Forgiveness. . .the Way to See Our Innocence

ACIM Workbook Lesson 60 – for Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is the love in which I forgive.”

Selected Passage:

“. . .[F]orgiveness is the means by which I will recognize my innocence.  It is the reflection of God’s Love on earth.  (WB100)”

Reflections:

We do not need to be justified in the sight of God; He has already forgiven us.  But, frequently, we do need to be justified in our own sight, because we have not forgiven ourselves.  When we forgive another, we also recognize that we ourselves are worthy of forgiveness.  It is the gift of God, but it is one that we all too often withhold from ourselves.  And when we withhold it from ourselves, we also withhold forgiveness from others.  This is the way of “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (a biblical tenet).

When we forgive, we recognize that we too are innocent.  We have not changed or altered in any way the Self that is truly us, the Self that is beyond the little self in this world.  We have not “sinned,” because sin, however irrationally, will continue to be attracting to us if we believe that we are committing sin.  But call the error just a “mistake,” and we will want to correct it (a Text tenet).  Then we are free to recognize that we are always as God created us; we have not altered our real identity at all (a Workbook tenet).

Our innocence reflects God’s love on earth.  When we forgive, we help ourselves and others to see that love, that all-embracing love.  God wants to communicate with us, and when we don’t pray to him, He is lonely (a Text tenet).  The Text also calls this prayer, at its highest, “communion.”  When we commune with God, we are at our best.  May we commune (i.e., pray) often today.

Affirmation:  “God is the strength in which I trust.”

Selected Passage:

“. . .I begin to remember the Love I chose to forget, but Which has not forgotten me.  (WB100)”

Reflections:

God never forgets His own, and all of us are His own.  And we need to remember that He loves us with an totally committed, totally unconditional, love at all times.

Affirmation:  “There is nothing to fear.”

Selected Passage:

“How safe the world will look to me when I can see it!  It will not look anything like what I imagine I see now.  (WB100)”

Reflections:

Safety, being safe, is a big issue for many of us.  We may have been reared in an atmosphere of fear, a sense that if we did not have our parents to protect us from the fearful world where bad things happen, we would be lost.

This childhood memory is not really true, and it is unlikely that we believe it consciously now.  But the subconscious speaks strongly sometimes.  May we see the world as safe today.  The Workbook says elsewhere, “When I have let all my grievances go, I will know that I am perfectly safe.”  May we have this assurance today.

Affirmation:  “God’s Voice speaks to me all through the day.”

Selected Passage:

“There is not a moment in which His Voice fails to direct my thoughts, guide my actions and lead my feet.  (WB101)”

Reflections:

This passage, in my estimation, is a very important one.  We are guided, moment by moment, by the Voice of the Holy Spirit.  Normally, there is no “voice” as such, but instead what may be called simply intuition, or a “knowing” of what we should do next.  A Manual tenet is that it is not wise to become preoccupied with each step of the way.  The right mind slant, on the other hand, adopted early in the day, and followed as possible, will set us on the right pathway.  If we listen, though, the moment-by-moment guidance is there.  The only caveat is if  one is emotionally disturbed; then the “guidance” may be awry, and we need to test out the rightness of what we perceive to be our guidance.

Affirmation:  “I am sustained by the Love of God.”

Selected Passage:

“As I listen to God’s Voice, I am sustained by His Love.  As I open my eyes, His Love lights up the world for me to see.  (WB101)”

Reflections:

This passage highlights the wonderful benefit of following God’s guidance.  Our days are brighter and better; we live in grace.  Do focus on the words of this affirmation and the passage.  Little more needs to be said.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

If we forgive, we will feel better about ourselves.  We might even feel that we are worthy of seeing ourselves as innocent.  This interpretation is not the full truth, but thank You for letting me see how forgiveness might pave the way for my own understanding of my innate innocence.

Help me to listen to guidance today.  Even when I have lived a number of days, consistently following guidance, I am still tempted to turn aside from this quiet inner Voice.  My feelings become suspect to scrutiny, and then I find myself doing what the ego wants–not what You want.  Help me to do what You want today.

Amen.

God Is My Source

ACIM Workbook Lesson 59 – for Monday, February 28, 2011

Affirmation:  “God goes with me wherever I go.”

“How can I be alone when God always goes with me?  How can I be doubtful and unsure of myself when perfect certainty abides in Him?  (WB98)”

Reflections:

We are so buoyed by language such as this:  We are never alone.  If we just remember that God is always near, we also will not fear.  If we knew who walked with us, we would never fear (a Text tenet).

Affirmation:  “God is my strength.  Vision is His gift.”

“Christ’s vision is His gift, and He has given it to me.  Let me call upon this gift today so that this day may help me to understand eternity.  (WB98)”

Reflections:

We do not fully understand what is meant by “vision,” but we do know that it is not what we see with the sight of the eyes.  True vision is an internal attribute of the real meaning of what is true about the world–not what we project from dreams or illusions.  We need vision, and may we ask for it today.

Affirmation:  “God is my Source.  I cannot see apart from Him.”

“Beyond His Will lie only illusions.  It is these I choose when I think I can see apart from Him.  (WB98)”

Reflections:

We do not want illusions; even if our fantasies start out pleasantly (and many do), they will turn dark, because they are of the ego.  The ego is constantly being undone, and we are constantly moving closer to Awakening.  We cannot name the time; only God can do that.  But we can save time, sometimes a thousand years (a Text tenet) by our faithfulness to God’s Will.  May we be privileged to know God’s Will today.  As we are learning, His Will is our real will.  We are never coerced.

Affirmation:  “God is the light in which I see.”

“Now it is given me to understand that God is the light in which I see.  Let me welcome vision and the happy world it will show me.  (WB99)”

Reflections:

When we turn to God, we do have true vision.  He will show us a better way, as He did Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, the co-scribes of ACIM.   Helen never assimilated all of what she scribed by bringing peace into her life, but Bill did, ultimately.  May we follow in the footsteps of Bill Thetford.  (Both Helen and Bill are now deceased.)

Affirmation:  “God is the Mind with which I think.”

“I have no thoughts apart from Him, because I have no mind apart from His.  As part of His Mind, my thoughts are His and His Thoughts are mine.  (WB99)”

Reflections:

This passage is another way of saying that God’s Will is mine, and that my will is coming ever closer to that ideal.  We are part of God; He is in us.  There is nothing outside ourselves (a Text tenet); we may not understand this, but the image of a hologram may help.  Each part contains the whole, just as the whole is made of each part.  We are like that with God.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Today I am studying the many ways in which God is One with me.  You are my Source, the Mind that we share, the light in which I see.  With so many ways to come to know You, how can I fail, if my intentions are pure.  You will for me to know You.  I join my little will to Yours today for the same purpose.

Be with me today as I reflect on the affirmations for today.  May I realize that to know You is a manifold, multifaceted knowing, and I will live ever better as I accept all that knowledge of You holds out to me.

Amen.

My Holiness = the Truth

ACIM Workbook Lesson 58 – for Sunday, February 27, 2011

Affirmation:  “My holiness envelops everything I see.”

“Seen through understanding eyes, the holiness of the world is all I see, for I can picture only the thoughts I hold about myself.  (WB96)”

Reflections:

May we hold loving thoughts toward ourselves.  Most of us are self-centered, but that is an egoistic trait, and truly loving thoughts toward ourselves are relatively rare.  But we are meant to love our neighbor as ourselves (a biblical tenet).  “As ourselves,” and if we cannot love ourselves, then we are in a bind when we try to love others.  May our neurosis wither away at the same time that we invite the ego to wither away.

Affirmation:  “My holiness blesses the world.”

“As I recognize my holiness, so does the holiness of the world shine forth for everyone to see.  (WB96)”

Reflections:

May we recognize that we too are holy, that we too have only made mistakes that can be corrected.  The Self that we are has not “sinned,” not has this Self changed in any way since our creation by God.  We are innocent, as is our brother or sister, and as soon as we come to accept our innocence, we are freed of neurosis.

Affirmation:  “There is nothing my holiness cannot do.”

“What is there to be saved from except illusions?  And what are all illusions except false ideas about myself? (WB96)”

Reflections:

May we leave illusions behind today.  We have these false ideas, and the ego is one of them.  The ego is a part of our belief about ourselves (a Text tenet).  May we leave all illusions about ourselves by the wayside, and walk into the sunlight with Jesus.

Affirmation:  “My holiness is my salvation.”

“Once I have accepted my holiness, nothing can make me afraid.  And because I am unafraid, everyone must share in my understanding, which is the gift of God to me and to the world.  (WB97)”

Reflections:

When we view ourselves rightly, we will be unafraid.  Indeed this promise is powerful motivation.  When we see ourselves as holy, we are ready.  May we become ready today.

Affirmation:  “I am blessed as a Son of God.”

“My Father supports me, protects me, and directs me in all things.  (WB97)”

Reflections:

God is our Father/Mother, and He is always here for us.  May we not forget this today.  If we really believed that we were watched over by Divinity, we would be unafraid, and we would especially be grateful for the many blessings that Divinity is granting us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

When I get angry, or when I fuss about something, or when I neglect to do a kindness, then it is hard for me to realize that I am innocent, that I am truly holy.  But my real Self is holy.  You have said so.  And these times that I fall down are only mistakes, not sins.  May I accept Your truth about me today.  It is an almost unbelievable truth, but help me to accept it as correct, because You have said it.

Be with me today so that my little self is not afraid and therefore primed to attack or to feel anger.  These are emotions of fear, and I would leave fear behind.  Help me to do so today and every day, beginning now.

Amen.

I Could See Peace Instead of This

ACIM Workbook Lesson 57 – for Saturday, February 26, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am not the victim of the world I see.”

“How can I be the victim of a world that can be completely undone if I so choose?. . .I would give up my insane wishes and walk into the sunlight at last.  (WB94)”

Reflections:

Walking in to the sunlight is a great boon.  What a blessing to know that the door is open, and that we do not have to stay in a prison made by the part of ourselves that is insane–the ego.  May we choose anew to let the ego wither away, and may we reaffirm this desire often today.

Affirmation:  “I have invented the world I see.”

“I made up the prison in which I see myself.  All I need do is recognize this and I am free.  (WB94)”

Reflections:

We would leave this prison that we made up.  When we know that it is we ourselves that “did this” to ourselves, then we are well on our way to undoing it.

Affirmation:  “There is another way of looking at the world.”

“I see the world as a prison for God’s Son.  It must be, then, that the world is really a place where he can be set free.  (WB94)”

Reflections:

This is a favorite quotation from the Workbook.  Yes, this world is a place where we can be set free.  Why?  Most of what we see, everything outside the real world, is the exact opposite of what is true.  And this world is easily dismissed when we recognize that the loving world, the real world, is what we want.

Affirmation:  “I could see peace instead of this.”

“. . .I will perceive that peace also abides in the hearts of all who share this place with me.  (WB95)”

Reflections:

Peace is in the hearts of others, too.  We perhaps do not recognize this when they are attacking us.  But they do so out of ignorance.  And they do so as a call for help.  Let us recognize that peace is actually under all the hostility, and let our own denunciations cease.  May forgiveness of our innocent brothers and sisters return.

Affirmation:  “My mind is part of God’s.  I am very holy.”

“The world I look upon has taken on the light of my forgiveness, and shines forgiveness back at me.  (WB95)”

Reflections:

This affirmation is a very reassuring one.  We are holy, though we do not believe this of ourselves.  When we feel forgiveness, we probably feel more justified in the sight of God, and we may feel more holy.  But we are always holy, because we are as God created us (a Workbook tenet).  Our real Self has not changed because we chose to believe a little self that was consumed by a part of our belief, the part called “ego.”

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I am not a victim, though often in this world all of us try to see ourselves as victims.  Help me to recognize that seeing peace in this world is a choice.  Not everything seems perfect; in fact, many things seem very wrong.  But the things that happen to me are choices of my Higher Self, and I can choose how I will react to them.  Indeed, I must choose how I will react to what happens to me in this world.

Thank You for reassuring me that my mind is holy because it is part of Yours.  This is a welcome idea, not always something that I have known, and even now I have trouble understanding all that this promise holds out to me.  May I come closer to understanding this blessing today.

Amen.

Security and Fulfillment = My Inheritance

ACIM Workbook Lesson 56 – for Friday, February 25, 2011

Affirmation:  “My attack thoughts arae attacking my invulnerability.”

Selected Passage:

“[P]erfect security and complete fulfillment are my inheritance.  I have tried to give my inheritance away in exchange for the world I see.  But God has kept my inheritance safe for me.  My own real thoughts will teach me what it is.  (WB92)”

Reflections:

We can depend on real thoughts to arise from within our minds.  The God within will see to that.  We would have our inheritance of peace and joy rest with us.  God has kept these lovely Thoughts just for us.

Affirmation:  “Above all else I want to see.”

Selected Passage:

“The world I see attests to the fearful nature of the self-image I have made. . . .If I would remember who I am, it is essential that I let this image of myself go.  (WB92)”

Reflections:

We have, from the ego, made a fearful self-image.  We can easily relinquish this self-image for the truth about ourselves.  We must, indeed, let this image go if we are to have peace.

Affirmation:  “Above all else I want to see differently.”

Selected Passage:

“I would let the door behind this world be opened for me, that I may look past it to the world that reflects the Love of God.  (WB92)”

Reflections:

We can see the real world, and this real world reflects the Love of God.  May we recognize this great blessing today.

Affirmation:  “God is in everything I see.”

Selected Passage:

“God is still everywhere and in everything forever.  And we who are part of Him will yet look past all appearances, and recognize the truth beyond them all.  (WB93)”

Reflections:

God is everywhere and in everything, for God is the All.  This is not little individual gods, as believed in pantheism, but a single God, a One.  So this means that all of our brothers and sisters, and ourselves, are One as well.  Great joy we will recognize when the truth of this statement dawns upon us!

Affirmation:  “God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.”

Selected Passage:

“I have not lost the knowledge of Who I am because I have forgotten it.  It has been kept for me in the Mind of God, Who has not left His Thoughts.  (WB93)”

Reflections:

We are a Thought of God.  He has not left us bereft in a dangerous world; that is all egoistic thinking.  We need to remember Who we are, the Self that we are.  Then our lives will smooth out, and peace with its blessing will descend upon us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I want to see clearly today.  I have not seen clearly far too often in the past because the ego has clouded my vision.  Give me real vision today.  Help me to see differently from the past.  May I see the real world that Your vision, in me, gives.

Thank You for Your many blessings.  I thank You for these explanations of difficult concepts.  Give me the grace to understand them sooner rather than later.

Amen.

I Can Escape from This World by Giving Up Attack Thoughts

ACIM Workbook Lesson 55 – for Thursday, February 24, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am determined to see things differently.”

Selected Passage:

“I am determined to see the witnesses to the truth in me, rather than those which show me an illusion of myself.  (WB90)”

Reflections:

We see illusions in ourselves, others, and this world, until we give up the illusions.  There is no other way.  How do we give up illusions?  We make a determination that we will ask to see the real world, and then we wait patiently until the world changes.  And we will not have long to wait.  Jesus is in charge of time (a Text tenet).

Affirmation:  “What I see is a form of vengeance.”

Selected Passage:

“The world I see is hardly the representation of loving thoughts.  It is a picture of attack on everything by everything. . .It is my own attack thoughts that give rise to this picture.  My loving thoughts will save me from this perception of the world, and give me the peace God intended me to have.  (WB90)”

Reflections:

This passage reflects a summary of all that has recently gone before.  We need to make a decision to give up attack, once and for all.  We need to choose love, and then our perception of the world will change (because our projections have changed), and we will have peace.

Affirmation:  “I can escape from this world by giving up attack thoughts.”

Selected Passage:

“As forgiveness allow love to return to my awareness, I will see a world of peace and safety and joy.  (WB90)”

Reflections:

Forgiveness is our only function in this world.  And we forgive only what has actually never happened in reality.  Our brothers and sisters, and we ourselves, have only made mistakes, and these can be corrected.  A mistake is a call for help and a call for love (ACIM says this for attack).  May we allow forgiveness to overcome us today, and may we live peacefully.

Affirmation:  “I do not perceive my own best interests.”

Selected Passage:

“I am willing to follow the Guide God has given me to find out what my own best interests are, recognizing that I cannot perceive them by myself.  (WB91)”

Reflections:

The Guide is the Holy Spirit, a frequent emphasis in ACIM.  When we let the Holy Spirit, the Universal Inspiration (a Text term), speak to us, then we will know our best interests.  And peace will overtake us.  This may not happen all at once, because the ego still may be strong in us, but it will happen sufficiently for us to see the truth of the passage quoted above.

Affirmation:  “I do not know what anything is for.”

Selected Passage:

“The purpose I have given the world has led to a frightening picture of it.  Let me open my mind to the world’s real purpose by withdrawing the one I have given it, and learning the truth about it.  (WB91)”

Reflections:

May we not let our own thoughts frighten us.  We are quite capable of doing so; in fact, this is why we are so frequently frightened.  May, instead, we extend loving thoughts, and then our own fear will recede.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I am going to try to go through this day without any attack thoughts toward myself or others.  If I vow to give up illusions of myself and others, and to see only the loving in myself and others, I will have a better chance of having this peaceful day that I want.  Be with me throughout the day as I seek to make good on my promise.

Help us to give up illusions of ourselves, the illusions that are borne of egoistic thinking.  May my view of myself change to a more benign concept, leading eventually to the truth that I do not truly understand myself at all.  Only You can give me the understanding that I will need to carry out my function of forgiveness in Your world.

Amen.

May the Real World Rise before My Eyes

ACIM Workbook Lesson 54 – for Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Affirmation:  “I have no neutral thoughts.”

Selected Passage:

“As the world I see arises from my thinking errors, so will the real world rise before my eyes as I let my errors be corrected.  (WB88)”

Reflections:

Many times we know the best thing to do, but we are fallible, and still tied to the ego, and we don’t follow our own best instincts.  These best instincts are instilled in us by the Holy Spirit, and we will make ourselves a Heaven on earth, even, when we let the real world rise before our eyes.  This means that we pray for guidance, and we pray for the will to follow that guidance.  Then all is well.

Affirmation:  “I see no neutral things.”

Selected Passage:

“Let me look on the world I see as the representation of my own state of mind.  I know that my state of mind can change.  And so I also know the world I see can change as well.  (WB88)”

Reflections:

We would have the world as we see it actually change.  We would accord illusions the tiny interest that they merit, but we would recognize that we are projecting.  We would not let our state of mind go negative, or the world that we see will go negative as well.

Affirmation:  “I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.”

Selected Passage:

“I can. . .call upon my real thoughts, which share everything with everyone.  As my thoughts of separation call to the separation thoughts of others, so my real thoughts awaken the real thoughts in them.  And the world my real thoughts show me will dawn on their sight as well as mine.  (WB88)”

Reflections:

This passage calls us to make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters.  We would make a difference today.  Help us to call upon our real thoughts–the loving ones–to help lead everyone to a better world, the real world.

Affirmation:  “I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.”

Selected Passage:

“I am alone in nothing.  Everything I think or say or do teaches all the universe.  A Son of God cannot think or speak or act in vain.  He cannot be alone in anything.  It is therefore in my power to change every mind along with mine, for mine is the power of God.  (WB89)”

Reflections:

We do not have private thoughts, however much we might think that we do or hope that we do.  Our thoughts reach outward to others, even when we do not say anything that will tip our hand.

Affirmation:  “I am determined to see.”

Selected Passage:

“I would look upon the real world, and let it teach me that my will and the Will of God are one.  (WB89)”

Reflections:

May we see the real world, the loving world, today.  It is a great blessing to know that our real will and the Will of God are identical–not similar, but identical.  He is within us, and we would learn much from turning to God whenever any question arises in our minds.  We need simply to ask the question, internally, and then words of answer will pour into our minds.  Of course, we cannot be sure of our infallibility in such cases, but if the Answer is benign, we can be assured that it is quite likely that we are receiving guidance.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May the real world rise before my eyes today.  I am not awakened on a sustained basis, because the ego has not given  up the fight for control of my mind and heart.  But the ego is weakened in me; I no longer accord its temper tantrums much effect, and so I thank You that some of Your teaching is showing me the real world.  May I see a loving, peaceful expanse of this world unfold before my eyes today.  May I be at Home in You.

Thank You, dear God, for Your manifold blessings to me.  Even when I think times are tough, I know that it has been said that at those times You are “carrying” me.  May I enjoy Your company today.  May I be aware of Your presence throughout the day.  And may the real world come into view.

Amen.

Meaningless Thoughts vs. Real Thoughts

ACIM Workbook Lesson 53 – for Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Affirmation:  “My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.”

Selected Passage:

“I have real thoughts as well as insane ones.  I can therefore see a real world, if I look to my real thoughts as my guide for seeing.  (WB86)”

Reflections:

Even before sustained Awakening, we have real thoughts as well as insane ones.  We have moments of Awakening before the sustainability that A Course of Love calls the “elevated Self of form.”  Eckhart Tolle makes the same point in a CD interview entitled, “Even the Sun Will Die.”  This New Age thought is rapidly becoming mainstream.

Affirmation:  “”I am upset because I see a meaningless world.”

Selected Passage:

“I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it.  And I do not choose to value what is totally insane and has no meaning.  (WB86)”

Reflections:

We can clear our mind’s upset far easier than we have imagined.  We can choose not to see insanity at all; we can just rush to the side of those who need our help, recognizing that we are seeing illusions–however real they appear to be.

Affirmation:  “A meaningless world engenders fear.”

Selected Passage:

“The totally insane engenders fear because it is completely undependable, and offers no grounds for trust. . . .Now I choose to withdraw this belief, and place my trust in reality.  In choosing this, I will escape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledging that it does not exist.  (WB86)”

Reflections:

This passage is the perfect one to recall when we are tempted to get angry with someone.  The anger is the fact that fear has intruded on our world, and the word or action that has precipitated the anger is actually an insane one.  We know, though, that our brother or sister is actually innocent, and he or she is only making a mistake in attacking us.  This is the way that we can tame our temper.

Affirmation:  “God did not create a meaningless world.”

Selected Passage:

“Why should I continue to suffer from the effects of my own insane thoughts, when the perfection of creation is my home?  Let me remember the power of my decision, and recognize where I really abide.  (WB87)”

Reflections:

I am actually not in this world of insanity.  My Self is elsewhere, looking on (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  We are really at Home, and we are “visiting” this world, which seems so insane to us at times.  Let us hope to remember that this insanity does not have to affect us adversely.  Even if bad things happen, we can rise above with our mind and spirit, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Affirmation:  “My thoughts are images that I have made.”

Selected Passage:

“The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see.  (WB87)”

Reflections:

If we are seeing rightly, we will recognize the suffering and death as illusions–too insane to be considered without “reconsidering.”  We need to realize that Reality is wholly benign.  We are not there now (at least most of us are not), but we can turn to our “real thoughts” and let them assure us that there is a better way to look at the pain that we are observing around us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I want to leave illusions behind.  I want to leave my madness, my insanity, behind.  I want to see only reality in this world.  I do not have to wait to die to see reality.  Help me today to live freely and peacefully, without anger and attack, and with a loving and forgiving attitude.

Your way is mine, dear God.  Help me to walk Your way from now on, beginning today.

Amen.

It Is Impossible that Reality Could Upset Me

ACIM Workbook Lesson 52 – for Monday, February 21, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am upset because I see what is not there.”

Selected Passage:

“Reality is never frightening.  It is impossible that it could upset me.  Reality brings only perfect peace.  When I am upset, it is always because I have replaced reality with illusions I made up.  (WB84)”

Reflections:

This passage is memorable, one of the favorites of ACIM students/teachers.  If we study the words, if we take them to heart, we will realize that we are lost in illusions (i.e., “dreams,” ACIM calls them elsewhere).  We can have happy dreams also, but the lesson today refers to the bad waking dreams that come upon us without being sought.  May we experience the peace of reality today.

Affirmation:  “I see only the past.”

Selected Passage:

“When I have forgiven myself and remembered Who I am, I will bless everyone and everything I see.  There will be no past, and therefore no enemies.  And I will look with love on all that I failed to see before.  (WB84)”

Reflections:

May we have no enemies.  If we feel that we do, may we pray the animosity out of our system.  We can try to make amends, and this may succeed.  But even if it doesn’t, we can have a little talk with the Holy Spirit, and we can clear our own minds and hearts of animosity.  Let us do so today.  There are few of us who are right with all of our brothers and sisters.

Affirmation:  “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.”

Selected Passage:

“Let me learn to give the past away, realizing that in so doing I am giving up nothing.”

Reflections:

Let us not try to live in the past.  The present is our point of power.  Let us live in the present, with our aims toward the future (but not living there yet).

Affirmation:  “I see nothing as it is now.”

Selected Passage:

“The choice is not whether to see the past or the present; the choice is merely whether to see or not.  (WB85)”

Reflections:

We need to “see.”  This means to have vision, in the terms of ACIM.  We will have vision, we will see, when we let go all that is standing in the way.  When we let fear recede into the shadows, when we disown the ego, we will know peace.  And we will see.

Affirmation:  “My thoughts do not mean anything.”

Selected Passage:

“Would I not rather join the thinking of the universe than to obscure all that is really mind with my pitiful and meaningless ‘private’ thoughts?  (WB85)”

Reflections:

It is part of the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles that there are no private thoughts.  We learn this from the Text.  But many of us might feel invaded by this statement.  We want to keep private our innermost thoughts.  Yet we cannot, because this is not a separated world.  All of our brothers and sisters, on some level, intuitively recognize what we are thinking.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

We are seeing illusions when we get upset.  This is very clear.  What is not so clear is what “reality” really is, even after much study of ACIM.  Certainly love, peace, joy–all components of the good life–are reality.  Perhaps reality is not so much a part of this world, in its concrete details, as in its intangibles.

May You join with me today as I seek only reality.  May my attack and anger thoughts disappear into the mists of yesterday.  May I find only peace and joy and calm and quiet today.

Amen.

Real Thoughts = Thoughts I Think with God

ACIM Workbook Lesson 51 – for Sunday, February 20, 2011

Affirmation:  “Nothing I see means anything.”

Selected Passage:

“The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and no thing has no meaning.  (WB82)”

Reflections:

This lesson begins a review, and it would be well to revisit the initial lesson to get an overview as we proceed in the reviews.

Here we are not talking about “vision,” but a seeing that is ego-inspired.  And, as the Workbook proceeds, we will see how wrong we are to place any faith whatsoever in what the go shows us.

Affirmation:  “I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me.”

Selected Passage:

“I have judged everything I look upon, and it is this and only this I see.  This is not vision.  (WB82)”

Reflections:

This is another way of saying, “Projection makes perception.”  If we can understand this tenet of ACIM, we will be well on our way to understanding the metaphysical tenets of the Course.

Affirmation:  “I do not understand anything I see.”

Selected Passage:

“What I see is the projection of my own errors of thought.  I do not understand what I see because it is not understandable.  (WB82)”

Reflections:

This is yet another repetition of the pivotal idea that projection makes perception.  And it is not perception that we want, but the knowledge imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.

Affirmation:  “These thoughts do not mean anything.”

Selected Passage:

“My real thoughts are the thoughts I think with God.  I am not aware of them because I have made my thoughts to take their place.  (WB83)”

Reflections:

My we think with God today.  And this includes the all-important guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Affirmation:  “I am never upset for the reason I think.”

Selected Passage:

“I make all things my enemies, so that my anger is justified and my attacks are warranted. . .I have done this to defend a thought system that has hurt me, and that I no longer want.  I am willing to let it go.  (WB83)”

Reflections:

The real reasons for our upsets is hidden from us, because we are limited beings.  We are still too influenced by egostic thinking.  May we leave anger behind today.  We have become fearful when anger is injected into our  lives.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Be with me today as I go through this review of previous lessons.  Now that I have followed the Workbook for 50 days, I hope that I am seeing reality more often; I used to see only illusions.  My reality is what You show to me.  My days seem better now that I listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance more often.  I know that dreams that He gives to me, and they are blessed indeed.  As the days pass pleasantly, I pray that I will go beyond even this dreaming, into the reality that vision will show to me.  I realize that these understandings are beyond me now, but I hope that they will not always be beyond me.  Give me Your understanding.

Help us to be loving brothers and sisters in this world together.  May Your Will, which is my own, come to my aid when times seem tough.

Amen.

Forms of Nothingness. . .with Magical Powers

ACIM Workbook Lesson 50 – for Saturday, February 19, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am sustained by the Love of God.”

Selected Passage:

“In this world, you believe you are sustained by everything but God.  Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols; pills, money, ‘protective’ clothing, influence, prestige, being liked, knowing the ‘right’ people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness that you endow with magical powers.  (WB79)”

Reflections:

This passage is very freeing.  We can travel more lightly than we have.  We believe that we need all kinds of things to keep us going in this world.  Maybe we need less than we think.  That is what this passage is saying.

One point is made about “pills.”  But in the Text, we are warned that perhaps we would be best to continue to take pills, even though they are a form of “spell.”  Jesus says that the last thing that we need is for our fear to be increased, and to stop pills would indeed increase fear.  So he takes a compromising attitude toward  pills.  He does not say to avoid them.

Some of the other aspects of our “protection” are more easily left behind, especially those that relate to our ego needs being satisfied by other people.  The ego is always being undone; it is the way of this world.  So the more we lean on egotistical thinking, the more we will feel pain.  And this pain will morph into suffering, in more cases than not.  These are all “forms of nothingness,” which we invest with magical powers.  It might be noted here that “magic” in ACIM is not a lyrical or fascinating enjoyment that is benign.  It is a lamentable thing.  We are not to put our trust in “magic,” as defined by ACIM, for this always leads us in a direction that we don’t want to go.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to avoid magical thinking.  I want to avoid trivial and insane symbols insofar as avoiding them does not increase fear.  I know that I need to keep fear at a minimum.  Help me to do so today.

Be with me today as I turn to You in the place of those magical things in which I previously placed too much faith.  I would put my faith only in You.

Amen.

How to Hear God’s Voice

ACIM Workbook Lesson 49 – for Friday, February 18, 2011

Affirmation:  “God’s Voice speaks to me all through the day.”

Selected Passage:

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

“The part that is listening to the Voice for God is calm, always at rest and wholly certain.  (WB78)”

Reflections:

These are very true statements in the passage above.  We need to listen to the Voice for God, the Holy Spirit.  When we do so, we are led more quickly to a better place.  Some call this Voice just “intuition.”  Perhaps God does not care what we call it, as long as we communicate with Him through it.  ACIM says that God is lonely when the minds He created do not communicate with Him.  And He says that we are asleep and must be wakened.  Then He moves to waken us, and this is through our contact with the  Comforter, Universal Inspiration, or the Holy Spirit (all of the preceding are different names for the same phenomenon).

When we listen for God’s Voice, we are at peace.  Nothing else will suffice.  How does God speak to us?  Many reports are that He speaks in the silence (though A Course in Miracles does not say this).  Many others say that God’s Voice is the still, small voice within that we know but sometimes choose to ignore.  Most of the time we do not hear anything internally (though the co-scribe of ACIM, Helen Schucman, did have the internal impression of a voice, which could be interrupted by everyday events, only to return precisely at the point needed).  Intuition is a legitimate way to think of hearing God’s Voice, though many people may feel that this is just a secular way of viewing a psychic phenomenon.  Dreams, visions (hallucinations), meditative “feelings”–all of these are forms of guidance.  The only caution (and it is a big one) is that we not let our feelings about a matter turn negative.  God never leads us to hurt another individual, and if we feel that He has, perhaps we had better stop and reflect where this voice might come from.  Most of us will conclude that it is an egoistic misrepresentation.  ACIM nearly always refers to the Voice as the Voice of the Holy Spirit, a continuation of New Testament references.

When we deliberately reject the advice that the Holy Spirit offers, we get out of sync with the universe.  As soon as we can, let us move back into sync.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would hear the guidance that You offer today through the Voice that You speak to me.  Help me not to get confused about Your guidance.  Don’t let my little self decide anything that would lead me astray personally, or lead me to do anything that would hurt another person.  Help me to learn more fully how Your guidance comes to me.  Help me to be flexible, to be ready to turn on a dime when Your Voice bids me make a move.

I pray that I am not so stubborn that I fail to follow the guidance that You are giving to me.   I pray also that I do not mislead myself into thinking that I hear Your guidance when, instead, it is my own twisted thinking.  My mind still has much insanity, much madness, in it, because the ego has not fully died in me.  May my day today lead me away from the ego and into Your arms.

Amen.

There Is Nothing to Fear

ACIM Workbook Lesson 48 – for Thursday, February 17, 2011

Affirmation:  “There is nothing to fear.”

Selected Passage:

“The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength.  The awareness that there is nothing to fear shows that somewhere in your mind, though not necessarily in a place you recognize as yet, you have remembered God, and let His strength take the place of your weakness.  The instant you are willing to do this there is indeed nothing to fear.  (WB77)”

Reflections:

1 – Avoid Fear by Trusting in God

This is a favorite passage of students/teachers of ACIM.  All of us have been prone to fear from time to time, sometimes often.  We are not to trust in our own strength.  We are to trust that there is a Higher Power that looks over us, leading and guiding the way.  Jesus says in ACIM that, if it helps, imagine that he is holding our hand as we walk along.  And, he assures us, this will be no idle fantasy.

2 – Jesus Holds Us by the Hand

No human being can understand how Jesus’s assertion can be true.  Yet I do believe that it is true.  Many other seekers, long before ACIM, said much the same thing.  Jesus’s presence was a living presence to them.  He can be the same to us as well.  This latest version of the perennial wisdom that Aldous Huxley explained in his book, The Perennial Philosophy, can be understood now.

3 – We Need God’s Strength

We need to let God’s strength take the place of our weakness.  What do we do when we forget?  We turn immediately to prayer as an automatic reaction.  Or meditation (though whether or not this is counseled in ACIM is a controversial issue).  There are ways in which we can cope better.  Just studying ACIM can be a comforting way to spend time in a crisis.  God’s strength shines through at such times.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I ask that, throughout this day, I truly find nothing to fear.  Help me to feel Your presence, so that stress does not consume me, and I am comforted in the midst of the many busy doings that I have accepted as my role in life.  May I also use my imagination to tell me that Jesus is nearby, holding my hand.  I know that if I am successful in this imaging, I will indeed have no fear today.

Thank You for standing by me when I am anxious.  Sometimes I feel that I have no control over free-floating anxiety, but I realize that this is a falsehood.  May I realize, again today, that all the things that seem to stress me out are actually illusions which I am accepting into my life.  May I see reality today instead of fear.

Amen.

MARIANNE’S GRACE; A Review of Marianne Williamson’s “Everyday Grace”

Review by Celia Hales.  Revised with new title and reprinted from Miracles (publisher Jon Mundy).

Williamson, Marianne.  Everyday Grace; Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness, and Making Miracles.  Riverside Books, 2002.  ISBN 1-57322-230-5.  Available from <http://www.marianne.com&gt;.

There is a passage in A Course in Miracles that spotlights the way of the seeker and the mystic in this world, a way of being in the world but not of it.  The passage reads, mysteriously,

There is a way of living in this world that is not here. . .you smile more frequently.  Your forehead. . .serene, your eyes. . .quiet.  And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. (W-p1.155.1:1-4).

Marianne’s gift to us in this book first spells out her powerful view of the theory behind this way of living:  miracles happen; we are helped (Marianne says by angels); judgment blocks the way; love is the best means to get to a worthy end; we need to be in silence rather than do all the time.  She then moves on in the bulk of the book to a very practical application of her truisms:  She takes us through a mythical, hour by hour, day of practical effects, and she always follows through on the hard questions (never leaving us to wonder, what did she mean by that?).  Marianne concludes her manual of graceful living by heartfelt meditations on the value of meaningful ritual in our lives, really keeping the Sabbath, the real observation of holidays, a way through thorny relationship problems to the gem of a holy relationship, and, finally, the world as our community, the place for our spiritual activism.

How close does Marianne adhere to A Course in Miracles?  Very close indeed.  True, she uses the word “magic” to connote a sense of wonder (unlike ACIM), and she frankly appropriates the term “mystical” to the way of living in this world that she proposes (also something ACIM doesn’t do).  But I am reminded always in Marianne’s writing of the passage in A Course in Miracles:

There is a course for every teacher of God.  The form of the course varies greatly.  So do the particular teaching aids involved.  But the content of the course never varies. (M-1.3:1-4)

In Everyday Grace, published in 2002, Marianne returns to her roots as a student and teacher of A Course in Miracles more than any of her books to that point since her first, A Return to Love.  In content and tone (always prayerful, ever gentle), Everyday Grace is more akin to Illuminata than any other.  (She is appropriately billed  as the author of Illuminata on the book jacket.)

Marianne is now a mature woman, a “wise woman,” if you will.  She expresses a sincere humility with still a willingness to learn, but it is clear that she has now walked far along the mystic’s path.  She has seen darkness, but she has also seen some light, and it is her gift to us that she herein does not put her light under a bushel, but claims the power she now has through the understanding her pathway has thus far given her.  It is clear that Marianne’s Everyday Grace comes from the heart, a heart honed by prayer, meditation, A Course in Miracles, and the common bonds and wisdom of spirituality’s gentle messages.

A gem of a book–not to be missed!

Overcome Feelings of Inadequacy

ACIM Workbook Lesson 47 – for Wedneday, February 16, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is the strength in which I trust.”

Selected Passage:

“Now try to slip past all concerns related to your own sense of inadequacy.  It is obvious that any situation that causes you concern is associated with feelings of inadequacy, for otherwise you would believe that you could deal with the situation successfully.  It is not by trusting yourself that you will gain confidence.  But the strength of God in you is successful in all things.  (WB75)”

Reflections:

1 – We Are Not Inadequate

We need to recognize that we are not inadequate to the demands of our busy lives.  We only think this, usually, when we are very stressed or very tired.  If we believe that God is our Helper, we will be more prone to take that nap, or just sleep longer at night, and then put in some prayer time.  Things will seem better, also, after we have eaten something.  These are all practical, very mundane, helps that do not appear in ACIM.

2 – Guidance of the Holy Spirit

We need to learn to depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  This idea appears all the time in this blog, because I have found that it is the only sure way to live successfully.  Finding A Course in Miracles some 30 years ago changed my life.  And living with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, when I have been able to do that, has made my life worth living.

3 – Do Not Despair

Do not despair, then.  The old advice that we are never given more than we can bear is applicable here.  And in the Text, we learn that we do not have to learn through pain.  We also learn that learning through rewards is superior, because learning through pain can have only a temporary effect.  God will see us through.  We will prevail.  And Awakening is before us at the end of our pathway.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Deal with my feelings of inadequacy today.  I know that I can take practical, mundane steps to improve my coping skills this day and everyday, and I know that Your guidance will see me through.  Help me to be willing to trust Your guidance as the only sure thing in this world.

Feelings of inadequacy are close to feelings of inferiority, but we have traveled far enough with ACIM to know that no child of God has any reason to feel inferior.  We also have no right to feel superior, and both–inferiority and superiority–are ploys of the ego.  Let us discard the ego as a bad idea, a false idea that we believe will give us a place above others.  This is an absolute falsehood, and may I realize this fully today.

Amen.

How to Leave Illusions Behind

ACIM Workbook Lesson 46 – for Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is the Love in which I forgive.”

Selected Passage:

“Fear condemns and love forgives.  Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God.  For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation.  It is the means by which illusions disappear.  (WB73)”

Reflections:

This passage explains why forgiveness–true forgiveness–is the only way to go.  Elsewhere we learn that our brothers and sisters, as well as ourselves, are innocent; we have made mistakes (needing correction), but we have not “sinned.”  We will find ourselves wanting to repeat an error that we have called a “sin,” but, with mistakes, we simply want to make correction (a Text tenet).

If we want to rid ourselves of fear, the best way is to forgive ourselves and all in this world, whether near or far from us.  When we forgive, we recognize God once again.  We do not feel ourselves to be fearful anymore.  And this is a very powerful motivation.

“Forgiveness can truly be called salvation.”  What a joy!  We will be motivated to forgive when we know that it leads us directly to salvation.  Our illusions will disappear as we welcome the real world–the reality that God Himself shows us.  The illusions of this world, the maya, is recognized as only a dream.  And we do not want to remain in dreams, even when they are the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” (a quotation from ACIM).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to realize that I need to forgive in order to love better.  My fears keep me chained to my ego, and I would change all of that nonsense.  I do want to rid myself of my mistakes, and I thank You for the knowledge–and it is knowledge–that mistakes are not “sins.”

I do not fully understand how I can still be innocent after all the mistakes I have made.  Yet Jesus says that I am innocent and deserving of pardon (forgiveness) for the illusions in which I have believed and which I have perpetrated on myself and others.  Help me to leave illusions behind, even the happy dreams sent by the Holy Spirit.  I would choose Awakening.  I pray that You will choose Awakening for me sooner rather than later.

Amen.

God’s Relationship to My Mind

ACIM Workbook Lesson 45 – for February 14, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is the Mind with which I think.”

“You think with the Mind of God.  Therefore you share your thoughts with Him, as He shares His with you.  They are the same thoughts, because they are thought by the same Mind.  (WB71)”

Often we do not really believe that God and our Minds are the same.  Certainly they are not the same when we are trapped by the ego.  But the Self that has accepted salvation does indeed think with the Mind of God.  And this is our greatest blessing.

God and the Mind are the All.  In the Text, we learn that “nothing is outside of you.”  This is what we must ultimately learn.  This is a metaphysical tenet of ACIM, and one that may be hard to understand and to accept.  We are All One.

God wants us to communicate with Him.  This is our natural way.  In the Text, we learn that God is lonely when the minds He created do not communicate with Him.  He knows that we need to awaken.  And He will help us to do so.  That is our primary business on this earth.  That is why we are here.  And study of the Course is one way that we can hasten our time of Awakening.  Many years are saved by us (the Text says 1,000 years) when we proceed on the right pathway (an ACIM tenet).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I need You today.  For some reason not all days are equally good.  Today I ask that the Mind that is in me be the Mind that is in You.  You have told me that this is true all the time, but I do not always remember this truth.

I would commune with You today.  Jesus asks us to do so, saying that it is an unnatural thing not to communicate with our Creator.  I promise to do my part in reaching inward to You today.  Please let me feel Your presence.

Amen.

Salvation = Happiest Accomplishment

ACIM Workbook Lesson 44 – for Sunday, February 13, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is the light in which I see.”

Selected Passage:

“Salvation is your happiest accomplishment.  It is also the only one that has any meaning, because it is the only one that has any real use to you at all.  (WB70)”

Reflections:

It is hard for those of us caught in this world to see that salvation is our only function.  (Elsewhere forgiveness is named as our only function, but the two are equivalent.)  Perhaps, we think, salvation is the business of ministers and others in the religious field, but not for all of us who have to make a very secular contribution to the world to earn a living.

Yet this passage indicates that salvation is for all of us as our “happiest accomplishment.”  Certainly we already know that when we stay close to God in prayer, we have better days.  And when we let the Holy Spirit guide us, we walk a happier path.

Only salvation can be said to have real meaning in this world.  ACIM never says that the world is a school, but much New Age spirituality does (Neale Donald Walsch is a notable exception.)  When we place salvation first in our lives, everything else falls into place.  Then we know what real living is all about.  We live in peace, and happiness then follows.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to realize what salvation can and will do for me.  We need only make a “little” contribution to our own well-being, and the Holy Spirit will do much, much more.  Then our days surely will be improved immensely.

Help me today, as I go about a secular world.  May I not make a big show of my desire to live close to You, but may I not disown You either.  Help me to be a good example in my circle of friends and family.

Amen.

Perception vs. Knowledge

ACIM Workbook Lesson 43 – for Saturday, February 12, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is my Source.  I cannot see apart from Him.”

Selected Passage:

“Perception is not an attribute of God.  His is the realm of knowledge.  Yet He has created the Holy Spirit as the Mediator between perception and knowledge.  Without this link with God, perception would have replaced knowledge forever in your mind.  With this  link with God, perception will become so changed and purified that it will lead to knowledge.  This is its function as the Holy Spirit sees it.  Therefore, that is its function in truth.  (WB67)”

Reflections:

This passage explains better than anywhere in ACIM the difference between perception and knowledge.  In our little minds, we perceive; when God has informed our Self, we know.

Perception is relative, and it is subject to the mistakes of the ego.  Knowledge is always right on target.  And knowledge is always something coming from the Holy Spirit, part of the three-in-One God that is described biblically.  We do not always know when our perceptions are inaccurate, because we are caught in the throes of the ego.  But we do have an inkling about knowledge.  Its main characteristic is that it is always loving.  If our thoughts about a given situation partake of anything but love, we are lost in perception.

We are close here to the concept of “projection makes perception,” an oft-repeated tenet of the Text.  But knowledge comes quietly, and it comes surely.  It is a harbinger of the real world, also a tenet of the Text.  What is the real world?  It is seen only for instances from time to time, when we have had a moment of Awakening through revelation from God.  Then, when Awakening has been sustained (a tenet of A Course of Love), we know rather than perceive on an ongoing basis.

We need not to be impatient for knowledge to overtake us.  As is often stressed, once our journey without distance has begun, the end is certain.  And the end is always accompanied by knowledge, a surety that what we see and recognize is true.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

When I am going about my daily round, I am normally perceiving rather than knowing.  I ask today that I know more often than I have in the past.  This knowing is Your gift, and it comes straight from you.  I know when I have left the ego behind, at least temporarily.  I would leave the ego behind more and more, especially beginning today.

I am not interested in what I project if it leads to perceiving things that are ego-inspired.  Let me fully understand the promptings of the Holy Spirit, so that I will be led to follow them more often.  Guidance is always true.  I would follow Your Holy Spirit today.

Amen.

Vision = God’s Gift

ACIM Workbook Lesson 42 – for Friday, February 11, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is my strength.  Vision is His gift.”

Selected Passage:

“Your passage through time and space is not at random.  You cannot but be in the right place at the right time.  Such is the strength of God.  Such are His gifts.  (WB65)”

Reflections:

1 – A Reassuring Passage

This is one of the more reassuring passages in the Workbook.  “You cannot but be in the right place at the right time.”  This passage opens up a controversial point that is not often discussed by Course students.  Is predestination an appropriate belief?  There are a number of other times in ACIM that predestination seems right on target, but the term is not used.

2 – We Are Remembering?

We will need to study ACIM well to try to determine for ourselves if indeed we actually walk a walk that has been completed already.  A literal reading of ACIM would say that we do.  We are remembering, going back in time.  This is one of the metaphysical teachings of ACIM that is difficult to understand, and perhaps in our world it is not possible to fully understand.

3 – The Right Place at the Right Time

Being in the right place at the right time is characterized in this passage as a gift of God.  May we thank Him today for this reassurance.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

You are today reassuring me that I cannot but be in the right place at the right time.  My pathway through my lifetime is not at random.  Help me to be reassured by this assertion.  I do not fully understand how I stand at the end of time, and that time rolls up, like a carpet, taking me back to the beginning.  But A Course in Miracles tells me this, and I will try to wrap my mind around this concept.

Be with me today as I try to live the life that You would have me live.  Help me to love and be loved, to be at peace with myself and my brothers and sisters in this world and beyond.

Amen.

A HOLY INSTANT

by Celia Hales.  Revised with title change; previously published.

More than three decades ago, on a hot summer night in June, I checked into a Holiday Inn in Dallas, Texas–half a continent away from family and friends.  The national conference of my professional organization was underway.  It was good to be among so many people who shared a common vocation.  Still, the trip to Dallas had been long, and I looked forward to an evening alone, an evening to relax and to reflect upon the directions that my life seemed to be taking.  I did a lot of reflecting at this point; it was a bit of a preoccupation, as I had been through much change, including a change of vocation, and I needed time to sort out all of this change.

The room was quiet after I turned off the evening news, leaving a dark television screen.  There was no radio.  The telephone was silent also, the call back home already made.  Propped up on pillows, I read slowly and easily some favorite inspirational leaflets.  Casually I thumbed through the Gideon Bible, selecting favorite passages for the comfort that they provided and the quiet frame of mind that they induced.  Peace of mind and soul crept in.  I began the kind of leisurely, non-formalized prayer that had characterized my “alone” times as a child.  I felt gratitude for a life that I was finding increasingly abundant in both inner and outer ways.  I seemed to reach downward into the depths of my soul, a sense that came unsought but which I much appreciated.  Moments sped by, but time lost all meaning.  My gratitude opened my heart to another feeling, a deep, profoundly deep sense of being loved.  I realized that this sense, felt in my own way, was the peace that passeth understanding.

I lay down the Bible, pushed aside the leaflets.  Letting this wondrous peace envelop me, I let my mind wander in total relaxation.  Very suddenly, but not totally unexpectedly, I felt new intuitions rise to the surface.  I sensed, as though from God Himself, that God’s love meant something more than I had known before.  A realization, half-formed in revelry, became clear words in my mind:

God’s help in this life is a free offer–a gift that He longs to share with anyone who will open up to Him in total and utter-self surrender.

And there was more:

Only in surrender can come help of the intense degree that God would like to offer, because only when self gets out of the way can God’s silent action in the heart take root.

As I reflected over these ideas, I felt immense relief, a sense of “too good to be true.”  What about the Protestant work ethic, the belief that faith without works is dead, the belief that God helps those who help themselves?

Surely the works would come, I mused, but they would be God’s works, works done through me, not by me, and infinitely better than would ever be possible by self-effort.  Life did not have to be lived laboriously; indeed, life should not be lived laboriously.

“Let me handle it,” God seemed to say.  “I want to handle all the myriad details of everyday living.  I want to smooth the way for you.  All of this, if you will remain surrendered to me–and you must remain surrendered or I cannot act in all of these countless ways, as much as I might wish to do so.”

I relaxed in this new intuition.  I could have read the same message in any number of inspirational books, and I could have deduced it from biblical teachings.  Why had I not before realized this great gift?  Why had I striven so hard, even in the midst of affirmations of faith?  Perhaps life is not meant to be a struggle.

Radical thoughts, perhaps, but they came to me with a certainty that I had come to recognize as God’s Voice.

Several months later, as I sought to put form and order to the experience, I would wonder if this were the secret in the words, “He that findeth his life shall lose it:  and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).

This night, though,  there was no reasoning about the experience–only a kind of wondering surprise that God’s truth could be so simple and yet, heretofore, so elusive.  Why, indeed, had I struggled so hard?  Why, indeed, do any of us struggle so hard?

Postscript

OVERHEARD IN AN ORCHARD

Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavently Father
Such as cares for you and me.”

–Elizabeth Cheney

Overcome Loneliness

ACIM Workbook Lesson 41 – for Thursday, February 10, 2011

Affirmation:  “God goes with me wherever I go.”

Selected Passage:

“Today’s idea will eventually overcome completely the sense of loneliness and abandonment all the separated ones experience.  Depression is an inevitable consequence of separation.  So are anxiety, worry, a deep sense of helplessness, misery, suffering and intense fear of loss. . . .You can indeed afford to laugh at fear thoughts, remembering that God goes with you wherever you go.  (WB63-64)”

1 – Not to Feel Fear

If we can truly live this lesson, our lives will never be the same again.  If we know that God is beside us, and in us, and if we truly feel His presence, we will not feel fear of any kind.  Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now has much to say about the “felt presence of Being.”  (“Being” is his term for God, because he believes that the term “God” has been misused.)  We are to invite this felt presence.

2 – How Do We Invite the Presence of God?

How do we invite the felt presence?  Prayer is a mighty way, and prayer is mentioned early on in the Text, in the 50 principles of miracles.  Later on it seems to be simply assumed in ACIM that we will pray.  But do we really?  Norman Vincent Peale, in the fifties, believed that about five minutes of prayer a day was average, even for the true believer.  And he felt that this was not nearly enough prayer time.

3 – Prayer

So, let us increase our prayer time, and, if we feel drawn to the meditative aspects of the Workbook, let us use our practice time to draw closer to God.  (Meditation, as such, is not used as a word in ACIM, and contemplation is described as “tedious.”)

4 – Other Ways to Draw Closer to God

There are other ways that we can draw closer to God.  Mindfulness is not a tenet of ACIM, but watching carefully what we do as we go about our day is a powerful lesson in how to live closer to God.  Following the guidance of the Holy Spirit is perhaps the best way, and so let us be sure that we begin the day aright by asking that He walk beside us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to overcome loneliness and a feeling of abandonment by drawing close to me throughout the day.  I realize that actually a sense of Your presence is sometimes in my power, for You are always near, and only when I say or do things that make me feel separated from You do I feel lonely, abandoned, fearful, and so much more that is negative.

Help me to overcome this separation that I only think is real.  It is not real.  Help me to realize that You are always with me, and that I need only open my heart to Your reality to have my whole world change for the better.

Amen.

I Am Blessed

ACIM Workbook Lesson 40 – for February 9

Affirmation:  “I am blessed as a Son of God.”

Selected Passage:

“I am blessed as a Son of God.
I am happy, peaceful, loving and contented.

“I am blessed as a Son of God.
I am calm, quiet, assured and confident.  (WB62)”

Reflections:

Here we return to peaceful meadows of contentment.  We rise awhile this day, as we dwell on our blessings.  The selected passage can lead to more affirmations for the day.  We need to let our guidance lead us to the right words to say.

Our time together today might be best spent by reflecting on the selected passage.

No other words are necessary.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May this day be a day of special blessing.  I am blessed as a Daughter of God.  You are with me always.  I try to be a good Daughter, and my Self is good.  My little self sometimes doesn’t measure up, though, and I make mistakes.  I would correct those mistakes today.

Be with me through thick and thin today.  May I say and do the things that will allow me to truly feel blessed as a Daughter of God.

Amen.

Put an End to Unloving Thoughts

ACIM Workbook Lesson 39 – for Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Affirmation:  “My holiness is my salvation.”

Selected Passage:

“Specific situations, events or personalities you associate with unloving thoughts of any kind are suitable subjects for today’s exercises.  It is imperative for your salvation that you see them differently.  And it is your blessing on them that will save you and give you vision.  (WB61)”

Reflections:

We know, but often do not acknowledge, when we hold unloving thoughts about another.  This situation is a frequent one, especially for so-called “religious” people.  We do not want to see that our thoughts can still be unloving; we want to see ourselves as beyond that.

We can also hold unloving thoughts toward situations, especially when they are unavoidable.  We are often faced in this world with situations that are difficult for us.  It is part of our curriculum, our learning.  But we handle those same situations best when we turn the outcome over to the Holy Spirit, after having asked Him for guidance about what to do.

Happenings (“events”) are another challenge.  In this third way of feeling a lack of love, we can return to the affirmation for today:  “My holiness is my salvation.”  We will be the masters of the events in our lives when we recognize that holiness is our inheritance.  We are loving creatures of a loving God.  Only when the ego interferes with that truth do we get ourselves into trouble.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would end my unloving thoughts toward people and situations immediately.  Unloving thoughts only bring me trouble, and I would live freely and well.  Be with me to guide me as I make this firm decision today.

Thank You for your ever-present guidance through the medium of the Holy Spirit.  My intuitive understanding of Him has saved me many times from making a bad mistake.

Amen.

Loss or Unhappiness – How to Cure

ACIM Workbook Lesson 38 – for Monday, February 7, 2011

Affirmation:  “There is nothing my holiness cannot do.”

Selected Passage:

“In the four longer practice periods, each preferably to last a full five minutes, repeat the idea for today, close your eyes, and then search your mind for any sense of loss or unhappiness of any kind as you see it.  Try to make as little distinction as possible between a situation that is difficult for you, and one that is difficult for someone else.  (WB58)”

Reflections:

This lesson returns to our own little world and the unhappiness that we may personally feel.  Practice sessions will help (as they do throughout the year of “doing” the Workbook).  If we feel unhappy, pray for our holiness to reach inward to our center and correct that unhappiness.  If we feel that we have lost something of value to ourselves, ask to see aright–knowing that there is nothing that we can really lose that is of value.  We always lose what is best lost.  (This is the highest level of understanding ACIM, because only our Self knows why our losses are sometimes best.  Our little selves cannot understand.)

We are to recognize, in the practice periods of today, not only our own unhappiness or loss, but also to be cognizant of that same unhappiness or loss in others–our brothers and sisters.  This harkens back to the New Testament, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”   We are to love as though there were no difference between ourselves and our neighbors (our brothers and sisters).

When we are able to see our concerns as equal to the concerns of our brothers and sisters, we will see how our holiness has renewed us today.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I overlook loss or unhappiness today.  My relationship to You will cure me.  Even when I think that I have lost something of value to me, I can realize that, in the highest sense, there is not loss of anything of any value.  You have made it so.

Please be with today as I walk my pathway in this world that so often seems to be filled with loss and unhappiness.  May I look higher, and see a better view.

Amen.

Quiet Recognition

ACIM Workbook Lesson 37 – for Sunday, February 6, 2011

Affirmation:  “My holiness blesses the world.”

Selected Passage:

“Your holiness is the salvation of the world.  It lets you teach the world that it is one with you, not by preaching to it, not by telling it anything, but merely by your quiet recognition that in your holiness are all things blessed along with you.  (WB56)”

Reflections:

“Holiness” is a concept that we are hesitant to apply to ourselves, because we are so prone to see our failings.  But nothing that God created is not good, and He created us.  The Text says that often we tend to forget this in our more arrogant moments.  We cannot change reality, though, in any actual way because God is the creator of the real world.  The only thing that we have ever made (not created) is illusions.

When we are quiet, we are closer to God.  This passage asks us to feel that truth.  “[B]y your quiet recognition” is a potent statement.  We must turn to God to see rightly.  We must turn to God to ask that our egos wither away.  Only in holiness do we see rightly.  And only in holiness are we absolutely quiet.

We do not have to proselytize.  We merely need to “be” in the world.  Our being alone, when informed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will transform the world.  This does not mean that we will do nothing to correct injustice, but just that we will do nothing before hearing the best guidance about what to do.  We cannot choose our own miracles.  Jesus says in the early pages of the Text that consciously selected miracles are misguided.  We must be willing to be used by the Holy Spirit toward the end that He directs.

Then we will not act amiss.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Please help me to be, first of all, and then to do in accordance with Your guidance.  Help me today to be calm and quiet, feeling your presence as I go about my regular routine.  On this Sunday help me to remember You.

May my thoughts be in accord with the Holy Spirit, and may my actions reflect only love in its highest form.

Amen.

I Am Holy!

ACIM Workbook Lesson 36 – for Saturday, February 5, 2011

Affirmation:  “My holiness envelops everything I see.”

Selected Passage:

“Today’s idea extends the idea for yesterday from the perceiver to the perceived.  You are holy because your mind is part of God’s.  And because you are holy, your sight must be holy as well. . . .If your mind is part of God’s you must be sinless, or a part of His Mind would be sinful.  Your sight is related to His holiness, not to your ego, and therefore not to your body.  (WB55)”

Reflections:

It is good to recognize that our real Self is holy.  We can draw upon this higher Self at any time, and then we will recognize that the holiness that is ours will reach out into the world and make it holy as well.

The fact that we see turmoil does not mean that the world is not holy.  God’s world is always holy, but our minds do not comprehend rightly.  We do not see the real world.  Let us today vow to reach for that real world in all that we do and say.  It can be done, and far more easily than we imagine in our most pessimistic thoughts.

Remember that our minds are part of God’s.  We are prone not to believe this, but ACIM assures us that it is true.  God is the All.  We have discussed this earlier this year of 2011.  Once we truly come to recognize that our minds are a part of God’s, we will never see this world in quite the same way again.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to realize that I am not being arrogant when I affirm, with You, that I am holy.  I am holy because my mind is part of Yours.  And the holiness that I affirm is the Self that You created,  not the egoistic self that I made.

Help me to understand this difficult and new premises.  Once I have come to understand, I know that my world will change accordingly.  I will look out on a world that may be difficult, but that is illusory.  This will have the effect of turning me ever closer to You as I walk about this world.  Then I really will be Home.

Amen.

“YOU’RE SOLID AS A ROCK!”

by Celia Hales.  Revised and previously published.

Many years ago, not too long after my graduation, I scheduled an appointment with one of my former professors at my university.  On that particular day as the meeting approached, I was quite nervous and ill-at-ease, and in an attitude of complete surrender, I spent a short while alone in the university chapel.  I left the pew much calmer and more self-contained.  Little did I realize that the professor would himself emanate a serenity as tangible as the blue coat he wore.

Our hour together went smoothly, despite frequent telephone interruptions.  As the time wore on, I became conscious of a sense of almost unreal strength in this man.  Looking back upon the hour, it has seemed to me akin to the eye in the center of a hurricane:  a brief interlude of shared ideas and feelings, untouched by whatever storms preceded or followed it.  He seemed to possess a stillness within, a calm center that allowed him to function with exceptional tranquility in his work and in his life.

It had not always been thus.  He had been my teacher, on and off, for the last two years of my university experience.  He was quite outstanding then, with many recognized talents and competencies.  But because I understood him, from a distance, somewhat intuitively, I saw a measure of hesitancy that in all likelihood eluded most colleagues and students.  At the very point of exuding self-confidence, he frequently drew back, his abilities in abeyance, as he regrouped his resources for another assault on life.  Quite conscious of his age (early 30’s), he expressed doubts that older and more experienced colleagues would find value in his proposals–seemingly oblivious to the fact that they usually did.

But this was a couple of years after I had made these observations.  As the hour drew to a close, I was aware that his old doubts had fallen away.

I broke into the conversation, interrupting him  saying in wonder, “You’re solid as a rock!. . .You are solid as a rock.  How did you get that way?”

He turned aside, avoiding my eyes, and then said, quietly but carefully, “Prayer.”

Then, looking steadily at me, he turned his chair back.  I slowly nodded my head in a moment of nearly mystical comprehension.  Yes, he was possessed of a new solidarity, a new steadiness, and even in a gentle man, a deeper measure of gentleness.

In the years since, I have returned in memory to those words.  My visit to the university chapel earlier had been instinctive, but now the whole experience of that day has acquired new meaning.  Was God present in some way inexplicable to me, directing my life in those moments as we of religious inclination pray that He will do?  I believe so.  Certainly the difference in my own prayer life since that October morning has been marked.  I recognized that this professor whom I respected and admired attributed to prayer; I have reasoned that God would do the same for me.

Certainly one does not learn how to live as one would sign up for graduate courses.  Nor, I think, does one learn direction from other people, however meaningful such peak experiences as I have described may be.  One learns in patience and in stillness, when the lights are out and we commune with our God as we conceive Him to be.  Here prayer may acquire the life-shaping power that it is meant to have.  Surely then we may affirm in our own experiences, “. . .in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. . .” (Isaiah 30:15).

Our Self Image = Not True

ACIM Workbook Lesson 35 – for Friday, February 4, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind is part of God’s.  I am very holy.”

Selected Passage:

“You will believe that you are part of where you think you are.  That is because you surround yourself with the environment you want.  And you want it to protect the image of yourself that you have made. The image is part of this environment.  What you see while you believe you are in it is seen through the eyes of the image.  This is not vision.  Images cannot see.  (WB53)”

Reflections:

This lesson gets into some of the metaphysical tenets of the Course.  Its basis is still the oft-repeated “projection makes perception.”  The “image” of ourselves is actually another word for a persona (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  We make personae up for ourselves and everyone in our world.  That does not mean that these personas are correct.  Certainly if they are informed by the ego, the personae are not correct.

We need to turn to guidance through the Holy Spirit to determine how to see ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

Another facet of this passage is that we surround ourselves with the environment that we want–even when we are distressed and overwrought by that environment (and perhaps especially when this is the case).  The ego loves strife (a Text tenet), and it will act to keep our environment (this world) in turmoil.  Our personal worlds will be in turmoil, and the larger world as well.

We must do what we can to bring peace to this world–whether it is the small world in which we reside, or the larger world where there are so many tragedies.  Let us pray today to have the foresight to walk away from turmoil, once we have done all that we can to bring peace to it.  May we walk in peace.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I have an image of myself that I want to be true; it is my persona.  But ACIM says that images cannot see, that they are part of the environment and that they are made up.

Help me to realize that my image is informed by my ego, which I would be done with, once and for all.  An ego is not necessary to function in this world.  I would, instead, follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and assume the Self that He would have me be.

Amen.

Would You Rather Be Right or Happy?

ACIM Workbook Lesson 34 – for Thursday, February 3, 2011

Affirmation:  “I could see peace instead of this.”

Selected Passage:

“It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.  (WB51)”

Reflections:

1 – Today an Important Day

This is a particularly important day in our search for peace of mind.  We do not have to choose conflict.  The Text asks, “Would you rather be right or happy?,” making it clear in the context that it is better to be happy.  The ego, which is actually always being undone, likes for us to value conflict, to be right about anything and everything.  But our brothers and sisters do not often countenance such authority in us.  We can push just so far.  Then our peace of mind, already precarious, is gone.  Surely we want something better than this.

2 – We Would See Peace

We can have something better than this.  We can see peace.  Whether we are alone or with others, we can avoid tension-producing conflict.  We do not have to become angry or to attack.  We can choose to leave behind fear thoughts (which cause the anger and attack).  True, we do not always have ourselves in firm control, and perhaps A Course in Miracles would not counsel “firm control” at all.  Relax in the joy of the Holy Spirit.  Pray.  Reflect on the words of ACIM.  Say the affirmation for the day.  If all this seems to fail, absence yourself from the scene.  A few moments of a timeout may be all that you need to have the peace of mind that sometimes seems so elusive.

3 – Peace of Mind Leads to Happiness

Peace of mind leads to happiness.  Nothing else really does.  Certainly the ego does not lead to peace of mind.  But we have expressed our willingness for the ego to wither away.  We will know far more peace, on a continuing basis, as we study the Workbook throughout this year.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Please guide me through this day to see peace instead of conflict.  I would truly rather be happy than “right.”  And this, I do understand, is not capitulation.  It is the sanest sense.  It is the answer that dismisses the ego and egoistic thinking from our awareness.  Help me to feel comfortable in dropping egotistic thinking from my mind.  Perhaps sometimes I think that I would almost not know how to react without the ego’s guidance.  But help me to realize that this is false reasoning.  The new way that You will show to me will offer gifts that go beyond my wildest imaginings.  May I know some of those blessings immediately, today.

Be with me today.  There are many hassles in daily life, and I would so rise above them today that I experience Your peace all day long.  I would not attack or experience anger in life today.  I would go within to sense You, and in the peace that I find in Your presence, all will be well.

Amen.

Survey the World Casually

ACIM Workbook Lesson 33 – for Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Affirmation:  “There is another way of looking at the world.”

Selected Passage:

“Merely glance casually around the world you perceive as outside yourself, then close your eyes and survey your inner thoughts with equal casualness.  Try to remain equally uninvolved in both, and to maintain this detachment as you repeat the idea throughout the day.  (WB50)”

Reflections:

The affirmation for today will, in a practical sense, reinforce what we have been reading on previous days.  It will lead to seeing a better world.  But saying the affirmation often is imperative; changing the mind to conform to the real world takes practice.  It does not take effort in a stressful sense, but practice can be done that is both stress-free as well as joyful.

“Casualness” implies ease of effort, and the passage uses a form of this term twice.  The repetition shows its importance.  We look about our world, within and without, and we sustain a moment of detachment that assures us that, regardless of what we “see,” we can improve what we see through our own choice.  This choice is strictly in line with the guidance that the Holy Spirit would give us.

By now, we have seen the value of “doing” the Workbook.  We also do not have wholly untrained minds in this, the second month.  We can recall the directive to say the affirmation repeatedly throughout the day, and we will be the better for it.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Please help be, throughout the day, to survey my inner and outer worlds with casualness.  This is easeful, not effortful.  Much can be accomplished today toward saving time in our journey through this world.

Be with me today so that I do not forget to practice the Workbook.  Thank You for making it so easy a task.  Salvation can indeed seem almost effortless.  We need to study and to learn the way Home, but we do not have to make these activities in salvation a difficult task.

Amen.

NO “SINS” – ONLY MISTAKES

by Celia HalesRevised and reprinted from Miracles (publisher Jon Mundy).

When I was a child, I was not conscious of “sin.”  Well, maybe a little.  I remember one trauma as a child when a baby sitter punished me by putting me to bed in the middle of the day.  She warned me (as I recall, perhaps imperfectly) that God would not forgive me unless I told her “everything.”  Well, I didn’t tell her everything.  At that moment, God seemed farther away and less threatening than this adolescent before me.

But that passed, and my childhood seemed secure in the love of my family–my parents (especially my mother), my grandparents, and my wonderful great-grandmother.  Not until I was 13 and baptized did I experience the absolute shame of feeling that I had done something wrong.  The baptismal litany was filled with references to my “sin” and the need for God’s forgiveness.  My tears flowed unceasingly, and I was very , very embarrassed.  “Shamed” would be a better word.  So I long looked back on that day as the worst day of my life.

And Was It All a Mirage?

The Course says, “What if you looked within and saw no sin? (T-21.IV.3:1)”  That was exactly my situation on that fateful baptismal day in 1959.  Yes, here I was publicly proclaiming my sin and terribly ashamed that maybe really I hadn’t done everything that God had asked of me.  The minister said to my mother and me, “A little child should lead them.”  But I didn’t feel little:  I was 13 years old!

What a joy to learn now as I stand as one of the young-old that I had it right all along.  I hadn’t displeased the Holy Spirit; I might have made mistakes, but these He can forever redeem, if we let Him.  I had no reason to be ashamed; the litany of sin was wrong.  “Not wholly mad, you have been willing to look on much of your insanity and recognize its madness. (T-21.IV.4:2)”  And that has made all the difference since 1981, when I discovered A Course in Miracles.

The Underlying Truth

I easily let go of my belief that I was a shameful sinner; it was with great joy that I discovered the truth of ACIM.  But in more frequent times, I, like most of us, hate to admit that I might have been wrong, might be making mistakes.

It is against this tenet that Jesus asks the easy question that is a favorite among ACIM students and teachers, “Do you prefer that you be right or happy? (T-29-VII.1:9)”  He knows, of course, that many of us would continue to insist that we be “right”–even when dead wrong, and when in misery and pain because of our wrong choices.

This pattern of continuous denial of His way is highlighted very precisely in the following passage from A Course in Miracles:

“Do I desire a world I rule instead of one that rules me?
“Do I desire a world where I am powerful instead of helpless?
“Do I desire a world in which I have no enemies and cannot sin?
“And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth? (T-21:VII.5:11-14)”

Jesus asserts that the first three questions may seem unlike the fourth, yet “reason would assure you they are all the same.  (T-21.VII.5:14)”

He knows that we may readily agree to all but the last one, “And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth? (T-21.VII.5:14)”

Is truth the enemy that we fear to find?  And do we hesitate, even now, to turn our backs on our real nemesis, the insane, delusional, image of ourselves called the “ego”?  To do so does require that we sidestep pride, that we acknowledge that we have had it all wrong, and that we want a better way.  Then and only then can the Holy Spirit come flooding into our lives with the happiness that all of us so long to have.

We all have much to learn, and this world is the place where we learn it.  If we persist in the way of the world–the pride, egotism, and its resulting pain–then we will never be open to the guidance that would lead us away from all this misery.  Only in an about-face does happiness (i.e., “the happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings (M-pI.140.3:1)” find its blessed way to us.

This about-face must be constant as well.  We cannot vacillate, or our happiness will not be constant either.  Jesus asserts that the final question in this quartet, “And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth?,” adds constancy to our decision-making.  We can change our minds about the value of the other three questions (“Do I desire a world I rule instead of one that rules me?  Do I desire a world where I am powerful instead of helpless?  Do I desire a world in which I have no enemies and cannot sin?”) by making, unmaking, and remaking our minds–but such an option does not hold for the all-important last question (“And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth?”).  In answering “yes” to the last question, we are relinquishing our desire to have been “right” in the past, acknowledging that we were wrong in our choices, and casting our lot on the side of truth as informed by the Holy Spirit.  This is no small step, but one infinitely freeing in its dimensions.  The phrase, “because it is the truth” is a powerful antidote to the illusions that have peopled our mad view of the world.

In Summary

These four questions are a powerful answer to the shame that I experienced at my baptism many years ago.  No wonder established churches, many of which emphasize sin, sometimes find A Course in Miracles hard to fathom.  But Jesus says the belief in sin will continue to attract us, whereas characterizing “sin” as simply “mistakes” will allow these misdeeds to cry out for correction.  May we make those corrections, always listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in the joy and happiness that Jesus wishes us to have.

I Invented the World I See

ACIM Workbook Lesson 32 – for Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Affirmation:  “I have invented the world I see.”

Selected Passage:

“Today we are continuing to develop the theme of cause and effect.  You are not the victim of the world you see because you invented it.  You can give it up as easily as you made it up.  You will see it or not see it, as you wish.  While you want it you will see it; when you no longer want it, it will not be there for you to see.  (WB49)”

Reflections:

The “world I see,” at this early stage in the Workbook, is the world that the perception of the ego shows us.  When we are ready to see the ego wither away, we will see another world–a real world, filled with loving images and joyous happenings.

How do we let the ego wither away?  Ask!  Does something that you seem to want to do appear egotistical, even to the uninformed little self?  At all parts of our lives, we have recognized when we have been ruled by the ego, if that ruling has taken the role of egotistical thinking or actions.  This is the simplest definition of the ego and its role in our lives.

The farther along the pathway toward God and Awakening we go, the more we will recognize our egotistical thinking.

The “ego” is more than just egotistical thinking, though.  It is a part of our belief about ourselves (a Text tenet).  We do not have to be afraid of the ego, and this fear would actually enhance the ego–because it thrives on fear.  Also, to analyze the “dynamics” of the ego would be a wrong move (a Text tenet).  The ego approves of its being analyzed by its maker (us), because this affirms its importance and makes it more real in our thinking.  Once being made more real in our thinking, the ego becomes hard to dislodge.

Overlooking the fear thoughts may seem impossible, but help is on the way in the conditions that have brought the fear about (also a Text tenet).  So, with fear dislodged (at least for the moment), we are led into a better world.  This does not mean that we will die, that our Heaven is on the Other Side.  A Course in Miracles can be very literal; clearly this passage (quoted above) means that we will see a better world once we are ready to see that better world.  What a promise this is!

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not see anymore the world that I invented.  I would see the real world–the one that You have saved for me.  I realize that seeing the real world with vision may be very far down the pathway that I am traveling.   And You make the decision when I will see the real world.  But I pray that the seeing of it will be soon!

May I leave egotistical thinking behind.  May I leave all forms of the ego behind, in the sense that my ego is not my Self.  I do not need the part of me that believes that the ego is necessary to my effective living in this world.  I know that actually the reverse is true.  Help me today to live as You would have me live.  Help me to live as Jesus would teach.

Amen.