Learning

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

The Ego

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Learning

Affirmation:  “learn what is of value”

Reflections:

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

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Jesus Calls

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

Affirmation:  “miracles are natural”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Working with the Mind

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Gladden Yourself!

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

The Disheartened

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

Affirmation:  “only the ego can be disheartened”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Voluntary Dis-Spiriting

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

When Feeling Guilty

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

When Anxious

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

When Sad

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

When Not Joyous

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Little Scraps of Fear

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

You Must Ask for Gifts

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

Affirmation:  “immeasurable gifts are for me”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Love Will Enter

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

“You Need Not Have Tribulation”

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

Affirmation:  “be of good cheer”

Reflections:

1 – ACIM Differs from the New Testament

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

2 – Avoid Tribulation

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

3 – Be of Good Cheer

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

An Unsheltering Home

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

The Spirit’s Joy

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

Affirmation:  “the spirit’s joy”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Be Still

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

Affirmation:  “When you are afraid, be still”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Going with Our Brother

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Approaching the Beginning

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

Affirmation:  “Your starting point is truth”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Rejection

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

Affirmation:  “give over all desire to reject”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Wearying Yourself

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Judgment and Organizing

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Judging

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Without Judgment

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

Affirmation:  “meeting. . .totally without judgment”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Prayer

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

Affirmation:  “the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

All Are Called

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

Affirmation:  “rest unto their souls”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Misperceptions Erased

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Afraid of a Stranger

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

Affirmation:  “made him a stranger”

Reflections:

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

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Attacking Error

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Farther,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Without the Wish to Attack

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

Affirmation:  “without the wish to attack”

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Awakening from Sleep

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

Affirmation:  “the mind awakens from its sleep.”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Retain the Lovable

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

Affirmation:  “retain the lovable”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

The Last Judgment

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

The Mastery of Fear

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

Affirmation:  “only real mastery is through love”

Reflections:

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

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Perfect Love

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

God’s Will

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Guidance

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

The Correction of Fear

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

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A Miscreating Mind

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

revised

Fear

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

Affirmation:  “Fear can be self-controlled.”

Reflections:

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

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

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Truly Helpful

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

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Imprisoned Will

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

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True Denial

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

Affirmation:  “True denial is protective.”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

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Illness vs. Health

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.


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Lacks of Love

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

Affirmation:  “unaffected by lacks of love”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

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Revelation

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

Affirmation:  “Revelation may occasionally reveal the end”

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father,

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

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

Amen.

Revised

Wholly Satisfying Nature of Reality

“Fantasies become totally unnecessary as the wholly satisfying nature of reality becomes apparent to both giver and receiver.  (T15)”

Affirmation:  “the wholly satisfying nature of reality”

Reflections:

Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) says a good bit about his own Awakening and his joy in the immediate experience of the reality he knows now.  His reality is now wholly satisfying, and, as he once said, no thought has made him unhappy since the shift into Awakening.

We learn through A Course in Miracles that we will leave fantasies behind when we see how satisfying reality really can be.  Of course, this is not the reality that most of us find ourselves a part of now.  But, as we walk the pathway pointed out by the Course, we will find that life becomes increasingly easy and joyous.

With life now easy and joyous, we will feel no need to escape into fantasies.  We will thank God for the new ease that we have found, now that we follow His dictates instead of trying, in vain, to depend solely upon ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

Fantasies are seductive, but ultimately unsatisfying.  As we follow A Course in Miracles,  we see the world turn into a wholly satisfying place.  We have no need for fantasies then.

May we turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance as we seek to enter the real world, the one where fantasies are not needed.

Amen.

revised

Fantasies

“Fantasies are a means of making false associations and attempting to obtain pleasure from them.  (T15)”

Affirmation:  “May I not indulge in meaningless fantasies.”

Reflections:

Many of us are prone to this unreality.  We are bade to leave fantasies behind, as they are untruths that do not lead to the real world.  The “false associations” are just that–lies that we tell ourselves.  And would we not do well to stop lying to ourselves?

When we live totally in this world, it is almost inevitable that we will find ourselves lost in fantasies.  These fantasies are a way of coping in a world that seems far too cruel to allow us to live easily.  But there is another way, a better way.  And the Course always says the same thing:  Turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance.  He will lead us out of an illusory present into a real world that will bring happiness.

We may still know pain, though Jesus assures us that we do not have to learn through pain.  In our world, though, pain as a means of learning is more common than any other way.  In the pain, we turn to God.  We do not have to learn this way, but if it happens to us, we would be foolish not to take the new pathway that God points to–away from the pain.  Fantasies then have no meaning in a world made anew by turning to spirit for answers and finding the wholly satisfying nature of true reality.

Prayer:

Dear Father,

I have indulged in fantasies when the world seemed too cruel.  Fantasies were an escape.  May, instead, I welcome Your teaching that will free me from unreal concepts of the world.  Then I will find joy instead of sorrow.

May I leave fantasies behind as I follow the Holy Spirit into the real world, a world of forgiveness and joy.

Amen.

revised