Be Still

“You are part of reality, which stands unchanged beyond the reach of your ego but within easy reach of spirit.  When you are afraid, be still and know that God is real, and you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.  (T55)”

Affirmation:  “When you are afraid, be still”

Reflections:

This is a comforting passage to recall in times of fear, and, especially, if we feel that we have wronged a brother.  God loves us still, and all mistakes are correctable.

There is a theoretical aspect to this passage as well:  the image of “reality,” as opposed to the world that we made, which is actually, as seen by the Course, an illusion.  The ego lives in this world of illusion, and so naturally if we are listening to the ego, we will believe that we have wronged a brother, and we will be afraid accordingly.  The ego feeds upon such imaginings.

Actually we cannot truly wrong a brother in his (or her) reality, and when we move beyond the ego to the spirit, we know this.   Note that reality is within “easy” reach of spirit.  This reminder we may need often, as we go about in an insane world.  God never leaves us alone, though; we are always shadowed by His inner essence in ourselves, and we always have the Holy Spirit for guidance.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

When I am afraid, help me to realize that You are there for me.  I do not have to retain the emotion of fear; I only need to realize that You will lead me out of that emotion.

I am within easy reach of spirit.  Let me always remember this.  And thank you.

Amen.

revised

Going with Our Brother

“The Bible says that you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks.  It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey.  Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either.  (T52)”

Affirmation:  “Devotion to a brother cannot set me back”

Reflections:

A “brother” in A Course in Miracles always includes brothers and sisters, and it means a companion, another person in this world who needs our compassion.  (The Course was scribed in the sixties, and inclusive gender language had not yet become inherent in our writing.)

It is important to note here that we are to follow the biblical injunction of going the distance with our brother.  We are to go the extra mile.  But we are not encouraged to send our brother searching alone for his (or her) pathway; we are to help him in the best way that we know how.  This best way may not always be apparent.  Sometimes we can help best by stepping back, and only smiling at him (or her); this is stated elsewhere in the Course.  We are bade to pay attention to what our brother is ready for.  And this may not be readily apparent, and so we need to think carefully before we act.

Also important to this passage is the fact that our devotion to our brother cannot cause us to lose ground.  Our pathway, according to the Course, is found in our devotion to our brother, rather than through long periods of contemplation.  Our way, according to the Course, is forgiveness, which leads to love, of our brother.  Forgiveness of our brother will lead us to Awakening.  So will contemplation, though Jesus states that this other way can be tedious, and we are encouraged to follow our way, which the Course spells out in abundant detail.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I be the best companion to my brother.  This will mean that I am there for him when he needs me.  I will walk along the pathway with him.

May I recognize that devotion to my brother cannot cause me to lose ground in the quest for salvation.  Devotion to my brother is the way spelled out in the Course.  Thank you for these words of encouragement and advice.

Amen.

revised

Approaching the Beginning

“Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning.  Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened.  Your Self is still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict.  You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful.  As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death.  (T51)”

Affirmation:  “Your starting point is truth”

Reflections:

This is a difficult passage; it hints at a philosophical backdrop for the Course.

We are told that we are actually “returning,” even though we have never actually left Heaven.  This returning leads us to the Beginning, before the ego, in its madness, was made.  Naturally, to the ego, its own destruction is terrifying.  We can perhaps gauge the amount of ego still in us by the fearful nature of our thinking as we study the Course.

“Nothing has really happened.”  Here is the point made again that we are  living an illusion, and should any of us really fear an illusion?

Prayer:

Dear Father,

As I study the Course, I may become fearful.  This is because my ego senses its elimination.

Help me to realize that this fear can be abated by Your strength.  Help me to realize that the elimination of the ego is what I really want.

Amen.

revised

Rejection

“Only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible.  (T48)”

Affirmation:  “give over all desire to reject”

Reflections:

Rejection is of the ego, and once we relinquish the desire to reject our brother, we too know that our Self cannot be rejected by God.  Knowing this is a great release.  We cannot be rejected by God!  What a glorious incentive to give up the ego.

All of us have known rejection.  We may remember these incidents as among the worst of our life.  But we do not have to be wounded irreparably.  There is a way out.  Once we have started to turn away from the ego, our perceptions are cleansed, and we at that time know less rejection from others.  This is a principal motivator of the Course.  And once motivation has been increased, we are well on our way to the Atonement.

Rejection from others, or our own personal rejection of self or others, can be one of the main disappointments in life.  Once we truly realize that it is ourselves who have initiated any rejection, even when it seems to come from others, we are healed.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May we realize that in rejection, we are in the driver’s seat.  We have made this situation, however much we may try to blame others.  Help us especially not to blame You.

May we cease to contemplate rejection in any form.  When this is accomplished, we will be well on our way to Atonement, a lasting Atonement.

Amen.

revised

Wearying Yourself

“You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourself.  (T47)”

Affirmation:  “I am not really capable of being tired”

Reflections:

Prior to studying this passage, we may feel that our concepts of “being tired” and “wearying” ourselves mean the same.  They do not.  Being tired suggests an outward invasion upon our bodies, something that is “done” to us.  We can easily recognize, though, that wearying ourselves is an internal matter; we are doing this unto ourselves.

The two concepts thus can be seen as very different.  Projection makes perception, and being tired would be a conceivable invasion from beyond ourselves if we could actually be influenced by the world’s actions.  The theoretical foundation of the Course makes clear that the world does nothing to us; we only think that it does.  We are doing this unto ourselves.  With this realization, we are solely in the driver’s seat.

In the workaday world, this philosophical interpretation of the influence of the world may seem far from the truth.  Only in our quiet moments of reflection is it likely that a glimmering of the truth of this teaching of the Course will become apparent.  When we stop long enough to be introspective, we can see that we are wearying ourselves as we go about our daily activities.  A simple change of mind can make the most onerous tasks seem more palatable.  And we will recognize, in our quiet moments, that we can be strong and not tired, however much we actually do.   Frequently a change of attitude is all that is needed.  But this change is spiritual, and we may need a miracle to see its realization.  Pray for that miracle.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May this Thanksgiving Day I realize the truth that wearying myself is something that I do to myself.  It can be undone by a quiet moment of reflection.

Thank you that the world does nothing to me.  I only thought that it did.  And this includes the thought that I am tired.  In this busy season of Advent, may we learn that being tired is not actually done by the world to us, but wearying ourselves is done to ourselves by ourselves.

Amen.

revised

Judgment and Organizing

“You do not need judgment to organize your life, and you certainly do not need it to organize yourself.  (T47)”

Affirmation:  “You do not need judgment. . .to organize yourself.”

Reflections:

This passage is stunningly simply in its words, but has profound implications.  We are told elsewhere in the Course that the world teaches us to rely upon our judgment and to monitor our actions by judging the best action to take.  But this is false reasoning.  We cannot know the whole context in which our judgment occurs–the past, the present, and the future that we try to judge in incompleteness.  These are tenets of the Course.

If we do not need to organize our life by judgment, then upon Whom should we rely?  The oft-repeated assertion to rely upon the Holy Spirit is meaningful in this context.  How do we do that?  By listening to the still, small Voice within–what is commonly know as “feelings,” or intuition.  By “feelings,” we do not mean emotional response; emotional response, especially that made in haste and under pressure of the moment, may be the ego prompting us to undertake a false pathway.  By “feelings,” we do mean the inner sense of rightness about a given action or thought.  With practice, we will learn to distinguish the difference.

But it is enormously freeing to give  up the judgment of the world.  We walk freely and peacefully as we let the moment guide us by insight not of ourselves.  We know that if there are plans to be made, we will be told of them; they will occur to us at the proper moment for planning.  Otherwise, we can walk as free spirits in a world set free from our judgments–a world lit from within by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I be led along the pathway that relinquishes judgment in favor of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  May I be flexible, be able to turn on a dime.  May I not be stubborn in following this guidance.

Judgment, as taught by the world, is incomplete.  Judgment, as given by the Holy Spirit, takes into consideration all the variables.  I want to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  That is my intent.  Help me to stand firm in this resolve.

Amen.

revised

Judging

“When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning, In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them.  (T47)”

Affirmation:  “their meaning is lost to you. . .because you are judging them”

Reflections:

This passage is a bit obscure.  What exactly do we recognize (in our brother and ourselves) that we are?  The answer of the Course is that we are Sons of God (and Daughters); we are innocent in the inner essence of who we are.  We have not “sinned,” but the self which lives in this world has, instead, made mistakes–easily corrected when recognized.  We are said to want to correct mistakes in a way that we don’t want to correct “sins”; there is a attracting feature to sin that sounds irrational and that encourages that sin to be repeated.

This is part of the philosophical basis of the Course.  Judging by ourselves is always tainted, impossible in essence.  We cannot know all the circle of causes and effects that we sometimes find ourselves judging.  We give up judgment to the sure judgment of the Holy Spirit, which is only that God’s Son is guiltless, and that sin does not exist.

There is a darker side to judgment as well.  We are told elsewhere that attack, judgment, and making defenses against contingencies to come will make us lose our way again.  These actions can accomplish nothing, and they will divert us from our pathway to light.  So let us give up judgment (i.e., relinquish it to the Holy Spirit, Who sees truly), and find the real meaning of ourselves and our brothers.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I give up attack, judgment, and making defenses against contingencies to come.  If I do these things, I will surely lose my way.  While the way can and will be found again, we lose much time, and we may suffer much.

May I completely relinquish attack in all its forms.  This is the ego personified, and only in the relinquishment of the ego is peace found.  Thank you for your help, for I will surely fail unless You walk with me.

Amen.

revised

Without Judgment

“You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment.  (T47)”

Affirmation:  “meeting. . .totally without judgment”

Reflections:

How true!  We cannot even comprehend the full blessing of this passage, but we do see glimpses when we try to withhold judgment and just love.  The irony is that so long as we judge, we will perceive others as judging us.  This is the tenet of the Course that projection makes perception.  Nowhere will we find this more evident than in both judgment and attack thoughts.

The words, “tremendous release” and “deep peace” are comforting in the extreme.  Do we not all wish for this?  Here we find out how to effect this transformation.

We must remember not to leave ourselves out of the equation.  We must not judge ourselves, just as we must not judge our brothers.  Frequently, we seem to have an internal judge that chastises us for misdeeds, real and imagined.  These we are bade to leave behind, and we will know release and peace.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I leave judgment behind forever.  May I know the release and the joy that come from tolerance for my brothers and sisters.

May my day go well today.  This will happen if I just remember to be tolerant of my brother’s perceived failings, and I open my heart to love.

Amen.

revised

Prayer

“Prayer is a way of asking for something.  It is the medium of miracles.  But the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything.  (T45)”

Affirmation:  “the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness”

Reflections:

Prayer is not discussed a great deal in the Course, and this passage hints at why.  The Course recommends forgiveness of ourselves and our brother as the only basis for a good life.  If we forgive, we “have everything.”

It is hard to understand what this “everything” really is, but basically it is the recognition that we are not deprived in this life except by our own choice.  This is part of the theoretical construct of the Course.

Why would we choose to deprive ourselves of anything?  Maybe we are looking for the wrong things in life.  The Course is practical, but nowhere is materialism sanctioned.  We are simply asked in this passage to pray for forgiveness, and then the miracles that will transform our lives will be forthcoming.  This is the prayer of faith.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I ask forgiveness for all the ways in which I have failed.  May I ask that forgiveness be in my heart for those whom I feel have hurt me.  I realize that actually I cannot be hurt, but I can feel the pain of believing that I have been hurt.

May I forgive, as I have asked to be forgiven.  May all that I encounter feel the results of my prayer today.

Amen.

revised

All Are Called

“‘Many are called but few are chosen’ should be, ‘All are called but few choose to listen.’  Therefore, they do not choose right.  The ‘chosen ones’ are merely those who choose right sooner.  Right minds can do this now, and they will find rest unto their souls.

Affirmation:  “rest unto their souls”

Reflections:

In this passage Jesus corrects a statement attributed to him in the New Testament.  We will stress the new version:  “All are called.”  There is nobody outside salvation, ultimately.  It may be millions of years before the Atonement takes place for all, just as the separation occurred over millions of years.  But we are bade to be patient, because once begun, the end of the journey is sure.  We will all come home in God.

Teachers of God are those who lead the way, but only time separates students from teachers, and time does not really exist (a Course concept).  Teachers of God have chosen right sooner, and are thus freed to lead others back to God.

Children of God, we will then find the rest that all of us crave.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Thank you that all are chosen, and that we can choose to listen sooner rather than later.  Then we have rest unto our souls.  This is a great blessing.  Thank you.

May we realize that we are called to save our brothers and sisters.  This is the plan of salvation, and when we take our place in it, the time of return is shortened considerably.

Amen.

revised

Misperceptions Erased

“I cannot unite your will with God’s for you, but I can erase all misperceptions from your mind if you will bring it under my guidance.  (T43)”

Affirmation:  “I can erase all misperceptions from your mind.”

Reflections:

Jesus does not take away the power of our minds.  We retain in full control, but it is a control that we are bade willingly to relinquish to the Holy Spirit.  How do we do this?  We listen to a knowing, an intuition of how to live our days.  Thus Jesus cautions that we cannot ask him to take over our minds.

What Jesus can do, though, as he tells us in this passage, is to “erase all misperceptions” from our minds.  We are willingly putting our minds under his guidance.

Retaining the power of our minds, but listening to guidance, is not contradictory.  We willingly relinquish all that does not matter, choosing to keep only the real and the true.   Jesus guides this activity when he is shown a willing mind and spirit.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I enthusiastically and willingly place my mind under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Then misperceptions fall away, and I live in a much happier world.

Thank you for Jesus’s guidance.  He will help us to eliminate misperceptions if we are open to his guidance.

Amen.

revised

Afraid of a Stranger

“It is because you have made him a stranger that you are afraid of him.  (T41)”

Affirmation:  “made him a stranger”

Reflections:

When you sense fear of your brother, you have made of him (or her) a stranger.  You do not really know the Self that is loving.

Of course, there are times in our world when we need to take precautions against harm from another.  The Course is always practical, and it does not sanction sacrifice of any kind.  No sacrifice is ever asked of a child of God.

In everyday events, though, we usually feel afraid of our brother when we have reacted in anger or verbal attack.  Then we may even wonder if our holy relationship is irreparable.  Certainly these thoughts make of our brother a stranger, and make us afraid of what he (or she) may do, even if he may sever the relationship.  In extreme cases, this may happen.  We must realize another Course tenet, though, that no relationship is ever lost to us.  Those who have once formed a relationship will meet again, to make of what may have been only a special relationship into a holy one.  The Course does not specify when this meeting will happen, but seems to imply that it may be beyond the veil of death.  Eternity is stressed repeatedly in the Course.

Make no brother a stranger, then, if we would know peace.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

My I retain my holy relationships, and let not even one fall into a “special” relationship.  In so doing, I will make no brother or sister a stranger to myself.  And I will not be afraid of any person.

May I know that all who meet are destined to meet again, to make their relationship a holy one.  Thank you for this reassurance.

Amen.

revised

Attacking Error

“If you attack error in another, you will hurt yourself.  You cannot know your brother when you attack him.  Attack is always made upon a stranger.  (T41)”

Affirmation:  “Attack is always made upon a stranger.”

Reflections:

When we attack, we are not seeing the holy in our brother.  We are not seeing his (or her) innocence.  So we are not seeing truly.  We have made of him (or her) a stranger.

When we attack, we may feel momentarily better, but then the insanity of guilt will overcome us.  We will feel worse than before, and this comes from knowing that we have betrayed both our brother and ourselves.

Recognizing the innocence in our brother even if he (or she) has attacked us first, is to know the evidence of insanity in our world.  A special relationship is usually filled with attack, once the bloom of infatuation is off the relationship.  A holy relationship, however, has moved beyond the specialness (which was always a lie), and knows one’s brother as the loving Self that he (or she) truly is.

Prayer:

Dear Farther,

May I make no brother or sister a stranger by attacking that person.  May I realize that I have always made him or her a stranger when I have attacked.

May I see the innocence even in attack received from another.  Attack is a form of insanity–nothing more.  May I forgive and walk into the light.

Amen.

revised

Without the Wish to Attack

“Understanding the lesson of the Atonement, they are without the wish to attack, and therefore they see truly.  (T39)”

Affirmation:  “without the wish to attack”

Reflections:
.
In only one place in A Course in Miracles is there a definite definition of the Atonement.  It reads as follows:  “the restoration of the integrity of the mind. (T74)”  There are also broad explanations that encompass a definition that is at odds with traditional Christianity.  Jesus asserts that to cling to the crucifixion is a mistake; the crucifixion points out to us that he did not launch a defense under the extreme situation in which he found himself.  Not to be defensive is a major Course tenet.

Instead, we are to look to the resurrection, the overcoming of death–the promise of eternal life.  This step will bring us peace.  Our binding of ourselves to God is a lesson of the Atonement.  To do so constantly is a challenge to the neophyte, but not to the advanced teacher of God.  We learn more as we progress through the Course.

Atonement is sometimes viewed as “at-one-ment,” but this is a bit limited in its interpretation.  It is this and more.  Atonement is the surrender of the little self to the larger Self that is allied with the Holy Spirit.  When we make this surrender, we see the futility of attack, and our perceptions are therefore cleansed.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I see the futility of attack today, and if and when I am tempted to attack, may I refrain.  Often no response is better than a vicious one.  But You have taught me that the best response is to run to my brother’s side with love, for he is hurting.

May I look to the resurrection of Jesus as I realize that there is no death.  We will all live eternally, because this is Your great promise.

Amen.

revised

Awakening from Sleep

“Nothing can prevail against a Son of God who commends his spirit into the Hands of his Father.  By doing this the mind awakens from its sleep and remembers its Creator.  (T39)”

Affirmation:  “the mind awakens from its sleep.”

Reflections:

This statement by Jesus is a paraphrase of one of the cries made from the cross.  Here we are asked to also commend our spirit into the Hands of the Father.  What happens is the greatest miracles the Course holds out to us:  Awakening.  “. . .[T]he mind awakens from its sleep and remembers its Creator.”

What a glorious promise!  Here the way is pointed out to us in a very few words:  commend our spirit to God and all will be well.  We will be at home with God, even while in this world.  We will inhabit the real world, where projections are cleansed, and thus perceptions are seen afresh.  We may know pain still, but we will not know suffering.

“Nothing can prevail against. . .” is a powerful introduction to this idea.  We do not have to fret that the world of special relationships, not yet holy, will impede our progress.  “Nothing” can prevail against us once we have made the decision to surrender completely to God and to His guidance through the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I know what it is to commend my spirit into Your hands.  By so doing may I awaken from my sleep in this world.

All will be well with me when I do commend my spirit into Your hands.  Thank you for this great promise.

Amen.

revised

Retain the Lovable

“When everything you retain is lovable, there is no reason for fear to remain with you.  This is your part in the Atonement.  (T35)”

Affirmation:  “retain the lovable”

Reflections:

Here is the idea that we keep finding again and again in the Course.  When love is complete, fear is abandoned.  We ourselves do this abandoning when we realize that the only reality is that of love.

Love then becomes our way into the Atonement.  Atonement is the shifting of our perception to that of a love-centered world.  The Awakening then follows.

We must ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to retain only what is lovable in our world.  We cannot do this by an ego-centered self, and only the real Self, informed by guidance, can effect this change.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Help me to retain only what is lovable in this world and worlds beyond.  When I retain only what is lovable, I leave fear behind.  Surely this is motivation.

May we accept the Atonement for ourselves.  Jesus has said that this is our only real purpose in this world.  So much follows from this acceptance, and we welcome our brothers and sisters with a new, abiding love.

Amen.

revised

The Last Judgment

“The Last Judgment is generally thought of as a procedure undertaken by God.  Actually it will be undertaken by my brothers with my help.  It is a final healing rather than a meting out of punishment, however much you may think that punishment is deserved.  (T34)”

Affirmation:  “The Last Judgment. . .a final healing”

Reflections:

The Last Judgment is usually fraught with fear.  The way Jesus explains it, though, it is a healing, not an opportunity to determine if punishment is justified.

There is an indication here of our “brothers,” working with Jesus, to carry out the Last Judgment.  There are no other indications in the Course of what Jesus meant, aside from the tenet that our brothers are our way home, that we learn through our holy relationships.

We must just accept the idea that Jesus puts forth in this passage, without being able, within the Course or without, to understand the message fully.  As time passes, perhaps we will come to understand.  It is perhaps in the final working out of the holy relationship that the Last Judgment actually takes place.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

My I no more fear the Last Judgment.  I do not understand how my brothers will help with the Last Judgment, but I trust what Jesus has said.

May I endeavor to have holy relationships with all of my brothers.  May this concept grow in time, and may I feel your blessing in it.

Amen.

revised

The Mastery of Fear

“We have already attempted to correct the fundamental error that fear can be mastered, and have emphasized that the only real mastery is through love. . . .You may think this implies that an enormous amount of time is necessary between readiness and mastery, but let me remind you that time and space are under my control.  (T33)”

Affirmation:  “only real mastery is through love”

Reflections:

This is one of Jesus’s great promises in A Course in Miracles.  The final sentence also states a truth that we would be wise to accept at face value, though perhaps it is early yet to recognize the miracles that the sentence represents.

We must learn to love if we are to be happy, for who can remain happy while intermittently experiencing pangs of fear?  The Course is the way that many of us have chosen to learn how to love, how to live a better way.   It is a beginning, a way home for those of us who follow diligently its guidance.

The time between readiness and mastery of fear does not, as implied by this passage, have to be lengthy.  It is true that it may be lengthy, but elsewhere Jesus recommends that we be content to walk the pathway, even if the way seems long to us.

It is not always long.  Many people find themselves at home in God within a few days or weeks of reading the Course.  When this happens, we have experienced a revelation of the end.  And the revelation may not last.  Yet we will take away from the experience our certainty, also given us by Jesus, that once the way is begun, the end is certain.  The Course then becomes our pathway home.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May we see Jesus control time and space in our world.  Even when we do not understand this, may we realize that what he has promised is real–more real than the things of this world.

May we master fear by love.  We know that this is the only way.  May we feel the love that You have placed in our hearts.

Amen.

revised

Perfect Love

“Know first that this is fear.
Fear arises from lack of love.
The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.
Perfect love is the Atonement.  (T30)”

Affirmation:  “The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.”

Reflections:

This is another beautiful blank verse poem from the Course.  It is also a syllogism, which Jesus seems to appreciate a great deal.

It is unlikely that we will understand this poem completely without reading our way through the entire Course.  Basically, the poem refers to the fact that the only two emotions are fear and love, and that only lack of love makes fear.

The Atonement is a shift in perception that allows us to see that we are actually innocent children of God.  Heretofore we have believed that we were guilty of black sins that will require retribution.  Through the Course, we learn that reaching perfect love is the ultimate end of our journey here.  Knowing only love, we will fear no longer.  This too is the Awakening.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

When I find the day hard-going, may I realize that my love is imperfect.  Imperfect love makes for a bad day.

May I find the perfect love that You have promised all of your children.  May I leave fear behind as I find this perfect love.

Amen.

revised

God’s Will

“There is no strain in doing God’s Will as soon as you recognize that it is also your own.  (T30)”

Affirmation:  “no strain in doing God’s will”

Reflections:

This sentence is a primary theoretical foundation for the Course.  Much of our rebellion has been predicated upon the idea that we would not believe that God’s will would be desirable; we think that we can choose better.  We even think that His will is punitive.

How wrong we are!  God’s will and our own “real” will are the same!  What a relief this can be.  Our thoughts of Jonah and the whale may be relegated to an Old Testament story, not meaningful in the world in which we live today.  With Jonah, the idea that God would pursue us and demand that we do His will, is the main crux of the matter.  In the Course, we are gently led to do God’s will, once we have understood that we are actually doing our own will at the same time.  The God of A Course in Miracles is in no way a punitive God.

So, we experience “no strain” in doing God’s will.  We see no conflict in following God’s pathway.  It is the pathway that we would choose if we could see the whole picture.  Our judgment is not that wondrous; we see imperfectly and only in part.  But when we acquiesce to the Holy Spirit, we truly know the peace of following God’s will as our own.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

What a relief to learn that God’s will is really our real will!  Thank you, dear Father, for this insight.

When we know that doing God’s will, as we perceive it, is really our own real will, we do not feel coerced.  Thank you for this insight, this great blessing.

Amen.

revised

Guidance

“It is possible to reach a state in which you bring your mind under my guidance without conscious effort, but this implies a willingness that you have not developed as yet.  (T30)”

Affirmation:  “reach a state in which you bring your mind under my guidance”

Reflections:

This passage occurs at the beginning of the Course.  It suggests that following our guidance must be a willful thing, and that we choose to follow guidance by conscious effort.  Yet we are also told that much of the learning of the Course can be effortless.  Is this a contradiction?

No, because there is a progression here that we would be wise to understand.  In the beginning of our study, we cannot just turn our wills over to Jesus without choosing to do so.  It is noteworthy that in these beginning passages, Jesus says that it is “my guidance,” and later on in the Course, he stresses following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We are not yet, at this point early on, ready for the more theoretical aspects of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Later on we are ready.  Then we can truly move effortlessly to make decisions with our minds and our spirits.

Surely we can await the time that we bring our minds under guidance without conscious effort.  In the meantime, we can use our intuition, which is a form of guidance, to know what and how to respond in our world.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I bring my mind under the guidance of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  May this form of intuition be something that will bless others in my world as well as myself.

I realize that this need not be hard.  Indeed, surrendering to guidance can be effortless.  Help it to be effortless in me today.

Amen.

revised

The Correction of Fear

“The correction of fear is your responsibility.  When you ask for release from fear, you are implying that it is not.  You should ask, instead, for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about.  (T29)”

Affirmation:  “help in the conditions that have brought the fear about”

Reflections:

These three sentences, and the order in which they appear, are a very important sequence.  We may feel that the correction of fear is beyond what we can do, but this passage says not.  We can get help, though, in the slightly different matter of the “conditions” that brought the fear about.  For that we ask for help, and rightly so.  And when we ask, we receive.

The matter of conditions is pivotal.  There is always an (insane) reason that we feel fearful.  We don’t need to understand insanity, but we do need to leave it behind, and this passage notes that the help we need in leaving insanity behind is there for the asking.

Fearful thoughts are always a form of madness, the form in which most of us live in this world the vast majority of the time.  Until we willingly leave fear behind and return to love consistently, we will be afraid periodically.  Can this be something we want to keep?

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I leave fear behind.  This sometimes seems impossible to me, but You have promised that I can do so.

May I have the help that You have promised with the conditions that have brought the fear about.  Then my fear is self-controlled, which is what Jesus asks me to do.

Amen.

revised

A Miscreating Mind

“Whenever you are afraid, it is a sure sign that you have allowed your mind to miscreate and have not allowed me to guide it.  (T29)”

Affirmation:  “My I allow Jesus to guide my mind.”

Reflections:

Elsewhere the Course counsels against mind wandering.  This mind wandering is exactly the way in which miscreation happens.  We fantasize about horrors of the past, present, or future, and soon we find ourselves afraid–full of fear.  The exact opposite of love.

When we allow Jesus to guide our thoughts, we do not know fear.  This takes great deal of concentration in the beginning, an awareness of what our minds are doing.  This kind of concentration usually does not come easily to us.  But it can be done, when motivation is strong.

If the fear is strong, the motivation to change to a better way of living will be strong as well.  We need at first attend only to the motivation to change, and then the remainder will fall into place without effort.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I allow my miscreating mind to rest in Your power and strength.  May I allow the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts.

When my mind does not wander into fantasies, I am better off.  Thank you for the wisdom that would lead me to eliminate miscreations of my mind and eliminate fear.

Amen.

revised

Fear

“Fear cannot be controlled by me, but it can be self-controlled.  Fear prevents me from giving you my control.  (T28)”

Affirmation:  “Fear can be self-controlled.”

Reflections:

This is not the complete passage, and what is quoted can be a little misleading.  Later on Jesus says that we are to ask for help in eliminating the conditions that have brought the fear about.  That then frees us to accept the control of Jesus.

In getting the guidance of the Holy Spirit to eliminate the conditions that brought about the fear, we are going to the root of the fear.  This is true self-controlled fear.

Jesus also says that cause and effect are involved in fear.  When the conditions that bring about fear are present as a cause, then the effect is the fear.  To tamper with this cause-and-effect relationship would be to deemphasize our minds, which Jesus would never do.  He also says that we fear the power of the mind, but to think of it as impotent is not a helpful concept.  We are actually afraid of the power of the mind.

Fear can be overcome.  It is simple to read these words and to take them to heart, but perhaps it is not easy to effect the eradication of fear.  The Course returns again and again to the differences between love and fear, and ultimately tells us that the only true mastery of fear is through love.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I be free of fear.  May I have help with the conditions that bring the fear about.  And may I be guided in how to control my fear.

I pray for Jesus’s help in my life.  He promises this to me.  May I turn to him and to the Holy Spirit for the help that I so much need.

Amen.

revised

Truly Helpful

“I am here only to be truly helpful.
I am here to represent Him Who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or what
to do, because He Who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing
He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal.
(T28)”

Affirmation:  “I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do.”

Reflections:

This is a lovely prayer, set in the form of a blank verse poem.  The “He” and “Him” referred to in the poem mean the Holy Spirit.

Two of the most beautiful lines are Lines 3 and 4, in which we are assured that the Holy Spirit will guide us.  We do not have to reach ahead to the future, wondering what to do.  We will be told in the present.  If there are plans that need to be made, we will be told of them at the point of need.  There is no need to worry.

We will follow guidance to go wherever in this world we are led to go.  This is truly being led by the Holy Spirit, and it may not take what is commonly known as blind faith.  We will know inwardly and with assurance what pathway is best, and where that pathway is physically located.  We will go with knowledge that we are there with the Holy Spirit.

We are also our brother’s keeper.  “I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal,” which is the last line, is an assurance that our relationship to our brother is where healing lies.

If we study this poem, we will have its blessing, for it is indeed dense with meaning.  Let the Holy Spirit speak to us as we read.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Thank you for helping me to make decisions through the Holy Spirit.  Let me realize that I do not have to worry about what to say or do, because I will be guided.  This is Your promise.

Help me to be helpful to others in my daily life.  As I am healed, I will be better able to effect healing in others through Your grace.

Amen.

revised

Imprisoned Will

“An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable.  Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit.  (T21-22)”

Affirmation:  “Tolerance for pain is not without limit.”

Reflections:

This “imprisoned will” is a philosophical tenet of A Course in Miracles.  When the separation seemed to arise, we were caught in a situation that seemed to make God’s will and our will at odds with one another.  Actually the two are inseparable, and only our dim understanding makes this aspect of faith difficult.

When we reject the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are caught in the bonds of an imprisoned will, which engenders pain–sometimes extreme pain.  Although the Course affirms the releasing truth that we do not have to learn through pain, the truth is that many of us do learn through pain.  We can suffer in this pain greatly, but our tolerance for pain, as this passage says, is “not without limit.”  Sooner or later we will come to see that there must be another way, a better way, to live, and this is when we turn to God and His Voice, the Holy Spirit.

Helen Schucman and William Thetford, the two individuals responsible for bringing us the Course, agreed together to seek another way.  At the time they and their department at Columbia University were embroiled in competition and attack, and camaraderie was largely missing.  Helen and Bill embarked on a seven-year project, with Helen channeling from Jesus, and Bill, typing what had come through the day before.  Tolerance for pain in these two had become intolerable.

May this tolerance soon become intolerable for us as well, and then we will be ready to listen, perhaps for the first time, to innermost guidance.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I choose to eliminate pain from my experience.  I know that pain is not Your will, and may it not be mine either.

If I have learned through pain, may this learning come to an end.  Your will for me is total happiness.

Amen.

revised

True Denial

“True denial is a powerful protective device.  You can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you.  (T199)”

Affirmation:  “True denial is protective.”

Reflections:

True denial refers only to our real self–the Self that cannot be hurt.  We aren’t usually very aware of this Self, but this Self influences us constantly.  Whether or not we listen is our own decision, but this Self can and does influence what happens to us.

Error can actually accomplish nothing that is ultimately hurtful, because the Self is beyond being hurt.  The Course does not use the word “soul,” but in common language this is what is meant.  (The Course usually uses the word “spirit.”)

When we are caught in the midst of suffering, of feeling our pain, in our own lives, or when we see suffering in others (whether our significant others or the world at large), we can affirm that the pain is illusory.  Certainly it is felt; this is not what is meant by “illusory.”  The pain actually accomplishes nothing permanent except, upon occasion, bringing us closer to God and thus to ultimate release.  This understanding will eliminate any tendency to project the blame for our pain onto God, thus removing one of the main reasons that we reject faith as being beyond our comprehension.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I learn the power of true denial, and use it only rightly.  May I truly know in the depths of my being that error–error in myself or error in others–cannot hurt my real Self.

May I forgive error in myself and in others.  May the error that does occur be an occasion to practice forgiveness, and may I turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance in how to forgive.

Amen.

revised

Illness vs. Health

“Illness is some form of external searching.  Health is inner peace.  It enables you to remain unshaken by lack of love from without and capable, through your acceptance of miracles, of correcting the conditions proceeding from lack of love in others.  (T18)”

Affirmation:  “Illness is external searching.  Health is inner peace.”

Reflections:

Perhaps this passage will remain unclear for some time as we study A Course in Miracles.  We may not fully understand for what we are searching when we become ill.  But surely we have recognized, over our lifetimes, that we are peaceful when we are in good health.  Good health can be either emotional or physical; it makes no difference.

The emotional health can be seen in that many of us have no problem with the Course concept of refraining from attack when we are at peace.  When stress happens, though, we may find it all too easy to succumb to attack and also the accompanying anger.  This is not good emotional health.

Physical health is frequently a challenge that either brings us closer to God or seems to drive Him away.  We can respond either way, but the obviously better way is to seek God in our suffering.  He will be there.  And we will not have to wait long.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Surely you are with us in good health and bad.  When we are in good health, may we experience gratefulness.  When we are ill, may we experience the grace to be accepting of that which we do not understand.

May we move closer to You in health and in illness.  May our emotional and physical condition make no difference in the zeal with which we seek You.

Amen.


revised

Lacks of Love

“But remember the first principle in this course; there is no order of difficulty in miracles.  In reality you are perfectly unaffected by all expressions of lack of love.  These can be from yourself and others, from yourself to others, or from others to you.  (T18)”

Affirmation:  “unaffected by lacks of love”

Reflections:

This passage is most illuminating.  We think that we are affected when others don’t love us as we wish, or when we recognize that we too don’t love as we ought.

Jesus admonishes us to recognize that reality is actually unaffected by lacks of love.  Our real selves have never been damaged in any way.

The first principle in the Course, no order of difficulty in miracles, is a blessing that we do not understand.  How can this be?  But Jesus asserts that it is true, and we would be wise to take him at his word and ask for his blessing and his miracles.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Please forgive me, and help me to forgive myself and others, for the lacks of love that we show.  May we replace lack with the grace to live peacefully in all situations and events.

Jesus tells us that there is no order of difficulty in miracles.  So this need will be answered just as soon as we ask.  Thank you.

Amen.

revised

Revelation

“Healing is of God in the end.  The means are being carefully explained to you.  Revelation may occasionally reveal the end to you, but to reach it the means are needed.  (T16)”

Affirmation:  “Revelation may occasionally reveal the end”

Reflections:

We may know revelation, the revelation of Awakening, several times before it is permanent.  This is not a Course concept, but one that we can observe in our brothers and ourselves.  To have known Awakening, even briefly, is a very wonderful blessing; it shows us what is possible.  We really do live in the present, and we live without anxiety in the present.  It is a time of great joy and freedom from fear.

The “means,” in this passage, are found in A Course in Miracles.  When we follow the way pointed out in its lovely writing, we will ultimately know the end of the Awakening that does not leave us.

It is comforting to know that we are, at any time, subject to revelation.  This is not quite the same as miracles.  We cannot easily explain revelation, as it sounds truthful only to ourselves, being intensely personal–from God to us, always.  He knows us as nobody in this world can.  An inner awareness of God will go a long way toward recognizing that He and we are not separate at all.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Thank you for the times in my life that revelation has revealed Awakening to me.  It was not sustained, but that it happened at all is grounds for hope that one day Awakening will be permanent.

May all of us know this great joy of experiencing Awakening. A Course in Miracles explains the healing that leads us to it.

Amen.

Revised