“An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. (T21-22)”
Affirmation: “Tolerance for pain is not without limit.”
1 – Imprisoned Will
This “imprisoned will” is a philosophical tenet of A Course in Miracles. When we are in the throes of the ego, we have an imprisoned will. Only when we are in our right minds, loving and renouncing fear, are we on the right track, are we working with a will that has been freed.
2 – Ego’s Interpretation
This theological construct can seem malicious in the ego’s eyes. It may sound as though God is tricking us into salvation, that we have to do it His way or the highway. After all, an imprisoned will becomes intolerable, according to the passage for today. It is just the way that the universe works. It was set up for loving individuals, and we introduced a “tiny, mad idea” that changed everything.
3 – Is God “Tricking” Us?
Is it appropriate to think that God is “tricking” us into Heaven? Not in the least. We are dealing with cause and effect here, an immutable law of the universe. When we let the ego rule, we invite fear and fear gives us the imprisonment of the will (an interpretation, not stated in A Course in Miracles). The only way that the ego can work is through our fear. We think that we will not be protected in this uncertain and troubled world unless we remain independent of God, for we fear God most of all when in the egoic frame of mind. This means that we are not open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not being open to His judgment is surely evidence of an imprisoned will. Pain soon follows.
4 – The Separation
When the separation seemed to arise, we were caught in a situation that seemed to make God’s will and our will at odds with one another. Actually the two are inseparable, and only our dim understanding makes this aspect of faith difficult. When we think that God’s will is something that we wouldn’t want, we do in fact invite fear, for His will is actually what, in our heart of hearts, we DO want!
5 – Holy Spirit
When we reject the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are caught in the bonds of an imprisoned will, which engenders pain–sometimes extreme pain. Although ACIM affirms the releasing truth that we do not have to learn through pain, the truth is that many of us do learn through pain. We can suffer in this pain greatly, but our tolerance for pain, as this passage says, is “not without limit.” Sooner or later we will come to see that there must be another way, a better way, to live, and this is when we turn to God and His Voice, the Holy Spirit.
6 – Helen and Bill
Helen Schucman and William Thetford, the two individuals responsible for bringing us A Course in Miracles, agreed together to seek another way. At the time they and their department at Columbia University were embroiled in competition and attack, and camaraderie was largely missing. Helen and Bill embarked on a seven-year project, with Helen channeling from Jesus, and Bill, typing what had come through the day before. Tolerance for pain in these two had become intolerable.
7 – Tolerance for Pain
May this tolerance soon become intolerable for us as well, and then we will be ready to listen, perhaps for the first time, to innermost guidance.
May I choose to eliminate pain from my experience. I know that pain is not Your will, and may it not be mine either.
If I have learned through pain, may this learning come to an end. Your will for me is total happiness.