ACIM Reading for October 28
Manual for Teachers
25. Are “Psychic” Powers Desirable?
The answer to this question is much like the preceding one. There are, of course, no “unnatural” powers, and it is obviously merely an appeal to magic to make up a power that does not exist. It is equally obvious, however, that each individual has many abilities of which he is unaware. As his awareness increases, he may well develop abilities that seem quite startling to him. Yet nothing he can do can compare even in the slightest with the glorious surprise of remembering Who he is. Let all his learning and all his efforts be directed toward this one great final surprise, and he will not be content to be delayed by the little ones that may come to him on the way.
Certainly there are many “psychic” powers that are clearly in line with this course. Communication is not limited to the small range of channels the world recognizes. If it were, there would be little point in trying to teach salvation. It would be impossible to do so. The limits the world places on communication are the chief barriers to direct experience of the Holy Spirit, Whose Presence is always there and Whose Voice is available but for the hearing. These limits are placed out of fear, for without them the walls that surround all the separate places of the world would fall at the holy sound of His Voice. Who transcends these limits in any way is merely becoming more natural. He is doing nothing special, and there is no magic in his accomplishments.
The seemingly new abilities that may be gathered on the way can be very helpful. Given to the Holy Spirit, and used under His direction, they are valuable teaching aids. To this, the question of how they arise is irrelevant. The only important consideration is how they are used. Taking them as ends in themselves, no matter how this is done, will delay progress. Nor does their value lie in proving anything; achievements from the past, unusual attunement with the “unseen,” or “special” favors from God. God gives no special favors, and no one has any powers that are not available to everyone. Only by tricks of magic are special powers “demonstrated.”
Nothing that is genuine is used to deceive. The Holy Spirit is incapable of deception, and He can use only genuine abilities. What is used for magic is useless to Him. But what He uses cannot be used for magic. There is, however, a particular appeal in unusual abilities that can be curiously tempting. Here are strengths which the Holy Spirit wants and needs. Yet the ego sees in these same strengths an opportunity to glorify itself. Strengths turned to weakness are tragedy indeed. Yet what is not given to the Holy Spirit must be given to weakness, for what is withheld from love is given to fear, and will be fearful in consequence.
Even those who no longer value the material things of the world may still be deceived by “psychic” powers. As investment has been withdrawn from the world’s material gifts, the ego has been seriously threatened. It may still be strong enough to rally under this new temptation to win back strength by guile. Many have not seen through the ego’s defenses here, although they are not particularly subtle. Yet, given a remaining wish to be deceived, deception is made easy. Now the “power” is no longer a genuine ability, and cannot be used dependably. It is almost inevitable that, unless the individual changes his mind about its purpose, he will bolster his “power’s” uncertainties with increasing deception.
Any ability that anyone develops has the potentiality for good. To this there is no exception. And the more unusual and unexpected the power, the greater its potential usefulness. Salvation has need of all abilities, for what the world would destroy the Holy Spirit would restore. “Psychic” abilities have been used to call upon the devil, which merely means to strengthen the ego. Yet here is also a great channel of hope and healing in the Holy Spirit’s service. Those who have developed “psychic” powers have simply let some of the limitations they laid upon their minds be lifted. It can be but further limitations they lay upon themselves if they utilize their increased freedom for greater imprisonment. The Holy Spirit needs these gifts, and those who offer them to Him and Him alone go with Christ’s gratitude upon their hearts, and His holy sight not far behind.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 28
Section 9. What is the Second Coming?
Christ’s Second Coming, which is sure as God, is merely the correction of mistakes, and the return of sanity. It is a part of the condition that restores the never lost, and re-establishes what is forever and forever true. It is the invitation to God’s Word to take illusion’s place; the willingness to let forgiveness rest upon all things without exception and without reserve.
It is the all-inclusive nature of Christ’s Second Coming that permits it to embrace the world and hold you safe within its gentle advent, which encompasses all living things with you. There is no end to the release the Second Coming brings, as God’s creation must be limitless. Forgiveness lights the Second Coming’s way, because it shines on everything as one. And thus is oneness recognized at last.
The Second Coming ends the lessons that the Holy Spirit teaches, making way for the Last Judgment, in which learning ends in one last summary that will extend beyond itself, and reaches up to God. The Second Coming is the time in which all minds are given to the hands of Christ, to be returned to spirit in the name of true creation and the Will of God.
The Second Coming is the one event in time which time itself can not affect. For every one who ever came to die, or yet will come or who is present now, is equally released from what he made. In this equality is Christ restored as one Identity, in which the Sons of God acknowledge that they all are one. And God the Father smiles upon His Son, His one creation and His only joy.
Pray that the Second Coming will be soon, but do not rest with that. It needs your eyes and ears and hands and feet. It needs your voice. And most of all it needs your willingness. Let us rejoice that we can do God’s Will, and join together in its holy light. Behold, the Son of God is one in us, and we can reach our Father’s Love through Him.
And God Himself shall wipe away all tears.
Father, unless I judge I cannot weep. Nor can I suffer pain, or feel I am abandoned or unneeded in the world. This is my home because I judge it not, and therefore is it only what You will. Let me today behold it uncondemned, through happy eyes forgiveness has released from all distortion. Let me see Your world instead of mine. And all the tears I shed will be forgotten, for their source is gone. Father, I will not judge Your world today.
God’s world is happy. Those who look on it can only add their joy to it, and bless it as a cause of further joy in them. We wept because we did not understand. But we have learned the world we saw was false, and we will look upon God’s world today.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #993: In Question #48 you state that “ A Course in Miracles is unique among spiritualities or spiritual approaches, both contemporary and ancient ones.” I have found remarkable parallels between the Course and the ancient Gnostic writings, in particular that the world was made in error, not by God. While there apparently was never one organized creed of Gnosticism, it does appear that its teachings and gospels were part of early Christian thought, and then stamped out, as the Christian Church that we know today established its formal creed. Kenneth Wapnick’s book Love Does Not Condemn deals with the subject of Gnosticism and its relation to the Course. It might be helpful to readers of this forum to provide a brief explanation regarding the relationship, similarities, and differences of the early Gnostic writings to the principles contained in the Course.
A: Interestingly, Ken’s original intention was to write a brief article on this topic; but he found his “article” expanding rather quickly as he read more of the Gnostic and related literature, until finally he decided a full-length book would be needed in order to do justice to this important dimension of Course. Thus, his six-hundred-page book. So to ask for a “brief explanation” is quite a challenge. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex topic — there were several schools of Gnosticism, with differing views among the schools, and within each school as well — we will give it a try by presenting some general contours.
The Course and Gnosticism are similar in maintaining that the world was not created by the true God, but by a false god. In the higher teachings, primarily the Valentinian school, which differed significantly from others, the world was regarded as an illusion. Valentinus called it a fantasy or “Sophia’s folly.” This resulted in a generally negative attitude toward the world; in fact, Gnostics despised the world and sought to avoid being “contaminated” by it. So, while they said the world was not real, they made it real in their minds by seeing it as the locus of sin — which led many Gnostics to avoid involvement with the world and the body. The behavioral and practical implications of the metaphysics varied greatly among the different groups, some of which were shared with early Christians.
This is where we see a major difference between Gnosticism and A Course in Miracles . The Course’s position is inherent in the title of Ken’s book: Love Does Not Condemn , which comes from a passage about the body, but implicitly includes the world: “The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions” (T.18.VI.4:7,8) . The entire physical universe is seen as illusory — as part of the ego’s defensive war against God — but it is not judged inherently evil or sinful, as it now can serve the Holy Spirit’s purpose of correcting our purpose in having made it. Thus, the problem is not the world or the body, but our use of it, which is entirely a function of our decision-making minds. This is why the Course says nothing about behavior, much to the frustration of many of its students. It teaches us how to be in the world but not of it; but the focus is exclusively on bringing out of concealment the purpose we have chosen in our minds: namely, to use the world and the body to keep the separation real, while not accepting responsibility for it. Our salvation comes, therefore, not in avoiding involvement with the world, but by seeing it as a classroom in which we learn how to use it to undo our belief in separation through forgiveness. The non-dualism of the Course’s metaphysics is thus maintained.
Q #994: If God doesn’t know we exist, who the hell have we all been praying to for thousands of years? Have we been choreographing our own answers? If our prayers were not answered, was it because we couldn’t create properly? Is this why millions of people were killed during the Holocaust although they were devout, prayerful people — because there was no one to hear their prayers and help them? Has everyone that thought there was a God who cared about them, guided them, and loved them been duped? Am I interpreting all of this correctly?
A: No, you are not quite interpreting the message of A Course in Miracles correctly. The Course does give us a way of thinking about God and the nature of this world that is radically different from what western religions have taught for centuries. However, its central message is not that we suffer because God cannot hear us or because we cannot “create properly,” but rather that we suffer because we actively choose to experience suffering instead of the Love of God. The Course informs us that we have been wrong about God because we have been so very wrong about ourselves. Let us take a closer look at how it explains these dynamics.
Jesus tells us that God does not know we are here because we are not here . In the original instant, filled with imaginary guilt, we wanted to escape from God — simultaneously believing that we had killed Him and that He would rise again and give us the punishment we thought we deserved for daring to consider the idea of separation. So we chose to listen to the ego, fall asleep, and dream up this world. Having been birthed by a thought of guilt, this is a guilt-filled world in which everyone appears to lead lives that overflow with punishing pain. While, as you mentioned, Holocaust victims provide an example of extreme physical and psychological anguish, we need hardly look to them to find proof of human suffering that one would expect a Loving God to alleviate. Indeed, simply living as a body is a set up for almost continual pain — the pain of material need, illness, aging, loss, dependency, and so on. The Course asks us to look honestly at this and admit that, as much as we may profess to love Him, if we believe that God created and controls the events in this world and our lives, a part of our minds must hate Him for not doing more to improve things.
And yet, ultimately, the Course’s message is a happy one, which lets us know that God’s Love is much closer than most of us ever imagined. We do not need to beseech God, please Him, or struggle to earn His Love because, in reality, we remain safely enveloped in it, at home in Heaven. As the Course says “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” (T.23.II.19:6,7).
So all we need do to begin to awaken to that reality is undo the one mistake that we have made from the moment time seemed to begin — choosing the thought system of the ego rather than the Holy Spirit (Who represents the memory of God’s Love in our mind). When we choose the Holy Spirit’s Love, we will be happy regardless of whether the circumstances in our lives are ones that the world would judge to be pleasant or miserable. Likewise, when we choose the ego, we will be unhappy no matter how good or bad our external situation appears to be. For this reason, we cannot judge someone else’s life as being fair or unfair. While certainly the outer life of virtually every human being seems filled with gross injustices, we cannot know why each of us chooses a particular script or the lessons we may be learning as a result of our choice.
Those who have believed that God cared about them, guided them, and loved them have not been duped ifthis belief helped them to get in touch with His Love in their mind. In the end, it does not really matter how we conceptualize God or our relationship to Him, so long as we find a way of doing so that helps us replace our guilt and fear with love and inner peace. Basically, Jesus just wants to help us find our way home and has given us the Course as a tool to help us make the journey. But this does not make the Course any more or less true than other tools people have used for the same purpose. Remember, nothing in this world is true, and anything in this world can help us move closer to truth (love) in our mind if that is the purpose we give it. This is why, after establishing the illusory nature of the physical world and the body, Jesus can make a statement like, “If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy” (W.pI.70.9:3,4) . Similarly, if people throughout history have felt God’s Love even while conceptualizing it in a way that is clearly at odds from how it is presented in the Course, this has been no idle fantasy.