How to Strengthen the Holy Spirit in You

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

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

Reflections:

1 – Live ACIM

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

2 – Set a Good Example

We have long taught in our world that one’s example is the best teacher.  Living what one says is far superior to giving the words.  Any parent knows this.  And if our words conflict with our living out of the words, the individual we are affecting will look to our behavior first of all.  We do a great disservice to Jesus if we study the Course and then do not live its principles among our most significant others.

3 – Strengthening the Idea of the Holy Spirit

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

4 – A Miracle

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Overcoming Weariness

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

Affirmation:  “our task is a joyous one”

Reflections:

1 – How Do You Feel in the Morning?

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

2 – Hearing from the Holy Spirit

We may feel tired emotionally, not in our muscles.  We may be fretting internally about some matter that has not yet been wholly given over to the Holy Spirit.  We may not know exactly what is disturbing our equilibrium.  But we can always know that there is One who does know.  We can ask, and my experience has been that I am told–and quickly.  I do not hear a voice, but the idea appears in my mind, full-blown.  It seems a bit beyond me, as something that I could not have reasoned out, because my mind alone has been too close to the situation.  There is a freeing that comes when we turn a problem over to the Holy Spirit for rectifying.  This frees up the mind and soon the answer to what to do next appears, almost without prompting.  (These ideas are personal experience only, not stated directly in ACIM.)

3 – The Call for God

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

4 – Walk through This Day in Peace

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Call to Joy Dissolves the Ego

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

Affirmation:  “the strong call for joy”

Reflections:

1 – Overcome with Joy

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

2 – Blessing!

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

3 – Like the Lilies of the Field

Certainly we will willingly give up our egotistical ways when we realize that avoiding that avenue is the very best way to happiness.  Our joy is not of this world.  Our joy comes from God, and He leads us down that pathway by guidance.  When we have heard this call for joy, we will react as many of Jesus’s early followers did.  We will leave behind much of our investment in the material things of this world, and we will seek the intangibles of God.  This does not mean that God does not care about our material needs being met.  He does care, for He knows that these things are important to us (though sometimes too important).  The lilies mentioned in the Text of A Course in Miracles are reminiscent of words in the New Testament.  And we are meant to be just as unfettered by living in this world as are those lilies that cover our world with beauty.

4 – Tiny, Mad Idea

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

5 – A Calm Mind

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Definition of Atonement

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

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

Reflections:

1 – The Pivotal Voice

This passage sets forth the pivotal role that the Holy Spirit, our guidance, plays in restoring us to our right mind.  When we listen to this Voice only, we are well on our way to peace and happiness.  Atonement is a correction (an ACIM tenet) to our hearts and minds, a change of purpose in the way that we view our life on earth.

2 – Peace with the World

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

3 – Listen to the Holy Spirit Always

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

4 – God’s Will = Our Real Will

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Helpful and Harmless

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

Affirmation:  “The truly helpful are invulnerable.”

Reflections:

1 – We Can Learn to Be Helpful and Harmless

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

2 – Conflict

When we are unnaturally tired, it is my interpretation that we are struggling with some conflict that Jesus would willingly take from us.  Ask the Holy Spirit how He would have us react.  If we are struggling to “do something” for a brother or sister, and it just doesn’t feel right (though it would be a loving act), perhaps now is not the right time.  Perhaps we need to reassess and ask how we might really help.  Sometimes doing nothing at all, at the present moment, is the right response, the harmless response.

3 – Invulnerability for Us

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

4 – Laudable Goals

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.  

Do Not Isolate Yourself

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

Affirmation:  “Salvation is collaborative”

Reflections:

1 – Don’t Isolate Yourself

We are not meant to isolate ourselves in this world–even to study the Course.  We are meant to stay in the world ,and to minister to our brothers and sisters.  Our brothers and sisters are the Sonship.  (Note:  Scribed in the sixties, A Course in Miracles uses the same masculine terminology that the Bible does, but in the sixties, the masculine gender was recognized by everyone as including both genders, male and female.)

2 – Let Jesus In

Jesus, in this passage, indicates how important it is that he be a part of our lives.  This is his wish, but it is not mandatory.  Indeed, Helen and Bill were reluctant, when introducing the Course, to tell their listeners that their considered opinion was that the speaker was Jesus.  They knew how foreign this would sound to some hearers of the new message.

3 – Jesus as Elder Brother

Jesus can do more for us if we consider him a friend, an elder brother.  He speaks at one point of how we can imagine him holding our hand as we walk along, and he indicates that this will be no “idle fantasy.”  We cannot understand how this is possible, but we can take him at his word and see if it does not appear that he is with everyone who gives an insistent call.  He will come at the first “unequivocal” call (from the Text).

4 – The Consequences of Withdrawal

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

5 – Salvation for Ourselves AND Others

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Our Mission Is Very Simple

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

Affirmation:  “Jesus does not choose God’s channels wrongly.”

Reflections:

1 – The Ego

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

2 – Mission Substantial

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

3 – Proselytize?

This injunction from Jesus does not mean that we aggressively proselytize.  In A Course in Miracles, he states that some are ready only for a smile.  And so we turn off others if we try to interest them in “our” way–A Course in Miracles–prematurely.  We do not want to turn others off.  We seek to avoid the controversy of theology, as this is only dividing and a barrier between others and us.  We are best to seek help from guidance as often as we possibly can, because we are apt to become zealous in our approach if left on our own.  Jesus does not want us to strain to represent him in this world.  The easy and natural approach will always work best (an interpretation, not stated directly in ACIM).

4 – No Call to Specialness

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

I know that when the ego rears its head, I am unhappy.  This is my clue that I have gotten off my pathway to You.  Please guide me gently back home.

Amen.

Misery (Ego) vs. Joy (Spirit)

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

Affirmation:  “joy comes with spirit”

Reflections:

1 – The Egotistical Fails to Satisfy

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

2 – Ordinary Daily Life Satisfying

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

3 – Read ACIM Frequently

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

4 – Holy Relationships

We are in joy and in Heaven when we are at peace with our brothers and sisters in this world.  We are in joy and in Heaven when we have holy relationships that have brought us home.  May we always remember that the joys of the spirit are much superior to the egotistical “joy” that comes to us from egotistical motives.  We need to drop the competition that the ego fosters and walk home to God through the love that we hold for others in our world (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Learning through Rewards vs. Learning through Pain

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

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

Reflections:

1 – We Do Not Have to Learn through Pain

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

2 – Study of ACIM Brings Increased Peace and Joy

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

3 – Pain Brings Only a Temporary Effect

It is enormously gratifying to know that someone like Jesus says that pain brings only a temporary effect.  So long in our world we have brought pain upon ourselves and our world, and we have believed (when we reflected) that we have learned something from this pain.  But here Jesus makes it plain that our pain is not wanted by God, and, especially, that God did not “cause” our pain.  We do not have Him to blame, but only ourselves and our mass hallucination (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  We can turn to reward whenever we wish.  We just need to ask the Holy Spirit for help in how to proceed.

4 – Choose to Learn through Rewards

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

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

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

Amen.

Definition of the Ego

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

Affirmation:  “The ego is a part of my belief about myself.”

Reflections:

1 – Succinct Definition

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

2 – Dissociation from the Ego

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

3 – A Course of Love

A Course in Love, scribed after A Course in Miracles, says that the time of the Holy Spirit has passed, that we are now in the time of Christ-consciousness.  This trilogy of books seeks to lead us outward and inward to Christ-consciousness, which is the state of mind and heart that is described in ACIM as the Awakening.  We have left the ego behind in A Course of Love.  We are not perfect, still, but we can know Heaven in our current state.  These ideas are perhaps more controversial than anything in A Course in Miracles, but some individuals believe that Jesus himself also scribed A Course of Love, having unfinished business with us.  (Of course, there are numerous books now in print that are attributed to Jesus.  We must following our own inner Guide in trying to determine the legitimacy of any and all of these books.)

4 – The Self

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Learning in an Insane World

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

Affirmation:  “learn what is of value”

Reflections:

1 – Why Learn Something Not of Lasting Value?

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

2 – A Course of Love

Certainly we have been so reared in an egoistic world that we may love learning just for the sake of learning itself.  It may seem to be heresy to question this love of learning.  But in A Course of Love, we are told that there is a time for learning to cease, and to move forward in our lives by “observation.”  We do not have to think the egoistic way.  Knowing can come to us without irritable reaching for fact as well as fancy.  We can just know, because the Holy Spirit (and later, the Christ-consciousness) just tells us.  We know about our world almost as soon as we have asked internally.

3 – Careers and Relationships

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

4 – We Have Help

Whether we are “learning” or “observing,” it is evident that we don’t get where we are trying to go without help.  We are supported every step of the way.  And it is important to acknowledge that we realize that we are not doing all this by ourselves.  It is only the ego that wants all the credit, and surely the egoistic way has been discredited by now in our minds and hearts.

5 – The Valuable Is Lasting

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Inspire the Dis-Spirited / Stabilize the Unstable

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

Affirmation:  “miracles are natural”

 

Reflections:

1 – Miracles = Natural

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

2 – Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson has written a bit about the power of Jesus to heal neurotics.  This passage uses the term “unstable,” but I think the meaning is similar and the content essentially identical.  Surely we recognize when life is not running smoothly for us, and if we are astute, we will realize that the problems we are encountering are at least partially our own fault (some would say that we drew those problems to ourselves, but A Course in Miracles does not go that far).  If we can change our reality only by changing ourselves (which is akin to ACIM tenets), then it is probably abundantly evident that we need some help in changing ourselves.  And the Holy Spirit stands ever ready.  When we follow the intuitive indications that we get, we will find ourselves growing into ever-better relationships with our brothers and sisters in this world.  When we are patently neurotic, we will always have problems with relationships.

3 – Miracles = Our Natural Inheritance

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

4 – Certain to Respond

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Let Jesus Take Your Hand

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

Affirmation:  “Work with my higher mind.”

Reflections:

1 – Elder Brother

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

2 – How to Solve Problems

As time goes by, and we have spent more of that time studying A Course in Miracles, we may find that our mind delivers to us, perhaps psychically, the answers to our questions and the answers to our problems.  It is normally better to pray (or “commune”), ask our question, express thanks with the assurance that the answer will come, and then get busy with something else.  Then and only then does it help to get quiet and to ask again.  It is very, very likely that the answer that has been eluding us will pop into our minds, seemingly unbidden and with great ease and comfort, with a sense of clarity that we have heretofore lacked.  This is the miracle, visiting us in a very practical way.  This is the Holy Spirit’s attending to our needs.  And we would not forget to say “thank you” for this blessing.

3 – At One with the Holy Spirit

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

4 – No Idle Fantasy

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Gladden Yourself!

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

Affirmation:  “I will gladden myself today.”

Reflections:

1 – We Can Be Happier!

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

2 – Personal Experience

My most vulnerable time is first thing in the morning.  I have a tendency to look quickly ahead to my day and not be too excited about what I see.  But this is insanity.  I have a good life, and it is only bio-chemicals in my brain that are leading me to see something different.  So what do I do?  Most importantly, I put one foot in front of the other, and keep going.  I fix breakfast, I enjoy a good breakfast with my husband, I give thanks for the many blessings that are mine.  Also, I get outside in the sunshine, because light helps the mood.  At the first opportunity, I make a list of all for which I am grateful.  And I mull over this list.  It is indeed a blessed life that I live!  And when the day wears on a bit, I will recognize that.  The mind, with God’s help, does rise above any sense of depression.

3 – When to Seek Help

If I were clinically depressed, having short-term memory loss and the like, I would seek medical help.  I would not suffer alone.  If this is not the case, though, there are simple things that we can do in any given day not to be disheartened.

4 – Make a List

Gladdening is a personal experience.  What would please you, might not please me.  It is up to each of us to make a mental list of those things that gladden our day.  And then refer to that mental list often, until the bad mood lifts.

5 – Pure Joy and Limitless Release

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

6 – Remember Today’s Passage

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Starting Point = Truth = Not Ego

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

Affirmation:  “My starting point is truth”

Reflections:

1 – Philosophical Backdrop

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

2 – Returning, but Still in Heaven

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

3 – Living an Illusion

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

4 – Reason to Fear?

If we are truly walking a pathway that was over in an instant, long ago, and we only seem to be reliving it now–then what is there to fear at all?  We chose correctly, for God, in that tiny mad idea that arose in our minds, when we forgot to laugh (from the Text).  If this theology helps us, then we would be well to try to understand it.  But if the theology is a stumbling block, we are bade not to embrace theology that would divide us from one another, but instead seek the one experience that we all can share.

5 – We Share Love

And this experience that we all can share is always one of love.  We fall many times.  We attack verbally, we have misunderstanding and regrets, but all of this is meaningless when we recognize that we are caught in illusions, and that these illusions are madness.  Certainly we cringe at being called “insane,” but it is the best way, is it not, to describe the hold that the ego has over us.  The ego has never given us anything to keep.  It has always tangled prizes out in front of us, but prizes that rust and decay.  And then we cry, for we do not have what we really want.  And what is it that we really want?

6 – The Real World

The real world, as described by A Course in Miracles, is a world free of vengeance and rebuff, a shining world of joy and peace.  This is not “pie in the sky” thinking, because our projections make our perception (an ACIM tenet), and we can make any world that we want.  If we see something that we do not want to see, we turn inwardly to the Holy Spirit, and we ask for a new picture.  Indeed, ACIM says that we are seeing these distasteful things because we do not want to see them.  They are an outward indication of an inward condition, and only when that inward condition is healed will we, once again, walk a green earth.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

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

Amen.

Voluntary Dis-Spiriting / Depressed Spirits

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

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

Reflections:

1 – Voluntary!

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

2 – Blame the Ego

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

3 – Don’t Withdraw

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

4 – Remedies

If going through the trial of depressed spirits, there are helpful changes that can be made, small helpful changes that make a big difference.  (These are personal suggestions, not from ACIM.)  Getting out and about among people, early in the day, is a great way to start the morning.  We do know, from experiencing low spirits, that the morning hours are the most problematic.  Just putting one’s self in a position of having to talk to people will turn aside the dark inner thoughts that lower one’s affect.  A journal is a helpful concept, and some people have found writing early in the morning to be helpful.  I personally don’t follow this advice, as writing early tends to raise my anxiety level, something that I don’t welcome when facing a long day.  So some experimentation with any advice is always a welcome choice.

5 – We Are Never Alone

We can overcome depression, whether with the help of pills or without.  There are ways that we can drop the offending thoughts from our minds.  Ask for guidance in this matter, knowing that we are never alone.  This fact of knowing that we are never alone is one of the greatest unsung blessings of A Course in Miracles.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

When Feeling Guilty

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

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

Reflections:

1 – Our True Reality = Innocence

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

2 – Guilt, Anger, and Attack

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

3 – Greatest Regret

My greatest regret is that once I expressed verbal anger at someone whom I cared a great deal about, because that individual did not see life as I did.  But now, through the joy of studying A Course in Miracles, I know that I do not have to feel guilty about this lapse in good judgment.  I can always ask for forgiveness, and it will be granted.  And I can ask not to repeat the mistake (and I have so asked).  Knowing that stress elicits anger in me, I can avoid stressful situations insofar as possible.  A few quiet moments alone are usually enough to get my thinking and emotions straightened out.  Then the ego withdraws its temptation to verbally attack, and my calm attitude returns to me.  What a blessing this scenario then becomes!

4 – We Do Not Have to Feel Guilty

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Overcoming Anxiety

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

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

Reflections:

1 – Anxiety = Form of Fear

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

2 – Pills

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

3 – Anxiety Overcome

Anxiety can be overcome by non-medical intervention, in many cases.  Certainly prayer is a great calming tool, for God’s Love for us becomes manifest when we turn to Him in heartfelt communion.  A Course in Miracles does not say a great deal about prayer, but it simply seems to be assumed that we will pray, or, as it is said in the opening pages of the Text, we will “commune” with God.  Many of the Workbook lessons appear to be a form of meditation, though this is a controversial interpretation for some students/teachers of ACIM.  Certainly the Workbook is filled with prayers to God, and so my personal interpretation is that we need to realize that there is a mystery about God that we will not know until Awakening, and not in its entirety then.  Some students/teachers of ACIM believe that God does not know about us, because we are lost in illusion, and He does not enter illusion.  My personal take on this,  though, is that God’s absence has not been my personal experience, except a few times when I was experiencing what has been called the “dark night of the soul.”

4 – Vigilance against the Ego

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Depression / Sadness

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

Affirmation:  “I am deprived of nothing except by my own decisions”

Reflections:

1 – Change What Hurts

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

2 – Pills

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

3 – Change the Circumstances

Pills are not magic potions, though some people may disagree.  We need to change the life circumstances that are causing our discomfort, but this does not necessarily mean an outward change.  It may be enough to change our inner reflections, turning to prayer and meditation, contemplation and reflection.  God will always be there for us when we seek Him.  The Holy Spirit guides us inwardly, and He will prompt us to make change in our outer circumstances if these seem warranted.  I have found, though, that most change is best made internally, by a readjustment in thinking and feeling.  And it is the thought that leads to the feeling (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).

4 – An Explanation of Why Depression Happens

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

When Not Joyous

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

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

Reflections:

1 – Mood Falls

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

2 – Personal Experience

I was once led away from a prospective job because I had a tremendous sinking feeling every time I entered that section of a library.  A friend told me that I ought to listen to that feeling.  And I did.  A later time I chose to accept a private office in my workplace, but one in a back corner, away from my friends.  I had that same sinking feeling as I was moving my office supplies into the space.  This time I did not listen to the sinking feeling, and I remained in that private office for about six months, increasingly unhappy.  The mood and my job improved considerably when I accepted another open space near my friends.  A private office was not the prize that I wanted or needed.

3 -Holy Spirit

So we do get indications when we have started on a false pathway.  The Holy Spirit does guide.  A Course in Miracles promises this, and our lives bear it out.

4 – Not at Every Turn

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

5 – How to Stay Joyous

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Little Scraps of Fear

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

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

Reflections:

1 – Anxiety Created by Our Minds

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

2 – Personal Experience

My greatest challenge in life has been my proneness to anxiety, and anxiety is an especially acute form of fear, and hence is of the ego.  As I have followed A Course in Miracles over the years, the anxiety has declined precipitously.  I know that I am following the ego too easily when I feel that old-time anxious feeling.  It is a warning sign that I need to stop listening to the weakened ego within me, and get back on the pathway to God.  The Holy Spirit so prompts, and when I listen to His Voice of intuition, I am reassured that all will be well.

3 – Ask for Help

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

4 – Ask Repeatedly

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

You Must Ask for Gifts

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

Affirmation:  “immeasurable gifts are for me”

Reflections:

1 – Ask in Specifics

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

2 – You Will Receive

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

3 – Personal Experience

I remember, as a child, not wanting to be greedy.  I don’t know where this trait came from, but I remember having it.  My mother has told me that she and my father often had great difficulty knowing what to give me for Santa Claus, because I would not ask for anything.

4 – Faulty Reasoning

This type of thinking is actually poverty-driven.  Instead, we are bade to ask for what we want, of the Holy Spirit.  If the desired gift is not in our best interests, we are asked to seek guidance so that we ask aright.  We may be able to have anything that we want, but this must be a seeking that gives us good things.  A Course in Miracles says that the Holy Spirit protects us from asking for that which will harm us.  We know, inwardly, when we are to  avoid a prayer for something that would be bad for us.  This is the advantage of listening to intuition.

5 – What Gift Would You Like?

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Love Will Enter Immediately

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

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

 

Reflections:

1 – Don’t Limit Your Love

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

2 – Love Comes in Many Ways

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

3 – Love Is Always There

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

4 – The Ego and Special Relationships

The times when we strive so hard for the elusive goal of “love” is a time that our love is the “special” love relationship that the ego always leads us toward.  While the Holy Spirit will not remove our special relationships from us, He would purify them, turning them into holy relationships.  We know that we do not feel great stress at such a change, though the change may disrupt the relationship for awhile (a Text tenet).  With holiness as our new goal, we are led to drop egoistic thinking from our minds and to walk into the sunlight with God and our brother.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

You Need Not Have Tribulation

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

Affirmation:  “be of good cheer”

 

Reflections:

1 – Differs from the New Testament

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

2 – Tribulation Is Pain

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

3 – Recite the Passage on a Bad Day.

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

4 – We Cannot Be Hurt

We need to know that Jesus did not blame his accusers.  He knew that he could not be hurt.  He knew also that he could not be abandoned, though his disciplines slept in Gethsemane–while Jesus prayed.  May we take a moment now to pray, as Jesus taught.  He will restore our good spirits, for he has told us that we are never without his counsel; we need only to ask, and he is there.  (This may not be a concept that we all can readily accept at this moment, but walk as far along this pathway as possible, and let the Holy Spirit guide ever further.)

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Thank you that in this world we do not have to have tribulation.  We can be of good cheer, because Jesus has overcome the world.

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

Amen.

An Unsheltering Home

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

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

Reflections:

1 – This World’s Image of the Ego

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

2 – The Ego in ACIM

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

3 – Have You Been Hurt?

When we have been hurt by anything in our world, we can know that we have allowed the ego to come into ascendancy.  This will not do.  We can, instead, recognize that in this hurting feeling, we are really needing the comfort of God.  And we can turn inward in communing with Him, sure that our mood will lighten.  Our thoughts, when we are feeling hurt, is building a “shabby and unsheltering home” for us.  And we would not have this.  We need to leave the shabbiness behind, and that always entails forgiveness of our world, ourselves, and everyone in it.  We have been mistaken in feeling the urge to retaliate, because this is only a means to reestablish the ascendancy of the ego.

4 – Once Again, Guidance

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Joy

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

Affirmation:  “the spirit’s joy”

Reflections:

1 – A Comparison to the Ego

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

2 – Withdraw Protection from the Ego

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

3 – Still on the Pathway

Perhaps all of our days will not be filled with joy, for we are still on the pathway home.  But the more that we adjust our attitude to Jesus’s recommendations, the better days we will have.  If we are hurt, we will know that we are experiencing an egoistic attack, for actually we, our Self, cannot be hurt.  Only the ego can experience hurt, and if we relinquish our investment in the ego’s way of looking at the world, we will be the wiser for it.  If we come in anger, whether acknowledged or under the surface, we are strengthening the ego.  We do not want o strengthen the ego.  We want to open our hearts to the spirit’s joy, the innermost part of ourselves that has never been either hurt or angry.  We need to return home to God.  We may not know how to do this now, but if we learn of the spiritual truths that confront, we will know more, and, not incidentally, have more faith that God is in His Heaven, and all is right with the world (Robert Browning, though he wrote this in a poem that was satirical; we do not want to see it as satirical).

4 – Joy of the Spirit / Fear of the Ego

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Be Still

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

Affirmation:  “When you are afraid, be still”

Reflections:

1 – Comforting Passage

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

2 – Guilt as a Barrier

A personal issue is often that we feel such remorse that we do not forgive ourselves.  Indeed, I sometimes wonder if that is the great need of our time.  We are instructed in A Course in Miracles to forgive our brother, but often we cannot do that because of the guilt that we still feel, the guilt that is keeping us mad and unable to forgive ourselves.  Then we need to realize that Jesus would not have us react this way.  He always forgave, in part because his understanding was greater, and he knew that his brothers were, at heart, innocent of wrongdoing.  Do we know the same?  It is true, and knowing this and taking it to heart will go a long way toward smoothing our own pathway through this sometimes troubled and insane world in which we find ourselves.

3 – Real World / Dream or Illusions

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

4 – In Reality, No Harm

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

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

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

Amen.

Devotion to a Brother Cannot Set You Back

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

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

Reflections:

1 – What “Brother” Means

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

2 – What Devotion to a Brother Means

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

3 – Do We Always Act?

Sometimes we will get the indication from the Holy Spirit that we are to do nothing.  Perhaps we would only make the feelings of our brother worse by trying to talk to him.  We may have even said too much already.  Then is the time to reach for solitude and to commune with God.  He is always there, deep within us.  He does not join in our illusions, but He allows us to rise above those illusions.  And He will comfort, when interactions with our brother have proved to be disappointing.

4 – Difficulties with a Brother

It is important to forgive and to forget, and then to drop the issue.  Nothing is gained by continuing to rehash the bad experience.  We are indeed, according to ACIM, making the insanity real, and then how do we overlook it?  And overlook it we need to do.  This is much easier when we realize that we will have forgotten the issue in awhile, and so why not drop it now, before more damage is done?  Often it is ourselves that we need to forgive.  We can see that our brother thought he was making a joke, and even if it was a joke at our expense, we do not see out from his eyes, to understand his perspective.  Our personalities differ, and what is one individual’s “joke” becomes grounds for offense if we don’t share his brand of humor.  May we try to see through his eyes today.  And may we stop the rehashing of an old conflict, because conflict is inevitable in the mad world in which we live.  Move on to reality, instead, Jesus might say (an interpretation of ACIM).  We need to realize that we are just as fallible as our brother, and next time maybe our jokes will fall flat.  Goodwill will smooth away these misunderstood feelings.

5 – No Setbacks

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

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

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

Today I would see my brother especially in my significant relationships, my holy relationships.  May no stress mar the serenity of our day together.  May my devotion to those closest to me meet their needs, and may I feel that the love we share is increased by our time together today.  Thank You for giving me the patience and forbearance to remain calm and collected.  May what I say and do today add to the peace that my intimates feel, the peace that You can give to all of us in great measure.   

Amen.

When Depressed

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

Affirmation:  “only the ego can be disheartened”

Reflections:

1 – We Are Needed in the This World

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

2 – Beginning the Day Again

When we begin the day as a “bad day,” it is wise to take steps that we know, from past experience, will turn around the day.  If we are faced with a rainy and dark day, the weather itself may affect our mood.  But when we do some simple things, such as physical exercise (for example), or getting out among people, or saying things that make us grateful, we can turn around a poor beginning immediately.  God does not wish us to have bad days.  Would we wish this on ourselves?

3 – The Ego Is Involved

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

4 – Drop the Ego

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

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

Help me to do for myself today the things that will turn around my day, and give me hope for a better day and a better tomorrow.  This is something that I can do to cooperate with you and drop the funk that threatens to engulf me.  My ego is having a field day, and I would not cooperate with its machinations.

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

Amen.

Rejection

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

Affirmation:  “give over all desire to reject”

Reflections:

1 – Give Up the Ego and Rejection – Both!

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

2 – Personal Experience

We sometimes see rejection when there has been none.  I think back over some of my actions, and I realize that the people involved may have read rejection when I was actually being shy.  Introversion can seem like rejection.  We cannot always see into our own motivations, and certainly others cannot see into our motivations either.  All of us need to realize that personalities differ, and what we thought that we meant may have been totally misunderstood.  We may have been calling for love in the only way that, at the moment, we knew.  And our own diffidence may have masked that call.

3 – All Have Known Rejection

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

4 – Rejection Always Starts with Ourselves

If we want Atonement, we must realize that nobody is actually rejecting us.  It always starts with ourselves.  We are projecting a perception of rejection, and so it becomes true for us.  This is the pain of living in an illusion.  We make what we see outside of ourselves; we are participating in the mass hallucination (an interpretation of ACIM, not stated therein).

5 – We Are Healed

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

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

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

Amen.

Wearying Yourself

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

Affirmation:  “You are not really capable of being tired”

Reflections:

1 – “Tired” vs. “Wearying”

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

2 – We Are in the Driver’s Seat

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

3 – Study the Course when Quiet

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

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

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

Amen.