Lack of Love

“Whenever you are not wholly joyous, it is because you have reacted with a lack of love to one of God’s creations.  (T89)”

Affirmation:  “not wholly joyous. . .lack of love”

Reflections:

This passage is particularly insightful.  We can determine when we have been unloving, because we don’t feel any joy.

Of course, this sounds extreme.  Surely there are reasons for depression other than a lack of love toward God’s creations.  But are there really?  Virtually all of us are trapped in egoistic thinking, which is by definition unloving.  We do know joy, and by this we can recognize the difference.  When joy comes upon us, all seems right in our little world.  We then recognize that we love the world and everyone in it.

This statement can become a harbinger of the times to change our thinking to be more in line with the Holy Spirit. If we are wholly joyous, very likely we would wish to change nothing.  When we are not wholly joyous, we will want to change much, and the first thing that we need to change is our own unloving attitude.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I know the joy that you would have me to know.  To feel this love, I must love my brothers and sisters.  I must react with love toward them.

When I am not wholly joyous, let me realize that my ego has interfered, and that I have reacted without love.  I can change this, with Your help.  Please give me Your help.

Amen.

revised

The Ego

“The ego will not be destroyed because it is part of your thought, but because it is uncreative and therefore unsharing.  (T87)”

Affirmation:  “The ego is uncreative and unsharing.”

Reflections:

The ego represents a false self, the little self–not the Self.  We are asked to live as though we were not an ego.  We can realize that the ego will just wither away when our false thinking is eliminated and we are living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

What does it mean to say that the ego is uncreative and unsharing?  We isolate ourselves when we feel oncoming the hard, tough shell of the ego.  It  is an unloving stance, and one that we would be wise to recognize when it rears its head.  Pray to leave this uncreative and unsharing aspect of ourselves behind.  Soften the heart, and lean unto its counsel.  Then we will feel more a part of our brothers and sisters.  We will love.

The ego is “uncreative.”  Surely this makes sense!  The ego has only “made” things (a Course concept).  Creativity is of the Self, not of the little self, which is egoistic in the extreme.  May we live so that we are the real Self, insofar as we can ascertain.  Then we will let the ego and its unproductive part of ourselves collapse.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I realize that the ego will not be destroyed because I need it, but because I do not.  It is uncreative and unsharing.  This is the opposite of the way that I want to be.

May my creativity blossom as I let the ego wither away.  May I share more with my brothers and sisters.  These two blessings will enable me to realize that the ego is unneeded and undesired.

Amen.

revised

The Ego Punishes

“The ego believes that by punishing itself it will mitigate the punishment of God.  (T84-85)”

Affirmation:  “The ego believes. . .mitigate the  punishment of God.”

Reflections:

This passage seems to explain masochism.  We think that if we cause pain to ourselves first, then God’s punishment of us (in which we erroneously believe) will be lessened.

This is insane thinking.  The ego is insane.  Let us not forget this Course concept.

We in our egoistic thinking do not have to punish ourselves at all.  To do so actually is the reverse of what we want, for any number of reasons, including the fact that punishing ourselves strengthens the ego.  We want to let the ego wither away.  In no way does God punish us.  This concept of the Course is in line with the New Testament, but opposed to the Old Testament.  May we accept Jesus’s teaching in both the Course and the New Testament, and know God as a loving and accepting God who wants only the best for us.  Anything else we have unconsciously chosen, and this can be changed with the right understanding, and the right reflection upon what we are actually doing to ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I know that there is no need for me to punish myself for anything that I have done.  I may know guilt, and this is a form of punishment.  God would never punish; it is always us that are doing this.

May my ego wither away.  I have prayed for this often, and so I have not accepted the truth of this promise that it can wither away.  May I accept this promise now and forevermore.

Amen.

revised

No Suffering

“How can you who are so holy suffer?  All your past except its beauty is gone, and nothing is left but a blessing.  I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had.  (T83)”

Affirmation:  “I have saved all your kindnesses and love.”

Reflections:

This is a hard passage to understand.  It is true that Awakened individuals acknowledge feeling pain, but not suffering.  Eckhart Tolle is one of these individuals.  But most of us have not yet known Awakening on a sustained basis, and what are we to do when bad things happen?

I think that the Answer is the one we so often find in the Course.  The Answer is turning to guidance from the Holy Spirit.  Jesus himself says in this passage that he has saved our kindnesses and loving thoughts.  We can, without self-satisfaction, realize that, almost despite ourselves, we have had moments of kindnesses and loving thoughts.  If these were ever a comfort to our brother, they can also be a comfort to us in our times of pain.  This recollection will help to ensure that suffering, even in the midst of  pain, will not arise.

We can find in the pain a blessing.  The passage seems to say this.   The passage also notes that we ourselves are holy, a concept that we find difficult to accept, because we usually feel so unworthy.  May we take Jesus at his word, and believe that we do not have to suffer in this world.  As we study the Course, perhaps we will come to see this concept more clearly and to feel pain, when it comes, but no suffering.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I know in my innermost being that I do not need to suffer.  In the Course, Jesus says that we do not have to learn through pain.  May I feel the truth of this reassurance.

It is good that my loving thoughts have been saved.  This seems to mean that my unloving thoughts will fall away.  Thank you.

Amen.

revised

“Turning the Other Cheek”

“You cannot be hurt, and do not want to show your brother anything except your wholeness.  Show him that he cannot hurt you and hold nothing against him, or you hold it against yourself.  This is the meaning of ‘turning the other cheek.’  (T82)”

Affirmation:  “You cannot be hurt.”

Reflections:

It hurts our brother for him (or her) to see that he has hurt us.  While our brother may not tell us this, and he even may not recognize it, still is it true.  We cannot seek to hurt another without being in pain ourselves.

Our real Self cannot be hurt in any way.  This is a magnificent truth that even among seasoned veterans of the Course can easily be overlooked as we live daily in this world.
Certainly we seem to suffer, or, at the least, to know pain–even when it doesn’t lead to real suffering.  Yet the Self continues unabated.  The Self knows that we are whole.

What a blessing to have in the Course this interpretation of the New Testament injunction of “turn the other cheek.”  So often over the years have Christians sought to understand this scripture, and so often we have failed to understand.  May the Course remedy that confusion.  We are whole Selves, and a part of us that we do not usually recognize is unhurt by anything that the world can do to us.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Now that I know the real meaning of “turn the other cheek,” may I do so promptly when something happens that disturbs me.  May I realize that my real Self is never hurt at all.

May I come to feel my real Self more and more.  When I do so, I am safe in this world.  Thank you for this safety.

Amen.

revised

Perceiving

“What you perceive in others you are strengthening in yourself.  (T80)”

Affirmation:  “perceive in others. . .strengthen in yourself”

Reflections:

This passage shows us a way to know what is really going on internally with ourselves.  Whatever we perceive in others, we have, usually unconsciously, looked within and found (a Course concept).

This truth of perceiving in others what we really hold within is a powerful teacher.  The “sins” that we perceive in others are, first of all, within ourselves.  Seeing this, we can see what needs to be changed.  And it is not our brother.  It is something within ourselves.

Our brother will seem much more loving as our own thoughts become loving.  “Projection makes perception” is a Course concept.  May we learn from our brother, even as we sometimes note lamentable emotions in him or her.  These emotions (and often actions) have first been within ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I learn from others:  What I see in them is actually something that is within myself.  May I use this knowledge to improve my disposition, my mind and spirit, and my behavior.

As my thoughts become more loving, my brothers and sisters will be perceived as more loving.  This is a great boon for us.  May we realize the truth that projection makes perception, as we learned in the Course.

Amen.

revised

Peace vs. War

“Peace is the ego’s greatest enemy because, according to its interpretation of reality, war is the guarantee of its survival.  (T79-80)”

Affirmation:  “Peace is the ego’s greatest enemy.”

Reflections:

When we are tempted to attack our brother, may we realize that it is the ego up to its old tricks.  The more we attack, the stronger the ego in us becomes.  Do we really want this?

When we are peaceful, we may at first feel that we are not as “alive” as we would like to be.  This is the longing for drama in our relationships, and it is a sick longing.  Peace is actually the best thing that can happen to us.  Elsewhere the Course says that we are meant to be perfectly calm and quiet all the time.  This may sound extreme, but the things of heaven are obscure to us.

When we allow peace to be, we reduce the size and complexity of the ego.  We reduce its influence on us.  Elsewhere we learn in the Course that the first obstacle that peace must flow across is the desire to get rid of it.  This sounds like a paradox, but if we reflect, we will see that the statement is true.  We too often want drama to make ourselves feel alive.

The Course holds out a better way for us.  Invite peace in our daily lives, and we will soon know a joy that is boundless–even if everything is not perfect in this world.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I long for peace in my life far more than I long for drama.  May I realize that drama only strengthens the ego, and this I do not want.

May I have Your inner calm and quiet.  This is the best way that I can come to know You, and it is this that I want.

Amen.

The Holy Spirit

“The idea of the Holy Spirit shares the property of other ideas because it follows the laws of the Universe of which it is a part.  It is strengthened by being given away.  It increases in you as you give it to your brother.  Your brother does not have to be aware of the Holy Spirit in himself or in you for this miracle to occur.  (T78)”

Affirmation:  “The Holy Spirit is strengthened by being given away.”

Reflections:

This is a passage with deep meaning.  It suggests that we do not have to get our brothers and sisters to study the Course before they will derive great meaning from it.  They will derive that great meaning by our own living out of the principles of the Course.

When we give away our understanding of the Holy Spirit, we enrich our brothers and sisters.  The idea of the Holy Spirit is strengthened.  And they do not have to even be aware of what we are doing.

Jesus calls this sharing of the Holy Spirit a “miracle.”  It will indeed seem so as we see our brothers and sisters more loving and peaceful, just by the fact that we are trying to share our understanding of the Course with them.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I share my understanding of the Course and the Holy Spirit, silently, with my brothers and sisters.  May I especially share this understanding with those most close to me.

We will bless our brothers and sisters by our own understanding.  May I not try to get anybody else to follow my way, but by my own following of it, may I lead others to You.

Amen.

Our Task

“The world is very tired, because it is the idea of weariness.  Our task is the joyous one of waking it to the Call for God.  (T77)”

Affirmation:  “our task is a joyous one”

Reflections:

Do we feel tired when we wake up in the morning?  That common feeling is what we see discussed in this passage.  Elsewhere Jesus assures us that we are not really capable of being tired, but we are very capable of wearying ourselves.  When we feel joy, we most often drop weariness.

Our function in the world is variously described in the Course.  Here it is defined as the task of waking the world to the call for God.  (Elsewhere, our function is defined as forgiveness, or even just happiness.)

The Course, according to Helen Schucman (the scribe) was sent at this time because the world is in a very bad situation.  All are called to help to create better conditions.  May this be our function today:  to make those we meet or even think about have a better experience of their day.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I drop weariness from my list of troubles.  May I substitute joy as the feeling that I would experience.

May we come this day to a new understanding of our task in this world.  May we take the part that God has given to us–waking the world to the Call for God.

Amen.

Call to Joy

“The principle of Atonement and the separation began at the same time.  When the ego was made, God placed in the mind the call to joy.  This call is so strong that the ego always dissolves at its sound.  (T75)”

Affirmation:  “the strong call for joy”

Reflections:

This passage identified why joy is the preferred way to come to salvation and on to Awakening.  The ego dissolves when we are overcome with joy.  Indeed, we could not feel such joy if we held onto the ego, for the ego does not mean us well.

A call for joy that is so strong!  This is a great blessing.

What did the separation accomplish?  Nothing!  That is what the Course teaches.  We have actually never changed in our Selves as we really are.  The separation was a tiny, mad idea that is now no longer in the mind that thought it (a Course concept).

May we react to the joy that God would have us feel, and thereby leave the ego and separation behind.  We will then know the peace that a calm mind induces.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I have a calm mind, because I have known joy that dissolves the ego.  May I remember these moments of peak experience, so that I can call on them when the going gets rough.

May I realize that the separation accomplished nothing–that my real Self has continued in peace and joy with You.

Amen.

Atonement

“The Voice of the Holy Spirit is the Call to Atonement, or the restoration of the integrity of the mind.  (T74)”

Affirmation:  “The Holy Spirit. . .the Call to Atonement.”

Reflections:

This passage sets forth the pivotal role that the Holy Spirit, our guidance, plays in restoring us to our right mind.  When we listen to this Voice only, we are well on our way to peace and happiness.

Atonement is reached when we have made peace with the world and all who are in it.  We have reached a state of oneness with all living beings.  This does include our forgiveness of all with whom we come in contact, or even think about.  Forgiveness frees us for Atonement.

We must listen for the Voice always.  This does not mean that we are mentally ill, or that we are choosing a pathway that is detrimental to our mental health.  The Voice is usually manifested in varieties of way, but mostly through an inner knowing that defies description.  Sometimes the Voice comes through what is obviously our own thinking, but yet paradoxically a bit beyond us.  We know that we are reaching wisdom that is not ours alone.  We have reached to God, and He will guide us when we are willing to give up self-will.

God’s will for us and our own real will are actually identical.  When we realize this, we have overcome a feeling that we are being pursued as Job was in the Old Testament.  The Course says that we need not fear God’s will for us, that the Holy Spirit would wait for our willingness; He will not impose His will on us if we are not ready.   Actually we will not need for Him to step aside unless we feel threatened.  And this false sense drops away when we listen more carefully to His dictates.  They are always for our good.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Help me to discern when my inclination is coming from the Holy Spirit.  Help me not to let my own thoughts interfere.

May I follow the guidance that I perceive to be true.  This will lead me Home to You.

Amen.

Helpful and Harmless

“God is praised whenever any mind learns to be wholly helpful.  This is impossible without being wholly harmless, because the two beliefs must coexist.  The truly helpful are invulnerable, because they are not protecting their egos and so nothing can hurt them.  (T71)”

Affirmation:  “The truly helpful are invulnerable.”

Reflections:

May we learn to be both helpful and harmless.  This passage recommends that harmlessness is an attribute of those who are following its way of peace and love.  We will not attack when in our right mind, though we sometimes slip up.  We know that anger is unjustified, even though we may still feel it from time to time.

When we are bent on helping our brothers and sisters, we will not knowingly do them harm.  Not only do they benefit, but so do we.  This helpfulness renders us invulnerable to the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” to quote Shakespeare.  What this means is that we are invulnerable to pain from our egoic selves.  We are leaving our egos behind as we embark on the pathway set forth by A Course in Miracles.

So:  helpful and harmless.  What goals these are!  And how blessed we are when, even in our imperfection, we reach those goals in our daily lives.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I not lose my temper.  May I remain helpful and harmless to my brothers and sisters.

When I have remained helpful and harmless, then I am invulnerable to hurts as well.  This is a great desire of mine.  Thank you for helping me to be both helpful and harmless.

Amen.

Salvation

“Salvation is a collaborative venture.  It cannot be undertaken successfully by those who disengage themselves from the Sonship, because they are disengaging themselves from me.  (T69)”

Affirmation:  “Salvation is collaborative”

Reflections:

We are not meant to isolate ourselves in this world–even to study the Course.  We are meant to stay in the world ,and to minister to our brothers and sisters.  Our brothers and sisters are the Sonship/

When we withdraw for too long, we also withdraw from Jesus.  And we cannot do that, because he and the Holy Spirit are our guides to better living.  He is the elder brother who catches us when we fall, and the Holy Spirit is the inner guide that leads us every step of the way–guidance.

Surely we do not want to disengage from Jesus.  So this passage has a warning for those of us who would seek our own salvation and not frequently enough think of the Sonship.  The two go hand-in-hand.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

When I am tempted to withdraw, help to remember my contribution to my brothers and sisters.  They need me, as I need them.  Salvation lies in our relationship.

May I learn from the Course with careful study, and then may I take that learning into the world.  This is the solution that will work for the world and for me.

Amen.

Our Mission

“My trust in you is greater than yours in me at the moment, but it will not always be that way.  Your mission is very simple.  You are asked to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego, and I do not choose God’s channels wrongly.  (T68)”

Affirmation:  “I do not choose God’s channels wrongly.”

Reflections:

Jesus seeks to bring him to us in these well-chosen words.  He assures us that he is certain that we will live without the ego, that we will first live as though we are without an ego.

We have a substantial mission in this world.  We are one of “God’s channels.”  We are meant not to find our way Home ourselves, but also to facilitate the coming Home of our brothers and sisters.  Jesus’s faith in us in intense, because he knows that the only way that this world can work is if we do our part to reform the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters–not to speak of our own.  When we do this, all will be well.

“I do not choose God’s channels wrongly.”  This is not meant to be a call to specialness.  All are chosen as God’s channels; all are meant to return Home.  And Jesus says elsewhere that all will return, though it may happen over millions of years.  This is not cause for despondency, because we have Jesus as our elder brother every step of the way.  Our own way will lighten immeasurably as we learn to put into practice the dictates of the Course.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Help me to realize that I am a channel for God.  However many mistakes I make, still is this true.  Thank you.

May I take up my mission in this world.  To do so, I need to live as though I am without ego.  Help me to relinquish the ego, and to take my place in the salvation of this world.

Amen.

Misery vs. Joy

“I am teaching you to associate misery with the ego and joy with the spirit.  You have taught yourself the opposite.  You are still free to choose, but can you really want the rewards of the ego in the presence of the rewards of God?  (T68)”

Affirmation:  “joy with the spirit”

Reflections:

We are used to the ego; we do not think its dictates strange.  But we can realize, if we reflect a little, that egotistical longings have not brought the happiness that we sought through fulfilling those longings.  There must be a better way.

At this juncture we can see where Jesus is heading.  The ordinariness of everyday life is where the real satisfactions lie.  This, almost paradoxically, is where the joy of the spirit lies.  When we experience this joy, we will be much more inclined to give up the ego in favor of something better.

How do we do that?  Reading the Course, really studying it, will take us a very long way.  It is the means that lead to the ultimate revelation of the Awakening.  We can truthfully rarely find anything better to do.  But this does not mean withdrawing from the world.  Our salvation rests in our relationship to our brothers and sisters in the world.  That is, in fact, the means that the Course is using to bring us Home.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Thank you for the joys of everyday life.  I do not seek the thrills associated with the ego, because they are not lasting, and ultimately they bring unhappiness.

May I turn to the Course more and more often, knowing that, as I do, I will meet You there.  May I drop the miseries of the ego and walk into the joys of the spirit.

Amen.

Learning

“No one who learned from experience that one choice brings peace and joy while another brings chaos and disaster needs additional convincing.   Learning through rewards is more effective than learning through pain, because pain is an ego illusion, and can never induce more than a temporary effect.  (T68)”

Affirmation:  “Learning through rewards is more effective than learning through pain.”

Reflections:

This passage is very important.  It assures us (as Jesus also does elsewhere in the Course) that we do not have to learn through pain.  Here he even tells us that learning through pain will be a temporary learning at best.  We long for a breakthrough to the joy that is ours to claim, and then the learning can commence in earnest.

Anyone who has studied the Course sincerely over years will have experienced the increased peace and joy that come with this study.  Of course, if there were no peace and joy, the effort would probably have been given up fairly early upon discovery of the teaching.  Not everyone, of course, finds his or her “home” in A Course in Miracles.  But many do, and if you are reading this, it is likely that you are one of those who will benefit greatly from your study of the Course.

Jesus would have us learn through rewards, because he would have us happy.  Elsewhere he defines happiness as our function.  This may be hard to believe for individuals who think that some sort of higher goal would not mean true happiness for the self.  But the Self does not know this logic.  Happiness is intended for us, even here in this world.  May we go forth to let our light shine in the joy that the Course ;promises.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I know that pain is an unnecessary way to learn.  I ask that I learn through rewards, which is the only lasting learning.

What a grand promise this is!  Thank you.  That You want my happiness is a great blessing for me to realize.  May I know that any so-called higher goals do not entail my sacrifice or my unhappiness.

Amen.

The Ego

“The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself.  Your other life has continued without interruption, and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to dissociate it.  (T67)”

Affirmation:  “The ego. . .a part of your belief about yourself.”

Reflections:

This is the best succinct definition of the ego in A Course in Miracles.  “A part of your belief about yourself.”  Such a definition removes some of the allure that the ego will continue to have until we have found our way home.  It deemphasizes the ego as a major difficulty; it implies that a “part” of belief can be disrupted without too much trouble.

Is this true?  Can we dissociate ourselves from the ego easily?  That depends on motivation (a Course concept).  Jesus seeks to encourage our motivation to learn, and then, through learning, to remove the blocks to love’s awareness.  Our guide is the Holy Spirit.  The Course spells out the means.

Very reassuring is the statement that we have another life continuing without interruption.  This implies that there are ;parts of ourselves elsewhere, in other dimensions, but this is an interpretation, and the Course is not specific about what is meant.  We can hope that we have another life in other dimensions, the Self that we have forgotten in this world.  Truly this is a great reassurance, and a great cause for giving thanks.  We have not lost everything by the tiny mistake that we made when we chose this world of the ego over heaven.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I deemphasize the ego in my own mind, as I realize the truth of the “part” of me that it is.  Something that is only a “part” can be overcome, with Your help, easily.

Thank you for the reassurance that I have a Self that stands above all the doings of this world.  I do not understand, but I do not have to understand to be reassured that all is well in Your world.

Amen.

Learning

Affirmation:  “learn what is of value”

Reflections:

“You learn best when you believe what you are trying to learn is of value to you.  However, not everything you may want to learn has lasting value.  Indeed, many of the things you want to learn may be chosen because their value will not last  (M66)”

Why would we choose to learn something that is not of lasting value to ourselves?  This seems to be a paradox, and perhaps it is.  But when we realize that we may have chosen whole careers that were not chosen for the right reasons, we may realize that the ego has been involved.

But we probably had problems in those careers that were chosen for less-than-the-best reasons.  More than just careers have been involved, though.  Our choices in relationships may have been flawed as well.  Our insanity covers a great deal of our lives.

We can learn best when we turn to learn those things that are of value.  And those things are always lasting.  Surely we can do this as we learn from the Course to choose aright.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May we choose only those things that have lasting value.  May we turn aside from those things that do not have lasting value.  May we not be tempted to learn those non-lasting things because they do not have value.

I know that the ego is involved when I reach for something that cannot be sustained.  Help me always to choose aright, and this means that it is time to leave the ego behind.

Amen.

Jesus Calls

“I raised the dead by knowing that life is an eternal attribute of everything that the living God created.  Why do you believe it is harder for me to inspire the dis-spirited or to stabilize the unstable?  I do not believe that there is an order of difficulty in miracles; you do.  I have called and you will answer.  I understand that miracles are natural, because they are expressions of love.  My calling you is as natural as your answer, and as inevitable.  (T65)”

Affirmation:  “miracles are natural”

Reflections:

Jesus is again speaking here.  He is emphasizing that all miracles are natural and any is as easy for him to effect as any other.

We obviously find this hard to believe, for others if not for Jesus.  Yet we are told elsewhere in the Course that miracles are our natural inheritance.  It is fascinating that here Jesus reaffirms that he raised the dead in his life on earth.  This, perhaps, has been an element of the New Testament that some have found hard to understand–even long-time Christians.  The Course, scribed 2,000 years later, may make this claim more plausible.

Jesus is certain that we will respond to him.  This certainty is comforting to us, because perhaps we see the way to Life as long and arduous.  The pathway need not be such.  We can turn to Jesus as our Friend, as he has always promised that he would be.  (In the Course, he identifies himself as an elder brother.)

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I recognize Jesus as my elder brother.  May I know that he is always there to help me to adjust to this sometimes hard life.

May I know that life need not be hard, because there are always natural means–miracles–to smooth the way.  May I take this knowledge to heart, and truly believe it.  Then I will feel safe, regardless of what is going on around me.

Amen.

Working with the Mind

“I do not attack your ego.  I do work with your higher mind, the home of the Holy Spirit, whether you are asleep or awake, just as your ego does with your lower mind, which is its home.  (T65)”

Affirmation:  “work with your higher mind. . .whether you are asleep or awake”

Reflections:

This is Jesus speaking.  He is our elder brother (a Course concept), willing to help at any and all times.  It is important that Jesus does not attack our egos.  Elsewhere he tells us that attack is never justified, and he himself exemplifies this assertion.

It is reassuring to know that we have help in trying to change our minds to be at one with the Holy Spirit.  We surely do not understand what all of this change entails, and we need counsel that is sure and lovely.  Jesus provides this, but silently, nearly always without our being aware of his presence.

There is a passage elsewhere in the Course that invites us to imagine our holding Jesus’s hand as we go about the world.  He asserts that this is no idle fancy.  We cannot understand how this is possible, but Jesus is one who has made it Home, and we dare not doubt his word.  We never need to feel alone or lonely again.  Not only do we have Jesus, but also other companions of whom we are not usually aware.  Surely there is no reason to be afraid, though, as very human people, we will probably still succumb to this temptation to fear for ourselves.  In our better moments, passages such as the one above from the Course can be our reassurance that all is truly well.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

I need help, now and always.  Help me to keep my mind in close cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and not dip into ego-oriented desires.

May Jesus help me, as he has promised.  Then I can rest assured that all will go well for me in this world.

Amen.

Gladden Yourself!

“Have you really considered how many opportunities you have had to gladden yourself, and how many of them you have refused?  (T64)”

Affirmation:  “May I accept opportunities to gladden myself.”

Reflections:

This is a message of extreme optimism.  We can be happier!  Jesus says that we have actually turned aside moments of joy, turning again to depressed thoughts.  How wrong of us!

It would be a useful practice for all of us to look upon the day as full of opportunities to gladden ourselves.  Elsewhere Jesus asks us to think of pure joy and limitless release in our daily lives.  This passage is a reiteration of this request.

It is a serious mistake to refuse to entertain joy.  We make our lives much harder than they need to be as a result.  Would that we might remember this passage often when faced with a day that seems filled with woe!

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I be happy today, in all the moments of my day.  May I not succumb to depressed thoughts, but choose instead to find moments in which to gladden myself.

I have sometimes withdrawn into depression rather than to seek the way out to better thinking.  Optimism can be cultivated.  May I do so today.

Amen.

The Disheartened

“The disheartened are useless to themselves and to me, but only the ego can be disheartened.  (T64)”

Affirmation:  “only the ego can be disheartened”

Reflections:

This passage indicates another reason that withdrawal from the world is not recommended.  We have a role to play in the salvation of the world.  If we do not take our place, it is left empty, and Jesus needs us to take the role that he assigns.

Remember that feeling disheartened is a function of the ego.  In fact, it is one of the most common ways in which we are derailed.  Ego-based action is always misguided; there are no exceptions to this rule, in the tenets of the Course.

We see, therefore, another way that we can recognize that the ego has taken over again.  If we feel disheartened, we are leading our lives in the way of the ego.  This cannot but bring us down.  The answer?  Give up thinking that we are more special than our brothers.  We are all equal, though not all equal in time.  Some have greater and some have lesser roles to play.  Some are closer to Awakening than others.  But we will all take the pathway to Awakening and find its conclusion eventually.  That is what time is for.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

When I am tempted to feel disheartened, may I drop this feeling because I can recognize it is of the ego.  I want to drop all things that are of the ego.

Help me to take my role in salvation.  Until I do this, my place will remain empty, and your children will not all find their way back to You.

Amen.

Voluntary Dis-Spiriting

“Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it.  It offers you nothing.  When you have given up this voluntary dis-spiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal.  Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself.  This need not be.  (T63)”

Affirmation:  “Your mind can rise above fatigue and heal.”

Reflections:

“Voluntary dis-spiriting.”  Of course!  This is what Jesus has been trying to tell us in these several passages with a similar theme.  Elsewhere he indicates that the disspirited are not helpful to him, and we need to give up this emotion.  Now we learn that it is voluntary.  We can choose to leave this depressed spirit behind.

Jesus places the blame for our depression solely on the temptations of the ego.  Elsewhere he believes that we are strong enough to leave these temptations behind.  Of course, we do not do it alone ever, and we do not have to feel that we are alone in this trial.  The Holy Spirit will guide us if we let Him into our lives, if we turn to him often.

Elsewhere Jesus also counsels in the Course that we not withdraw from the world in our low moments.  We will make more progress if we stay engaged.  The only exception might be the need to take control of ourselves in a weak moment, but even this is a momentary withdrawal.  And even the thought of taking control of ourselves is a little misleading.  We are never alone.  This cannot be said often enough.  We need only ask for help, and it is there for us.  Life then gets a whole lot better.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I just give up feeling low, feeling disspirited.  There is no need to feel this emotion when the Course tells us that we can feel pure joy and limitless release.

Be with me as I resolve to drop disspirited feeling from my range of emotions.  I know that You will help me, because you have promised this to me.

Amen.

When Feeling Guilty

“When you feel guilty, remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not.   Leave the ‘sins’ of the ego to me.   That is what Atonement is for.  (T63)”

Affirmation:  “When you feel guilty, leave the ‘sins’ of the ego to Jesus.”

Reflections:

A reassuring passage, we are here reminded that our true reality is innocence.  The ego is not our true reality.  It is only a part of our belief about ourselves, a part that Atonement can and does heal.

Guilt is frequently a component of anger and attack, two ideas that the Course says have no justification.  It is true that immediately after an outburst, we are likely to feel better, but this does not last.  Feeling better happens immediately because, as Kenneth Wapnick says in a recorded presentation, we think that we have gotten rid of the guilt.  Have we?  No.  We have only vented.  Soon the guilt at the outburst will overtake us again.  Then the time has come for an apology to the one we have wronged.

So we do not have to feel guilty.  There is a way out.  Remember that the ego is a false sense of self.  The real Self has been untouched by our guilt, and when we accept Atonement, we will know peace.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Help me to remember that when I feel guilty, it is only the ego in me that has misbehaved.  The real Self is innocent.

May I seek forgiveness of myself, and may I ask forgiveness of others.  Then may I know that there is truly no reason to feel guilty.

Amen.

When Anxious

“When you are anxious, realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego, and know this need not be.  You can be as vigilant against the ego’s dictates as for them.  (T63)”

Affirmation:  “When you are anxious, know this need not be.”

Reflections:

Anxiety is a form of fear, of course.  And fear and love are the primary emotions.  The phrase, “capriciousness of the ego,” can be a bit difficult, but essentially it is saying that our egos are wily, and we cannot trust where they lead.

Just as with sadness, anxiety is an emotion that most of us experience–some of us for long periods of time.  Pills are not recommended long-term by physicians.  So in this sense our medical establishment is in line with Jesus’s explanation that pills are a form of magic that work because we believe in them.  Jesus implies that we would be better off without pills, if doing without would not raise our level of fear.

Vigilance against the ego’s dictates is a call to action, mental action.  We do not have to fall for the nefarious dictates of the ego, and we would do well to consider what some of those really are.  Certainly the ego is in control when we are anxious.  We need to consider whether or not this is really what we want.  We need to realize that other people and their attitudes toward us are not the essential point.  Our relationship to God is primary, and when we allow Him the upper hand, our anxiety about the opinions of others declines.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Help me to eliminate anxiety from my mind and body.  If I am anxious because of what other people may do or say, help me to realize that this is false reasoning.  God’s way does not include fearfulness toward other people.

My anxiety may come and go without logical reason.  Help me to turn to You in such times, knowing that I have a helping hand always with me.

Amen.

When Sad

“When you are sad, know this need not be.   Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have.  Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise.  (T63)”

Affirmation:  “you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions”

Reflections:

This passage is part of a group in which Jesus negates negative emotions.  He makes clear at this point that we make our own decisions, and we can change conditions that hurt.  In particular, in this passage he indicates that sadness can be overcome, even when it is depression.

Elsewhere Jesus notes that pills are a form of magic, but that they may be necessary if we are already fearful.  They are an intermediate step that will assist us, still caught in illusions, to overcome what is wrong simply because we believe that it will work for us.  Certainly medication for depression would seem to fall in this category.

Note the explanation of why depression happens:  a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have.   The vast majority of us can relate to this, sometimes on a daily basis–and certainly over our lifetime.  It is a great relief to know that we have actually chosen these instances of deprivation.  We are trying to learn something.  The fact that we are learning through pain is not good, because elsewhere Jesus says that it is not necessary to learn through pain.  Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) indicates much that supports A Course in Miracles, but his pathway toward Awakening was in fact through tremendous anxiety and depression.  A later book by Tolle, A New Earth, makes this point even clearer by his explanation of the “pain body.”  Jesus, though, would not have us take this route if we can follow him to the uttermost that he promises.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I leave sadness behind, by my own decision.  May I choose the gladness that can come, also by my own decision.

If I need to use pills to combat depression, may I do so knowing that they are an aid, but not a cure.  The real cure comes through changing our minds about what we want.  And what we want is joy.

Amen.

When Not Joyous

“When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be.  (T63)”

Affirmation:  “if not joyous, know this need not be”

Reflections:

Our mood falls when we try to make decisions without first asking for guidance.  Then we get that sinking feeling that we have made the wrong decision.  That sinking feeling is frequently correct.

Of course, we cannot practically ask for guidance at every turn, but Jesus says elsewhere that if we set the proper tone for the day, asking for guidance at its beginning, and then again at the best opportunities, we will be well on our way to good days always.   He says that the Course is always practical, and asking for guidance in every moment would not be practical.

All of us want to be joyous.  Staying close to the Holy Spirit is the secret to just that.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

I am not joyous when I try to live by my own lights, leaving out the Holy Spirit.  Let me turn to Him for guidance.

I can be joyous.  Let me accept this as a lodestone.  And I thank you for letting me know that joy is my right as a child of God.

Amen.

Little Scraps of Fear

“You retain thousands of little scraps of fear that prevent the Holy One from entering. . . .Watch your mind for the scraps of fear, or you will be unable to ask me to do so.  I can help you only as our Father created us.  (T61)”

Affirmation:  “watch your mind for thousands of little scraps of fear”

Reflections:

Here Jesus is explaining something that he discusses at length elsewhere.  We cannot ask him to relieve us of anxiety or fear, because it is created by our minds.  He does not want to interfere with the results of our thinking.  Instead, we are to ask the Holy Spirit to help us to eliminate the conditions that led to our fear.  These fears are ego-related, without exception, for love knows no anxiety.

It is a daunting task if we surmise from this passage that we must remove “thousands” of little scraps of fear.  But the passage does not indicate this.  We can easily remove them all at once, in the best case scenario, by asking the help of the Holy Spirit.

Then we will know peace.  If another day arrives, with more scraps of fear, we simply ask again.  We cannot expect complete freedom from anxiety until surrender to God is complete, and this may not happen immediately.  It could, of course, but realistically it often doesn’t, because we are very much still creatures of this world.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

When I awake in the middle of the night, fearful, may I turn these scraps of fear over to the Holy Spirit for resolution.  May I gently return to sleep, knowing that He is taking care of them.

May I have help in the conditions that have brought this fear about.  Thank you for being there for me.

Amen.

You Must Ask for Gifts

“The Bible gives many references to the immeasurable gifts which are for you, but for which you must ask.  This is not a condition as the ego sets conditions.  It is a glorious condition of what you are.  (T61)”

Affirmation:  “immeasurable gifts are for me”

Reflections:

Sometimes we feel greedy when we pray for something specific.  This is not, however, the way of either the Course or the Bible.  Here we see that asking is the way to receive.  Actually, asking for something specific is the intended way for us to receive.

If we are not specific, the Holy Spirit will need to lead our minds and hearts to know what it is that we really want.  This takes additional time, time that we do not need to waste in such a fashion.  If we want the “immeasurable gifts,” we need only ask.  The Bible says, “Ask, and you will receive.”  This glorious promise is in line with the teaching of the Course as well, as we see in this passage.

What gift would you really like to have?  If it is in line with our best interests, we can have it for the asking.  Elsewhere Jesus points out that our Father does not give gifts that are not good to His children; He protects us from our own misunderstandings.  So do not be afraid that you will ask amiss.  Pray for His will, and the blessings will always be good.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Help to realize that asking for Your gifts is not greedy.  And I must ask if I am to receive.  Guide my asking in line with Your will.

May the Holy Spirit inform my choice about what to ask for.  Then may I thank You for those manifold blessings.

Amen.

Love Will Enter

“Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly.  This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s ‘drive to get.’  (T61)”

Affirmation:  “wholly without the ego’s ‘drive to get'”

Reflections:

We sometimes limit the love that we can receive by specifying that this love must come from a particular source.  Such thinking usually signals that one is dealing with a special relationship, not a holy one.  But the Course would purify our special relationships, rather than remove them from us by force.  All special relationships are meant to become holy eventually.

We would do better if we did not specify the desired source of the love that we invite to come to us.  Then the real world can deliver our desired love in any number of ways.  Love is not always found in a special relationship, even in the beginning.  The love of nature, for example, is a great healer in times of stress.  The love we desire does not have to be always from another person.

When we truly want love in our lives, it is there already.  There are no exceptions to this rule, though the ego would often make us think so.  God answers our prayer for love by sending into our lives the love that is ours for the asking.  We do not have to plead or to struggle.  We simply need to ask.  And this is truly without the ego’s “drive to get.”

Prayer:

Dear Father,

I do want love.  I want love to enter my life immediately and unconditionally.  I don’t want my ego to interfere.

May I drop all desires to have something that my ego dictates.  May I have, instead, the love that You have promised me.

Amen.

“You Need Not Have Tribulation”

“In this world you need not have tribulation because I have overcome the world.  This is why you should be of good cheer.  (T56)”

Affirmation:  “be of good cheer”

Reflections:

1 – ACIM Differs from the New Testament

This passage from Jesus is a paraphrase of what he is quoted to have said in the New Testament.  But in the New Testament, we are led to believe that we will have tribulation.  His resurrection is meant to counter all of that; the resurrection happened after his teaching that said the reverse.  And the Course stands by the resurrection as truth.  The Course does not say if the resurrection was revelation or a miracle, but, given the definitions found therein, it seems to be a miracle.

2 – Avoid Tribulation

Tribulation is pain that we would want to avoid at all costs.  Remembering that Jesus overcame the world, and harkening to good cheer are mental actions that we can take at any time.

3 – Be of Good Cheer

When we are feeling down, it is wise to recall such passages.  We can conjure up good cheer, even when the day seems drab.  It takes only a moment to recall us to ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Thank you that in this world we do not have to have tribulation.  We can be of good cheer, because Jesus has overcome the world.  Help me not to be confused by the difference that this quotation from A Course in Miracles constitutes from the New Testament.  Help me to take from this ACIM quotation what it can do for me, something that is considerable.

It takes only a moment of reflection or of prayer to recall us to ourselves.  We can know peace as well as good cheer, even in this world that too often seems filled with woe.

Amen.

An Unsheltering Home

“The ego has built a shabby and unsheltering home for you, because it cannot build otherwise.  Do not try to make this impoverished house stand.  Its weakness is your strength.  (T55)”

Affirmation:  “Do not try to make the ego’s impoverished house stand.”

Reflections:

We are taught in our world that it is wise to build a strong ego.  This is a principle that we learn not only in studying psychology, but also in living our lives.  The ego is seen as the good guy.

Not so in the Course.  The ego is a type of demon in the Course.  We learn that the ego is always being undone, and that this is what is happening as we go through our lives.  We know humiliation, and this is one of the prime ways that we know that we have been seeing through the ego.

In place of the ego, with its many judgments (which always lead us astray), we are bade to turn to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  And we are bade to keep our egos humble.  Jesus says that this is what the “meek” are all about.  Meekness is not weakness, though the ego would tell us that it is.  It is the greatest strength, because we are not trying to be something that we are not.  We are Sons (and Daughters) of God, ever loved by Him.  With this assurance, we will not hesitate to let the ego wither away.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I have your help to let the ego’s impoverished house fall.  May I know in my deepest building that this is what You want.  This falling of the ego’s house will bring me peace.

The ego is not the good guy in my life, despite what this world has taught me.  May I let go of egoistic thinking, and walk into the light at last.

Amen.

The Spirit’s Joy

“The ego is afraid of the spirit’s joy, because once you have experienced it you will withdraw all protection from the ego, and become totally without investment in fear.  (T55)”

Affirmation:  “the spirit’s joy”

Reflections:

We have all experienced the spirit’s joy, because we are not totally insane.  The ego is only a part of our belief about ourselves.  The more we can coax the spirit’s joy to come forth, the more progress we will make.  How do we do this?  It can only come from turning inward asking for assistance.  God always responds, even when we don’t readily see His response.  Be on the lookout for the next meaningful comment, be it an interior word from the Holy Spirit, a sentence in a book, or a comment made by a brother.  God comes to us in all these ways, and more.

Perhaps it seems fearful to withdraw protection from the ego.  Our world has put much store in developing a strong ego, one that is meant to protect us in an often hostile world.  But a strong ego is not the way of the Course.  The ego, in fact, is always being undone, and we will know humiliation and much fear as long as we try to depend upon it.  It may not always be easy to relinquish the ego, but to do so is our way home.

When we recognize that joy is of the spirit, and fear of the ego, we will not lack for motivation.  Jesus is teaching us to equate joy with the spirit.  Once we have done this a few times, we will doubt no longer.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

May I experience the spirit’s joy, and thereby be led to withdraw all protection from the ego.  The ego was always insane, and when I followed it, I was following blindly down a dark alley.

It is great news that when experiencing the spirit’s joy, I will want to withdraw all protection from the ego.  May this happen now and always.

Amen.