracles; otherwise students will end up confusing themselves, both in understanding the Course’s non-dualistic teachings, as well as applying them to their personal lives.

you have no idea

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 13, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 13

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

IV. Healing as Release from Fear

Our emphasis is now on healing. The miracle is the means, the Atonement is the principle, and healing is the result. To speak of ‘a miracle of healing’ is to combine two orders of reality inappropriately. Healing is not a miracle. The Atonement, or the final miracle, is a remedy and any type of healing is a result. The kind of error to which Atonement is applied is irrelevant. All healing is essentially the release from fear. To undertake this you cannot be fearful yourself. You do not understand healing because of your own fear.

A major step in the Atonement plan is to undo error at all levels. Sickness or ‘not-right-mindedness’ is the result of level confusion, because it always entails the belief that what is amiss on one level can adversely affect another. We have referred to miracles as the means of correcting level confusion, for all mistakes must be corrected at the level on which they occur. Only the mind is capable of error. The body can act wrongly only when it is responding to misthought. The body cannot create, and the belief that it can, a fundamental error, produces all physical symptoms. Physical illness represents a belief in magic. The whole distortion that made magic rests on the belief that there is a creative ability in matter which the mind cannot control. This error can take two forms; it can be believed that the mind can miscreate in the body, or that the body can miscreate in the mind. When it is understood that the mind, the only level of creation, cannot create beyond itself, neither type of confusion need occur.

Only the mind can create because spirit has already been created, and the body is a learning device of the mind. Learning devices are not lessons in themselves. Their purpose is merely to facilitate learning. The worst a faulty use of a learning device can do is to fail to facilitate learning. It has no power in itself to introduce actual learning errors. The body, if properly understood, shares the invulnerability of the Atonement to two-edged application. This is not because the body is a miracle, but because it is not inherently open to misinterpretation. The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world. Its abilities can be and frequently are over-evaluated. However, it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial. The term ‘unworthy’ here implies only that it is not necessary to protect the mind by denying the unmindful. If one denies this unfortunate aspect of the mind’s power, one is also denying the power itself.

All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles. This is the first step in believing that the body makes its own illness. It is a second misstep to heal it through non-creative agents. It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents for corrective purposes is evil. Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement. In this case it may be wise to utilise a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief. This is because the last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear. They are already in a fear-weakened state. If they are prematurely exposed to a miracle, they may be precipitated into panic. This is likely to occur when upside-down perception has induced the belief that miracles are frightening.

The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 13

Lesson 13

A meaningless world engenders fear.

1. Today’s idea is really another form of the preceding one, except that it is more specific as to the emotion aroused. Actually, a meaningless world is impossible. Nothing without meaning ex­ists. However, it does not follow that you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning. On the contrary, you will be particularly likely to think you do perceive it.

2. Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones. It represents a situation in which God and the ego “challenge” each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides. The ego rushes in frantically to establish its own ideas there, fearful that the void may otherwise be used to demonstrate its own impo­tence and unreality. And on this alone it is correct.

3. It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the mean­ingless, and accept it without fear. If you are fearful, it is certain that you will endow the world with attributes that it does not possess, and crowd it with images that do not exist. To the ego illusions are safety devices, as they must also be to you who equate yourself with the ego.

4. The exercises for today, which should be done about three or four times for not more than a minute or so at most each time, are to be practiced in a somewhat different way from the preceding ones. With eyes closed, repeat today’s idea to yourself. Then open your eyes, and look about you slowly, saying:

I am looking at a meaningless world.

Repeat this statement to yourself as you look about. Then close your eyes, and conclude with:

A meaningless world engenders fear because I think I am in competition with God.

5. You may find it difficult to avoid resistance, in one form or another, to this concluding statement. Whatever form such resistance may take, remind yourself that you are really afraid of such a thought because of the “vengeance” of the “enemy.” You are not expected to believe the statement at this point, and will prob­ably dismiss it as preposterous. Note carefully, however, any signs of overt or covert fear which it may arouse.

6. This is our first attempt at stating an explicit cause and effect relationship of a kind which you are very inexperienced in recognizing. Do not dwell on the concluding statement, and try not even to think of it except during the practice periods. That will suffice at present.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If God is not a person, why does Jesus portray Him that way? This is confusing.

A) This question goes to the heart of a very important issue for students of A Course in Miracles: Jesus’ metaphoric use of language. It is a source of great misunderstanding for students, both in terms of understanding what Jesus is teaching in the Course, as well as in applying its principles in their everyday lives. The language of the Course is clearly dualistic, symbolic, and metaphoric — as indeed all language must be — and there are numerous places in the Course where Jesus explains that he must use the language of illusion — i.e., duality — in order for his students to understand the truths he is teaching. He says, for example, in the context of the newly born holy relationship:

Of all the messages you have received and failed to understand, this course alone is open to your understanding and can be understood. This is your language. You do not understand it yet only because your whole communication is like a baby’s. The sounds a baby makes and what he hears are highly unreliable, meaning different things to him at different times. Neither the sounds he hears nor sights he sees are stable yet…. Yet a holy relationship, so recently reborn itself from an unholy relationship, and yet more ancient than the old illusion it has replaced, is like a baby now in its rebirth. Still in this infant is your vision returned to you, and he will speak the language you can understand (T-22.1.6:1-5; 7:2-3; italics ours in 7:3).

We all have experienced this same need Jesus is describing here. When speaking with children we use words and concepts that are appropriate to the child’s level of understanding. Even if the form of what we say is not always literally true, the content of our love and desire to be helpful is truly genuine.  And later in the text, speaking of the Oneness of Christ that teaches us from within our separated minds, Jesus makes the same point:

Since you believe that you are separate, Heaven presents itself to you as separate, too. Not that it is in truth, but that the link that has been given you to join the truth may reach to you through what you understand…. Yet must It [0neness] use the language that this mind can understand, in the condition in which it thinks it is [the dualistic state of separation). And It must use all learning to transfer illusions to the truth, taking all false ideas of what you are, and leading you beyond them to the truth that is beyond them (T-25.1. 5:1-2; 7:4-5; italics ours in 7:4).

Since, as we have already seen, there is no way Jesus can communicate to us what God our Creator and Source truly is like, he must resort to the language of myth and metaphor. These are the symbols that we — identified as bodies — can understand. And so throughout A Course in Miracles, God is referred to as a body since we cannot even think of Him without one (text, p. 364; T-18.VIll. 1:7). He is called “Father,” and portrayed with Arms, Hands, and a Voice, and having feelings of loneliness and incompletion. It is even implied that God has tear ducts, since He cries over His Sons who are separated from Him. Clearly, the non-dualistic God we have described cannot possess these traits or bodily parts. Moreover, the true God does not think, as we experience thinking. Nor can He really have a plan of Atonement as a response to the illusion of separation when, as described in the Course, He creates the Holy Spirit. The apparent contradiction here is resolved when we understand, again, that Jesus is speaking to us on the anthropomorphic level we can understand, a wonderful example of the principle he enunciates early in the text:

… a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear (T-2.IV.5:3).

Students of A Course in Miracles must be wary of falling into the trap of taking literally what is meant figuratively. A good rule of thumb is to recall that only non-duality is real. In contrast, duality is the illusion of separation, as can be seen in this paraphrase of a sentence from the manual in which we substitute the word duality for death, a passage from which we shall quote more fully in a later question:

Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which duality plays a part (manual, p. 64; M-27.7: 1)

Any passage in A Course in Miracles where Jesus speaks of God doing anything, of having any characteristics of homo sapiens — anthropomorphisms — is inherently dualistic and therefore is a metaphor to express the abstract and non-specific Love of God that is beyond all dualism. Similarly, any references to the Holy Spirit or Jesus doing anything fall into the same category.

To be sure, these are extremely meaningful passages for us who still believe we are in the dualistic world of time and space, but to take these statements as literal truth will ensure that we never learn the lessons that will help us to awaken from the dream that there is indeed a world of individuality and separate bodies. All too often, students end up reinforcing their own specialness and identification with their bodies by never moving beyond the Course’s language — borrowed from the Bible — which largely consists of metaphoric descriptions of God and the Holy Spirit as bodies and persons who interact with them. Focusing on the Holy Spirit’s true role as a Thought in our minds, calling us to choose Him instead of the ego as our teacher, will keep students on the right track of forgiveness.

For a fuller discussion of this very important topic, the reader may wish to consult the tape sets “Making the Holy Spirit Special: the Arrogance of the Ego” and “Duality as Metaphor in A Course in Miracles.”

secret of salvation

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

ACIM Text Reading for January 11

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

II. The Atonement as Defence

You can do anything I ask. I have asked you to perform miracles, and have made it clear that miracles are natural, corrective, healing and universal. There is nothing they cannot do, but they cannot be performed in the spirit of doubt or fear. When you are afraid of anything, you are acknowledging its power to hurt you. Remember that where your heart is, there is your treasure also. You believe in what you value. If you are afraid, you will inevitably value wrongly, and by endowing all thoughts with equal power will inevitably destroy peace. That is why the Bible speaks of ‘the peace of God which passeth understanding’. This peace is totally incapable of being shaken by errors of any kind. It denies the ability of anything not of God to affect you. This is the proper use of denial. It is not used to hide anything, but to correct error. It brings all error into the light, and since error and darkness are the same, it corrects error automatically.

True denial is a powerful protective device. You can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you. This kind of denial is not a concealment but a correction. Your right mind depends on it. Denial of error is a strong defence of truth, but denial of truth results in miscreation, the projections of the ego. In the service of the right mind the denial of error frees the mind, and re-establishes the freedom of the will. When the will is really free it cannot miscreate, because it recognises only truth.

You can defend truth as well as error. The means are easier to understand after the value of the goal is firmly established. It is a question of what it is for. Everyone defends his treasure, and will do so automatically. The real questions are, what do you treasure, and how much do you treasure it? Once you have learned to consider these questions and to bring them into all your actions, you will have little difficulty in clarifying the means. The means are available whenever you ask. You can, however, save time if you do not protract this step unduly. The correct focus will shorten it immeasurably.

The Atonement is the only defence that cannot be used destructively because it is not a device you made. The Atonement principlewas in effect long before the Atonement began. The principle was love and the Atonement was an act of love. Acts were not necessary before the separation, because belief in space and time did not exist. It was only after the separation that the Atonement and the conditions necessary for its fulfilment were planned. Then a defence so splendid was needed that it could not be misused, although it could be refused. Refusal could not, however, turn it into a weapon of attack, which is the inherent characteristic of other defences. The Atonement thus becomes the only defence that is not a two-edged sword. It can only heal.

The Atonement was built into the space-time belief to set a limit on the need for the belief itself, and ultimately to make learning complete. The Atonement is the final lesson. Learning itself, like the classrooms in which it occurs, is temporary. The ability to learn has no value when change is no longer necessary. The eternally creative have nothing to learn. You can learn to improve your perceptions and can become a better and better learner. This will bring you into closer and closer accord with the Sonship; but the Sonship itself is a perfect creation and perfection is not a matter of degree. Only while there is a belief in differences is learning meaningful.

Evolution is a process in which you seem to proceed from one degree to the next. You correct your previous missteps by stepping forward. This process is actually incomprehensible in temporal terms, because you return as you go forward. The Atonement is the device by which you can free yourself from the past as you go ahead. It undoes your past errors, thus making it unnecessary for you to keep retracing your steps without advancing to your return. In this sense the Atonement saves time, but like the miracle it serves, does not abolish it. As long as there is need for Atonement, there is need for time. But the Atonement as a completed plan has a unique relationship to time. Until the Atonement is complete its various phases will proceed in time, but the whole Atonement stands at time’s end. At that point the bridge of return has been built.

The Atonement is a total commitment. You may still think this is associated with loss, a mistake all the separated Sons of God make in one way or another. It is hard to believe a defence that cannot attack is the best defence. This is what is meant by ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’. They will literally take it over because of their strength. A two-way defence is inherently weak precisely because it has two edges, and can be turned against you very unexpectedly. This possibility cannot be controlled except by miracles. The miracle turns the defence of Atonement to your real protection, and as you become more and more secure you assume your natural talent of protecting others, knowing yourself as both a brother and a Son.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 11

Lesson 11

My Meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

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

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

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

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

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What does A Course in Miracles mean by creation as a process?

A) Since creation is outside the temporal and spatial realms, it is not a process that can be understood by the human brain, conditioned by thoughts of time and space. Creation, as understood by A Course in Miracles, is synonymous with non-spatial extension, the “process” whereby God extends His Being and His Love in an ongoing outpouring of His Self. This is an outpouring, however, that never leaves His Mind and thus is never outside Him. Since God’s creation — Christ — shares in the attributes of its Creator, Christ likewise creates in the same process of extension.

As the Course explains:

To extend is a fundamental aspect of God which He gave to His Son. In the creation, God extended Himself to His creations and imbued them with the same loving Will to create (T-2.1.1:1-2).… if God created you by extending Himself as you, you can only extend yourself as He did.  Only joy increases forever, since joy and eternity are inseparable. God extends outward beyond limits and beyond time, and you who are co-creator with Him extend His Kingdom forever and beyond limit (T-7.1.5:2-4).

The Son’s creations (to be defined in the next question) remain within the One Mind of Christ, as Christ remains within the One Mind of God. Oneness naturally can only remain as One, as this passage from the workbook expresses:

God’s Thoughts [Christ] are given all the power that their own Creator has. For He would add to Love by its extension. Thus His Son shares in creation, and must therefore share in power to create. What God has willed to be forever One will still be One when time is over; and will not be changed throughout the course of time, remaining as it was before the thought of time began (W-pII.11.2).

Again, what is referred to below as the “circle of creation” cannot be understood in physical terms, or in what is labeled as creativity in the world. Here in this world, creator and creation are separate; in Heaven they are one — a state that is beyond our understanding. The following passages from the text make that clear:

The circle of creation has no end. Its starting and its ending are the same. But in itself it holds the universe of all creation, without beginning and without an end (T-28.11.1:6-8).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 (T-8.VI.6:1-7).

Forgiveness, which we can understand, is our function while believing we are here in the world, and is the process by which we learn to accept our Identity as Christ. It is this acceptance, again, which allows us finally to understand reality and what it means to be as God created us.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 5

ACIM Text Reading for February 5

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

VIII. The Meaning of the Last Judgement

One of the ways in which you can correct the magic-miracle confusion is to remember that you did not create yourself. You are apt to forget this when you become egocentric, and this puts you in a position where a belief in magic is virtually inevitable. Your will to create was given you by your Creator, Who was expressing the same Will in His Creation. Since creative ability rests in the mind, everything you create is necessarily a matter of will. It also follows that whatever you alone make is real in your own sight, though not in the Mind of God. This basic distinction leads directly into the real meaning of the Last Judgement.

The Last Judgement is one of the most threatening ideas in your thinking. This is because you do not understand it. Judgement is not an attribute of God. It was brought into being only after the separation, when it became one of the many learning devices to be built into the overall plan to. Just as the separation occurred over millions of years, the Last Judgement will extend over a similarly long period, and perhaps an even longer one. Its length, however, can be greatly shortened by miracles, the device for shortening but not abolishing time. If a sufficient number become truly miracle-minded, this shortening process can be virtually immeasurable. It is essential, however, that you free yourself from fear quickly, because you must emerge from the conflict if you are to bring peace to other minds.

The Last Judgement is generally thought of as a procedure undertaken by God. Actually it will be undertaken by my brothers with my help. It is a final healing rather than a meting out of punishment, however much you may think that punishment is deserved. Punishment is a concept totally opposed to right-mindedness, and the aim of the Last Judgement is to restore right-mindedness to you. The Last Judgement might be called a process of right evaluation. It simply means that everyone will finally come to understand what is worthy and what is not. After this, the ability to choose can be directed rationally. Until this distinction is made, however the vacillations between free and imprisoned will cannot but continue.

The first step toward freedom involves a sorting out of the false from the true. This is a process of separation in the constructive sense, and reflects the true meaning of the Apocalypse. Everyone will ultimately look upon his own creations and choose to preserve only what is good, just as God Himself looked upon what He had created and knew that it was good. At this point, the mind can begin to look with love on its own creations because of their worthiness. At the same time the mind will inevitably disown its miscreations which, without belief, will no longer exist.

The term ‘Last Judgement’ is frightening not only because it has been projected onto God, but also because of the association of ‘last’ with death. This is an outstanding example of upside-down perception. If the meaning of the Last Judgement is objectively examined, it is quite apparent that it is really the doorway to life. No one who lives in fear is really alive. Your own last judgement cannot be directed toward yourself, because you are not your own creation. You can, however, apply it meaningfully and at any time to everything you have made, and retain in your memory only what is creative and good. This is what your right-mindedness cannot but dictate. The purpose of time is solely to ‘give you time’ to achieve this judgement. It is your own perfect judgement of your own perfect creations. When everything you retain is loveable, there is no reason for fear to remain with you. This is your part in the Atonement.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 5

Lesson 21

I am determined to see things differently.

The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one. This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise. Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.

In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself. Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you. The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage. The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.

Try, therefore, not to let the “little” thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods. Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything. You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or persons than on others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more “obvious.” This is not so. It is merely an example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others.

As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:

I am determined to see ________ [name of person] differently.

I am determined to see ________ [specify the situation] differently.

Try to be as specific as possible. You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect. If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say:

I am determined to see ________ [specify the attribute] in
________ [name of person] differently.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #780A Course in Miracles is quite clear that the body is nothing, feels nothing, and that pain is a fabrication of the mind. Having said this I come back to my question. In answering Question #542, you wrote: “So it is even possible to break a leg and not only not become upset, but feel no pain, as over time our identification shifts from our body to our mind through practicing forgiveness.” And to Question #545: “What happened to Jesus’ body at the end of his earthly ‘life’ illustrates this principle. His body did not represent any thought of death or disease or pain in his mind, since his mind was free of guilt. He did not use his body to reinforce a belief in sin and victimization in his mind (T.6.I.5) — and so it remained incorruptible in his perception, despite how its form may have seemed to change.”

If I break my leg, I would feel extreme pain even though the Course says physically this is impossible, because there is no leg to break. Question #542 says that a shift from body to mind comes only through practicing forgiveness, which I understand means to forgive my brother for what he has not done. That is, nothing happened and no reaction is required.

History speaks of Jesus dying horribly upon a cross, which must mean that my mind did not accept his thoughts of himself but rather chose to destroy him for reasons that you have mentioned many times in this forum. Therein lies the frustration. Intellectually I understand what I do to him I do to myself, yet after many years of practice I remain deeply rooted in the world.

A: You’re being so hard on yourself! It can be helpful to understand the Course’s metaphysical principles and to know where in the end Jesus is leading us, but not if we use its explanations of what will be the final steps in our healing as a measuring stick against which to judge ourselves now, as it sounds as if you’re doing. The fact that Jesus knew he was not his body (T.6.I.4) in no way means that he expects us right now to accept and experience ourselves as anything other than bodies, as we begin to put his teachings on forgiveness into practice. He is not asking us to deny that the pain we seem to experience in our bodies feels very real to us, nor to deny what our brothers seem to do to us also seems to be very real and to have effects on us.

Jesus is only asking that we begin to question our interpretation of everything we experience and be open to an alternative explanation, which must come from outside our ego/body-based thought system. And to be able to begin to make the shift, we must first understand the purpose behind the interpretations we give to all of our experiences as bodies now. We want the pain to be experienced in our bodies and we want to see others as attacking us so that we can remain victims of forces outside of our control. And consequently, we remain unaware of the real cause of our pain — our decision to see ourselves as separate from love. But again, Jesus is not asking that we embrace his interpretation of our lives, but rather that we be willing to question the validity of ours. He offers his, not so that we try to force ourselves to look at situations in the same way he does, but just so that we can come to recognize that there may be a very reasonable alternative to our interpretation.

If I think my immediate goal is to see the body as nothing, pain as unreal, and my brother as doing nothing to me, I will find the Course a very frustrating and self-defeating process. And Jesus would be an unreasonable teacher if those were his expectations for me. But they are not. The Course is intended to be a very gentle process that begins by asking us to accept ourselves where we think we are. And it also is asking us to be willing to be honest with ourselves about what the outcome has been while we have continued to put ourselves in charge of our own happiness. For if we are honest, we will have to admit that we have not been doing a very good job. It is through recognition of our own failure to attain peace and happiness that we become willing to allow Jesus to be in charge of the thoughts in our mind. And that is all that forgiveness is really about — letting go of our own judgments and interpretations of the events and people in our lives so that Jesus can offer us an alternative interpretation that does not reinforce separation and guilt.

Over time, as part of a lifetime process of practicing forgiveness, we will have less and less of an investment in our own interpretation of what is happening to us and, in particular, who and what should be held responsible for our unhappiness. Increasingly, we will be willing to turn away from the belief in guilt in our mind and, as a result, will have less of a need to project guilt outside our mind onto others and onto our own body. Very gradually, as a secondary effect of the forgiveness process, although not our focus, we will find we are less identified with the body and its needs, and we will increasingly come to recognize that all pain comes from a thought in the mind and has nothing to do with the body. But this understanding is not where we begin, nor will it be our experience until we are well along our path of forgiveness.

By the way, most New Testament scholars agree that the accounts of Jesus’ death in the gospels were not written by eye witnesses to the events of his life. And so the narratives, to the degree that they were intended to portray actual happenings, most certainly were colored by the projections of the narrators, who believed in the reality of sin, guilt, pain, suffering and the body, as their theology clearly demonstrates. And to the degree that we accept the same theology of the ego, we too will believe that Jesus must have suffered in his crucifixion and that we are somehow responsible for it. The fact that he lives in our mind (T.11.VI.7:3,4) , unaccusing and completely accepting, suggests otherwise, and his words in the “The Message of the Crucifixion” (T.6.I) provide that alternative interpretation. And so, while you may believe that what you have done to Jesus you do to yourself, his message is that we have done nothing to him, and so therefore, over time, as we learn to forgive, we will come to realize that we have done nothing to ourselves.


Q #781Is it correct to say that since God is all there is, all else is a lie, illusion, hypnotism, a nothingness; and that error is never a person, but rather the person is a victim of the belief of good and evil? In other words, all error is coming from an impersonal source that uses us, and we unknowingly become its victim?

A: Absolutely “yes,” and absolutely “no.” Yes, God is, and nothing else is. There is only perfect Oneness, “nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within” (T.18.VI.1:6) . No, we are not the unknowing victims of an impersonal source of all error. A Course in Miracles teaches us that “we” are decision-making minds outside time and space that choose, erroneously, to believe that we have successfully separated from God. We are victims only of our own thoughts, fortunately, because we, then, are the ones who can change our minds about that decision and choose instead to accept the correction that is always in our minds. Ultimately, though, not even this occurred; if God alone is real, there could not even be a thought of separation.

Two helpful lessons on this topic are: Lesson 152 “The power of decision is my own” and Lesson 253 “My Self is ruler of the universe” (W.pI.152; W.pII.253) .

total commitment

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 4

ACIM Text Reading for February 4

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

VII. Cause and Effect

You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough. You may feel that at this point it would take a miracle to enable you to do this, which is perfectly true. You are not used to miracle-minded thinking, but you can be trained to think that way. All miracle workers need that kind of training.

I cannot let you leave your mind unguarded, or you will not be able to help me. Miracle working entails a full realisation of the power of thought in order to avoid miscreation. Otherwise a miracle will be necessary to set the mind itself straight, a circular process that would not foster the time collapse for which the miracle was intended. The miracle worker must have genuine respect for true cause and effect as a necessary condition for the miracle to occur.

Both miracles and fear come from thoughts. If you are not free to choose one, you would also not be free to choose the other. By choosing the miracle you have rejected fear, if only temporarily. You have been fearful of everyone and everything. You are afraid of God, of me and of yourself. You have misperceived or miscreated Us, and believe in what you have made. You would not have done this if you were not afraid of your own thoughts. The fearful must miscreate, because they misperceive creation. When you miscreate you are in pain. The cause and effect principle now becomes a real expediter, though only temporarily. Actually, ‘Cause’ is a term properly belonging to God, and His ‘Effect’ is His Son. This entails a set of Cause and Effect relationships totally different from those you introduce into miscreation. The fundamental conflict in this world, then, is between creation and miscreation. All fear is implicit in the second, and all love in the first. The conflict is therefore one between love and fear.

It has already been said that you believe you cannot control fear because you yourself made it, and your belief in it seems to render it out of your control. Yet any attempt to resolve the error through attempting the mastery of fear is useless. In fact, it asserts the power of fear by the very assumption that it need be mastered. The true resolution rests entirely on mastery through love. In the interim, however, the sense of conflict is inevitable, since you have placed yourself in a position where you believe in the power of what does not exist.

Nothing and everything cannot coexist. To believe in one is to deny the other. Fear is really nothing and love is everything. Whenever light enters darkness, the darkness is abolished. What you believe is true for you. In this sense the separation hasoccurred, and to deny it is merely to use denial inappropriately. However, to concentrate on error is only a further error. The initial corrective procedure is to recognise temporarily that there is a problem, but only as an indication that immediate correction is needed. This establishes a state of mind in which the Atonement can be accepted without delay. It should be emphasised, however, that ultimately no compromise is possible between everything and nothing. Time is essentially a device by which all compromise in this respect can be given up. It only seems to be abolished by degrees, because time itself involves intervals that do not exist. Miscreation made this necessary as a corrective device. The statement ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ needs only one slight correction to be meaningful in this context; ‘He gave it to His only begotten Son’.

It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its Oneness transcends the sum of its parts. However this is obscured as long as any of its parts is missing. That is why the conflict cannot ultimately be resolved until all the parts of the Sonship have returned. Only then can the meaning of wholeness in the true sense be understood. Any part of the Sonship can believe in error or incompleteness if he so chooses. However, if he does so, he is believing in the existence of nothingness. The correction of this error is the Atonement.

I have already briefly spoken about readiness, but some additional points might be helpful here. Readiness is only the prerequisite for accomplishment. The two should not be confused. As soon as a state of readiness occurs, there is usually some degree of desire to accomplish, but it is by no means necessarily undivided. The state does not imply more than a potential for a change of mind. Confidence cannot develop fully until mastery has been accomplished. We have already attempted to correct the fundamental error that fear can be mastered, and have emphasised that the only real mastery is through love. Readiness is only be beginning of confidence. You may think this implies that an enormous amount of time is necessary between readiness and mastery, but let me remind you that time and space are under my control.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 4

Lesson 20

I am determined to see.

We have been quite casual about our practice periods thus far. There has been virtually no attempt to direct the time for undertaking them, minimal effort has been required, and not even active cooperation and interest have been asked. This approach has been intentional, and very carefully planned. We have not lost sight of the crucial importance of the reversal of your thinking. The salvation of the world depends on it. Yet you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced, and if you give in to resentment and opposition.

This is our first attempt to introduce structure. Do not misconstrue it as an effort to exert force or pressure. You want salvation. You want to be happy. You want peace. You do not have them now, because your mind is totally undisciplined, and you cannot distinguish between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear. You are now learning how to tell them apart. And great indeed will be your reward.

Your decision to see is all that vision requires. What you want is yours. Do not mistake the little effort that is asked of you for an indication that our goal is of little worth. Can the salvation of the world be a trivial purpose? And can the world be saved if you are not? God has one Son, and he is the resurrection and the life. His will is done because all power is given him in Heaven and on earth. In your determination to see is vision given you.

The exercises for today consist in reminding yourself throughout the day that you want to see. Today’s idea also tacitly implies the recognition that you do not see now. Therefore, as you repeat the idea, you are stating that you are determined to change your present state for a better one, and one you really want.

Repeat today’s idea slowly and positively at least twice an hour today, attempting to do so every half hour. Do not be distressed if you forget to do so, but make a real effort to remember. The extra repetitions should be applied to any situation, person or event that upsets you. You can see them differently, and you will. What you desire you will see. Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #583: Re: T.2.VII.5:14 — “The statement ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life’ needs only slight correction to be meaningful in this context; ‘He gave it to His only begotten Son.’” I do not understand how God loved the world and gave it to His only begotten Son if, as A Course in Miracles teaches, God does not know about the world.

A: Taken by itself, this is a puzzling passage. It is important to note, however, that it is being discussed in a specific context: Jesus is talking about the temporary need for corrective procedures in order to restore to our minds the awareness that “fear is nothing and love is everything” and that “God has only one Son”; no compromise in this is possible (T.2.VII.5:3; 6:1). Therefore “world” in this reference is the real world, the state of mind reflecting the transcendence of the ego, the healing of all belief in separation. Jesus refers to this passage again in Chapter 12, where he states explicitly that he means the real world(T.12.III.8). In this larger context, thus, Jesus is saying that the Atonement principle, the correction for our belief in fear and separation, is already in our minds. “He gave it to His only begotten Son” is a metaphorical expression of the Atonement principle. So Jesus is assuring us that we will not perish because of our perceived attack on God. We are already saved from this insane way of thinking about ourselves and God, and need but choose the correction already in our minds — this is the “world” God gave “to His only begotten Son.”That is the content behind the words.

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Q #1012In 1985 I had an extraordinary experience of oneness with God. I have never considered myself a religious person and never understood why people were religious. I came away from this experience believing to my very core in things that I didn’t really understand, i.e., there is no sin, God is mind, do not judge, we are all one, etc. The experience was one of profound remembering where I belonged, and it surely wasn’t here on earth. My path since then has been convoluted. After attempting to adapt my personal “knowledge” to other religions, I read and attempted to practice A Course in Miracles , but soon gave it up to turn to other things. I have recently had a renewed interest in the Course, but have many questions about my own personal experience and no one to talk to about it. Is this type of experience a common occurrence?

A: There is no way of our knowing how many people have had such an experience. Not more than a few have mentioned something like this to us. There certainly could be many others who have experienced their oneness with God and now live quietly in peace with love being the sole source of their thoughts and activities. They would not have a need to talk about their lives, although they could be guided by love to do so. Jesus talks about the experience of union with God in the section in the manual called “Can God Be Reached Directly?” (M.26) . You might find it helpful to read that, and also the earlier one entitled “How Should the Teacher of God Spend His Day?” (M.16) .

The focus of A Course in Miracles is on forgiveness, not God, even though He is mentioned on just about every page. The Course is about our daily practice of its lessons, rather than on experiencing oneness with God. It is nice when one has such an experience, as that provides a glimpse of the end of the process. But reflecting that oneness in the relationships of our lives is the immediate objective of the Course’s teachings. We do that by first recognizing our wrong-minded dedication to seeing our interests as separate from others’, and then asking for help to shift that perception to shared interests, whereby we realize that we are all — without exception — joined both in the pain of separation from God, and in our common call for help to awaken from that nightmare. Then, when “not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ” (T.31.VIII.12:5) , our minds will rest in the peace and stillness of Perfect Oneness.

hostage or host


A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 31

ACIM Text Reading for January 31

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

IV. Healing as Release from Fear

Our emphasis is now on healing. The miracle is the means, the Atonement is the principle, and healing is the result. To speak of ‘a miracle of healing’ is to combine two orders of reality inappropriately. Healing is not a miracle. The Atonement, or the final miracle, is a remedy and any type of healing is a result. The kind of error to which Atonement is applied is irrelevant. All healing is essentially the release from fear. To undertake this you cannot be fearful yourself. You do not understand healing because of your own fear.

A major step in the Atonement plan is to undo error at all levels. Sickness or ‘not-right-mindedness’ is the result of level confusion, because it always entails the belief that what is amiss on one level can adversely affect another. We have referred to miracles as the means of correcting level confusion, for all mistakes must be corrected at the level on which they occur. Only the mind is capable of error. The body can act wrongly only when it is responding to misthought. The body cannot create, and the belief that it can, a fundamental error, produces all physical symptoms. Physical illness represents a belief in magic. The whole distortion that made magic rests on the belief that there is a creative ability in matter which the mind cannot control. This error can take two forms; it can be believed that the mind can miscreate in the body, or that the body can miscreate in the mind. When it is understood that the mind, the only level of creation, cannot create beyond itself, neither type of confusion need occur.

Only the mind can create because spirit has already been created, and the body is a learning device of the mind. Learning devices are not lessons in themselves. Their purpose is merely to facilitate learning. The worst a faulty use of a learning device can do is to fail to facilitate learning. It has no power in itself to introduce actual learning errors. The body, if properly understood, shares the invulnerability of the Atonement to two-edged application. This is not because the body is a miracle, but because it is not inherently open to misinterpretation. The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world. Its abilities can be and frequently are over-evaluated. However, it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial. The term ‘unworthy’ here implies only that it is not necessary to protect the mind by denying the unmindful. If one denies this unfortunate aspect of the mind’s power, one is also denying the power itself.

All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles. This is the first step in believing that the body makes its own illness. It is a second misstep to heal it through non-creative agents. It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents for corrective purposes is evil. Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement. In this case it may be wise to utilise a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief. This is because the last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear. They are already in a fear-weakened state. If they are prematurely exposed to a miracle, they may be precipitated into panic. This is likely to occur when upside-down perception has induced the belief that miracles are frightening.

The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 31

Lesson 15

My thoughts are images that I have made.

It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them. This is how your “seeing” was made. This is the function you have given your body’s eyes. It is not seeing. It is image making. It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.

This introductory idea to the process of image making that you call seeing will not have much meaning for you. You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.

As we go along, you may have many “light episodes.” They may take many different forms, some of them quite unexpected. Do not be afraid of them. They are signs that you are opening your eyes at last. They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge. These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you. But they will prepare the way to it.

In practicing the idea for today, repeat it first to yourself, and then apply it to whatever you see around you, using its name and letting your eyes rest on it as you say:

This ___ is an image that I have made.
That ___ is an image that I have made.

It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today’s idea. It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself. The idea should be repeated quite slowly each time.

Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible. Less than a minute will do for the practice periods, if you begin to feel uneasy. Do not have more than three application periods for today’s idea unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and do not exceed four. However, the idea can be applied as needed throughout the day.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #248: I am studying the section “Healing as Release from Fear” in the text of A Course in Miracles. Can you please help me understand what is meant when Jesus says that “the mind, the only level of creation, cannot create beyond itself” (T.2.IV.2:10). I am unclear about the meaning of “cannot create beyond itself.”

A: In the context of the discussion in this section, the meaning of the passage is that the Christ Mind was created by God and that Mind cannot create something totally different from itself, such as a body. There can be ideas or thoughts in the mind, but they never leave their source in the mind to become something else. The point Jesus is making is that a great deal of our confusion would clear up if we understood that the body and the mind are not two separate entities, and that the body is only an idea in the mind; it has no autonomous capabilities and therefore cannot be sick.

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Q #218: The discussion of light episodes in Lesson 15 seems anomalous in that it is virtually the only time in which A Course in Miracles uses a physical phenomenon to measure spiritual progress. (The other examples, such as Lesson 122 2:3 and Lesson 155.1:3, are obviously meant to be poetic.) In fact, people I know, including myself, who feel they have made great progress with the Course do not recall such experiences. Is it possible that this was a result of Helen’s ego coming through temporarily during early resistance to the scribing process?

A: The reference in Lesson 15 pertains to a problem with some religious experiences that a friend of Bill Thetford’s was having. It was put in by Jesus specifically to alleviate this friend’s anxiety about visions of light that he was finding quite frightening; thus, “Do not be afraid of them” (W.pI.15.3:3). (See Absence from Felicity, p. 306, under “Bill’s Journal.”)

Although the reference suggests that all students may have these “light episodes,” it was not meant to be a criterion of progress with the Course. It can be understood as a symbol of the non- material light of forgiveness.

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Q #339: There are two quotations (among many) in the workbook of A Course in Miracles which have puzzled me for a very long time. I would appreciate some clarification. (1) “You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision…..As we go along, you may have many ‘light episodes'” (W.pI.15.2:2;3:1). I have been doing this material for years and know a great many people who have also, and no one I know has had such an experience, although I have had some wondrous experiences. (2) “The time will come when you will not return in the same form in which you now appear, for you will have no need of it.” W.pI.157.7:3. I assume this means when we leave the body, but in what form will we reappear?

A: (1) This passage has been troubling to many students. It seems to suggest that a mark of spiritual progress is seeing edges of light around objects, such as auras. If this were the literal meaning, it would go against everything else the Course teaches. Jesus, as we know, stresses that all perception is unreal. In the text he says that however holy visions may be, they do not last because they are based on perception (T.3.III.4:6)Light is a symbol; it is not a perceptual thing. Perceiving light outside you symbolizes the release of some of the darkness in your mind and allowing more of the light to come through. When the Course talks about the light in us, it is not talking about an electric light bulb, an aura, or anything that we actually perceive. Light traditionally has been a symbol used in spirituality to denote God, life, truth, etc. So A Course in Miracles uses that same imagery. Darkness refers to the darkness of guilt and of being separate from God; light refers to the undoing all of that, along with feeling God’s Presence and His love.

This passage originally had nothing to do with the Course itself. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford had a close friend who worked with them at the Medical Center — he was the only person they shared the Course with right from the beginning. From time to time he would wake up in the middle of the night and feel and see light all around him. He was terrified by these episodes. So this was Jesus’ way of telling him that everything was all right when he had those light episodes. (See Absence from Felicity, p. 304.) That is why this passage appears. Kenneth has felt that there should have been a footnote or some explanation to that effect. In any case, it should not be taken to mean that if you don’t see light that you are a spiritual failure. It can be taken to mean rather that when you forgive more, there will be more “light” in your mind, which means that that light will be extended. Then you will perceive the world as a “lightened” place, in the sense that the burden of guilt will no longer be upon it. Some people actually perceive light physically. But that should be understood only as a symbol — one of many, many symbols — of the process of healing within their own minds.

(2) Similarly, the passage in Lesson 157 was originally meant for Helen Schucman herself. Kenneth comments in Absence from Felicity: “On a number of occasions Helen mentioned to me that Jesus told her that the ‘next time you come you would be different,’ reminiscent of the lines in Lesson 157…Incidentally, this was one of Helen’s favorite lessons. Her understanding of these lines, even though the subject of reincarnation usually made her very uncomfortable, was that the next time she ‘came’ — her next life — she would be ego-free, as was the priestess of her vision” (p. 476).

So this passage can be understood to mean that when the purpose of forgiveness is fulfilled, we shall have no further need of the body as a classroom. We shall have remembered who we are as God’s one Son as we enter into the real world. When we next appear in the body, we would obviously be different because the thought in our minds would be different. The body would not be our classroom but solely a means through which the Holy Spirit can communicate His message of healing and forgiveness. Jesus speaks of “Teachers of teachers” in this manner: “…although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon. And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so” (M.26.2:2,3).

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Q #1227I have a question about lights. I have been doing the Course for a very short time (about seven months), and I am already seeing light shows in my meditative states. I never experienced this before and I’m a little nervous. Although I do feel very peaceful, I’m still ready to run to the eye doctor to check and see if I have glaucoma or something! I still haven’t seen light around the edges of things or anything really in the world of form, but when I lay down it’s showtime! My question really is this: Isn’t it too soon for me to be seeing this stuff? It’s a little scary sometimes and I don’t know if it is real or somehow just a figment of my imagination. Why after just beginning A Course in Miracles would I have these episodes when others have been faithfully doing the course for years and don’t seem to have these experiences?

A: Like everything else in the world of perception, once we have made it real in our minds, the lights you are seeing are in themselves neutral. And what determines their value is the interpretation you give them, which depends only on to which teacher you turn to give them their meaning.

Turn to the ego and you will see them as evidence of your specialness, an interpretation you’ve already been in touch with when you believe they somehow make you different from, possibly even better than, other students who have been studying the Course much longer. By the way, although the wording of Lesson 15 may seem to suggest that experiences of light will be an outcome of practicing the Course’s principles, you may find that the discussions of these kinds of phenomena, presented in Questions #218 and #339, can provide some helpful clarification. And so whether one experiences light episodes earlier or later in one’s work with the Course, or not at all, in the end is irrelevant to the Course’s genuine purpose, which is to teach us how to undo our investment in the ego and its thought system of separation and differences, through the practice of forgiveness — the releasing of all of our judgments.

Turn to the Holy Spirit in your right mind, and your light experiences can become symbols that remind you that all perception is ultimately illusory — and that may be at least in part what you are finding so frightening about your experience — for the seeming external world of our perception is no more nor less a figment of your imagination than the flashes of light and flaming sparks you are seeing during your meditations with the workbook lessons. The light can also symbolize the little willingness needed to shine away the darkness of the ego’s thought system of sin and guilt by looking directly at it and seeing through it e.g., T.11.in.3) . And, when seen through the vision of the Holy Spirit, it can also be a symbol of the formless light and love that is our reality as God’s Son, an extension of His perfect Love e.g., T.12.VI.7:2,3) .

Perhaps the most important thing you may wish to keep in mind about your experiences is that nothing of the world of perception is of any value in itself. If the experiences should continue for any time, simply enjoy them without making them a big deal. And if they should cease, nothing of value will have been lost.

teach not that i died in vain