A Course in Miracles Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 2

ACIM Reading for November 2

Manual for Teachers

12. HOW MANY TEACHERS OF GOD ARE NEEDED TO SAVE THE WORLD?

The answer to this question is—one. One wholly perfect teacher, whose learning is complete, suffices. This one, sanctified and redeemed, becomes the Self Who is the Son of God. He who was always wholly spirit now no longer sees himself as a body, or even as in a body. Therefore he is limitless. And being limitless, his thoughts are joined with God’s forever and ever. His perception of himself is based upon God’s judgement, not his own. Thus does he share God’s Will, and bring his thoughts to still deluded minds. He is forever one, because he is as God created him. He has accepted Christ; and he is saved.

Thus does the son of man become the Son of God. It is not really a change; it is a change of mind. Nothing external alters, but everything internal now reflects only the Love of God. God can no longer be feared, for the mind sees no cause for punishment. God’s teachers appear to be many, for that is what is the world’s need. Yet being joined in one purpose, and one they share with God, how could they be separate from each other? What does it matter if they then appear in many forms? Their minds are one; their joining is complete. And God works through them now as one, for that is what they are.

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

Yet what makes God’s teachers is their recognition of the proper purpose of the body. As they advance in their profession, they become more and more certain that the body’s function is but to let God’s Voice speak through it to human ears. And these ears will carry to the mind of the hearer messages that are not of this world, and the mind will understand because of their Source. From this understanding will come the recognition, in this new teacher of God, of what the body’s purpose really is; the only use there really is for it. This lesson is enough to let the thought of unity come in, and what is one is recognised as one. The teachers of God appear to share the illusion of separation, but because of what they use the body for, they do not believe in the illusion despite appearances.

The central lesson is always this; that what you use the body for it will become to you. Use it for sin or for attack, which is the same as sin, and you will see it as sinful. Because it is sinful it is weak, and being weak, it suffers and it dies. Use it to bring the Word of God to those who have it not, and the body becomes holy. Because it is holy it cannot be sick, nor can it die. When its usefulness is done it is laid by, and that is all. The mind makes this decision, as it makes all decisions that are responsible for the body’s condition. Yet the teacher of God does not make this decision alone. To do that would be to give the body another purpose from the one that keeps it holy. God’s Voice will tell him when he has fulfilled his role, just as It tells him what his function is. He does not suffer either in going or remaining. Sickness is now impossible to him.

Oneness and sickness cannot coexist. God’s teachers choose to look on dreams a while. It is a conscious choice. For they have learned that all choices are made consciously, with full awareness of their consequences. The dream says otherwise, but who would put his faith in dreams once they are recognised for what they are? Awareness of dreaming is the real function of God’s teachers. They watch the dream figures come and go, shift and change, suffer and die. Yet they are not deceived by what they see. They recognise that to behold a dream figure as sick and separate is no more real than to regard it as healthy and beautiful. Unity alone is not a thing of dreams. And it is this God’s teachers acknowledge as behind the dream, beyond all seeming and yet surely theirs.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 2

Lesson 273

The stillness of the peace of God is mine.

Perhaps we are now ready for a day of undisturbed tranquility. If this is not yet feasible, we are content and even more than satisfied to learn how such a day can be achieved. If we give way to a disturbance, let us learn how to dismiss it and return to peace. We need but tell our minds, with certainty, “The stillness of the peace of God is mine,” and nothing can intrude upon the peace that God Himself has given to His Son.

Father, Your peace is mine. What need have I to fear that anything can rob me of what You would have me keep? I cannot lose Your gifts to me. And so the peace You gave Your Son is with me still, in quietness and in my own eternal love for You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

certain as god

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 29

ACIM Text Reading for September 29

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

IV. The Real Alternative

There is a tendency to think the world can offer consolation and escape from problems that its purpose is to keep. Why should this be? Because it is a place where choice among illusions seems to be the only choice. And you are in control of outcomes of your choosing. Thus you think, within the narrow band from birth to death, a little time is given you to use for you alone; a time when everyone conflicts with you, but you can choose which road will lead you out of conflict, and away from difficulties that concern you not. Yet they are your concern. How, then, can you escape from them by leaving them behind? What must go with you, you will take with you whatever road you choose to walk along.

Real choice is no illusion. But the world has none to offer. All its roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death. There is no choice in its alternatives. Seek not escape from problems here. The world was made that problems could not be escaped. Be not deceived by all the different names its roads are given. They have but one end. And each is but the means to gain that end, for it is here that all its roads will lead, however differently they seem to start; however differently they seem to go. Their end is certain, for there is no choice among them. All of them will lead to death. On some you travel gaily for a while, before the bleakness enters. And on some the thorns are felt at once. The choice is not what will the ending be, but when it comes.

There is no choice where every end is sure. Perhaps you would prefer to try them all, before you really learn they are but one. The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when everyone begins to see how like they are to one another. Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope. And yet this was the time they could have learned their greatest lesson. All must reach this point, and go beyond it. It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself. The lesson has a purpose, and in this you come to understand what it is for.

Why would you seek to try another road, another person or another place, when you have learned the way the lesson starts, but do not yet perceive what it is for? Its purpose is the answer to the search that all must undertake who still believe there is another answer to be found. Learn now, without despair, there is no hope of answer in the world. But do not judge the lesson that is but begun with this. Seek not another signpost in the world that seems to point to still another road. No longer look for hope where there is none. Make fast your learning now, and understand you but waste time unless you go beyond what you have learned to what is yet to learn. For from this lowest point will learning lead to heights of happiness, in which you see the purpose of the lesson shining clear, and perfectly within your learning grasp.

Who would be willing to be turned away from all the roadways of the world, unless he understood their real futility? Is it not needful that he should begin with this, to seek another way instead? For while he sees a choice where there is none, what power of decision can he use? The great release of power must begin with learning where it really has a use. And what decision has power if it be applied in situations without choice?

The learning that the world can offer but one choice, no matter what its form may be, is the beginning of acceptance that there is a real alternative instead. To fight against this step is to defeat your purpose here. You did not come to learn to find a road the world does not contain. The search for different pathways in the world is but the search for different forms of truth. And this would keep the truth from being reached.

Think not that happiness is ever found by following a road away from it. This makes no sense, and cannot be the way. To you who seem to find this course to be too difficult to learn, let me repeat that to achieve a goal you must proceed in its direction, not away from it. And every road that leads the other way will not advance the purpose to be found. If this be difficult to understand, then is this course impossible to learn. But only then. For otherwise, it is a simple teaching in the obvious.

There is a choice that you have power to make when you have seen the real alternatives. Until that point is reached you have no choice, and you can but decide how you would choose the better to deceive yourself again. This course attempts to teach no more than that the power of decision cannot lie in choosing different forms of what is still the same illusion and the same mistake. All choices in the world depend on this; you choose between your brother and yourself, and you will gain as much as he will lose, and what you lose is what is given him. How utterly opposed to truth is this, when all the lesson’s purpose is to teach that what your brother loses you have lost, and what he gains is what is given you.

He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love. No pathway in the world can lead to Him, nor any worldly goal be one with His. What road in all the world will lead within, when every road was made to separate the journey from the purpose it must have unless it be but futile wandering? All roads that lead away from what you are will lead you to confusion and despair. Yet has He never left His Thoughts to die, without their Source forever in themselves.

He has not left His Thoughts! He could no more depart from them than they could keep Him out. In unity with Him do they abide, and in Their Oneness Both are kept complete. There is no road that leads away from Him. A journey from yourself does not exist. How foolish and insane it is to think that there could be a road with such an aim! Where could it go? And how could you be made to travel on it, walking there without your own reality at one with you?

Forgive yourself your madness, and forget all senseless journeys and all goal-less aims. They have no meaning. You can not escape from what you are. For God is merciful, and did not let His Son abandon Him. For what He is be thankful, for in that is your escape from madness and from death. Nowhere but where He is can you be found. There is no path that does not lead to Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 29

Lesson 273

The stillness of the peace of God is mine.

Perhaps we are now ready for a day of undisturbed tranquility. If this is not yet feasible, we are content and even more than satisfied to learn how such a day can be achieved. If we give way to a disturbance, let us learn how to dismiss it and return to peace. We need but tell our minds, with certainty, “The stillness of the peace of God is mine,” and nothing can intrude upon the peace that God Himself has given to His Son.

Father, Your peace is mine. What need have I to fear that anything can rob me of what You would have me keep? I cannot lose Your gifts to me. And so the peace You gave Your Son is with me still, in quietness and in my own eternal love for You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1151(i): (The following two questions were posed by the same person.) Could you please explain the meaning of the following passage from A Course in Miracles : “He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love” (T.31.lV.9:1,2).

A: “His Thoughts” refers to the extension of God, which is Christ, His Son — the capital indicates that it refers to Christ. Jesus is using the plural form because of the context of his message in this section. The content of the statement is that Love is perfect Oneness that can never be divided or changed in any way. Contrary to what the ego says of God, Jesus is reminding us that Love never abandons. God leaving His Son is an absolute impossibility. But the Son can believe he has left his Source, even though, in truth, that is an impossibility as well. That is the Atonement principle running throughout the Course: the separation from God never truly happened.


Q #1151(ii): Also, what would be the formula for seeing a brother you disliked in the past, but now with spiritual vision instead of judgment? What thoughts/prayers are best to use while with my brothers/sisters in order to let go of judgment?

A: There is no formula as such in the Course, but in many ways seeing your brother as sinless is what the whole Course is about, for when you see the face of Christ in your brother, you then remember God. There are two important parts to the process that leads to this vision of sinless­ness: recognizing the purpose judgment serves and the cost judging. Judgment is the life-blood of the ego; it keeps the belief in differences alive, and the belief in differences keeps separation real. Thus, we judge because we want to remain separate but not be held responsible for that choice. Locating our problems and lack of peace in what others to do us, thereby judging them as sinful and guilty, effectively hides the choice we are upholding in our minds.

Therefore, what we need to do, as Jesus teaches in many different ways, is to look with him at our need to judge, and to learn that the price we are willing to pay to continue to judge is the loss of our own peace. Jesus thus appeals to us: “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment. When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them” (T.3.VI.3:1,2,3). Judging costs us dearly! We lose our peace and all sense of the identity we share with each other. In return we get to be right (at least some of the time), and we keep our special individuality. Is it worth it? We need only look at this, and not force ourselves to stop judging when it is still so meaningful to us. Eventually we will let ourselves feel the pain of continued judgment, and then we will be less willing to pay the price, especially when we also realize that it is not a sacrifice to give up judgment, in view of the fact that we are incapable of judging in the first place see M.10.2).

Lesson 335, “I choose to see my brother’s sinlessness” (W.pII.335), might be helpful in keep­ing these teachings present in your mind. Remember, though, you never want to fight against your need to judge others (or yourself). That will only force you into denial and then your progress will be halted. It is far more helpful to be honest about not wanting to see your brother sinless, and then not condemn yourself for that, yet remind yourself that there’s a price to be paid for such resistance. Gentleness and patience are essential.

In summary: “Your function here on earth is only to forgive him [your brother] , that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him” (W.pI.192.10:6,7,8,9).

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 1

ACIM Text Reading for October 1

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VII. The Savior’s Vision

Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful, nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognize. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation’s task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world’s concepts are the guilty “bad”; the “good” are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the “good” to pardon him the “bad.” Nor does he trust the “good” in anyone, believing that the “bad” must lurk behind. This concept emphasizes treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the “bad” in you.

You could not recognize your “evil” thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another “crime.” You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed. Your “evil” thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer do you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you give your trust to what is good in him, you give it to the good in you.

In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the “baser” part of you, and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself, when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid that God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.

You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself, which can be interchanged but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself, because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you. For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.

Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him, that you may not be frightened by your “evil” thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself that now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand, that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one that brings the peace of God.

The concept of yourself that now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed, unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace, that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world, instead of as salvation’s enemy?

The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images, because you look on them as through a barrier that dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness, and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release; the sight, the vision and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you, and the universe with them.

Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a savior to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself, and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon, to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ, and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this one. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.

The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error; that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself that holds him off from you, and you away from him. The sword of judgment is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is, and thus what you must be.

What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable, and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a savior to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial savior would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given you to save are but everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are; all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet; the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.

Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the savior of the Son of God? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within, and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon, that he may be what they expect of him. This is the savior’s vision; that he see his innocence in all he looks upon, and see his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.

Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not. And from that wish a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you. For seeing can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see, or keep yourself apart and separate.

The savior’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgment made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognizing this, it merely asks, “What is the meaning of what I behold?” Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.

Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear. This is temptation; nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.

Let not the world’s light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the savior’s vision is withheld and what they see is death. Their savior stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes, and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, “Release My Son!” be tempted not to listen, when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 1

Lesson 273

The stillness of the peace of God is mine.

Perhaps we are now ready for a day of undisturbed tranquility. If this is not yet feasible, we are content and even more than satisfied to learn how such a day can be achieved. If we give way to a disturbance, let us learn how to dismiss it and return to peace. We need but tell our minds, with certainty, “The stillness of the peace of God is mine,” and nothing can intrude upon the peace that God Himself has given to His Son.

Father, Your peace is mine. What need have I to fear that anything can rob me of what You would have me keep? I cannot lose Your gifts to me. And so the peace You gave Your Son is with me still, in quietness and in my own eternal love for You.

***
ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #34: From what I understand, anyone who reaches or experiences the state of the real world would not need or do anything external. Still, is it possible to “create” something artistic in this world (like a piece of music, a poem, etc.) out of pure need to share the state of happiness?

A: Being in the real world means that you know that you are not a body and that the physical world is not real. You know that your identity — as well as everyone else’s — has nothing to do with either the body or the world. It is a state of mind in which the ego thought system is no longer present and therefore there is no decision-making aspect, because there no longer are two thought systems to choose between. The content of the mind is purely the Holy Spirit’s thought system of love.

Consequently, in this state of mind there would be no I that would experience a need to do something. It is not that your body would not do anything, but that “you” would not be the agent of the “doing.” The Holy Spirit’s love would flow through you, and so your experience would be that “you” are not doing anything. Remember, our journey into “the far country” has been a journey away from the state of oneness and into a state of physical individuality. Therefore our journey back is a journey toward selflessness, characterized by our re-acceptance of the truth that God’s Son is one and invulnerable. Just before the dream of separation disappears totally, we would reach the state of knowing once and for all that bodies and the world are totally unreal. They are nothing other than the dreams of a mind that has fallen asleep, and therefore nothing happening in the dreams truly matters. It matters only to the figures in the dream. But a healed mind would know that even the dream itself never really happened.

If that is your state of mind, how then could there be any need to be creative? The love of the Holy Spirit would extend through you to those who still think they are separate from that love, and in some way are calling out for it. But you would not direct that process. There no longer is that kind of a “you.” If the artist’s experience is “I am profoundly happy. I want others who are not happy to share what I am experiencing,” chances are that that is coming from the ego, because there is separation in the perception. If you experience a need to share love, you are making the error real. If the artistic impulse is coming from the Holy Spirit or from Jesus, there would be no sense of urgency, and the artist would not experience himself or herself as the agent of the work produced, nor would there be any concern over whether and how it is received. Love naturally extends of itself, and that extension of love might be expressed through art in some form, but that is far different from “creating,” as you stated, “something artistic in this world…out of pure need to share the state of happiness.” That could well be the ego sneaking in the back door to retrieve part of its self-importance that was starting to slip away.


kingdom of god

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson & Miracle Principle for September 30

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for September 30

4. What Are the Characteristics of God’s Teachers

I. Trust

This is the foundation on which their ability to fulfil their function rests. Perception is the result of learning. In fact, perception is learning, because cause and effect are never separated. The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by a power that is in them but not of them. It is this power that keeps all things safe. It is through this power that the teachers of God look on a forgiven world.

When this Power has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one’s own petty strength again. Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him? And who would place his faith in the shabby offerings of the ego when the gifts of God are laid before him? What is it that induces them to make the shift?

A. Development of Trust

First, they must go through what might be called “a period of undoing”. This need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognised. How can lack of value be perceived unless the perceiver is in a position where he must see things in a different light? He is not yet at a point at which he can make the shift entirely internally. And so the plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external circumstances. These changes are always helpful. When the teacher of God has learned that much, he goes on to the second stage.

Next, the teacher of God must go through “a period of sorting out”. This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it. He will find that many, if not most of the things he valued before will merely hinder his ability to transfer what he has learned to new situations as they arise. Because he has valued what is really valueless, he will not generalise the lesson for fear of loss and sacrifice. It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful. It is only to the extent to which they are helpful that any degree of reality should be accorded them in this world of illusion. The word “value” can apply to nothing else.

The third stage through which the teacher of God must go can be called “a period of relinquishment”. If this is interpreted as giving up the desirable, it will engender enormous conflict. Few teachers of God escape this distress entirely. There is, however, no point in sorting out the valuable from the valueless unless the next obvious step is taken. Therefore, the period of overlap is apt to be one in which the teacher of God feels called upon to sacrifice his own best interests on behalf of truth. He has not realised as yet how wholly impossible such a demand would be. He can learn this only as he actually does give up the valueless. Through this, he learns that where he anticipated grief, he finds a happy light-heartedness instead; where he thought something was asked of him, he finds a gift bestowed on him.

Now comes “a period of settling down”. This is a quiet time, in which the teacher of God rests a while in reasonable peace. Now he consolidates his learning. Now he begins to see the transfer value of what he has learned. Its potential is literally staggering, and the teacher of God is now at the point in his progress at which he sees in it his whole way out. “Give up what you do not want, and keep what you do”. How simple is the obvious! And how easy to do! The teacher of God needs this period of respite. He has not yet come as far as he thinks. Yet when he is ready to go on, he goes with mighty companions beside him. Now he rests a while, and gathers them before going on. He will not go on from here alone.

The next stage is indeed “a period of unsettling”. Now must the teacher of God understand that he did not really know what was valuable and what was valueless. All that he really learned so far was that he did not want the valueless, and that he did want the valuable. Yet his own sorting out was meaningless in teaching him the difference. The idea of sacrifice, so central to his own thought system, had made it impossible for him to judge. He thought he learned willingness, but now he sees that he does not know what the willingness is for. And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible to reach for a long, long time. He must learn to lay all judgement aside, and ask only what he really wants in every circumstance. Were not each step in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed!

And finally, there is “a period of achievement”. It is here that learning is consolidated. Now what was seen as merely shadows before become solid gains, to be counted on in all “emergencies” as well as tranquil times. Indeed, the tranquillity is their result; the outcome of honest learning, consistency of thought and full transfer. This is the stage of real peace, for here is Heaven’s state fully reflected. From here, the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here. Who would “go” anywhere, if peace of mind is already complete? And who would seek to change tranquillity for something more desirable? What could be more desirable than this?

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 30

Lesson 273
The stillness of the peace of God is mine.

Perhaps we are now ready for a day of undisturbed tranquility. If this is not yet feasible, we are content and even more than satisfied to learn how such a day can be achieved. If we give way to a disturbance, let us learn how to dismiss it and return to peace. We need but tell our minds, with certainty, “The stillness of the peace of God is mine,” and nothing can intrude upon the peace that God Himself has given to His Son.

Father, Your peace is mine. What need have I to fear that anything can rob me of what You would have me keep? I cannot lose Your gifts to me. And so the peace You gave Your Son is with me still, in quietness and in my own eternal love for You.

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Miracle Principle for September 30

The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick

Principle 37

A miracle is a correction introduced into false thinking by me.
It acts as a catalyst, breaking up erroneous perception and reorganizing it properly.
This places you under the Atonement principle, where perception is healed.
Until this has occurred, knowledge of the Divine Order is impossible.

“Erroneous perception” is perceiving a problem in the world, external to us. The miracle reorganizes perception because it shifts perception back to where the problem really is, in our minds. Jesus is the one who introduces the miracle. Our job is merely to choose to want him to, to ask his help to see the situation the way he does. This is true perception. Jesus takes the false perceptions we have made real — sickness, conflict, war, etc.– and turns them around so that we see everything the same way: everyone, including ourselves, is calling for help. The Atonement principle is then chosen, which can be restated as the denial of the reality of the separation and guilt.

Another technical term used consistently throughout A Course in Miracles is “knowledge.” As the Course uses it, it is synonymous with Heaven. The counterpart to knowledge, or the opposite to knowledge, is perception, and almost always you will see those two terms juxtaposed. Knowledge transcends the subject-object dichotomy, which is inherent in perception. Even “holy visions” (such as those many mystics report) are perceptual and, therefore, do not last.

Knowledge is of spirit, of God, and cannot be attained in this world. In fact, the Course says very clearly that knowledge is not the goal of this Course; peace is (text, p. 128; T-8.I.1:1-2). Here it is talking about the peace that comes within this world when you look on all people as being joined with you. There is no guilt and no attack.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #655: I have discovered that my form of attacking the Sonship is overeating. I felt that I was ready through reducing what I eat to look at the guilt and hopefully reduce the fear of God’s Love and not use that particular form of attack any more. What I have found is that it is INCREDIBLY difficult to do this, even though I know exactly what purpose my overeating serves — to attack God’s Son and keep God’s Love away, or to reinforce separation.

I was hoping you could help me with this process. When I reduce what I eat, there is a very strong feeling of “hunger” that overwhelms me. I think at that point I want to turn to the Holy Spirit and “look” at the guilt in my mind so that I can see that it is not real. When I do this I am not getting any clear thoughts about how to do this. The strong thought is the hunger and need to eat a bunch of junk so the feeling will go away. What does it mean to “look at the guilt”? Do you have any suggestions for how I can get past this block that I have to the awareness of love’s presence? What are some of the “truths” I can use to help me become less afraid and get past this form of attack?

A: You’ve got part of it right, but there’s an important aspect of your current approach to food that you may want to reconsider, in light of the teachings of A Course in Miracles. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get a guilt-based, addictive behavior, such as overeating — or drinking, or gambling, etc. — under control, and that can sometimes be a very helpful first step. But if that is your primary goal, even if you acknowledge that it is a form or symbol for your attack on the Sonship, you’ve put the cart before the horse, from the Course’s perspective! That puts you in good company, since most students want to try to change their behavior rather than their minds. And this is only a “natural” desire, while we are more identified with the body in time and space than with the mind outside of time and space. But it’s playing right into the ego’s grand design of keeping our attention focused on effect (the body) and relegating cause (the mind) to a secondary role.

An alternative approach, which reflects the Course’s emphasis on thought rather than behavior, would be to shift your goal from reducing your food intake to merely watching the thoughts that accompany your cravings and your eating binges. We believe the problem is our destructive behavior, but Jesus says that the behavior is only ever a symptom of the underlying destructive thought of guilt in the mind (T.2.VI.3). The behavior helps us recognize that the guilt is there in the mind, but our purpose, believe it or not, is not to change either the behavior or the guilt, but merely to acknowledge the guilt and ask for help in seeing ourselves differently. You see, the overeating in itself is not the attack. The thought that motivates the overeating is the attack — and that thought is not real. And if our goal is to change either, we are saying both the thought and its effect — the overeating — are real. Obviously, since both feel very real to us, we cannot be the ones to undo them.

The thought of guilt may be experienced as anxiety, fear, neediness, scarcity, inadequacy, self- loathing, etc. The ego wants us to make the specific interpretation — that we are hungry and craving food and the way to address the problem is to eat. The Course invites us to dissociate the thought from the specific context and recognize that the underlying thought is really a statement we are making about ourselves, that we are empty and missing something inside — the love we unconsciously believe we have thrown away (T.30.III.1,2,3). And this thought is the source of our guilt. Whether we eat something or not is irrelevant as we allow ourselves to get in touch with the underlying thought, which may bring up both fear and pain. We don’t want to minimize this step, but we also don’t want to stop with it.

And so the Course process of looking with the Holy Spirit or Jesus means that we take what seems very real and powerful to us — our guilt, in whatever form it seems real for us — and look at it with Their gentle, nonjudgmental presence beside us. If we are successful in joining with Their love in this process of looking, we will experience some level of reduction in the intensity of our guilt-based feelings. Our continuing investment in the ego and the self we think we are, which are protected by the guilt, will determine how willing we are to release the guilt in any particular moment. So we do not want to judge ourselves if the feelings do not seem to diminish, but just continue to look as honestly as we can and ask for the help to see ourselves in a different light. For what we believe about ourselves — that we are sinful, guilty, weak, limited creatures — is an ego- based lie. And the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our minds is proof that it is a lie, for our minds could not be home to Their gentle presence if we were the limited selves we have up until now insisted we are. This process of looking at and releasing our guilt is likely to take time so it is important that we be patient with ourselves. Over time, the need to use food to push away those unpleasant, even terrifying thoughts, may also diminish, and food itself will recede in importance as a focus of concern.

A more in-depth discussion of this process and these issues can be found in “Overeating: A Dialogue” (published in both a small book and a single tape format), which presents a discussion Ken Wapnick held with three students around issues of food addiction and preoccupation with weight.

sinless son