A Course in Miracles Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 9

ACIM Reading for November 9

Manual for Teachers

19. WHAT IS JUSTICE?

Justice is the divine correction for injustice. Injustice is the basis for all the judgements of the world. Justice corrects the interpretations to which injustice gives rise, and cancels them out. Neither justice nor injustice exists in Heaven, for error is impossible and correction meaningless. In this world, however, forgiveness depends on justice, since all attack can only be unjust. Justice is the Holy Spirit’s verdict upon the world. Except in His judgement justice is impossible, for no one in the world is capable of making only just interpretations and laying all injustices aside. If God’s Son were fairly judged, there would be no need for salvation. The thought of separation would have been forever inconceivable.

Justice, like its opposite, is an interpretation. It is, however, the one interpretation that leads to truth. This becomes possible because, while it is not true in itself, justice includes nothing that opposes truth. There is no inherent conflict between justice and truth; one is but the first small step in the direction of the other. The path becomes quite different as one goes along. Nor could all the magnificence, the grandeur of the scene and the enormous opening vistas that rise to meet one as the journey continues, be foretold from the outset. Yet even these, whose splendour reaches indescribable heights as one proceeds, fall short indeed of all that wait when the pathway ceases and time ends with it. But somewhere one must start. Justice is the beginning.

All concepts of your brothers and yourself; all fears of future states and all concerns about the past, stem from injustice. Here is the lens which, held before the body’s eyes, distorts perception and brings witness of the distorted world back to the mind that made the lens and holds it very dear. Selectively and arbitrarily is every concept of the world built up in just this way. “Sins” are perceived and justified by careful selectivity in which all thought of wholeness must be lost. Forgiveness has no place in such a scheme, for not one “sin” but seems forever true.

Salvation is God’s justice. It restores to your awareness the wholeness of the fragments you perceive as broken off and separate. And it is this that overcomes the fear of death. For separate fragments must decay and die, but wholeness is immortal. It remains forever and forever like its Creator, being one with Him. God’s Judgement is His justice. Onto this,—a Judgement wholly lacking in condemnation; an evaluation based entirely on love,—you have projected your injustice, giving God the lens of warped perception through which you look. Now it belongs to Him and not to you. You are afraid of Him, and do not see you hate and fear your Self as enemy.

Pray for God’s justice, and do not confuse His mercy with your own insanity. Perception can make whatever picture the mind desires to see. Remember this. In this lies either Heaven or hell, as you elect. God’s justice points to Heaven just because it is entirely impartial. It accepts all evidence that is brought before it, omitting nothing and assessing nothing as separate and apart from, all the rest. From this one standpoint does it judge, and this alone. Here all attack and condemnation becomes meaningless and indefensible. Perception rests, the mind is still, and light returns again. Vision is now restored. What had been lost has now been found. The peace of God descends on all the world, and we can see. And we can see!


***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 9

Lesson 280

What limits can I lay upon God’s Son?

Whom God created limitless is free. I can invent imprisonment for him, but only in illusions, not in truth. No Thought of God has left its Father’s Mind. No Thought of God is limited at all. No Thought of God but is forever pure. Can I lay limits on the Son of God, whose Father willed that he be limitless, and like Himself in freedom and in love?

Today let me give honor to Your Son, for thus alone I find the way to You. Father, I lay no limits on the Son You love and You created limitless. The honor that I give to him is Yours, and what is Yours belongs to me as well.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Does being defenseless mean I should let someone kill or rape me, or stand by while violence is committed against loved ones or others? 

A)We begin by stating that defenselessness is a thought of the right mind, an attitude based upon the Holy Spirit’s thought system that the Son of God is innocent and sinless, and therefore invulnerable. If there is no sin there can be no guilt. And without guilt there can be no projection, which means there can be no fear of being attacked. Guilt, as the Course teaches, demands punishment: if no guilt exists, fear of punishment is also non-existent. Finally, without fear of Punishment from without, there is no need for defenses within, and so the true state of defenselessness is the thought of innocence and invulnerability. 

This does not then mean that a right-minded person’s behavior is necessarily what the world thinks of as defenseless. The meaning of spiritual defenselessness is often distorted, so that people think they must be totally passive, like doormats, to be defenseless. To let others do violence to oneself, a loved one, or anyone else, very often is allowing those persons to act in a manner that would not only be harmful to their “victims,” but to themselves as well by reinforcing their own guilt over their separation from God and from the rest of the Sonship. Acting behaviorally to “protect” oneself can actually then be following the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the mind to be loving. It is not the formof the behavior that reflects defenselessness, but the content of the mind’s thought. 

Both our professional experiences offered examples of this principle. My (Kenneth’s) first employment as a psychologist was working with disturbed children in a special school. These were children ranging from ages five to thirteen, many of whom had severe behavioral problems which often manifested in their acting violently towards themselves and others. I devised a way that I could control their behavior by getting them to the floor, wrapping my legs and arms around them in such manner that they were not hurt, but were unable to kick, punch, bite, scratch, or harm anyone. Thus by preventing their attempts at behavioral violence, I was able eventually to calm them down. My behavior could have looked to an observer as defensive, although obviously its purpose was only to help. 

During my tenure as teacher and dean in a New York City high school, I (Gloria) many times had to have teens suspended from school or arrested for various kinds of violent behavior and use of weapons. My intervention, too, could have been interpreted by an observer as defensive. Yet, checking out my responses as best I could with Jesus as to how I should proceed, resulted in — paraphrasing from the text — setting a limit on the teenagers’ ability to miscreate (T-2.III.3:3). Thus they were prevented from acting out more murderous thoughts which would have resulted in a greater reinforcement of their guilt. I always felt it was my responsibility as dean, which was a dream role I scripted, to get myself out of the way to the best of my ability so that I could access the correction script of the Holy Spirit in these difficult circumstances. I had the little willingness A Course in Miracles speaks about, but I sometimes wondered in my early days with the Course, why I scripted such seemingly difficult situations! 

For us to have acted otherwise — i.e., to have been behaviorally passive or “defenseless” in the face of such aggressive actions — would have been as unloving as it would be to let a rapist brutally assault your wife or daughter while you are standing by mouthing Course “platitudes” about not being a body, how love does not defend itself, etc. As with everything related to the teachings of A Course in Miracles, it is the content or purpose that supplies the meaning to our actions, and the only true meaning comes from Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our minds. Their love is abstract and non-specific, and always the same. Yet this love is expressed through the specific expressions of our individuality, and therefore differs from one person to the next. Thus, only one with the wisdom of Jesus would be in a position to justly and fairly evaluate another’s actions. For anyone else it would be foolhardy and arrogant to make such judgments. As he instructs us in the manual for teachers: 

In order to judge anything rightly, one would have to be fully aware of an inconceivably wide range of things; past, present and to come…. And one would have to be certain there is no distortion in his perception, so that his judgment would be wholly fair to everyone on whom it rests now and in the future. Who is in a position to do this? Who except in grandiose fantasies would claim this for himself… Make then but one more judgment. It is this: There is Someone with you Whose judgment  is perfect (M-10.3:3,5-7; 4:6-7).

And so the bottom line is always to ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help before we respond to a difficult situation, as well as to ask Their help before attempting to judge another’s response in a difficult situation. 

you have no idea

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 7

ACIM Text Reading for October 7

Manual for Teachers

4. What are the Characteristics of God’s Teachers?

The surface traits of God’s teachers are not at all alike. They do not look alike to the body’s eyes, they come from vastly different backgrounds, their experiences of the world vary greatly, and their superficial “personalities” are quite distinct. Nor, at the beginning stages of their functioning as teachers of God, have they as yet acquired the deeper characteristics that will establish them as what they are. God gives special gifts to His teachers, because they have a special role in His plan for Atonement. Their specialness is, of course, only temporary; set in time as a means of leading out of time. These special gifts, born in the holy relationship toward which the teaching-learning situation is geared, become characteristic of all teachers of God who have advanced in their own learning. In this respect they are all alike.

All differences among the Sons of God are temporary. Nevertheless, in time it can be said that the advanced teachers of God have the following characteristics:

I. Trust

This is the foundation on which their ability to fulfill 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 recognized. 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 generalize 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 realized 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 lightheartedness 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 judgment 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 tranquility 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 tranquility for something more desirable? What could be more desirable than this?

II. Honesty

All other traits of God’s teachers rest on trust. Once that has been achieved, the others cannot fail to follow. Only the trusting can afford honesty, for only they can see its value. Honesty does not apply only to what you say. The term actually means consistency. There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought; no act belies your word; and no word lacks agreement with another. Such are the truly honest. At no level are they in conflict with themselves. Therefore it is impossible for them to be in conflict with anyone or anything.

The peace of mind which the advanced teachers of God experience is largely due to their perfect honesty. It is only the wish to deceive that makes for war. No one at one with himself can even conceive of conflict. Conflict is the inevitable result of self-deception, and self-deception is dishonesty. There is no challenge to a teacher of God. Challenge implies doubt, and the trust on which God’s teachers rest secure makes doubt impossible. Therefore they can only succeed. In this, as in all things, they are honest. They can only succeed, because they never do their will alone. They choose for all mankind; for all the world and all things in it; for the unchanging and unchangeable beyond appearances; and for the Son of God and his Creator. How could they not succeed? They choose in perfect honesty, sure of their choice as of themselves.

III. Tolerance

God’s teachers do not judge. To judge is to be dishonest, for to judge is to assume a position you do not have. Judgment without self-deception is impossible. Judgment implies that you have been deceived in your brothers. How, then, could you not have been deceived in yourself? Judgment implies a lack of trust, and trust remains the bedrock of the teacher of God’s whole thought system. Let this be lost, and all his learning goes. Without judgment are all things equally acceptable, for who could judge otherwise? Without judgment are all men brothers, for who is there who stands apart? Judgment destroys honesty and shatters trust. No teacher of God can judge and hope to learn.

IV. Gentleness

Harm is impossible for God’s teachers. They can neither harm nor be harmed. Harm is the outcome of judgment. It is the dishonest act that follows a dishonest thought. It is a verdict of guilt upon a brother, and therefore on oneself. It is the end of peace and the denial of learning. It demonstrates the absence of God’s curriculum, and its replacement by insanity. No teacher of God but must learn, – and fairly early in his training, – that harmfulness completely obliterates his function from his awareness. It will make him confused, fearful, angry and suspicious. It will make the Holy Spirit’s lessons impossible to learn. Nor can God’s Teacher be heard at all, except by those who realize that harm can actually achieve nothing. No gain can come of it.

Therefore, God’s teachers are wholly gentle. They need the strength of gentleness, for it is in this that the function of salvation becomes easy. To those who would do harm, it is impossible. To those to whom harm has no meaning, it is merely natural. What choice but this has meaning to the sane? Who chooses hell when he perceives a way to Heaven? And who would choose the weakness that must come from harm in place of the unfailing, all-encompassing and limitless strength of gentleness? The might of God’s teachers lies in their gentleness, for they have understood their evil thoughts came neither from God’s Son nor his Creator. Thus did they join their thoughts with Him Who is their Source. And so their will, which always was His Own, is free to be itself.

V. Joy

Joy is the inevitable result of gentleness. Gentleness means that fear is now impossible, and what could come to interfere with joy? The open hands of gentleness are always filled. The gentle have no pain. They cannot suffer. Why would they not be joyous? They are sure they are beloved and must be safe. Joy goes with gentleness as surely as grief attends attack. God’s teachers trust in Him. And they are sure His Teacher goes before them, making sure no harm can come to them. They hold His gifts and follow in His way, because God’s Voice directs them in all things. Joy is their song of thanks. And Christ looks down on them in thanks as well. His need of them is just as great as theirs of Him. How joyous it is to share the purpose of salvation!

VI. Defenselessness

God’s teachers have learned how to be simple. They have no dreams that need defense against the truth. They do not try to make themselves. Their joy comes from their understanding Who created them. And does what God created need defense? No one can become an advanced teacher of God until he fully understands that defenses are but foolish guardians of mad illusions. The more grotesque the dream, the fiercer and more powerful its defenses seem to be. Yet when the teacher of God finally agrees to look past them, he finds that nothing was there. Slowly at first he lets himself be undeceived. But he learns faster as his trust increases. It is not danger that comes when defenses are laid down. It is safety. It is peace. It is joy. And it is God.

VII. Generosity

The term generosity has special meaning to the teacher of God. It is not the usual meaning of the word; in fact, it is a meaning that must be learned and learned very carefully. Like all the other attributes of God’s teachers this one rests ultimately on trust, for without trust no one can be generous in the true sense. To the world, generosity means “giving away” in the sense of “giving up.” To the teachers of God, it means giving away in order to keep. This has been emphasized throughout the text and the workbook, but it is perhaps more alien to the thinking of the world than many other ideas in our curriculum. Its greater strangeness lies merely in the obviousness of its reversal of the world’s thinking. In the clearest way possible, and at the simplest of levels, the word means the exact opposite to the teachers of God and to the world.

The teacher of God is generous out of Self interest. This does not refer, however, to the self of which the world speaks. The teacher of God does not want anything he cannot give away, because he realizes it would be valueless to him by definition. What would he want it for? He could only lose because of it. He could not gain. Therefore he does not seek what only he could keep, because that is a guarantee of loss. He does not want to suffer. Why should he ensure himself pain? But he does want to keep for himself all things that are of God, and therefore for His Son. These are the things that belong to him. These he can give away in true generosity, protecting them forever for himself.

VIII. Patience

Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety. Patience is natural to the teacher of God. All he sees is certain outcome, at a time perhaps unknown to him as yet, but not in doubt. The time will be as right as is the answer. And this is true for everything that happens now or in the future. The past as well held no mistakes; nothing that did not serve to benefit the world, as well as him to whom it seemed to happen. Perhaps it was not understood at the time. Even so, the teacher of God is willing to reconsider all his past decisions, if they are causing pain to anyone. Patience is natural to those who trust. Sure of the ultimate interpretation of all things in time, no outcome already seen or yet to come can cause them fear.

IX. Faithfulness

The extent of the teacher of God’s faithfulness is the measure of his advancement in the curriculum. Does he still select some aspects of his life to bring to his learning, while keeping others apart? If so, his advancement is limited, and his trust not yet firmly established. Faithfulness is the teacher of God’s trust in the Word of God to set all things right; not some, but all. Generally, his faithfulness begins by resting on just some problems, remaining carefully limited for a time. To give up all problems to one Answer is to reverse the thinking of the world entirely. And that alone is faithfulness. Nothing but that really deserves the name. Yet each degree, however small, is worth achieving. Readiness, as the text notes, is not mastery.

True faithfulness, however, does not deviate. Being consistent, it is wholly honest. Being unswerving, it is full of trust. Being based on fearlessness, it is gentle. Being certain, it is joyous. And being confident, it is tolerant. Faithfulness, then, combines in itself the other attributes of God’s teachers. It implies acceptance of the Word of God and His definition of His Son. It is to Them that faithfulness in the true sense is always directed. Toward Them it looks, seeking until it finds. Defenselessness attends it naturally, and joy is its condition. And having found, it rests in quiet certainty on That alone to Which all faithfulness is due.

X. Open-Mindedness

The centrality of open-mindedness, perhaps the last of the attributes the teacher of God acquires, is easily understood when its relation to forgiveness is recognized. Open-mindedness comes with lack of judgment. As judgment shuts the mind against God’s Teacher, so open-mindedness invites Him to come in. As condemnation judges the Son of God as evil, so open-mindedness permits him to be judged by the Voice for God on His behalf. As the projection of guilt upon him would send him to hell, so open-mindedness lets Christ’s image be extended to him. Only the open-minded can be at peace, for they alone see reason for it.

How do the open-minded forgive? They have let go all things that would prevent forgiveness. They have in truth abandoned the world, and let it be restored to them in newness and in joy so glorious they could never have conceived of such a change. Nothing is now as it was formerly. Nothing but sparkles now which seemed so dull and lifeless before. And above all are all things welcoming, for threat is gone. No clouds remain to hide the face of Christ. Now is the goal achieved. Forgiveness is the final goal of the curriculum. It paves the way for what goes far beyond all learning. The curriculum makes no effort to exceed its legitimate goal. Forgiveness is its single aim, at which all learning ultimately converges. It is indeed enough.

You may have noticed that the list of attributes of God’s teachers does not include things that are the Son of God’s inheritance. Terms like love, sinlessness, perfection, knowledge and eternal truth do not appear in this context. They would be most inappropriate here. What God has given is so far beyond our curriculum that learning but disappears in its presence. Yet while its presence is obscured, the focus properly belongs on the curriculum. It is the function of God’s teachers to bring true learning to the world. Properly speaking it is unlearning that they bring, for that is “true learning” in the world. It is given to the teachers of God to bring the glad tidings of complete forgiveness to the world. Blessed indeed are they, for they are the bringers of salvation.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 7

Lesson 280

What limits can I lay upon God’s Son?

Whom God created limitless is free. I can invent imprisonment for him, but only in illusions, not in truth. No Thought of God has left its Father’s Mind. No Thought of God is limited at all. No Thought of God but is forever pure. Can I lay limits on the Son of God, whose Father willed that he be limitless, and like Himself in freedom and in love?

Today let me give honor to Your Son, for thus alone I find the way to You. Father, I lay no limits on the Son You love and You created limitless. The honor that I give to him is Yours, and what is Yours belongs to me as well.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today


Q #250: In Kenneth Wapnick’s book Forgiveness & Jesus, he says on page xv in the Preface: “Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not operate in the world, and certainly do not send people as if they were operating a giant chess board, moving us around according to the evolution of the plan of salvation.” However, the manual for teachers of A Course in Miracles says: “There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship” (M.3.1:6,7); and then later it says, “Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God’s plan” (M.9.1:3). This indicates that meeting certain people is part of God’s plan, and as I have understood the Course, the Holy Spirit is operating in the illusion to help us, just as the Course is made within the framework of the illusion. Meetings are part of God’s plan — there are no accidents — so how can this be interpreted?

A: There are no accidents because everything has already happened, and we are simply reviewing mentally what has already gone by: “The script is written.…we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.4:3,5). In “The Little Hindrance” Jesus tells us: “To you who still believe you live in time and know not it is gone, the Holy Spirit still guides you through the infinitely small and senseless maze you still perceive in time, though it has long since gone. You think you live in what is past” (T.26.V.4:1,2). So people are in our lives only because that is what our scripts involve. We have no recollection of our having written these scripts (a metaphor, of course), which is part of the ego’s strategy to keep us from remembering that we are decision-making minds. You might wish to consult Kenneth’s A Vast Illusion: Time According to “A Course in Miracles,” which is an in-depth study of this intriguing part of the Course’s theory.

We are inclined to view what the Course says from our perspective, which is that the world and linear time are real. And that is why we would think that the Holy Spirit and Jesus actually do things, such as direct us to specific people so that we can learn our lessons of forgiveness. But that could not be, since there is no world, and time is not real, either. It is helpful to review the levels of language in the Course, and why Jesus speaks to us as if our experience in the world and linear time were real. Earlier answers to questions have developed these topics, and we refer you to them for further study: Questions #72 and #116.


Q #251: With world conditions the way they are, I am reminded of a section in Robert Skutch’s book, Journey Without Distance (p.60), regarding Helen’s asking Jesus what A Course in Miracles was for, and the answer she received: “The world situation is worsening to an alarming degree. People all over the world are being called on to help, and are making their individual contributions as part of an overall prearranged plan. Because of the acute emergency, the usual slow, evolutionary process is being by-passed in what might best be described as a ‘celestial speed-up.’ “Helen could sense the urgency that lay behind this ‘explanation,’ and strongly sensed that what was being conveyed to her was that time was running out.” What does this mean exactly? What is the absolute worst that could happen? Even if we destroyed every living thing on the planet wouldn’t we still be alive in spirit? Is there, in reality, anything to worry about?

A: First, a clarification of the “celestial speed-up.” This was Helen’s personal experience; it was a way for her to understand the unsettling experiences that were occurring in her life at that time (1965), without increasing the fear that was already present. She had not yet come across the theory of time as totally illusory, which Jesus would explain much later; that would have been far too upsetting to her in those early months. And so the content of Jesus’ message was expressed in a formthat was meaningful to Helen and with which she could be reasonably comfortable. Most likely, Helen would not have expressed the meaning in that form years later, after she had seen the complete picture. Forgetting about this form/content distinction has led many students to take Helen’s “celestial-speedup” explanation literally. When the unreality of time is brought into the discussion, it is obvious that there could not literally be a need to speed things up. The situation in the world can worsen and be cause for concern only if the world is real, and time also is both real and linear. (See Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles, pp. 464-65)

Secondly, destruction of any kind can emanate only from the ego thought system. Just because Planet Earth might no longer exist does not mean that we would have returned to our true Identity as spirit. The pain in our minds tortured with self-hatred does not disappear simply because the planet has been blown up. If we (“Who is the ‘you’ who are living in this world?” [T.4.II.11:8]) destroyed the planet, we might be very much “alive,” but in the guilt of our wrong minds, not in the innocence and purity of spirit, as Christ. We would still be caught up in the dream of sin, guilt, and fear, and their projection. In other words, as minds, we would be perceiving a destroyed planet, and our guilt, which we have not let go of, would then manifest in some other form.

Understanding that the world is not real and that we are not our bodies is a step in the right direction — a major step; but our healing is not yet complete. It is very comforting to be assured that the world and bodies are not real, because we would no longer fear that the end of the planet is the end of “us.” That dimension of our terror subsides, fortunately, which then frees us to move to the next step, which is experiencing ourselves as decision-making minds that are constantly choosing to identify with either the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s thought system.

We must look at our investment in upholding the purpose served by our belief in sin, guilt, and fear. Ultimately, we must reach the level of readiness to let go of all sense of individuality, consciousness, and specialness before we return to our existence as spirit. The interim stage, though, is the right-minded awareness that we are the dreamers of the dream. This is the stage in which we consistently choose to perceive everything from “above the battleground,” confidently assured that all destruction and suffering, all pleasure and excitement, are but the outcome of a mind dreaming it has separated from the Oneness of Heaven.

teach not that i died in vain

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 8

ACIM Text Reading for October 8

How Is Healing Accomplished?

Healing involves an understanding of what the illusion of sickness is for. Healing is impossible without this.

I. The Perceived Purpose of Sickness

Healing is accomplished the instant the sufferer no longer sees any value in pain. Who would choose suffering unless he thought it brought him something, and something of value to him? He must think it is a small price to pay for something of greater worth. For sickness is an election; a decision. It is the choice of weakness, in the mistaken conviction that it is strength. When this occurs, real strength is seen as threat and health as danger. Sickness is a method, conceived in madness, for placing God’s Son on his Father’s throne. God is seen as outside, fierce and powerful, eager to keep all power for Himself. Only by His death can He be conquered by His Son.

And what, in this insane conviction, does healing stand for? It symbolizes the defeat of God’s Son and the triumph of his Father over him. It represents the ultimate defiance in a direct form which the Son of God is forced to recognize. It stands for all that he would hide from himself to protect his “life.” If he is healed, he is responsible for his thoughts. And if he is responsible for his thoughts, he will be killed to prove to him how weak and pitiful he is. But if he chooses death himself, his weakness is his strength. Now has he given himself what God would give to him, and thus entirely usurped the throne of his Creator.

II. The Shift in Perception

Healing must occur in exact proportion to which the valuelessness of sickness is recognized. One need but say, “There is no gain at all to me in this” and he is healed. But to say this, one first must recognize certain facts. First, it is obvious that decisions are of the mind, not of the body. If sickness is but a faulty problem-solving approach, it is a decision. And if it is a decision, it is the mind and not the body that makes it. The resistance to recognizing this is enormous, because the existence of the world as you perceive it depends on the body being the decision maker. Terms like “instincts,” “reflexes” and the like represent attempts to endow the body with non-mental motivators. Actually, such terms merely state or describe the problem. They do not answer it.

The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for a purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of healing. And this is so for healing in all forms. A patient decides that this is so, and he recovers. If he decides against recovery, he will not be healed. Who is the physician? Only the mind of the patient himself. The outcome is what he decides that it is. Special agents seem to be ministering to him, yet they but give form to his own choice. He chooses them in order to bring tangible form to his desires. And it is this they do, and nothing else. They are not actually needed at all. The patient could merely rise up without their aid and say, “I have no use for this.” There is no form of sickness that would not be cured at once.

What is the single requisite for this shift in perception? It is simply this; the recognition that sickness is of the mind, and has nothing to do with the body. What does this recognition “cost”? It costs the whole world you see, for the world will never again appear to rule the mind. For with this recognition is responsibility placed where it belongs; not with the world, but on him who looks on the world and sees it as it is not. He looks on what he chooses to see. No more and no less. The world does nothing to him. He only thought it did. Nor does he do anything to the world, because he was mistaken about what it is. Herein is the release from guilt and sickness both, for they are one. Yet to accept this release, the insignificance of the body must be an acceptable idea.

With this idea is pain forever gone. But with this idea goes also all confusion about creation. Does not this follow of necessity? Place cause and effect in their true sequence in one respect, and the learning will generalize and transform the world. The transfer value of one true idea has no end or limit. The final outcome of this lesson is the remembrance of God. What do guilt and sickness, pain, disaster and all suffering mean now? Having no purpose, they are gone. And with them also go all the effects they seemed to cause. Cause and effect but replicate creation. Seen in their proper perspective, without distortion and without fear, they re-establish Heaven.

III. The Function of the Teacher of God

If the patient must change his mind in order to be healed, what does the teacher of God do? Can he change the patient’s mind for him? Certainly not. For those already willing to change their minds he has no function except to rejoice with them, for they have become teachers of God with him. He has, however, a more specific function for those who do not understand what healing is. These patients do not realize they have chosen sickness. On the contrary, they believe that sickness has chosen them. Nor are they open-minded on this point. The body tells them what to do and they obey. They have no idea how insane this concept is. If they even suspected it, they would be healed. Yet they suspect nothing. To them the separation is quite real.

To them God’s teachers come, to represent another choice which they had forgotten. The simple presence of a teacher of God is a reminder. His thoughts ask for the right to question what the patient has accepted as true. As God’s messengers, His teachers are the symbols of salvation. They ask the patient for forgiveness for God’s Son in his own Name. They stand for the Alternative. With God’s Word in their minds they come in benediction, not to heal the sick but to remind them of the remedy God has already given them. It is not their hands that heal. It is not their voice that speaks the Word of God. They merely give what has been given them. Very gently they call to their brothers to turn away from death: “Behold, you Son of God, what life can offer you. Would you choose sickness in place of this?”

Not once do the advanced teachers of God consider the forms of sickness in which their brother believes. To do this is to forget that all of them have the same purpose, and therefore are not really different. They seek for God’s Voice in this brother who would so deceive himself as to believe God’s Son can suffer. And they remind him that he did not make himself, and must remain as God created him. They recognize illusions can have no effect. The truth in their minds reaches out to the truth in the minds of their brothers, so that illusions are not reinforced. They are thus brought to truth; truth is not brought to them. So are they dispelled, not by the will of another, but by the union of the one Will with itself. And this is the function of God’s teachers; to see no will as separate from their own, nor theirs as separate from God’s.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 8

Lesson 280

What limits can I lay upon God’s Son?

Whom God created limitless is free. I can invent imprisonment for him, but only in illusions, not in truth. No Thought of God has left its Father’s Mind. No Thought of God is limited at all. No Thought of God but is forever pure. Can I lay limits on the Son of God, whose Father willed that he be limitless, and like Himself in freedom and in love?

Today let me give honor to Your Son, for thus alone I find the way to You. Father, I lay no limits on the Son You love and You created limitless. The honor that I give to him is Yours, and what is Yours belongs to me as well.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1359(i): ( The following two questions were submitted by the same person.)

I have only been studying A Course in Miracles for two months. At the end of the first month I felt elated — people commented about their perceived change in my face. But just today I ended Lesson 31 in tears — I did not know before I began the Course that I held such anger and fear. Is it normal to feel the strength of my ego growing the more I am learning about love and forgiveness? Are ego and evil synonymous? I want to escape from this illusory dream world today.

A: It would help you a great deal to remind yourself often that the ego is not an entity that has power over you; it is nothing more than an erroneous thought that you (and everyone else) are holding on to. You simply have forgotten that it is only a mistaken way of thinking that you adopted and then forgot you did it. Thus, the purpose of your work with the Course is to ask Jesus to help you look at — not change — these beliefs, so that you will see them for what they are. To look without judgment is to join with Jesus, and your fear then will be kept to a minimum. He never judges you when you choose your ego; he never does anything but love you and invite you to look with him at the silliness of your ego.

A major point in the Course’s teachings is that the ego has only as much power as we give it; it has none of its own. That is why it can’t hurt us and we needn’t be afraid of it. There really is no “it” — Jesus speaks of the ego as though it were an entity because that is a way of meeting us where we are (T.4.VI.1) . But as we continue to bring the darkness of our ego to the light of his love, we will gradually realize that our feelings of guilt and fear are not justified, and then their power to disturb our inner peace will fade and eventually disappear. It is like turning on a light in a darkened room — the darkness just disappears. But at first, the fear and anger that were buried begin to rise to the surface and then it feels as if things are getting worse. Things were always bad — for all of us! Our defenses protected us from the madness and chaos in our minds, that’s all. That is why this is a process of undoing what we believe we have done. So it is important that you be very gentle with yourself and not try to force or rush the process. If you do, you will only be making it real, and that will not help.

There is no need to make the ego go away; there is only a need to look at it without judgment — then its seeming power will begin to dissipate. Progress comes in realizing that you are undoing something that never even happened (that you separated from God), so it makes no sense to pressure yourself into letting go of the ego immediately. That is the wisdom of Jesus’ gentle approach of simply looking with him, quietly and calmly, at the thought system of separation that you have made real in your mind, but that is not real at all (T.11.V.1) .

Finally, remember that the ego does not take kindly to one’s decision to learn and practice A Course in Miracles — it senses a threat and therefore fights back in an attempt to maintain its dominance. That is when our discomfort can increase dramatically. Jesus tells us that the ego’s range of response varies from suspiciousness to viciousness (T.9.VII.3,4) , and that sometimes we will rush right back into darkness after having had a glimpse of the glorious light of forgiveness (T.18.III.2; T.25.VI.2) .

It might help you to look at some other discussions of the kind of difficulty you are experiencing – – many students go through this as they work with the Course in undoing the ego thought system. See, for example, Questions #384, #533, #812, #843, #913, #943, and #963.

here to represent

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 7

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 7

5. How is Healing Accomplished?

III. The Function of the Teacher of God

If the patient must change his mind in order to be healed, what does the teacher of God do? Can he change the patient’s mind for him? Certainly not. For those already willing to change their minds he has no function except to rejoice with them, for they have become teachers of God with him. He has, however, a more specific function for those who do not understand what healing is. These patients do not realise they have chosen sickness. On the contrary, they believe that sickness has chosen them. Nor are they open-minded on this point. The body tells them what to do and they obey. They have no idea how insane this concept is. If they even suspected it, they would be healed. Yet they suspect nothing. To them the separation is quite real.

To them God’s teachers come, to represent another choice which they had forgotten. The simple presence of a teacher of God is a reminder. His thoughts ask for the right to question what the patient has accepted as true. As God’s messengers, His teachers are the symbols of salvation. They ask the patient for forgiveness for God’s Son in his own Name. They stand for the Alternative. With God’s Word in their minds they come in benediction, not to heal the sick but to remind them of the remedy God has already given them. It is not their hands that heal. It is not their voice that speaks the Word of God. They merely give what has been given them. Very gently they call to their brothers to turn away from death. Behold, you Son of God, what life can offer you. Would you choose sickness in place of this?

Not once do the advanced teachers of God consider the forms of sickness in which their brother believes. To do this is to forget that all of them have the same purpose, and therefore are not really different. They seek for God’s Voice in this brother who would so deceive himself as to believe God’s Son can suffer. And they remind him that he did not make himself, and must remain as God created him. They recognise illusions can have no effect. The truth in their minds reaches out to the truth in the minds of their brothers, so that illusions are not reinforced. They are thus brought to truth; truth is not brought to them. So are they dispelled, not by the will of another, but by the One Will with itself. And this is the function of God’s teachers; to see no will as separate from their own, nor theirs as separate from God’s.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 7

Lesson 280
What limits can I lay upon God’s Son?

Whom God created limitless is free. I can invent imprisonment for him, but only in illusions, not in truth. No Thought of God has left its Father’s Mind. No Thought of God is limited at all. No Thought of God but is forever pure. Can I lay limits on the Son of God, whose Father willed that he be limitless, and like Himself in freedom and in love?

Today let me give honor to Your Son, for thus alone I find the way to You. Father, I lay no limits on the Son You love and You created limitless. The honor that I give to him is Yours, and what is Yours belongs to me as well.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

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ACIM Miracle Principle for October 7

Excerpted from “The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in Miracles” 
by Kenneth Wapnick

Principle 38

The Holy Spirit is the mechanism of miracles. He recognizes both God’s creations and your illusions.
He separates the true from the false by His ability to perceive totally rather than selectively.
This means that the Holy Spirit is a “switch-hitter” and, as the Course says later on, He is “the only part of the Trinity that has a symbolic function” (text, p. 67; T-5.1.4:1). This means He can function in a world of symbols. There are no symbols in Heaven, only in this world.

Q: If the separation is an illusion, and the Holy Spirit came into existence to solve that, is not the Holy Spirit an illusion?

A: No, because God created Him. It is a good question, though. The Course’s answer is that when the separation is totally healed and the Holy Spirit is no longer needed, He still exists because God created Him. And then the Course says that He returns to Heaven and blesses our creations (text, p. 68; T-5. 1.5:7).

Q: But it seems like He was created to solve a problem that does not exist.

A: That is right, and because he was created by God, which really means He is just an extension of God, once He does that, He cannot disappear. His function is an illusion, for it is to correct a problem which is inherently illusory, which means that this function, too, must be an illusion, as is the form in which the content of His Love is experienced by us.

Q: But He is one of us …

A: No, He is not one of us. We are part of the Second Person of the Trinity — Christ — and the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity. On another level, of course, the Trinity is One. Nonetheless, A Course in Miracles does speak of Levels of the Trinity. This is more than a fine, theological distinction. It is important to correct the idea that the Holy Spirit’s Voice is our own. This is similar to the belief that we are God, which the Course quite clearly states we are not. To believe that God’s Voice is our own, let alone that we are God Himself, is just another expression of the basic separation belief that got us all in trouble in the first place.

Q: You used another kind of example. You said that God sent the Holy Spirit into the dream; He is not part of the dream, but He came into the dream to speak to us within it.

A: The question still is, “What happens when the dream is over?” It is one of those things no one could understand anyway. I can just tell you what A Course in Miracles says about it. But the idea is that the Holy Spirit has a foot in reality, in Heaven, and He has a foot in the dream (assuming He has two feet). He is within the dream, but yet He is not part of the dream. He is within our separated minds and works within them; yet He also is in touch with the Christ Mind. He is like an intermediary.

God, of course, does not even know about the dream, or the world of illusion. An analogy would be that of a parent looking in on a sleeping child at night and seeing the child thrashing around, obviously having a nightmare. The parent does not know what the child is dreaming, for it is outside his or her mind, but the parent does know that the child is in pain and would obviously like to alleviate that pain. That is the situation God is in. Therefore, He extends Himself into the dream, into the mind of His sleeping Son. The “Holy Spirit” is the name A Course in Miracles gives to this extension, the Voice for God. And within that dream He tells us, “My brother, choose again. You can look at your dream differently.” Thus, He screens out what does not truly meet our need; i.e., special relationships. He helps us to unify our perception, to see all things as lessons God would have us learn. That is what is meant by “He separates the true from the false,” and “to perceive totally rather than selectively.” That was the point I was making earlier, that He would see all aspects of a situation. We would see a situation only in terms of our specific needs. He recognizes all situations as opportunities for healing all people who are involved.

Q: The aspect of the Holy Spirit that has one foot in one world, Heaven, and another foot in our world, the dream — does that mean that He can have both knowledge and perception at the .same time?

A. Right.

Q: What does the Course mean by teaching that we are never in the wrong place at the wrong time?

A: We can never be in the wrong place at the wrong time because we can always learn from any and every thing. The Holy Spirit can use all situations and relationships to teach us the single lesson that the separation is unreal. On a deeper level, the statement reflects the idea that the script is already written. We have already been through all this. We are merely, as the Course says, reviewing mentally what has already gone by (workbook, p. 291; W-pI.158.4:5). And we can review or re-experience what has already happened either by choosing the ego or the Holy Spirit. Therefore, being in the right or wrong place has no meaning. The way that we review this place gives it its meaning.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #513: Is it correct that the Holy Spirit, of A Course in Miracles, and the witness/watcher in Eastern teachings, are similarly defined?

A: It would be more accurate to say that the decision-making part of the mind, when it is aligned with the Holy Spirit and observing the ego without judgment, is similar to the witness in Eastern teachings. While the Course speaks of the Holy Spirit as if He were a distinct entity that performs certain functions, such as Guide, Comforter, Interpreter, Teacher, and Voice for God, as we progress with the Course, we will come to see that these are only useful symbols or metaphors for a mind that still believes in duality and so still believes Help is needed from a Source outside itself (for further discussion on the Course’s symbolic or metaphorical use of language, see Questions #72 and #156). The Holy Spirit plays no active role in the mind but is simply a Thought or a Presence that reminds. It reminds us of the other way, the peaceful, conflict-free, alternative to the ego (T.5.II.7:1,2,3,4,5,6,7). And it is that reminder that allows us to look at our ego without guilt or fear or condemnation.

today belongs to love