A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 23, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for February 23

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

III. The Reality of the Kingdom

The Holy Spirit teaches one lesson, and applies it to all individuals in all situations. Being conflict-free, He maximises all efforts and all results. By teaching the power of the Kingdom of God Himself, He teaches you that all power is yours. Its application does not matter. It is always maximal. Your vigilance does not establish it as yours, but it does enable you to use it always and in all ways. When I said ‘I am with you always’, I meant it literally. I am not absent to anyone in any situation, Because I am always with you, you are the way, the truth and the life. You did not make this power, any more than I did. It was created to be shared, and therefore cannot be meaningfully perceived as belonging to anyone at the expense of another. Such a perception makes it meaningless by eliminating or overlooking its real and only meaning.

God’s meaning waits in the Kingdom, because that is where He placed it. It does not wait in time. It merely rests in the Kingdom because it belongs there, as you do. How can you who are God’s meaning perceive yourself as absent from it? You can see yourself as separated from your meaning only by experiencing yourself as unreal. This is why the ego is insane; it teaches that you are not what you are. That is so contradictory it is clearly impossible. It is therefore a lesson you cannot really learn, and therefore cannot really teach. Yet you are always teaching. You must, therefore, be teaching something else, even though the ego does not know what it is. The ego, then, is always being undone, and does suspect your motives. Your mind cannot be unified in allegiance to the ego, because the mind does not belong to it. Yet what is ‘treacherous’ to the ego is faithful to peace. The ego’s ‘enemy’ is therefore your friend.

I said before that the ego’s friend is not part of you, because the ego perceives itself at war and therefore in need of allies. You who are not at war must look for brothers and recognise all whom you see as brothers, because only equals are at peace. Because God’s equal Sons have everything, they cannot compete. Yet if they perceive any of their brothers as anything other than their perfect equals, the idea of competition has entered their minds. Do not underestimate your need to be vigilant against this idea, because all your conflicts come from it. It is the belief that conflicting interests are possible, and therefore you have accepted the impossible as true. Is that different from saying you perceive yourself as unreal?

To be in the Kingdom is merely to focus your full attention on it. As long as you believe you can attend to what is not true, you are accepting conflict as your choice. Is it really a choice? It seems to be, but seeming and reality are hardly the same. You who are the Kingdom are not concerned with seeming. Reality is yours because you are reality. This is how having and being are ultimately reconciled, not in the Kingdom, but in your mind. The altar there is the only reality. The altar is perfectly clear in thought, because it is a reflection of perfect Thought. Your right mind sees only brothers, because it sees only in its own light.

God has lit your mind Himself, and keeps your mind lit by His Light because His Light is what your mind is. This is totally beyond question, and when you question it you are answered. The Answer merely undoes the question by establishing the fact that to question reality is to question meaninglessly. That is why the Holy Spirit never questions. His sole function is to undo the questionable and thus lead to certainty. The certain are perfectly calm, because they are not in doubt. They do not raise questions, because nothing questionable enters their minds. This holds them in perfect serenity, because this is what they share, knowing what they are.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 23

Lesson 54

These are the review ideas for today:

1. (16I have no neutral thoughts.

Neutral thoughts are impossible because all thoughts have power. They will either make a false world or lead me to the real one. But thoughts cannot be without effects. As the world I see arises from my thinking errors, so will the real world rise before my eyes as I let my errors be corrected. My thoughts cannot be neither true nor false. They must be one or the other. What I see shows me which they are.

2. (17I see no neutral things.

What I see witnesses to what I think. If I did not think I would not exist, because life is thought. Let me look on the world I see as the representation of my own state of mind. I know that my state of mind can change. And so I also know the world I see can change as well.

3. (18I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

If I have no private thoughts, I cannot see a private world. Even the mad idea of separation had to be shared before it could form the basis of the world I see. Yet that sharing was a sharing of nothing. I can also call upon my real thoughts, which share everything with everyone. As my thoughts of separation call to the separation thoughts of others, so my real thoughts awaken the real thoughts in them. And the world my real thoughts show me will dawn on their sight as well as mine.

4. (19I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

I am alone in nothing. Everything I think or say or do teaches all the universe. A Son of God cannot think or speak or act in vain. He cannot be alone in anything. It is therefore in my power to change every mind along with mine, for mine is the power of God.

5. (20I am determined to see.

Recognizing the shared nature of my thoughts, I am determined to see. I would look upon the witnesses that show me the think­ing of the world has been changed. I would behold the proof that what has been done through me has enabled love to replace fear, laughter to replace tears, and abundance to replace loss. I would look upon the real world, and let it teach me that my will and the Will of God are one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) How free are we in our everyday lives to act in our own best interests, especially if, as A Course in Miracles says, we are all hallucinating? 

A) This answer begins where the previous one ends. Within the dream of our individual existence — the hallucination — we are free to choose. However, such choosing has nothing to do with what the world understands by choosing, especially when we think of trying to act in our own best interests. We cannot act in our best interests because, as the workbook reminds us, “I do not perceive my own best interests” (W-pI.24; italics ours). This is a crucial aspect in the understanding of the Course, and the above lesson states the point clearly: 

In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy.  Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result.  What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are. If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn (W-pI.24.1-2:2).

Therefore, throughout A Course in Miracles, Jesus urges us to consult either him or the Holy Spirit, for They are the only ones Who do know what our best interests are. And these, naturally, always involve the change of mind or perception that reflects our decisions to forgive instead of to attack. On our own, we cannot forgive, let alone know what choices we should make. However, we are always free to choose our teacher, and in that choice we have already acted in our own best interests. And this, and only this, is the meaning of free will within this world of illusion, for it is from the right mind alone that the right choice — our best interest — can result. Thus it is that Jesus addresses his students: “Resign now as your own teacher… for you were badly taught” (T-12.V.8:3; T-28.I.7:1), and he asks that they choose instead the Teacher Whose wisdom will always teach them correctly. 

present love

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 22, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for February 22

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

II. The Law of the Kingdom

To heal is the only kind of thinking in this world that resembles the Thought of God, and because of the elements they share, can transfer easily to it. When a brother perceives himself as sick, he is perceiving himself as not whole, and therefore in need. If you, too, see him this way, you are seeing him as if he were absent from the Kingdom or separated from it, thus making the Kingdom itself obscure to both of you. Sickness and separation are not of God, but the Kingdom is. If you obscure the Kingdom, you are perceiving what is not of God.

To heal, then, is to correct perception in your brother and yourself by sharing the Holy Spirit with him. This places you both within the Kingdom, and restores its wholeness in your mind. This reflects creation, because it unifies by increasing and integrates by extending. What you project or extend is real for you. This is an immutable law of the mind in this world as well as in the Kingdom. However, the content is different in this world, because the thoughts it governs are very different from the Thoughts in the Kingdom. Laws must be adapted to circumstances if they are to maintain order. The outstanding characteristic of the laws of mind as they operate in this world is that by obeying them, and I assure you that you must obey them, you can arrive at diametrically opposed results. This is because the laws have been adapted to the circumstances of this world, in which diametrically opposed outcomes seem possible because you can respond to two conflicting voices.

Outside the Kingdom, the law that prevails inside is adapted to ‘What you project you believe’. This is its teaching form, because outside the Kingdom learning is essential. This form implies that you will learn what you are from what you have projected onto others, and therefore believe they are. In the Kingdom there is no teaching or learning, because there is no belief. There is only certainty. God and His Sons, in the surety of being, know that what you extend you are. That form of the law is not adapted at all, being the law of creation. God Himself created the law by creating by it. And His Sons, who create like Him, follow it gladly, knowing that the increase of the Kingdom depends on it, just as their own creation did.

Laws must be communicated if they are to be helpful. In effect, they must be translated for those who speak different languages. Nevertheless, a good translator, although he must alter the form of what he translates, never changes the meaning. In fact, his whole purpose is to change the form so that the original meaning is retained. The Holy Spirit is the translator of the laws of God to those who do not understand them. You could not do this yourself because a conflicted mind cannot be faithful to one meaning, and will therefore change the meaning to preserve the form.

The Holy Spirit’s purpose in translating is exactly the opposite. He translates only to preserve the original meaning in all respects and in all languages. Therefore, He opposes the idea that differences in form are meaningful, emphasising always that these differences do not matter. The meaning of His message is always the same; only the meaning matters. God’s law of creation does not involve the use of truth to convince His Sons of truth. The extension of truth, which is the law of the Kingdom, rests only on the knowledge of what truth is. This is your inheritance and requires no learning at all, but when you disinherited yourself you became a learner of necessity.

No one questions the connection of learning and memory. Learning is impossible without memory since it must be consistent to be remembered. That is why the Holy Spirit’s teaching is a lesson in remembering. I said before that He teaches remembering and forgetting, but the forgetting is only to make the remembering consistent. You forget in order to remember better. You will not understand His translations while you listen to two ways of interpreting them. Therefore you must forget or relinquish one to understand the other. This is the only way you can learn consistency, so that you can finally be consistent.

What can the perfect consistency of the Kingdom mean to those who are confused? It is apparent that confusion interferes with meaning, and therefore prevents the learner from appreciating it. There is no confusion in the Kingdom, because there is only one meaning. This meaning comes from God and is God. Because it is also you, you share it and extend it as your Creator did. This needs no translation because it is perfectly understood, but it does need extension because it means extension. Communication is perfectly direct and perfectly united. It is totally free, because nothing discordant ever enters. That is why it is the Kingdom of God. It belongs to Him and is therefore like Him. That is its reality, and nothing can assail it.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 22

LESSON 53

Today we will review the following:

1. (11My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

Since the thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything, the world that pictures them can have no meaning. What is producing this world is insane, and so is what it produces. Reality is not insane, and I have real thoughts as well as insane ones. I can therefore see a real world, if I look to my real thoughts as my guide for seeing.

2. (12I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

Insane thoughts are upsetting. They produce a world in which there is no order anywhere. Only chaos rules a world that repre­sents chaotic thinking, and chaos has no laws. I cannot live in peace in such a world. I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it. And I do not choose to value what is totally insane and has no meaning.

3. (13A meaningless world engenders fear.

The totally insane engenders fear because it is completely undependable, and offers no grounds for trust. Nothing in madness is dependable. It holds out no safety and no hope. But such a world is not real. I have given it the illusion of reality, and have suffered from my belief in it. Now I choose to withdraw this belief, and place my trust in reality. In choosing this, I will es­cape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledg­ing that it does not exist.

4. (14God did not create a meaningless world.

How can a meaningless world exist if God did not create it? He is the Source of all meaning, and everything that is real is in His Mind. It is in my mind too, because He created it with me. Why should I continue to suffer from the effects of my own insane thoughts, when the perfection of creation is my home? Let me remember the power of my decision, and recognize where I really abide.

5. (15My thoughts are images that I have made.

Whatever I see reflects my thoughts. It is my thoughts that tell me where I am and what I am. The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see. Yet God’s way is sure. The images I have made cannot prevail against Him because it is not my will that they do so. My will is His, and I will place no other gods before Him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the “holy instant,” and what is its role in the Atonement?

A) In a sense, understanding the holy instant parallels understanding the question of meditation we discussed above. The holy instant is not a period of meditation wherein the student has a “good experience,” and feels the presence of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the holy instant is the Course’s term for the instant — outside time and space — when we choose the Holy Spirit as our teacher instead of the ego. It is the correction of forgiveness for the ego’s “unholy instant” of judgment and attack, the experience of undoing our guilt through Jesus’ help. It is this purpose which makes the instant holy, and establishes it as an integral part of the overall Atonement plan for correcting our misperceptions and misthoughts.

Moreover, the holy instant can be understood as the steps we take throughout our lives that gradually lead us closer and closer to the real world, in a sense the ultimate holy instant. Each time we are tempted to listen to the ego’s tale of specialness and the need for attack, we are reminded by Jesus that we can choose a miracle instead — “Let miracles replace all grievances” (workbook, pp.137-38; W-pI.78) — and have him help us make the shift in perception that constitutes the essence of forgiveness, the heart of the holy instant. In other words, the holy instants are the “little steps” of forgiveness the Course refers to that are the means for helping us undo our illusions so that we may reach our goal of truth. As we read in the Course:

Against the ego’s insane notion of salvation the Holy Spirit gently lays the holy instant …. The holy instant is the opposite of the ego’s fixed belief in salvation through vengeance for the past…. In the holy instant the power of the Holy Spirit will prevail, because you joined Him …. Release your brothers from the slavery of their illusions by forgiving them for the illusions you perceive in them. Thus will you learn that you have been forgiven, for it is you who offered them illusions. In the holy instant this is done for you in time, to bring you the true condition of Heaven (T-16.VII.6:1,3; 7:3; 9:5-7).

you have no idea

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 20, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for February 20

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

V. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit

C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom

We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.

The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He isjudgemental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgement. This enables the mind to teach without judgement, and therefore to learn to be without judgement. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:

Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.

This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasises the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.

While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognising this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.

Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.

You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition of the Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.

The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the centre, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.

To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.

Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.

The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 20

REVIEW I

Introduction

1. Beginning with today we will have a series of review periods. Each of them will cover five of the ideas already presented, starting with the first and ending with the fiftieth. There will be a few short comments after each of the ideas, which you should consider in your review. In the practice periods, the exercises should be done as follows:

2. Begin the day by reading the five ideas, with the comments included. Thereafter, it is not necessary to follow any particular order in considering them, though each one should be practiced at least once. Devote two minutes or more to each practice period, thinking about the idea and the related comments after reading them over. Do this as often as possible during the day. If any one of the five ideas appeals to you more than the others, concentrate on that one. At the end of the day, however, be sure to review all of them once more.

3. It is not necessary to cover the comments that follow each idea either literally or thoroughly in the practice periods. Try, rather, to emphasize the central point, and think about it as part of your review of the idea to which it relates. After you have read the idea and the related comments, the exercises should be done with your eyes closed and when you are alone in a quiet place, if possible.

4. This is emphasized for practice periods at your stage of learn­ing. It will be necessary, however, that you learn to require no special settings in which to apply what you have learned. You will need your learning most in situations that appear to be upsetting, rather than in those that already seem to be calm and quiet. The purpose of your learning is to enable you to bring the quiet with you, and to heal distress and turmoil. This is not done by avoiding them and seeking a haven of isolation for yourself.

5. You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are. And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.

6. You will note that, for review purposes, some of the ideas are not given in quite their original form. Use them as they are given here. It is not necessary to return to the original statements, nor to apply the ideas as was suggested then. We are now emphasiz­ing the relationships among the first fifty of the ideas we have covered, and the cohesiveness of the thought system to which they are leading you.

*

LESSON 51

The review for today covers the following ideas:

1. (1Nothing I see means anything.

The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and nothing has no meaning. It is necessary that I recognize this, that I may learn to see. What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing it has no meaning, so that vision may take its place.

2. (2I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me.

I have judged everything I look upon, and it is this and only this I see. This is not vision. It is merely an illusion of reality, because my judgments have been made quite apart from reality. I am willing to recognize the lack of validity in my judgments, because I want to see. My judgments have hurt me, and I do not want to see according to them.

3. (3I do not understand anything I see.

How could I understand what I see when I have judged it amiss? What I see is the projection of my own errors of thought. I do not understand what I see because it is not understandable. There is no sense in trying to understand it. But there is every reason to let it go, and make room for what can be seen and understood and loved. I can exchange what I see now for this merely by being willing to do so. Is not this a better choice than the one I made before?

4. (4These thoughts do not mean anything.

The thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything be­cause I am trying to think without God. What I call “my” thoughts are not my real thoughts. My real thoughts are the thoughts I think with God. I am not aware of them because I have made my thoughts to take their place. I am willing to rec­ognize that my thoughts do not mean anything, and to let them go. I choose to have them be replaced by what they were in­tended to replace. My thoughts are meaningless, but all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God.

5. (5I am never upset for the reason I think.

I am never upset for the reason I think because I am constantly trying to justify my thoughts. I am constantly trying to make them true. I make all things my enemies, so that my anger is justified and my attacks are warranted. I have not realized how much I have misused everything I see by assigning this role to it. I have done this to defend a thought system that has hurt me, and that I no longer want. I am willing to let it go.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Do Jesus or the Holy Spirit send me my lessons?

A) No, they do not. Here again, we see an example of students taking the words of A Course in Miracles literally, the result being that conclusions are drawn that are the exact opposite of what Jesus is actually teaching in his Course. To be sure, there are passages with words stating that the Holy Spirit (or Jesus) provide lessons for us, send people to us, or that we are sent to others. However, it is essential that students of A Course in Miracles, if they are to grow in their learning and practice of its principles, understand that statements such as these — clearly in the minority when taken against the whole of the Course’s teaching — are meant to reach those who are basically just beginning their spiritual journey with the Course. And so Jesus couches his teachings in words that his students — always referred to as children (or sometimes even younger) — can understand without fear.

Our experience is that we are very much a part of this physical world, just as we believe God is. There is, for example, this very important line in the text, which we have already quoted: “You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T-18.Vlll.1:7). Therefore, as we discussed earlier in question 5, it would not be helpful nor practical for Jesus to impose a level of explanation beyond his students’ capacity to understand. As he states so clearly in the workbook: “For who can understand a language far beyond his simple grasp?” (W-pI.192.2:2). Thus, we can recognize again that Jesus uses language to serve as a bridge from the level of his students’ experience to his truth.

In fact, the Holy Spirit or Jesus do nothing in the world, because all correction and healing occur at the level of the mind. “There is no world!” as Jesus states emphatically in the workbook: “This is the central thought the course attempts to teach” (W-pI.132.6:2-3). Jesus’ presence exists only in our minds, since that is all there is. Ideas leave not their source, and so the dream has never left the mind of the dreamer, however compellingly real the world appears to be to us. This is similar to the experience everyone has when asleep at night and dreaming. While asleep, the dreamer actually believes that the activities occurring in the dream are quite real, and reacts accordingly with feelings of happiness, fear, joy, or anxiety, not to mention physical concomitants as well, such as tachycardia, excessive perspiration, etc. However, upon waking, the dreamer realizes that “it was only a dream.”  Similar to what we discussed before in question 22, we understand that nothing has occurred other than within the mind of the dreamer, which contained the various images and symbols that seemed to be so real.  As Jesus repeatedly points out in the Course, there is no difference whatsoever between our sleeping and waking experiences. They are both simply dreams occurring within the larger dream of separation. As he says in the text:

All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it. In your waking dreams, the special relationship has a special place. It is the means by which you try to make your sleeping dreams come true (T-18.11.5:12-17; italics ours).

And so it would make no sense for our wise inner teacher, Jesus, to fall into the same trap that the world does, of making the error real by seeing problems existing there, and therefore their solutions as well. However, as long as we believe that we are here, with problems and answers here, our experience will be that our help will be here, too.  The loving presence of Jesus in our right minds — a mind which we have denied — will inevitably be experienced in the body and the world, even though he is not there. Participating in the process of forgiveness, students of A Course in Miracles gradually realize that they are the dreamers and not the dream, and that their existence is in the
mind and not the body. Eventually, the realization also occurs that Jesus or the Holy Spirit is only within their minds.

And what is Their function within the mind? To restate what we discussed previously, Their function is simply to remind the Son of God that he has made a faulty choice (by choosing the ego as his teacher), and now can make the correct one. His attention, via the miracle, has been restored to his mind, where the wrong decision was made and the presence of the Holy Spirit reminds him he can choose again. Early in the text, Jesus describes the functioning of the Holy Spirit this way:

The Voice of the Holy Spirit does not command, because It is incapable of arrogance.  It does not demand, because It does not seek control. It does not overcome, because It does not attack. It merely reminds. It is compelling only because of what It reminds you of. It brings to your mind the other way, remaining quiet even in the midst of the turmoil you may make (T-5.II.7:1-6).

And so we — the decision maker in our minds — are the ones who write and choose our scripts, and the role of Jesus is to remind us that we can make another choice in how we look at what we have chosen. That looking with his love beside us is the core of the Course’s meaning of forgiveness. We are the ones who chose wrongly, and therefore we are the ones who must choose differently, as Jesus exhorts us at the end of the text:

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again” (T-31.Vlll.3:1-2).

Again, we are the ones who present ourselves with our scripts, and it is our minds that choose whether to have our egos or Jesus be the teacher guiding us through these experiences.

Therefore, it is not the Holy Spirit that brings us parking spaces, sends certain people to be helped by us or for us to be helped by, or causes us to be raped as a forgiveness lesson, as one poor student of A Course in Miracles believed about a very painful experience in her own life. Such mistaken thoughts about the Holy Spirit, besides having potentially tragic implications, help students to avoid responsibility for their own choices by transferring them over to the Holy Spirit or Jesus. And then they justify such misperceptions by quoting — out of context! — passages from the Course to support their positions of specialness.

And so it is extremely important, to make this point still once again, for students of A Course in Miracles not to confuse the form of the Course’s teaching with its underlyingcontent. Otherwise growth will not occur, and they would forever remain at the lower levels of their journey up the spiritual ladder that the Course provides. Therefore, the purpose for students being told that the Holy Spirit does things for them in the world, is to be healed of the ego’s basic thought system that teaches that there is no Holy Spirit, and even if there were, He certainly would not be a friendly Presence which would comfort and guide them. Thus, it is not the words (the form) that are the true teaching of the Course, but their underlying meaning (the content). Jesus’ purpose in using this metaphoric language is to help his students undo the ego thoughts that a wrathful and avenging God will punish them for their sin.

Once the belief is corrected that God (or the Holy Spirit or Jesus) is our enemy, we are able to advance along to the next steps of our journey. These include the increasing recognition, as we approach the journey’s end, of the essentially abstract reality of the Holy Spirit’s and Jesus’ presence in our split minds. What is at issue here is the crucial point of proceeding slowly and patiently along the spiritual path, minimizing the inevitable fear of eventually letting go of one’s individual identity. As Jesus so gently comforts us, using the metaphor of dreams:

The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as means for waking. You would have used them to remain asleep. I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams. That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship. He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you. But He does use it differently, as a help to make His purpose real to you. The special relationship will remain, not as a source of pain and guilt, but as a source of joy and freedom …. In your relationship the Holy Spirit has gently laid the real world; the world of happy dreams, from which awaking is so easy and so natural (T-18.11.6:1-7; 9:4).

Thus students are not asked to progress directly from the illusory nightmares special relationships to the reality of the one relationship with God, but with Jesus as their guide, they first pass through the illusory dreams of forgiveness.  These happy dreams undo the ego interference, which then allows the Love of God to return to their awareness. Therefore, as students of A Course in Miracles, they first learn that God is a loving Father rather than a hateful one, and the Holy Spirit a comforting companion to them in the world rather than their enemy. Only then can they learn that there is in fact no world for Them to comfort us in. Metaphor has served its purpose, and now can give way to the simple truth of the Oneness in God that lies beyond all words, and which is the ultimate goal of A Course in Miracles.

guiltless mind

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 19, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for February 19

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

V. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit

B. To Have Peace, Teach Peace to Learn It

All who believe in separation have a basic fear of retaliation and abandonment. They believe in attack and rejection, so that is what they perceive and teach and learn. These insane ideas are clearly the result of dissociation and projection. What you teach you are, but it is quite apparent that you can teach wrongly, and can therefore teach yourself wrong. Many thought I was attacking them, even though it was apparent I was not. An insane learner learns strange lessons. What you must recognise is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them. This is because everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centres on what you believe you are. If the centre of the thought system is true, only truth extends from it. But if a lie is at its centre, only deception proceeds from it.

All good teachers realise that only fundamental change will last, but they do not begin at that level. Strengthening motivation for change is their first and foremost goal. It is also their last and final one. Increasing motivation for change in the learner is all that a teacher need do to guarantee change. Change in motivation is a change of mind, and this will inevitably produce fundamental change because the mind is fundamental.

The first step in the reversal or undoing process is the undoing of the getting concept. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit’s first lesson was ‘To have, give all to all’. I said that this is apt to increase conflict temporarily, and we can clarify this still further now. At this point, the equality of having and being is not yet perceived. Until it is, having appears to be the opposite of giving. Therefore, the first lesson seems to contain a contradiction, since it is being learned by a conflicted mind. This means conflicting motivation, and so the lesson cannot be learned consistently as yet. Further, the mind of the learner projects its own conflict, and thus does not perceive consistency in the minds of others, making him suspicious of their motivation. This is the real reason why, in many respects, the first lesson is the hardest to learn. Still strongly aware of the ego in yourself, and responding primarily to the ego in others, you are being taught to react to both as if what you do believe is not true.

Upside down as always, the ego perceives the first lesson as insane. In fact, this is its only alternative since the other possibility, which would be much less acceptable to it, would obviously be that it is insane. The ego’s judgement, here as always, is predetermined by what it is. The fundamental change will still occur with the change of mind in the thinker. Meanwhile, the increasing clarity of the Holy Spirit’s Voice makes it impossible for the learner not to listen. For a time, then, he is receiving conflicting messages and accepting both.

The way out of conflict between two opposing thought systems is clearly to choose one and relinquish the other. If you identify with your thought system, and you cannot escape this, and if you accept two thought systems which are in complete disagreement, peace of mind is impossible. If you teach both, which you will surely do as long as you accept both, you are teaching conflict and learning it. Yet you do want peace, or you would not have called upon the Voice for peace to help you. Its lesson is not insane; the conflict is.

There can be no conflict between sanity and insanity. Only one is true, and therefore only one is real. The ego tries to persuade you that it is up to you to decide which voice is true, but the Holy Spirit teaches you that truth was created by God, and your decision cannot change it. As you begin to realise the quiet power of the Holy Spirit’s Voice, and Its perfect consistency, it must dawn on your mind that you are trying to undo a decision that was irrevocably made for you. That is why I suggested before that you remind yourself to allow the Holy Spirit to decide for God for you.

You are not asked to make insane decisions, although you can think you are. It must, however, be insane to believe that it is up to you to decide what God’s creations are. The Holy Spirit perceives the conflict exactly as it is. Therefore, His second lesson is:

To have peace, teach peace to learn it.

This is still a preliminary step, since having and being are still not equated. It is, however, more advanced than the first step, which is really only the beginning of the thought reversal. The second step is a positive affirmation of what you want. This, then, is a step in the direction out of conflict, since it means that alternatives have been considered, and one has been chosen as more desirable. Nevertheless, the term ‘more desirable’ still implies that the desirable has degrees. Therefore, although this step is essential for the ultimate decision, it is clearly not the final one. Lack of order of difficulty in miracles has not yet been accepted, because nothing is difficult that is wholly desired. To desire wholly is to create, and creating cannot be difficult if God Himself created you as a creator.

The second step, then, is still perceptual, although it is a giant step toward the unified perception that reflects God’s knowing. As you take this step and hold this direction, you will be pushing toward the centre of your thought system, where the fundamental change will occur. At the second step progress is intermittent, but the second step is easier than the first because it follows. Realising that it must follow is a demonstration of a growing awareness that the Holy Spirit will lead you on.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 19

Lesson 50 

I am sustained by the Love of God.

1. Here is the answer to every problem that will confront you, today and tomorrow and throughout time. In this world, you believe you are sustained by everything but God. Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols; pills, money, “protective” clothing, influence, prestige, being liked, knowing the “right” people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness that you endow with magical powers.

2. All these things are your replacements for the Love of God. All these things are cherished to ensure a body identification. They are songs of praise to the ego. Do not put your faith in the worthless. It will not sustain you.

3. Only the Love of God will protect you in all circumstances. It will lift you out of every trial, and raise you high above all the perceived dangers of this world into a climate of perfect peace and safety. It will transport you into a state of mind that nothing can threaten, nothing can disturb, and where nothing can intrude upon the eternal calm of the Son of God.

4. Put not your faith in illusions. They will fail you. Put all your faith in the Love of God within you; eternal, changeless and for­ever unfailing. This is the answer to whatever confronts you to­day. Through the Love of God within you, you can resolve all seeming difficulties without effort and in sure confidence. Tell yourself this often today. It is a declaration of release from the belief in idols. It is your acknowledgment of the truth about yourself.

5. For ten minutes, twice today, morning and evening, let the idea for today sink deep into your consciousness. Repeat it, think about it, let related thoughts come to help you recognize its truth, and allow peace to flow over you like a blanket of protec­tion and surety. Let no idle and foolish thoughts enter to disturb the holy mind of the Son of God. Such is the Kingdom of Heaven. Such is the resting place where your Father has placed you forever.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Where does it say in A Course in Miracles that Jesus is the author, and why is there no author’s name given in the book? Moreover, why are there sections on Jesus in the manual for teachers written in the third person? Is there another voice dictating here?

A) Almost the entire text of A Course in Miracles is written in  the first person, where the “I” is clearly identified throughout as Jesus. Moreover, there are many places where he specifically-   discusses the crucifixion and resurrection. There are relatively few obvious first person references in the workbook for students and manual for teachers, but when they do occur, their impact is quite dramatic, as seen for example in workbook Lesson 70, the Introduction to the fifth review lesson, and the poem that ends the manual.

Interestingly enough, there is one section in the manual proper — “Does Jesus Have a Special Place in Healing?” — and two in the manual’s appendix, the clarification of terms — “Jesus – Christ” and “The Holy Spirit” — where Jesus is spoken about in the third person. Some students have understood this shift to be a significant one that indicated that Helen was hearing another voice here. This was definitely not the case, as she was always clear that there was only one voice — Jesus — that was dictating to her. These three sections specifically deal with Jesus, and the shift in the person of the “voice” was made for stylistic purposes, and has no other significance.  If students wish, however, they can understand these third-person sections to be the Holy Spirit speaking about Jesus. 

It is in the aforementioned section in the manual for teachers where one finds this very specific statement that the source of A Course in Miracles is Jesus, as spoken, again if the reader wishes, by the Holy Spirit:

This course has come from him because his words have reached you in a language you can love and understand. Are other teachers possible, to lead the way to those who speak in different tongues and appeal to different symbols? Certainly there are.  Would God leave anyone without a very present help in time of trouble; a savior who can symbolize Himself? Yet do we need a many-faceted curriculum, not because of content differences, but because symbols must shift and change to suit the need.  Jesus has come to answer yours. In him you find God’s Answer (M-23.7:1-7; italics ours).

The reason no author’s name is given in A Course in Miracles is a very simple one:
Jesus was quite explicit in his instructions to Helen that this be the case. Helen was
also personally clear about not having her own name appear, since she was always emphatically unambiguous with people that she was not the author of the course.

the way to god

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

ACIM Text Reading for February 18

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

V. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit

A. To Have, Give All to All

When your body and your ego and your dreams are gone, you will know that you will last forever. Perhaps you think this is accomplished through death, but nothing is accomplished through death, because death is nothing. Everything is accomplished through life, and life is of the mind and in the mind. The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you who are life. If we share the same mind, you can overcome death because I did. Death is an attempt to resolve conflict by not deciding at all. Like any other impossible solution the ego attempts, it will not work.

God did not make the body, because it is destructible, and therefore not of the Kingdom. The body is the symbol of what you think you are. It is clearly a separation device, and therefore does not exist. The Holy Spirit, as always, takes what you have made and translates it into a learning device. Again as always, He reinterprets what the ego uses as an argument for separation into a demonstration against it. If the mind can heal the body, but the body cannot heal the mind, then the mind must be stronger than the body. Every miracle demonstrates this.

I have said that the Holy Spirit is the motivation for miracles. He always tells you that only the mind is real, because only the mind can be shared. The body is separate, and therefore cannot be part of you. To be of one mind is meaningful, but to be one body is meaningless. By the laws of mind, then, the body is meaningless.

To the Holy Spirit, there is no order of difficulty in miracles. This is familiar enough to you by now, but it has not yet become believable. Therefore, you do not understand it and cannot use it. We have too much to accomplish on behalf of the Kingdom to let this crucial concept slip away. It is a real foundation stone of the thought system I teach and want you to teach. You cannot perform miracles without believing it, because it is a belief in perfect equality. Only one equal gift can be offered to the equal Sons of God, and that is full appreciation. Nothing more and nothing less. Without a range order of difficulty is meaningless, and there must be no range in what you offer to your brother.

The Holy Spirit, who leads to God, translates communication into being, just as He ultimately translates perception into knowledge. You do not lose what you communicate. The ego uses the body for attack, for pleasure and for pride. The insanity of this perception makes it a fearful one indeed. The Holy Spirit sees the body only as a means of communication, and because communicating is sharing it becomes communion. Perhaps you think that fear as well as love can be communicated; and therefore can be shared. Yet this is not so real as it may appear. Those who communicate fear are promoting attack, and attack always breaks communication, making it impossible. Egos do join together in temporary allegiance, but always for what each one can get separately. The Holy Spirit communicates only what each one can give to all. He never takes anything back, because He wants you to keep it. Therefore, His teaching begins with the lesson:

To have, give all to all.

This is a very preliminary step, and the only one you must take for yourself. It is not even necessary that you complete the step yourself, but it is necessary that you turn in that direction. Having chosen to go that way, you place yourself in charge of the journey, where you and only you must remain. This step may appear to exacerbate conflict rather than resolve it, because it is the beginning step in reversing your perception and turning it right-side up. This conflicts with the upside-down perception you have not yet abandoned, or the change in direction would not have been necessary. Some remain at this step for a long time, experiencing very acute conflict. At this point they may try to accept the conflict, rather than take the next step towards its resolution. Having taken the first step, however, they will be helped. Once they have chosen what they cannot complete alone, they are no longer alone.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 18

Lesson 49

God’s voice speaks to me all through the day.

1. It is quite possible to listen to God’s Voice all through the day without interrupting your regular activities in any way. The part of your mind in which truth abides is in constant communication with God, whether you are aware of it or not. It is the other part of your mind that functions in the world and obeys the world’s laws. It is this part that is constantly distracted, disorganized and highly uncertain.

2. The part that is listening to the Voice for God is calm, always at rest and wholly certain. It is really the only part there is. The other part is a wild illusion, frantic and distraught, but without reality of any kind. Try today not to listen to it. Try to identify with the part of your mind where stillness and peace reign for­ever. Try to hear God’s Voice call to you lovingly, reminding you that your Creator has not forgotten His Son.

3. We will need at least four five-minute practice periods today, and more if possible. We will try actually to hear God’s Voice reminding you of Him and of your Self. We will approach this happiest and holiest of thoughts with confidence, knowing that in doing so we are joining our will with the Will of God. He wants you to hear His Voice. He gave It to you to be heard.

4. Listen in deep silence. Be very still and open your mind. Go past all the raucous shrieks and sick imaginings that cover your real thoughts and obscure your eternal link with God. Sink deep into the peace that waits for you beyond the frantic, riotous thoughts and sights and sounds of this insane world. You do not live here. We are trying to reach your real home. We are trying to reach the place where you are truly welcome. We are trying to reach God.

5. Do not forget to repeat today’s idea very frequently. Do so with your eyes open when necessary, but closed when possible. And be sure to sit quietly and repeat the idea for today when­ever you can, closing your eyes on the world, and realizing that you are inviting God’s Voice to speak to you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

 Q) Is the Jesus of A Course in Miracles the same Jesus written about in the Bible, and the same person who walked the earth in Palestine two thousand years ago?

A) Yes, it is definitely the same Jesus who appeared in the world two thousand years ago, with the same message of truth — in content obviously, not form. However, it is extremely hard to believe that the Jesus of A Course in Miracles is the same figure written about in the Bible, just as it would be difficult to accept that the biblical Jesus resembles the truly historical one. This is not the place to delve into issues of scripture scholarship and how the gospels were written, but suffice it to state for our purposes here that the figure found in the four gospels, as well as the teachings recorded in the other books of the New Testament, are often diametrically opposed to what we find in the Course. Rather than attempt a procrustean fit of a round peg in a square hole, it seems much safer and intellectually honest for students of A Course in Miracles to accept that the biblical Jesus represents the collective projections of the various authors of the gospels and epistles, while the voice and person of Jesus in A Course in Miraclesrepresents the ego-free being who lived and taught two thousand years ago. In conclusion, the Jesus of the Bible and the Course are mutually exclusive figures, with only the common name linking them together.

For a more thorough discussion of these differences, the reader is referred to A Course in Miracles and Christianity: A Dialogue. [See excerpts from this book on the Web beginning at: http://www.miraclestudies.net/Dialogue_Pref.html]

secret of salvation

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

ACIM Text Reading for February 17

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

V. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit

Like any good teacher, the Holy Spirit knows more than you do now, but He teaches only to make you equal with Him. You had already taught yourself wrongly, having believed what was not true. You did not believe in your own perfection. Would God teach you that you had made a split mind, when He knows your mind only as whole? What God does know is that His communication channels are not open to Him, so that He cannot impart His joy and know that His children are wholly joyous. Giving His joy is an ongoing process, not in time but in eternity. God’s extending outward, though not His completeness, is blocked when the Sonship does not communicate with Him as one. So He thought, ‘My children sleep and must be awakened’.

How can you wake children in a more kindly way than by a gentle Voice that will not frighten them, but will merely remind them that the night is over and the light has come? You do not inform them that the nightmares that frightened them so badly are not real, because children believe in magic. You merely reassure them that they are safe now. Then you train them to recognise the difference between sleeping and waking, so they will understand they need not be afraid of dreams. And so when bad dreams come, they will themselves call on the light to dispel them.

A wise teacher teaches through approach, not avoidance. He does not emphasise what you must avoid to escape from harm, but what you need to learn to have joy. Consider the fear and confusion a child would experience if he were told, ‘Do not do this because it will hurt you and make you unsafe; but if you do that instead, you will escape from harm and be safe, and then you will not be afraid’. It is surely better to use only three words: ‘Do only that!’ This simple statement is perfectly clear, easily understood and very easily remembered.

The Holy Spirit never itemises errors because He does not frighten children, and those who lack wisdom are children. Yet He always answers their call, and His dependability makes them more certain. Children do confuse fantasy and reality, and they are frightened because they do not recognise the difference. The Holy Spirit makes no distinction among dreams. He merely shines them away. His light is always the call to awaken, whatever you have been dreaming. Nothing lasting lies in dreams, and the Holy Spirit, shining with the Light from God Himself, speaks only for what lasts forever.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 17

Lesson 48

There is nothing to fear.

1. The idea for today simply states a fact. It is not a fact to those who believe in illusions, but illusions are not facts. In truth there is nothing to fear. It is very easy to recognize this. But it is very difficult to recognize it for those who want illusions to be true.

2. Today’s practice periods will be very short, very simple and very frequent. Merely repeat the idea as often as possible. You can use it with your eyes open at any time and in any situation. It is strongly recommended, however, that you take a minute or so whenever possible to close your eyes and repeat the idea slowly to yourself several times. It is particularly important that you use the idea immediately, should anything disturb your peace of mind.

3. The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength. The awareness that there is nothing to fear shows that somewhere in your mind, though not necessarily in a place you recognize as yet, you have remembered God, and let His strength take the place of your weakness. The instant you are willing to do this there is indeed nothing to fear.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is there a difference between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and does it matter to whom I go for help?

A) The difference between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a theological one, not a practical one. According to the Course’s theory, the Holy Spirit was created by God in response to the thought of separation in His Son’s mind. In reality of course, as we have mentioned several times before, such a description in A Course in Miracles is metaphoric, because how can God give an answer to something that never happened? At any rate, the Holy Spirit can be more properly understood as the memory of God’s Love and the Son’s true Identity as Christ that he carried with him into his dream. The Holy Spirit, therefore, is a principle or a thought in the Son’s mind that reminds him that what he believes about himself and his Creator is false. This correction is what is known in A Course in Miracles as the principle of the Atonement.

Jesus, on the other hand, is a part of the Sonship, and is as tangible and specific as is the Son’s belief about himself. He is the part of the Son’s one mind that “remembered to laugh” at the tiny, mad idea. And therefore Jesus becomes a manifestation of the Atonement principle, or of the more abstract presence of the Holy Spirit. That is what is meant in the clarification of terms by the previously quoted statement that the Holy Spirit “established Jesus as the leader in carrying out His plan” (C-6.2:2), and by the passage in the text that is a direct reference to Jesus:

The Atonement principle was in effect long before the Atonement began. The principle was love [the Holy Spirit] and the Atonement was an act of love [Jesus] (T-2.11.4:2-3).

On the level of practice, however, there is no difference. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit serve as our inner Teachers, to whom we go for help in learning how to forgive. The Holy Spirit offers the student a more abstract Teacher, if Jesus is a problem; while Jesus is a more specific and personal form for the student to relate to. Either one will do, however, for Their function remains the same. Nonetheless, if Jesus is indeed a problem figure for students of his Course, then it would definitely be in keeping with the Course’s very principles for such students to look at their unforgiveness of him. Thus they may explore its deeper roots so that they may be undone, just as with any unforgiveness that is present within their minds.

f9c9da3d069e9d79091cf8dca3b9132a

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

ACIM Text Reading for February 16

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

IV. The Only Answer

Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Answer, not the question. The ego always speaks first. It is capricious and does not mean its maker well. It believes, and correctly, that its maker may withdraw his support from it at any moment. If it meant you well it would be glad, as the Holy Spirit will be glad when He has brought you home and you no longer need His guidance. The ego does not regard itself as part of you. Herein lies its primary error, the foundation of its whole thought system.

When God created you He made you part of Him. That is why attack within the Kingdom is impossible. You made the ego without love, and so it does not love you. You could not remain within the Kingdom without love, and since the Kingdom is love, you believe that you are without it. This enables the ego to regard itself as separate and outside its maker, thus speaking for the part of your mind that believes you are separate and outside the Mind of God. The ego, then, raised the first question that was ever asked, but one it can never answer. That question, ‘What are you?’ was the beginning of doubt. The ego has never answered any questions since, although it has raised a great many. The most inventive activities of the ego have never done more than obscure the question, because you have the answer and the ego is afraid of you.

You cannot understand the conflict until you fully understand the basic fact that the ego cannot know anything. The Holy Spirit does not speak first, but He always answers. Everyone has called upon Him for help at one time or another and in one way or another, and has been answered. Since the Holy Spirit answers truly He answers for all time, which means that everyone has the answer now.

The ego cannot hear the Holy Spirit, but it does believe that part of the mind that made it is against it. It interprets this as a justification for attacking its maker. It believes that the best defence is attack, and wants you to believe it. Unless you do believe it you will not side with it, and the ego feels badly in need of allies, though not of brothers. Perceiving something alien to itself in your mind, the ego turns to the body as its ally, because the body is not part of you. This makes the body the ego’s friend. It is an alliance frankly based on separation. If you side with this alliance you will be afraid, because you are siding with an alliance of fear.

The ego uses the body to conspire against your mind, and because the ego realises that its ‘enemy’ can end them both merely by recognising they are not part of you, they join in the attack together. This is perhaps the strangest perception of all, if you consider what it really involves. The ego, which is not real, attempts to persuade the mind, which is real, that the mind is the ego’s learning device; and further, that the body is more real than the mind is. No one in his right mind could possibly believe this, and no one in his right mind does believe it.

Hear, then, the one answer of the Holy Spirit to all the questions the ego raises: You are a child of God, a priceless part of His Kingdom, which He created as part of Him. Nothing else exists and only this is real. You have chosen a sleep in which you have had bad dreams, but the sleep is not real and God calls you to awake. There will be nothing left of your dream when you hear Him, because you will awaken. Your dreams contain many of the ego’s symbols and they have confused you. Yet that was only because you were asleep and did not know. When you wake you will see the truth around you and you will no longer believe in dreams, because they will have no reality for you. Yet the Kingdom and all that you have created there will have great reality for you, because they are beautiful and true.

In the Kingdom, where you are and what you are is perfectly certain. There is no doubt, because the first question was never asked. Having finally been wholly answered,it has never beenBeing alone lives in the Kingdom, where everything lives in God without question. The time spent on questioning in the dream has given way to creation and to its eternity. You are as certain as God because you are as true as He is, but what was once certain in your mind has become only the ability for certainty.

The introduction of abilities into being was the beginning of uncertainty, because abilities are potentials, not accomplishments. Your abilities are useless in the presence of God’s accomplishments, and also of yours. Accomplishments are results that have been achieved. When they are perfect, abilities are meaningless. It is curious that the perfect must now be perfected. In fact, it is impossible. Remember, however, that when you put yourself in an impossible situation you believe that the impossible is possible.

Abilities must be developed before you can use them. This is not true of anything that God created, but it is the kindest solution possible for what you made. In an impossible situation, you can develop your abilities to the point where they can get you out of it. You have a Guide to how to develop them, but you have no commander except yourself. This leaves you in charge of the Kingdom, with both a Guide to find it and a means to keep it. You have a model to follow who will strengthen your command, and never detract from it in any way. You therefore retain the central place in your imagined enslavement, which in itself demonstrates that you are not enslaved.

You are in an impossible situation only because you think it is possible to be in one. You would be in an impossible situation if God showed you your perfection, and proved to you that you were wrong. This would demonstrate that the perfect are inadequate to bring themselves to an awareness of their perfection, and thus side with the belief that those who have everything need help and are therefore helpless. This is the kind of ‘reasoning’ in which the ego engages. God, Who knows that His creations are perfect, does not affront them. This would be as impossible as the ego’s notion that it has affronted Him.

That is why the Holy Spirit never commands. To command is to assume inequality, which the Holy Spirit demonstrates does not exist. Fidelity to premises is a law of mind, and everything God created is faithful to His laws. Fidelity to other laws is also possible, however, not because the laws are true, but because you made them. What would be gained if God proved to you that you have thought insanely? Can God lose His Own certainty? I have frequently said that what you teach you are. Would you have God teach you that you have sinned? If He confronted the self you made with the truth He created for you, what could you be but afraid? You would doubt your right mind, which is the only place where you can find the sanity He gave you.

God does not teach. To teach is to imply a lack, which God knows is not there. God is not conflicted. Teaching aims at change, but God created only the changeless. The separation was not a loss of perfection, but a failure in communication. A harsh and strident form of communication arose as the ego’s voice. It could not shatter the peace of God, but it could shatter yours. God did not blot it out, because to eradicate it would be to attack it. Being questioned, He did not question. He merely gave the Answer. His Answer is your Teacher.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 16

Lesson 47

God is the strength in which I trust.

1. If you are trusting in your own strength, you have every reason to be apprehensive, anxious and fearful. What can you predict or control? What is there in you that can be counted on? What would give you the ability to be aware of all the facets of any problem, and to resolve them in such a way that only good can come of it? What is there in you that gives you the recognition of the right solution, and the guarantee that it will be accomplished?

2. Of yourself you can do none of these things. To believe that you can is to put your trust where trust is unwarranted, and to justify fear, anxiety, depression, anger and sorrow. Who can put his faith in weakness and feel safe? Yet who can put his faith in strength and feel weak?

3. God is your safety in every circumstance. His Voice speaks for Him in all situations and in every aspect of all situations, telling you exactly what to do to call upon His strength and His protec­tion. There are no exceptions because God has no exceptions. And the Voice which speaks for Him thinks as He does.

4. Today we will try to reach past your own weakness to the Source of real strength. Four five-minute practice periods are necessary today, and longer and more frequent ones are urged. Close your eyes and begin, as usual, by repeating the idea for the day. Then spend a minute or two in searching for situations in your life which you have invested with fear, dismissing each one by telling yourself:

God is the strength in which I trust.

5. Now try to slip past all concerns related to your own sense of inadequacy. It is obvious that any situation that causes you concern is associated with feelings of inadequacy, for otherwise you would believe that you could deal with the situation successfully. It is not by trusting yourself that you will gain confidence. But the strength of God in you is successful in all things.

6. The recognition of your own frailty is a necessary step in the correction of your errors, but it is hardly a sufficient one in giving you the confidence which you need, and to which you are enti­tled. You must also gain an awareness that confidence in your real strength is fully justified in every respect and in all circumstances.

7. In the latter phase of the practice period, try to reach down into your mind to a place of real safety. You will recognize that you have reached it if you feel a sense of deep peace, however briefly. Let go all the trivial things that churn and bubble on the surface of your mind, and reach down and below them to the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a place in you where there is perfect peace. There is a place in you where nothing is impossible. There is a place in you where the strength of God abides.

8. During the day, repeat the idea often. Use it as your answer to any disturbance. Remember that peace is your right, because you are giving your trust to the strength of God.

***
ACIM Q & A for Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Into Christ's Presence

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 15, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for February 15

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

III. The Relinquishment of Attack

As we have already emphasised, every idea begins in the mind of the thinker. Therefore, what extends from the mind is still in it, and from what it extends it knows itself. The word ‘knows’ is correct here, because the Holy Spirit still holds knowledge safe in your mind through His impartial perception. By attacking nothing, He presents no barrier to the communication of God. Therefore, being is never threatened. Your Godlike mind can never be defiled. The ego never was and never will be part of it, but through the ego you can hear and teach and learn what is not true. You have taught yourself to believe that you are not what you are. You cannot teach what you have not learned, and what you teach you strengthen in yourself because you are sharing it. Every lesson you teach you are learning.

That is why you must teach only one lesson. If you are to be conflict-free yourself, you must learn only from the Holy Spirit and teach only by Him. You are only love, but when you deny this, you make what you are something you must learn to remember. I said before that the message of the crucifixion was, ‘Teach only love, for that is what you are’. This is the one lesson that is perfectly unified, because it is the only lesson that is one. Only by teaching it can you learn it. ‘As you teach so will you learn’. If that is true, and it is true indeed, do not forget that what you teach is teaching you. And what you project or extend you believe.

The only safety lies in extending the Holy Spirit, because as you see His gentleness in others your own mind perceives itself as totally harmless. Once it can accept this fully, it sees no need to protect itself. The protection of God then dawns upon it, assuring it that it is perfectly safe forever. The perfectly safe are wholly benign. They bless because they know that they are blessed. Without anxiety the mind is wholly kind, and because it extends beneficence it is beneficent. Safety is the complete relinquishment of attack. No compromise is possible in this. Teach attack in any form and you have learned it, and it will hurt you. Yet this learning is not immortal, and you can unlearn it by not teaching it.

Since you cannot not teach, your salvation lies in teaching the exact opposite of everything the ego believes. This is how you will learn the truth that will set you free, and will keep you free as others learn it of you. The only way to have peace is to teach peace. By teaching peace you must learn it yourself, because you cannot teach what you still dissociate. Only thus can you win back the knowledge that you threw away. An idea that you share you must have. It awakens in your mind through the conviction of teaching it. Everything you teach you are learning. Teach only love, and learn that love is yours and you are love.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 15

Lesson 46

God is the love in which I forgive.

1. God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. For­giveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.

2. Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions dis­appear.

3. Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.

4. If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:

God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].

5. The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:

God is the Love in which I forgive myself.

Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:

God is the Love with which I love myself.
God is the Love in which I am blessed.

6. The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:

I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.

The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.

7. The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to any­one, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:

God is the Love in which I forgive you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is there a difference between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and does it matter to whom I go for help?

A) The difference between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a theological one, not a practical one. According to the Course’s theory, the Holy Spirit was created by God in response to the thought of separation in His Son’s mind. In reality of course, as we have mentioned several times before, such a description in A Course in Miracles is metaphoric, because how can God give an answer to something that never happened? At any rate, the Holy Spirit can be more properly understood as the memory of God’s Love and the Son’s true Identity as Christ that he carried with him into his dream. The Holy Spirit, therefore, is a principle or a thought in the Son’s mind that reminds him that what he believes about himself and his Creator is false. This correction is what is known in A Course in Miracles as the principle of the Atonement.

Jesus, on the other hand, is a part of the Sonship, and is as tangible and specific as is the Son’s belief about himself. He is the part of the Son’s one mind that “remembered to laugh” at the tiny, mad idea. And therefore Jesus becomes a manifestation of the Atonement principle, or of the more abstract presence of the Holy Spirit. That is what is meant in the clarification of terms by the previously quoted statement that the Holy Spirit “established Jesus as the leader in carrying out His plan” (C-6.2:2), and by the passage in the text that is a direct reference to Jesus:

The Atonement principle was in effect long before the Atonement began. The principle was love [the Holy Spirit] and the Atonement was an act of love [Jesus] (T-2.11.4:2-3).

On the level of practice, however, there is no difference. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit serve as our inner Teachers, to whom we go for help in learning how to forgive. The Holy Spirit offers the student a more abstract Teacher, if Jesus is a problem; while Jesus is a more specific and personal form for the student to relate to. Either one will do, however, for Their function remains the same. Nonetheless, if Jesus is indeed a problem figure for students of his Course, then it would definitely be in keeping with the Course’s very principles for such students to look at their unforgiveness of him. Thus they may explore its deeper roots so that they may be undone, just as with any unforgiveness that is present within their minds.

the mind that serves spirit

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

ACIM Text Reading for February 14

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

II. The Alternative to Projection

Any split in mind must involve a rejection of part of it, and this is the belief in separation. The wholeness of God, which is His peace, cannot be appreciated except by a whole mind that recognises the wholeness of God’s creation. By this recognition it knows its Creator. Exclusion and separation are synonymous, as are separation and dissociation. We have said before that the separation was and is dissociation, and that once it occurs projection becomes its main defence, or the device that keeps it going. The reason, however, may not be so obvious as you think.

What you project you disown, and therefore do not believe is yours. You are excluding yourself by the very judgement that you are different from the one on whom you project. Since you have also judged against what you project, you continue to attack it because you continue to keep it separated. By doing this unconsciously, you try to keep the fact that you attacked yourself out of awareness, and thus imagine that you have made yourself safe.

Yet projection will always hurt you. It reinforces your belief in your own split mind, and its only purpose is to keep the separation going. It is solely a device of the ego to make you feel different from your brothers and separated from them. The ego justifies this on the grounds that it makes you seem ‘better’ than they are, thus obscuring your equality with them still further. Projection and attack are inevitably related, because projection is always a means of justifying attack. Anger without projection is impossible. The ego uses projection only to destroy your perception of both yourself and your brothers. The process begins by excluding something that exists in you but which you do not want, and leads directly to excluding you from your brothers.

We have learned, however, that there is an alternative to projection. Every ability of the ego has a better use, because its abilities are directed by the mind, which has a better Voice. The Holy Spirit extends and the ego projects. As their goals are opposed, so is the result.

The Holy Spirit begins by perceiving you as perfect. Knowing this perfection is shared He recognises it in others, thus strengthening it in both. Instead of anger this arouses love for both, because it establishes inclusion. Perceiving equality, the Holy Spirit perceives equal needs. This invites Atonement automatically, because Atonement is the one need in this world that is universal. To perceive yourself this way is the only way in which you can find happiness in the world. That is because it is the acknowledgement that you are not in this world, for the world is unhappy.

How else can you find joy in a joyless place except by realising that you are not there? You cannot be anywhere God did not put you, and God created you as part of Him. That is both where you are and what you are. It is completely unalterable. It is total inclusion. You cannot change it now or ever. It is forever true. It is not a belief, but a Fact. Anything that God created is as true as He is. Its truth lies only in its perfect inclusion in Him Who alone is perfect. To deny this is to deny yourself and Him, since it is impossible to accept one without the other.

The perfect equality of the Holy Spirit’s perception is the reflection of the perfect equality of God’s knowing. The ego’s perception has no counterpart in God, but the Holy Spirit remains the bridge between perception and knowledge. By enabling you to use perception in a way that reflects knowledge, you will ultimately remember it. The ego would prefer to believe that this memory is impossible, yet it is your perception the Holy Spirit guides. Your perception will end where it began. Everything meets in God, because everything was created by Him and in Him.

God created His Sons by extending His Thought, and retaining the extensions of His Thought in His Mind. All His Thoughts are thus perfectly united within themselves and with each other. The Holy Spirit enables you to perceive this wholeness now. God created you to create. You cannot extend His Kingdom until you know of its wholeness.

Thoughts begin in the mind of the thinker, from which they reach outward. This is as true of God’s Thinking as it is of yours. Because your mind is split, you can perceive as well as think. Yet perception cannot escape the basic laws of mind. You perceive from your mind and project your perceptions outward. Although perception of any kind is unreal, you made it and the Holy Spirit can therefore use it well. He can inspire perception and lead it toward God. This convergence seems to be far in the future only because your mind is not in perfect alignment with the idea, and therefore does not want it now.

The Holy Spirit uses time, but does not believe in it. Coming from God He uses everything for good, but He does not believe in what is not true. Since the Holy Spirit is in your mind, your mind can also believe only what is true. The Holy Spirit can speak only for this, because He speaks for God. He tells you to return your whole mind to God, because it has never left Him. If it has never left Him, you need only perceive it as it is to be returned. The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred. The ego cannot prevail against this because it is an explicit statement that the ego never occurred.

The ego can accept the idea that return is necessary because it can so easily make the idea seem difficult. Yet the Holy Spirit tells you that even return is unnecessary, because what never happened cannot be difficult. However, you can make the idea of return both necessary and difficult. Yet it is surely clear that the perfect need nothing, and you cannot experience perfection as a difficult accomplishment, because that is what you are. This is the way in which you must perceive God’s creations, bringing all of your perceptions into the one line the Holy Spirit sees. This line is the direct line of communication with God, and lets your mind converge with His. There is no conflict anywhere in this perception, because it means that all perception is guided by the Holy Spirit, Whose Mind is fixed on God. Only the Holy Spirit can resolve conflict, because only the Holy Spirit is conflict-free. He perceives only what is true in your mind, and extends outward only to what is true in other minds.

The difference between the ego’s projection and the Holy Spirit’s extension is very simple. The ego projects to exclude, and therefore to deceive. The Holy Spirit extends by recognising Himself in every mind, and thus perceives them as one. Nothing conflicts in this perception, because what the Holy Spirit perceives is all the same. Wherever He looks He sees Himself, and because He is united He offers the whole Kingdom always. This is the one message God gave to Him and for which He must speak, because that is what He is. The peace of God lies in that message, and so the peace of God lies in you. The great peace of the Kingdom shines in your mind forever, but it must shine outward to make you aware of it.

The Holy Spirit was given you with perfect impartiality, and only by recognising Him impartially can you recognise Him at all. The ego is legion, but the Holy Spirit is one. No darkness abides anywhere in the Kingdom, but your part is only to allow no darkness to abide in your own mind. This alignment with light is unlimited, because it is in alignment with the light of the world. Each of us is the light of the world, and by joining our minds in this light we proclaim the Kingdom of God together and as one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 14

Lesson 45

God is the mind with which I think.

1. Today’s idea holds the key to what your real thoughts are. They are nothing that you think you think, just as nothing that you think you see is related to vision in any way. There is no relationship between what is real and what you think is real. Nothing that you think are your real thoughts resemble your real thoughts in any respect. Nothing that you think you see bears any resemblance to what vision will show you.

2. You think with the Mind of God. Therefore you share your thoughts with Him, as He shares His with you. They are the same thoughts, because they are thought by the same Mind. To share is to make alike, or to make one. Nor do the thoughts you think with the Mind of God leave your mind, because thoughts do not leave their source. Therefore, your thoughts are in the Mind of God, as you are. They are in your mind as well, where He is. As you are part of His Mind, so are your thoughts part of His Mind.

3. Where, then, are your real thoughts? Today we will attempt to reach them. We will have to look for them in your mind, because that is where they are. They must still be there, because they cannot have left their source. What is thought by the Mind of God is eternal, being part of creation.

4. Our three five-minute practice periods for today will take the same general form that we used in applying yesterday’s idea. We will attempt to leave the unreal and seek for the real. We will deny the world in favor of truth. We will not let the thoughts of the world hold us back. We will not let the beliefs of the world tell us that what God would have us do is impossible. Instead, we will try to recognize that only what God would have us do is possible.

5. We will also try to understand that only what God would have us do is what we want to do. And we will also try to remember that we cannot fail in doing what He would have us do. There is every reason to feel confident that we will succeed today. It is the Will of God.

6. Begin the exercises for today by repeating the idea to yourself, closing your eyes as you do so. Then spend a fairly short period in thinking a few relevant thoughts of your own, keeping the idea in mind. After you have added some four or five thoughts of your own to the idea, repeat it again and tell yourself gently:

My real thoughts are in my mind. I would like to find them.

Then try to go past all the unreal thoughts that cover the truth in your mind, and reach to the eternal.

7. Under all the senseless thoughts and mad ideas with which you have cluttered up your mind are the thoughts that you thought with God in the beginning. They are there in your mind now, completely unchanged. They will always be in your mind, exactly as they always were. Everything you have thought since then will change, but the Foundation on which it rests is wholly changeless.

8. It is this Foundation toward which the exercises for today are directed. Here is your mind joined with the Mind of God. Here are your thoughts one with His. For this kind of practice only one thing is necessary; approach it as you would an altar dedicated in Heaven to God the Father and to God the Son. For such is the place you are trying to reach. You will probably be unable as yet to realize how high you are trying to go. Yet even with the little understanding you have already gained, you should be able to remind yourself that this is no idle game, but an exercise in holiness and an attempt to reach the Kingdom of Heaven.

9. In the shorter exercise periods for today, try to remember how important it is to you to understand the holiness of the mind that thinks with God. Take a minute or two, as you repeat the idea throughout the day, to appreciate your mind’s holiness. Stand aside, however briefly, from all thoughts that are unworthy of Him Whose host you are. And thank Him for the Thoughts He is thinking with you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If, as A Course in Miracles suggests, the world totally misunderstood Jesus’ message two thousand years ago, why did he wait so long to correct it?

A) Again, this thoughtful question is based upon a linear view of time, in which two thousand years appear to be an inordinately long period of time for the error to be corrected. Clearly, the ones asking such a question are projecting onto Jesus their own impatience and, most likely, their unforgiveness of the various Christian Churches that have superimposed the ego thought system onto the ego-free teachings of the true Jesus.

A more profound way of addressing this question is to consider that being ego-free, anyone in the real world — as is Jesus — does not really choose to do anything. Having chosen the Holy Spirit once and for all, there is nothing more to choose. Therefore, there is no longer a decision maker in the mind that activates the body and interacts with the world, as is the ego’s very important need. Truly advanced teachers of God — Teachers of teachers — God do not do; they are. They do not plan, choose, deliberate, or behave as does a person who believes in the reality of the ego thought system. Their simple presence of love takes its shape around the needs of those who still identify with a world of form, much as water takes its shape according to the container in which it has been put, or the bed of the river shapes the flow of the water coursing through it.

In this context, therefore, we can understand that the appearance of Jesus within the world’s dream two thousand years ago was the result of the Son’s readiness to experience the Love of God within his dream. It is as if the mind of the Son — the only true sphere of experience there is — partially opened the door of his mind that had screened out the presence of the Holy Spirit. The mind, previously darkened by guilt, thus allowed some light in, and this light took the form of Jesus, the Son of Light, whose presence within the ego’s world of darkness reminds us all that we too are children of the Light.

The fear that this light engendered — for it constitutes a grave threat to the ego’s thought system of darkness — led to the Son’s closing the door to protect his individual self, and this took the form of seeking to destroy Jesus and then his message, as the history of Christianity attests. This is why the gospel writers changed the entire message of Jesus and rooted it in the crucifixion, which reflected the ego’s underlying plan to perpetuate its own thought system of betrayal, suffering, and death. Jesus comments on this dynamic in the Course in several places. We look at two such passages; one general to the dynamics of the Son’s mind, and the other specific to Jesus himself.

As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear and sometimes to stark terror (T- 1 8.111.2: 1).All who believe in separation have a basic fear of retaliation and abandonment.  They believe in attack and rejection, so that is what they perceive and leach and learn.  These insane ideas are clearly the result of dissociation and projection. What you teach you are, but it is quite apparent that you can teach wrongly, and can therefore teach yourself wrong. Many thought I was attacking them, even though it was apparent I was not. An insane learner learns strange lessons. What you must recognize is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them. This is because everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centers on what you believe you are (T-6.V-B.1:1-9).

The reader should also consult “Atonement without Sacrifice” and “The Message of the Crucifixion,” the opening sections of Chapters 3 and 6 in the text, for even more specific comments by Jesus about the misunderstanding of his message, and how and why it happened.

And now, two thousand years later, we see that the door to the Son’s closed mind opened again to allow in the light of truth, and the result is the original message of Jesus, presented in a contemporary twentieth (soon to be twenty-first) century form. Needless to say, there have been other expressions of this light in the Christian (and non-Christian) world, but, again, we shall remain only within the context of A Course in Miracles.

The advantage of answering the question in this way is that one is able to avoid the anthropomorphizing of Jesus — making him think, plan, and behave the way we would — which would only once again foster the belief that we have captured him within the ego’s dream, making him one of us, instead of our becoming like him. Above all, it is always essential to keep in mind that God has no true response to the thought of separation, even though, as we have already seen, the metaphoric language of A Course in Miraclesoften portrays it so.  First and foremost, if God knew about the “tiny, mad idea,” it would have had to be real. Therefore, the Holy Spirit and Jesus — as messengers of God within the dream, and being the Voices of the plan of the Atonement which states that the dream of separation never happened — would also have to share in this non-response to error. It is Their simple light-filled presence within our minds — darkened by thoughts of sin, guilt, and fear — that help us. They do nothing; it is only our egos that act and react. And as long as we experience this thought of separation in the specific forms of specialness that comprise our individual lives, we must experience this Help in specific forms as well. But these forms are determined by our ego scripts, not by any specific intervention of the divine.

certain as god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 13

ACIM Text Reading for February 13

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

I. The Message of the Crucifixion

For learning purposes, let us consider the crucifixion again. I did not dwell on it before because of the fearful connotations you may associate with it. The only emphasis laid upon it so far has been that it was not a form of punishment. Nothing, however, can be explained in negative terms only. There is a positive interpretation of the crucifixion that is wholly devoid of fear, and therefore wholly benign in what it teaches, if it is properly understood.

The crucifixion is nothing more than an extreme example. Its value, like the value of any teaching device, lies solely in the kind of learning it facilitates. It can be, and has been, misunderstood. This is only because the fearful are apt to perceive fearfully. I have already told you that you can always call on me to share my decision, and thus make it stronger. I have also told you that the crucifixion was the last useless journey the Sonship need take, and that it represents release from fear to anyone who understands it. While I emphasised only the resurrection before, the purpose of the crucifixion and how it actually led to the resurrection was not clarified then. Nevertheless, it has a definite contribution to make to your own life, and if you will consider it without fear, it will help you understand your own role as a teacher.

You have probably reacted for years as if you were being crucified. This is a marked tendency of the separated, who always refuse to consider what they have done to themselves. Projection means anger, anger fosters assault, and assault promotes fear. The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another. This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible. Otherwise, I cannot serve as a model for learning.

Assault can ultimately be made only on the body. There is little doubt that one body can assault another, and can even destroy it. Yet if destruction itself is impossible, anything that is destructible cannot be real. Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger. To the extent to which you believe that it does, you are accepting false premises and teaching them to others. The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted. If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely.

I have made it perfectly clear that I am like you. and you are like me, but our fundamental equality can be demonstrated only through joint decision. You are free to perceive yourself as persecuted if you choose. When you do choose to react that way, however, you might remember that I was persecuted as the world judges, and did not share this evaluation for myself. And because I did not share it, I did not strengthen it. I therefore offered a different interpretation of attack, and one which I want to share with you. If you will believe it, you will help me teach it.

As I have said before, ‘As you teach so shall you learn’. If you react as if you are persecuted, you are teaching persecution, This is not a lesson a Son of God should want to teach if he is to realise his own salvation. Rather, teach your own perfect immunity, which is the truth in you, and realise that it cannot be assailed. Do not try to protect it yourself, or you are believing that it is assailable. You are not asked to be crucified, which was part of my own teaching contribution. You are merely asked to follow my example in the face of much less extreme temptations to misperceive, and not to accept them as false justifications for anger. There can be no justification for the unjustifiable. Do not believe there is, and do not teach that there is. Remember always that what you believe you will teach. Believe with me, and we will become equal as teachers.

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. I believed in it, and therefore accepted it as true for me. Help me to teach it to our brothers in the name of the Kingdom of God, but first believe that it is true for you, or you will teach amiss. My brothers slept during the so-called ‘agony in the garden’, but I could not be angry with them because I knew I could not beabandoned.

I am sorry when my brothers do not share my decision to hear only one Voice, because it weakens them as teachers and as learners. Yet I know they cannot really betray themselves or me, and that it is still on them that I must build my church. There is no choice in this, because only you can be the foundation of God’s church. A church is where an altar is, and the presence of the altar is what makes the church holy. A church that does not inspire love has a hidden altar that is not serving the purpose for which God intended it. I must found His church on you, because those who accept me as a model are literally my disciples. Disciples are followers, and if the model they follow has chosen to save them pain in all respects, they are unwise not to follow him.

I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed. It was clear that this was only because of the projection of others onto me, since I had not harmed anyone and had healed many.

We are still equal as learners, although we do not need to have equal experiences. The Holy Spirit is glad when you can learn from mine, and be reawakened by them. That is their only purpose, and that is the only way in which I can be perceived as the way, the truth and the life. When you hear only one Voice you are never called on to sacrifice. On the contrary, by being able to hear the Holy Spirit in others you can learn from their experiences, and can gain from them without experiencing them directly yourself. That is because the Holy Spirit is one, and anyone who listens is inevitably led to demonstrate His way for all.

You are not persecuted, nor was I. You are not asked to repeat my experiences because the Holy Spirit, Whom we share, makes this unnecessary. To use my experiences constructively, however, you must still follow my example in how to perceive them. My brothers and yours are constantly engaged in justifying the unjustifiable. My one lesson, which I must teach as I learned it, is that no perception that is out of accord with the judgement of the Holy Spirit can be justified. I undertook to show this was true in an extreme case, merely because it would serve as a good teaching aid to those whose temptation to give in to anger and assault would not be so extreme. I will with God that none of His Sons should suffer.

The crucifixion cannot be shared because it is the symbol of projection, but the resurrection is the symbol of sharing because the reawakening of every Son of God is necessary to enable the Sonship to know its wholeness. Only this is knowledge.

The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear:

Teach only love, for that is what you are.

If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the ‘wrath of God’ as His retaliatory weapon. Nor could they speak of the crucifixion entirely without anger, because their sense of guilt had made them angry.

These are some of the examples of upside-down thinking in the New Testament, although its gospel is really only the message of love. If the Apostles had not felt guilty, they never could have quoted me as saying, ‘I come not to bring peace but a sword’. This is clearly the opposite of everything I taught. Nor could they have described my reactions to Judas as they did, if they had really understood me. I could not have said, ‘Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?’ unless I believed in betrayal. The whole message of the crucifixion was simply that I did not. The ‘punishment’ I was said to have called forth upon Judas was a similar mistake. Judas was my brother and a Son of God, as much a part of the Sonship as myself. Was it likely that I would condemn him when I was ready to demonstrate that condemnation is impossible?

As you read the teachings of the Apostles, remember that I told them myself that there was much they would understand later, because they were not wholly ready to follow me at the time. I do not want you to allow any fear to enter into the thought system toward which I am guiding you. I do not call for martyrs but for teachers. No one is punished for sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners. Any concept of punishment involves the projection of blame, and reinforces the idea that blame is justified. The result is a lesson in blame, for all behaviour teaches the beliefs that motivate it. The crucifixion was the result of clearly opposed thought systems; the perfect symbol of the ‘conflict’ between the ego and the Son of God. This conflict seems just as real now, and its lessons must be learned now as well as then.

I do not need gratitude, but you need to develop your weakened ability to be grateful, or you cannot appreciate God. He does not need your appreciation, but you do. You cannot love what you do not appreciate, for fear makes appreciation impossible. When you are afraid of what you are you do not appreciate it, and will therefore reject it. As a result, you will teach rejection.

The power of the Sons of God is present all the time, because they were created as creators. Their influence on each other is without limit, and must be used for their joint salvation. Each one must learn to teach that all forms of rejection are meaningless. The separation is the notion of rejection. As long as you teach this you will believe it. This is not as God thinks, and you must think as He thinks if you are to know Him again.

Remember that the Holy Spirit is the communication link between God the Father and His separated Sons. If you will listen to His Voice you will know that you cannot either hurt or be hurt, and that many need your blessing to help them hear this for themselves. When you perceive only this need in them, and do not respond to any other, you will have learned of me and will be as eager to share your learning as I am.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 13

Lesson 44

God is the light in which I see.

1. Today we are continuing the idea for yesterday, adding an­other dimension to it. You cannot see in darkness, and you cannot make light. You can make darkness and then think you see in it, but light reflects life, and is therefore an aspect of creation. Creation and darkness cannot coexist, but light and life must go together, being but different aspects of creation.

2. In order to see, you must recognize that light is within, not without. You do not see outside yourself, nor is the equipment for seeing outside you. An essential part of this equipment is the light that makes seeing possible. It is with you always, making vision possible in every circumstance.

3. Today we are going to attempt to reach that light. For this purpose, we will use a form of exercise which has been suggested before, and which we will utilize increasingly. It is a particularly difficult form for the undisciplined mind, and represents a major goal of mind training. It requires precisely what the untrained mind lacks. Yet this training must be accomplished if you are to see.

4. Have at least three practice periods today, each lasting three to five minutes. A longer time is highly recommended, but only if you find the time slipping by with little or no sense of strain. The form of practice we will use today is the most natural and easy one in the world for the trained mind, just as it seems to be the most unnatural and difficult for the untrained mind.

5. Your mind is no longer wholly untrained. You are quite ready to learn the form of exercise we will use today, but you may find that you will encounter strong resistance. The reason is very simple. While you practice in this way, you leave behind everything that you now believe, and all the thoughts that you have made up. Properly speaking, this is the release from hell. Yet per­ceived through the ego’s eyes, it is loss of identity and a descent into hell.

6. If you can stand aside from the ego by ever so little, you will have no difficulty in recognizing that its opposition and its fears are meaningless. You might find it helpful to remind yourself, from time to time, that to reach light is to escape from darkness, whatever you may believe to the contrary. God is the light in which you see. You are attempting to reach Him.

7. Begin the practice period by repeating today’s idea with your eyes open, and close them slowly, repeating the idea several times more. Then try to sink into your mind, letting go every kind of interference and intrusion by quietly sinking past them. Your mind cannot be stopped in this unless you choose to stop it. It is merely taking its natural course. Try to observe your passing thoughts without involvement, and slip quietly by them.

8. While no particular approach is advocated for this form of ex­ercise, what is needful is a sense of the importance of what you are doing; its inestimable value to you, and an awareness that you are attempting something very holy. Salvation is your hap­piest accomplishment. It is also the only one that has any mean­ing, because it is the only one that has any real use to you at all.

9. If resistance rises in any form, pause long enough to repeat today’s idea, keeping your eyes closed unless you are aware of fear. In that case, you will probably find it more reassuring to open your eyes briefly. Try, however, to return to the exercises with eyes closed as soon as possible.

10. If you are doing the exercises correctly, you should experience some sense of relaxation, and even a feeling that you are ap­proaching, if not actually entering into light. Try to think of light, formless and without limit, as you pass by the thoughts of this world. And do not forget that they cannot hold you to the world unless you give them the power to do so.

11. Throughout the day repeat the idea often, with eyes open or closed as seems better to you at the time. But do not forget. Above all, be determined not to forget today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If Jesus is the first to have accepted the Atonement for himself, as A Course in Miracles states, what about people like the Buddha?

A) This reference comes in the section in the clarification of terms called “The Holy Spirit” and states:

He [the Holy Spirit) has established Jesus as the leader in carrying out His plan [the Atonement] since he was the first to complete his own part perfectly (C-6.2:2; italics ours).

It would be tempting for students of A Course in Miracles to use this passage as a way of establishing bragging rights that “our guy” (Jesus) is better than “your guy” (Buddha, or any other enlightened teacher).  But can one really believe that Jesus would indulge in such spiritual specialness? A better way to understand this passage is to recall the fact that time is not linear, and so there is nothing in A Course in Miracles to suggest when it was that Jesus accepted the Atonement for himself. And since, again, time is not linear, the whole question becomes meaningless, except for being a valuable learning opportunity in which students may release their own thoughts of specialness. It is also helpful for the student to recall that Jesus states the following, in the section in fact right before the one where the above statement appears:

Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one. Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change. But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal. Their names are legion, but we will not go beyond the names the course itself employs (C-5. 1:3-6).

In other words, he is speaking only within a Christian framework, and so it would be inappropriate to discuss Teachers from other spiritualities, whose “names are legion.”

this is practical course