Overcoming Terror

“For every joining, every union that you enter into, your real world is increased and what is left to terrify you decreased.  This is the only loss that union generates, and it is a loss of what was merely illusion.  (A Course of Love, 5.28)”

Affirmation:  “May my real world increase today.”

Reflections:

1 – Definition of the Real World

Ah, the real world!  This was the blessing that we often did not understand in A Course in Miracles, and here the concept is made clear.  We see the real world in snatches, and as we enter into union with all that exists, we see more and more of the real world, and this happens more and more often.  The real world is what God created, not what we made.  And from here, the real world, it is but a step into Awakening (as A Course in Miracles says), or Christ-consciousness (as A Course of Love says).

2 – Little Terror

We will not spend so much of our time in terror.

3 – Fear, Terror, and Anxiety

Perhaps we don’t realize how much terror we actually experience.  We often just call it “anxiety,” and we know, when we have studied ACIM, that anxiety is a form of fear.  And that fear and love, in their various manifestations, are the only two emotions.  We would not walk this world, even this world that we made, in terror.  God would not have us give Him a bad day.  Of course, we do not know that God has entered our illusion with us.  Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing.  But certainly we do know that we are quite capable of giving ourselves and our loved ones, and, indeed, all those we encounter, a bad day if we are lost in dreams of terror.

4 – God with Us

Drop such nonsense immediately.  Terror is not worthy of a Son/Daughter of God.  And terror is so unnecessary.  God is with us, always.  And when we turn a difficulty, no matter how difficult, over to God, we will know peace.

5 – Terror Easily Given Up with Union with Others

Try it today, if chance should bring something that terrorizes you.  Be glad that the fear is so easily given up.  I can assure you that, once surrendered to God, the terror will subside, and once again you will walk a green earth.  This assurance is extended to all forms of difficulty.  And we are at peace again, regardless of what swirls around us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would join with all whom I see today, in union to overcome the terrorizing that this world inculcates in me.  This is a terrifying world, unless we have the wherewithal to turn to You.  And then You make all things right again.

Be with me as I seek to join in union with all today.  Especially my significant others, and all from my past and future, as well.  Help all of us to find You in everyday life.

Amen.

Answer to Call for Help Comes Unfailingly

“The single aim of the teacher turns the divided goal of the pupil into one direction, with the call for help becoming his one appeal.  This then is easily responded to with just one answer, and this answer will enter the teacher’s mind unfailingly.  From there it shines into his pupil’s mind, making it one with his.  (M-17.3)”

Affirmation:  “May the Holy Spirit tell me what to say today.”

Reflections:

1 – The Holy Spirit’s Part

This brief passage for today does not mention the Holy Spirit, but that is the context in which the passage occurs.  And the Holy Spirit will specifically tell us what to say:  “. . .this answer will enter the teacher’s mind unfailingly.”  What a blessing this is!  If only we can believe, and indeed many of us can.

2 – Shabby Self-Image

Sometimes we get an indication of what to say that is embarrassing to us (from the Manual).  We need to be willing to let go of this “shabby self-image” (quotation from the Manual), and go ahead and say the words.  Jesus says that these “embarrassing” words will be far wiser than our own.

3 – Ego

May we have the strength to offer the words that come to us, if we are sure that they are not hurtful.  The Holy Spirit would never offer words to us that are hurtful, but the ego might.  And we sometimes do make mistakes in believing that the Holy Spirit is speaking when the speaking is actually coming from the ego.  (Interpretations, not stated in ACIM.)  We are not above making mistakes, though we may be tempted to think otherwise.  The ego is very wily.

4 – Be Quiet and Listen

But Jesus would not have us in conflict this way.  We will be shown the right words, the right way, if we quiet ourselves and then move in the direction of the leaning from the Holy Spirit.  If we are quiet and peaceful about the decision of what to say, we are more likely to be right, to have heard the Holy Spirit accurately.

5 – Follow Guidance as Soon as Possible

If at first we don’t do the bidding of the Holy Spirit, let us do that bidding as soon as we can get ourselves to act.  Sometimes we are walking a given pathway with a certainty that is misguided, and it is hard to turn on a dime.  But turn on a dime we must, and as soon as we can get our stubborn wills to cooperate.

6 – The Outcome is Joy and Peace

We will say to our brothers and sisters what the Holy Spirit wants said.  Then we will know both joy and peace.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Give me Your guidance, through the Holy Spirit, as I seek to help my brothers and sisters, and myself, today.  You would never lead me astray, but the ego’s wily ways might confuse me.  May I not know confusion today.  May the words that I say to others, and to myself, be right on target with Your will.  Make this happen, almost beyond myself, please.  

I ask You to stay with me if the words seem embarrassing.  I have felt this aspect of guidance, but carried out saying the words, and even then I was still embarrassed.  My self-image was not the best at the time, and so I know that this was the “shabby self-image” of which Jesus speaks.  I would leave that image behind, as I move into the Christ-consciousness that You would provide for me, when the time is right.

Help me to reach others today who may need to hear words of comfort.  May I remain calm and peaceful, even in the midst of any brewing storm.  And thank You for the blessings of this day already received.

Amen

“I Need Do Nothing”

“When peace comes at last to those who wrestle with temptation and fight against the giving in to sin; when the light comes at last into the mind given to contemplation; or when the goal is finally achieved by anyone, it always comes with just one happy realization; ‘I need do nothing.’  (T389)”

Affirmation:  “I need do nothing.”

Reflections:

1 – Difficult to Believe?

Perhaps we find this a difficult passage to believe.  And perhaps it is difficult to believe.

2 – Heaven

The passage is saying that we don’t have to achieve our way into heaven.  “I need do nothing.”  What a comforting thought!  How consoling to believe that we will believe and even understand this passage when the Awakening has happened to us.

3 – Forgiveness

There are various ways to achieve Awakening.  But the A Course in Miracles says that our brother is our way–forgiveness of our brother (and sister).  That is the way that we reach the goal.  And then we know that we need do nothing.

4 – Effortlessness

The way to Heaven on earth is meant to be effortless.  This does not mean that we will never “achieve.”  It only means that we do not have to achieve to merit Heaven.  God will send us on many errands for our brothers and sisters, but they will not seem a burden, for they are chosen for us by the One who knows us inside and out.

5 – Guidance

We need to let the Holy Spirit guide our days.  They may be busy days, but there will be an effortlessness about them that will prove the point of the chosen passage for today.  We do not have to struggle.  We are not without help from unseen companions.  Let God speak the truth of such musings to your heart today.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to glimpse the full meaning of this passage and this important sentence, “I need do nothing.”  I realize that this does not mean that I will do nothing, because we are often send on busy errands.  But my salvation is not dependent on good works.  We forgive our brothers and sisters, and then we, gradually, come to understand more.  And Awakening stands at the end, once we have lived through the means to that end.

Be with me today.  I would not lead anybody astray, because this passage is not a prescription for laziness.  But it is a prescription for effortlessness, for all comes easy to us when we have come to understand how to follow You.  Be with me as I seek to listen and to discern accurately what the Holy Spirit is telling me.  I need You today.

Amen.

Nailed to the Cross

“The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on others and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross.  Perhaps it seemed to be salvation.  Yet it merely stood for the belief the fear of God is real.  And what is that but hell?  (WB374)”

Affirmation:  “I would love God rather than cringe in fear.”

Reflections:

1 – Hell

We often wonder about “hell.”  This passage indicates where it is to be found in the fear of God.

2 – Interpretations of the Word “Fear”

This concept goes against traditional Christianity.  But I think that the difference is in an interpretation of the word “fear.”  A Course in Miracles would suggest that it is a lamentable way to approach our Creator, but traditional thinking merely wants us to honor God by such “fear.”  In traditional thinking, it is a humble way to approach our Creator.  In A Course in Miracles, the fear of God is linked to that which is keeping us from salvation.  The two emotions, fear and love, are said to be the only emotions; all  others are linked in some way to these two.  We are encouraged to love God, but not to “fear” him in the sense that we are afraid.  Traditional Christianity does not use fear in that sense of being afraid either.  The fear of God is seen in an awesome sense, and this type of awe is seen as perfectly appropriate toward our Creator, both in traditional Christianity and as stated in ACIM.

3 – God Is Our Friend

ACIM would always see God as our Friend.  We dishonor that relationship when we attack others, in part because we always attack ourselves first (another concept from ACIM).  The image of being “nailed to the cross” is especially important, because elsewhere Jesus asks us to look beyond the crucifixion to the resurrection (T36).  When we look to the resurrection, we are seeing A Course in Miracles in its true light.

4 – Look to the Resurrection

A Course in Miracles differs from traditional Christianity in that it does not see a suffering savior as the best way to view Jesus’s crucifixion.  ACIM would have us look to the resurrection, which it does not deny as a plausible occurrence (but, of course, one that we cannot fully understand, given our belief in the laws of this world).  Jesus did not defend himself in his trial, just as he encourages us avoid defense as a way of life.  ACIM sees the crucifixion as a benign concept, and would not have us cling to this historical occurrence as our route to salvation.  In that sense, ACIM and traditional Christianity are at odds.

5 – The Scriptures

It would be especially good, I believe, if we did not attack the beliefs of others as we feel led to encourage reading of ACIM.  There is a progression from the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), the New Testament, A Course in Miracles, and A Course of Love.  In all cases, we would be advised that theology and theological concepts would only prolong our pathway to salvation.  Jesus calls for a universal experience in ACIM, saying that theology will only delay us.  A universal theology is impossible.  But a universal experience is not only encouraged, but is felt to be necessary (from the Text).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not speak my beliefs in any kind of strident way.  Not all are ready to believe that A Course in Miracles (and, of course, even more so A Course of Love) are the latest manifestations of Christian belief.  Those of traditional Christianity would be particular hostile to this idea.

So help me, dear God, to share only with those who feel inclined to study Christian experience differently.  I do understand that theology divides, but that a universal experience will transform all of us who seek You.  Help me to speak my truth in a way that is accessible to my readers.  Help me to share what I have learned of You in a benign way, non-threatening way.  And may I always look to the resurrection, which of course none of us fully understand, as my beacon in a sometimes difficult world.

Thank You for allow me to sense Your felt presence today.

Amen.

I Am an Effect of God

ACIM Workbook Lesson 326 – for Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am forever an Effect of God.”

“. . .[A]ll Your attributes abide in me, because it is Your Will to have a Son so like his Cause that Cause and Its Effect are indistinguishable.  Let me know that I am an Effect of God, and so I have the power to create like You.  (WB464)”

Reflections:

1 – Cause and Effect in ACIM

The cause-and-effect section in the Text of A Course in Miracles is challenging to understand, perhaps more challenging than most other passages of the theology.  As part of the theology, understanding cause and effect is not absolutely necessary, because theology can delay us, and there is no universal theology.  I am much more interested in the practical that Jesus extols as being most important in ACIM.  But for those who do care about the theology, this prayer explains, succinctly, the relationship between God and ourselves.

2 – Cause and Effect Explained

God is the Cause, the Prime Mover (if you will).  He created us; we did not create ourselves.  So we are still as He created us.   We have made an egoic version of ourselves for this world, and we have suffered mightily for failing to laugh at the tiny, mad idea that there was something more that we ought to experience, apart from God.  But we are still His Effect, the one that He created who has not changed since that creation.

3 – Co-Creators with God

We are meant to be co-creators with God.  Cause and Effect thus become indistinguishable, as stated in the prayer.  God does not have anything that He will not ultimately share with us.  But preparation is necessary first.  God could not have miscreation go too far afield, and thus he set the limits on our power to miscreate.  This was through the pain that we experience.  The threshold for pain may be high, but it is not unlimited.  Sooner or later we have to recognize that there is a better way.  And A Course in Miracles points out that better way.  We are heading, once again, to a reiteration of the fact that Awakening (or Christ-consciousness, as A Course of Love says) is the ultimate aim of this world.  Then we will fully understand that Cause and Effect are One.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I have become lost many times in the cause-and-effect explanations in A Course in Miracles.  May I articulate today what Your true meaning is.  May all of us who reread these passage learn more each time that we confront them.  May their theology not delay us or divide us; it is an experience that we seek.  And we do not have to subscribe to theology if it delays or divides us.  We are all One, seekers for You.

Be with me today as I contemplate, once again, what ACIM is saying about Cause-and-Effect.  May I never be so arrogant as to think, as the ego does, that I made myself.  We are Your children, and there is much that we do not know.  Guide us to the greater understanding of Yourself that will sustain in this sometimes troubled world.

Amen.

Christ’s Is the Vision I Will Use Today

ACIM Workbook Lesson  271 – for Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Affirmation:  “Christ’s is the vision I will use today.”

“Father, Christ’s vision is the way to You.  What He beholds invites Your memory to be restored to me.  And this I choose to be what I would look upon today.  (WB432)”

Reflections:

1 – What Does “Christ” Mean?

We need to ask to see with Christ’s vision, and this, of course, does not refer only to Jesus.  Christ is our real Self, the unchanged Self which is still as God created us.  We are in this prayer asking for the memory of God to be restored to us.  We can believe that God wants this for us, the God within.  We need to have the layers of illusion in which we are mired removed from our consciousness and our unconscious.  Then the memory of God can flow into our conscious mind (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).

2 – To Walk the Whole Pathway

We are asking for this blessing today, immediately.  We need to realize that the blessing is not meant to be a far-off thing, something for which we long all of our lives.  When we ask sincerely, we are expressing our willingness to set aright all parts of our lives.  We are asking to walk the whole pathway back home.

3 – “Journey without Distance”

Jesus says at one point in ACIM that the end is sure, once the “journey without distance” has begun.  If the way seems long, we are to remain contented, knowing the ultimate outcome.  We will all find our way home.  This is the promise we find in A Course in Miracles.  The discouraging part is that it may take millions of years for all of our brothers and sisters to find their way back to God.  Surely this underscores how important it is for us to get right with God sooner rather than later.  We are meant to lead others along the pathway of salvation.  But we do not offer more than they want at any given time.  A favorite passage of mine is the one in which Jesus says (in the Manual) that some are ready only for a smile.

4 – Our Special/Holy Relationships

We have different periods of time for our relationships.  A very few are lifelong, once they are begun.  We meet others, sometimes repeatedly over a lifetime, for a reencounter that is intense and for which learning can be profound.  We part when we have learned all that we can at a given time.  Others are far more casual–a child walking home with another child, a child running into an adult (but not being scolded by the adult), and the like.  May we ask today for the relationships in which we can be of real help.

5 – Right Place at the Right Time

We are told that students are waiting for us as teachers as soon as we have answered the call.  And the timing is impeccable.  We cannot but be at the right place at the right time.  (These are paraphrases from the Manual.)

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I come to realize the Self that I am, the one that might, amazingly, be called “Christ.”  This is something for all, something that we all will reach.  May we reach the Self sooner rather than later.

In my encounters today, may the relationships–brief or long–be holy ones.  I would like to see all of my special relationships transform into holy.  I know that this is Your desire for me.  Help me to carry out my part in what You desire for me.

This walk in this world is truly a walk through illusion, but it is the tangible world that we experience, in a practical sense.  May I experience the real world, the world of beauty and peace, in my walk today.

Amen.

In Love Was I Created / What Can Frighten Me?

ACIM Workbook Lesson  268 – for Sunday, September 25, 2011

Affirmation:  “Let all things be exactly as they are.”

“Let me not be Your critic, Lord, today, and judge against You.  Let me not attempt to interfere with Your creation, and distort it into sickly forms.  Let me be willing to withdraw my wishes from its unity, and thus to let it be as You created it.  For thus will I be able, too, to recognize my Self as You created me.  In Love was I created, and in Love will I remain forever.  What can frighten me, when I let all things be exactly as they are?  

“Let not our sight be blasphemous today, nor let our ears attend to lying tongues.  Only reality is free of pain.  Only reality is free of loss.  Only reality is wholly safe.  And it is only this we seek today.  (WB429)”

Reflections:

1 – God Is Not to Blame for Suffering

We often blame God when we see suffering in our world.  Jesus says in the Text that nobody has failed to believe at one time or another that God is cruel (a paraphrase).  But God did not “do this” to us!  We did it to ourselves.  This is one of the theological concepts in ACIM that may be hard to wrap our minds around.  But, as Jesus also says, do not let theology delay us; we are here to heal the perceived separation from God, and to do that we have to forgive Him for what He never did.

2 – Considering Our Ambivalent Feelings toward Jesus

We are also likely to have ambivalent thoughts toward Jesus.  Helen Schucman, the co-scribe of ACIM, did so.  Would we be very likely to have it better than she?  Her suffering was very real, but the book that she brought forth has given comfort to many, comfort that she was not usually able to feel.  May we be the lucky ones who benefit from the joy found in studying A Course in Miracles.  May we be healed by our study and the contemplation that the Workbook encourages.  But, most of all, may we be healed in our special-relationships-turned holy.  This latter is our way.  We do not need to spend long hours in contemplation, which Jesus describes as “tedious.”  But a few moments at the beginning and end of the day would be time well spent as we seek to walk a closer pathway with God.

3 – How Long Will We Live in the Real World?

We would have reality, not illusions.  I think that the “reality” meant here is the “real world” also spoken of in ACIM.  Reality is not fearful.  Only our illusions scare us.  If we can come to understand this, we will not be so likely to let the vicissitudes of our daily life upset us.  We will move into reality, perhaps only in snatches, but more and more as time passes.  These are the “glimpses” that revelation gives us; the means to reach the end (Awakening) is given in ACIM ACIM says something that appears confusing at the outset.  At one point the Text indicates that the time of experiencing the real world will be brief, and that then God will recognize that we are ready for Awakening, and He will reach down for us (metaphorically).  I speculate in an interpretation that the “briefness” is a way of looking at time that is not ours in normal, day-to-day living.  Eternity is the eternal Now, but we see time in segments.  When viewed against the backdrop of eternity, we may find that many years are considered “brief.”  I offer this interpretation for prayerful consideration, because ACIM does not elaborate in this way.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not be frightened today, because I would let You and Your Love lead the Way.  How should I doubt that I am safe, even in this world where suffering sometimes seems so ever-present?

May my perceived “suffering” be recognized for the illusion that it is.  May I recognize that I am the recipient of many blessings from You.  And may I here express my gratitude for those blessings.  I need only ask, and I do receive.  The solution is found with the problem.  May I realize that only when I am not flexible enough to follow Your Guide consistently do I get into trouble.  When I remain flexible, I walk a straight line to You.  Thank You for  pointing out the Way.

Amen.

I Am a Messenger of God / Each Heartbeat Calls His Name

ACIM Workbook Lesson  267 – for Saturday, September 24, 2011

Affirmation:  “My heart is beating in the peace of God.”

“I am a messenger of God, directed by His Voice, sustained by Him in love, and held forever quiet and at peace within His loving Arms.  Each heartbeat calls His Name, and every one is answered by His Voice, assuring me I am at home in Him.

“Let me attend Your Answer, not my own.  Father, my heart is beating in the peace the Heart of Love created.  It is there and only there that I can be at home.  (WB429)”

Reflections:

1 – At Home in God

This passage would reassure us that even though caught in illusion by our egos, we are actually at home in God.  We never truly separated from God; the thought that we might was a “tiny, mad idea” about which the “Son of God forgot to laugh” (quotations are from the Text).  But because we forgot to laugh, the ramifications were extreme, and we have found ourselves caught in misery for eons.  The separation, Jesus says, happened over millions of years, and the return may take similar millions, perhaps even longer.  This sounds discouraging.  But it does not have to be, for God is ready to welcome us home whenever we turn to Him and ask.  That does not mean that we are all ready for Awakening, but we will have psychic gifts develop in us that will assure us of God’s mercy on us.  We are not to use these gifts in an ill way, for of such is ego-oriented thinking made.  We are warned that the ego is especially wily in such situations.  It may try to reassert by guile (from the Manual).

2 – Do Not Let Emotions Intrude on God’s Presence

If we sense God’s presence, we will sense our heart beating in His peace.  This may not happen each time we get upset, because our emotions are strong and sometimes influenced by the ego.  But this peace will descend upon us frequently enough that we know what are experiencing.  And the peace of God is surely our greatest earthly gift.

3 – Messengers of God

We would be messengers of God.  We would not act in this way if we are motivated by egoic wishes.  We would pray for protection (which, we are told, will always be given, an ACIM tenet), and safety from misinterpretation.  This does not mean that we are above making mistakes, because we are still fallible beings, a very human manifestation of our Self.  But if we listen to guidance, we will sense when we have gone astray and take steps to move to higher ground.  We will ask forgiveness for our misinterpretation.  And we will forgive ourselves.  Forgiveness is the great clarion call of A Course in Miracles, often emphasized even more than Love.  In our fallible state, it is a gesture that we often need to make toward ourselves and toward others in our circle.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I know, when I feel my heart beat today, that my heart is truly at home in You.  May I sense Your presence above all else, and may I remain calm and at peace throughout the day.  Help me to be of use to my brothers and sisters, who may need me now.  Help me to know what to say and do to assist their upward progress back to You.

I would be a messenger of God, but I would wish to be certain that no egoic thinking intrudes on this wish.  If egoic thinking intrudes, I am almost certain that my emotions will intrude, and that I will not truly follow Your will by hearing accurately.  I would hear accurately from Your Guide, the Holy Spirit, today.

Amen.

How Fierce My Sins Seemed!

ACIM Workbook Lesson  265 – for Thursday, September 22, 2011

Affirmation:  “Creation’s gentleness is all I see.”

“I have indeed misunderstood the world, because I laid my sins on it and saw them looking back at me.  How fierce they seemed!  And how deceived was I to think that what I feared was in the world, instead of in my mind alone.

“In quiet would I look upon the world, which but reflects Your Thoughts, and mine as well.  Let me remember that they are the same, and I will see creation’s gentleness.  (WB428)”

Reflections:

1 – Projection Makes Perception

We are told in A Course in Miracles that “projection makes perception.”  This is the ultimate truth, I believe, but we find it difficult to understand, and our faith seems to fail us when the perception is especially upsetting.  The theological underpinnings of this quotation is that God is within, and that this world is an illusion that we are projecting from the egoic part of our minds.  What we perceive is thus the mass hallucination in which this world is caught.  Once we are Awakened, we do in fact perceive differently.  And even before Awakening, our dreams (our illusions that we perceive outwardly) become gentler.  The Holy Spirit offers happy dreams to us, to prepare us for Awakening.  We need these gentle dreams, or we would be much too terrified by the light of Awakening that we would be in terror from the glimpses that revelation may give us.

2 – No Need to Live Fearful Dreams

So our minds make the perception of this world.  And our brothers and sisters are caught in the same perception, making us each guilty of reinforcing the fear in each other.  We would not reinforce fear in ourselves or in others today.  We would recognize that by our guilt we are making a hell for ourselves.  We would ask that we forgive ourselves, that we see that we are actually guilty only in illusion.  Our real Self is still as God created us.  We do not have to live fearful dreams.  We can look past the fear in our brothers and sisters to see Christ in them.  To perceive Christ in others is a step toward Awakening (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).

3 – Mighty Companions Walk with Us

Surely if we knew who walked beside us, we would be fearful no more–regardless of what the world might do to us.  Mighty companions go with us, according to ACIM.  We often pretend, in our scripts, that we are lost and alone, but this is never true.  We need to ask, seriously, why we are writing such scripts.  And we need to pray for guidance to write a better script.  (The “fearful script” paraphrases are from the Text.)

4 – May We Walk Gently

May we walk gently through the world today.  And may we see God’s light shine upon us, calming our minds and returning them to sanity, a bit at the time.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I experience the joy of knowing today that mighty companions accompany me on my journey.  I am never alone, even though when I am depressed, I think that I am very alone indeed.  I feel unloved at such times.  Yet I know that I am misperceiving.  You love me, even when nobody else seems to feel anything special for me.  And I know that more than just You love me.  Help me to overcome depression, when it hits out of the blue, and may I come to understand the projection makes perception.

May I choose to have a cleansed perception today.  This cleansed perception will encourage me to realize that I am loved, not only by You, but by the people who are closest to me in this world.  And, I am promised by You, mighty companions from the Other Side accompany me also.

Thank You.

Amen.

How to Feel Safe

ACIM Workbook Lesson  264 – for Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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

“For what surrounds Your Son and keeps him safe is Love Itself.  There is no Source but this, and nothing is that does not share Its holiness; that stands beyond Your one creation, or without the Love Which holds all things within Itself.  Father, Your Son is like Yourself.  (WB427)”

Reflections:

1 – A Fearful Script

This passage builds upon what I discussed in this blog yesterday.  We are really sustained only by God’s love, and it is He alone who offers us our safety.  When we turn to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we rise above the tragedies that we may be called upon to endure.  We do not add to our worries by becoming yet more fearful.  We offer ourselves completely to God, and we trust Him to see us through any fearful scripts that we have written.  A Course in Miracles says that when we are fearful, it shows only that we have written a fearful script, and are afraid thereby.  This is hard for us to believe, but I do believe it, because I believe that the truth in ACIM is impeccable.  We make our world in all its particulars, even in the things that seem beyond our control (and are beyond our control in any practical sense).

2 – The Self

The Self sees things differently; what is frightful to us may not be so to the Higher Self.  This is our curriculum, one that, somewhere, somehow, we have written and are writing.  If we can believe this, it will go a long way toward acceptance of what happens, and guide us to improve upon the illusory reality in which we find ourselves.  God is always by our side, and in us.  We are One with Him.  Being One with God assures us that we are in the driver’s seat.  If things turn bad, we ought to ask what are the good lessons in this misfortune.  This takes a great deal of faith, and nobody sustains such equanimity all the time.  The world is indeed a frightful place when we try to go it alone, without God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

3 – God Is Not an Emotion

God is Love.  If we don’t understand this, we need to pray for understanding.  This does not, in my opinion, mean that God is an emotion.  Love with a capital “L” is a broader concept, and one in which we can readily put our credence.  Be safe today.  Live just this moment, as best one can.  The bad things that we worry about almost never happen in the form that we have predicted them.  Are we suffering “right now”?  This is an important question, because normally, in the moment, precisely, there is little suffering.  The real hell comes when we anticipate the fearful future or we think back to the lamentable past.  We would leave such foolishness behind today.

4 – Listening to Intuition

Life does go better when one listens to the intuitive thoughts that one has.  Intuition is not the only way that the Holy Spirit communicates with us, but it is one powerful way.  If one is of fragile emotional temperament, then it behooves that individual to proceed cautiously, lest the impulses are from the ego and not the Holy Spirit.  This possibility also exists for anybody else as well.  But as time passes, and we follow ACIM, we will become more adept at discerning real and true guidance from dross.

5 – God in Silence

God is said by many mystics to come to us in the silence.  We can sense His presence when we are especially receptive, and when we do not let emotional turmoil confuse our minds.  May we calm ourselves by whatever means we have found to work (prayer is a powerful way), and may we feel today that God’s Love does protect us from the worst that could happen.  He may not spare us, but on some level our Self knows what it is about.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would feel Your presence today, sure that when I am sensing You, I am also sensing my own safety.  Love is safe.  Anything else is fear, and of the ego.  May my guidance today help me to know that Your Love is sure, that Your Love is safe, and that your Love is not just an emotion.  Help me to gain the knowledge of what Your Love really is.

Today, when I am confused, let me have the presence of mind to turn in silence to You.  If You would reach me, let me be sure that I am perceiving correctly.  And right perception will be cleansed into knowledge of You.  Be with me today.  This I ask, as always.

Amen.

My Holy Vision = All Things Are Pure

ACIM Workbook Lesson  263 – for Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Affirmation:  “My holy vision sees all things as pure.”

“I would not perceive such dark and fearful images.  A madman’s dream is hardly fit to be my choice, instead of al the loveliness with which You blessed creation; all its purity, its joy, and its eternal, quiet home in You.  (WB427)”

Reflections:

In this world all of us are subject to stress that escalates into distress.  We become scared for our livelihood, our finances, our health, our safety, and a myriad of other factors–many of which we cannot control.  At such times of fear, we are generally tempted to apply even more control to those things in our lives that we think we can control.  And we worry.

A Course in Miracles would not have it so.  These fearsome things are images, illusory images because we live in an illusory world.  This does not mean that we close our eyes to the dream in which we find ourselves.  That would hardly be practical, and Jesus has said in ACIM that it is the practical with which this course is most concerned.  We would be wise to put our faith in a Higher Power to sustain us.  The more we entertain fearful thoughts, the more likely we will create self-fulfilling prophecies (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  In this world, we need to focus on the safety that God promises, and we need to know that regardless of what happens to our fragile bodies, our real Self has not been hurt in any way whatsoever.  The real Self ultimately transcends death and any and all suffering that we have experienced in this sometimes nightmarish world.

Let us ask God to soothe our worried brow today.  May we not choose to put our faith in “security” as defined by this world.  Actually, such security will virtually always fail us, because it is a part of the ego’s interpretation of where we are.  We are often caught in a nightmare, and even when the dream seems pleasant, it may quickly and unexpectedly change into something fearful.  Our holy minds are made for something better.  Let us turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance in navigating this world.  Things turn out much better when we put our trust in Him, and when we consistently follow His advice.  He means us well; the ego does not.  If the guidance that we perceive is loving, then we can normally be assured that we are not listening to the ego and attributing sometimes impulsive gestures to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  That is the proviso.  Be sure that the guidance that we follow is love (of God) and not fear (of the ego).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would walk through this day with the vision that You give, the vision that see purity, even in this world.  I would not focus on a madman’s dreams; I would not be insane.  Help me to visualize the good in everyone and everything.  Be with me as I seek to know Your will today in my life.

Thank You for the vision that sees purity.  It is all that there really is; the rest is illusion.  Help me to feel this understanding within my depths.  Be there, in the depths, for me to sense Your presence throughout the day.

Amen.

We Are All One

ACIM Workbook Lesson  262 – for Monday, September 19, 2011

Affirmation:  “Let me perceive no differences today.”

“Father, You have one Son.  And it is he that I would look upon today.  He is Your one creation.  Why should I perceive a thousand forms in what remains as one?  Why should I give this one a thousand names, when only one suffices?  (WB426)”

Reflections:

This passage seems to say, basically, that we are One.  We are one with our brothers and sisters, and we are one with God.  There is an extended discussion in the Text about whether or not we are the same or we are different.  Our personalities differ (according to the Manual), but at base we are One.  This means that we are just as capable of misdeeds as are our brothers and sisters who might know less about salvation than we think we know.  (We may be mistaken about how much we think we know.)  We have the capability to go astray.  This is quite in line with virtually all religious teaching.  Whether “once saved, always saved” is a theological issue that ACIM does not address, nor do I want to address it.  I am reminded of the fact that Jesus cautions us in the Text not to be involved in controversial issues.  Theology often divides us from our brothers and sisters.  We need the open-mindedness that the Manual says is one of the last traits that the teachers of God will develop.

If we look today upon the brothers and sisters whom we encounter, and we realize that we are actually One with them, we will need to try to see with the eyes of Christ, of our Self.  (This does not mean simply Jesus.)

We are the Son/Daughter of God.  Let us spend some time today asking God to teach us the meaning of this great truth.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would recognize today that my brothers and sisters share the Self that we actually are.  Differences are perceptual only.  And we would choose only a cleansed perception, one that has seen God’s truth and would share His knowledge.  We would leave egoic perception of differences behind.

Help me to intuit how my brother and sister can be the same as I am.  Do not let theology delay me today.  Help me to find this knowledge deep inside, where You dwell.  And when I find that knowledge, help me to act on it when I next am tempted to turn on a brother or sister with attack or anger.

Amen.

Attempt Not to Find Peace in Murderous Attack

ACIM Workbook Lesson  261 – for Sunday, September 18, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is my refuge and security.”

“I will identify with what I think is refuge and security.  I will behold myself where I perceive my strength, and think I live within the citadel where I am safe and cannot be attacked.  Let me today seek not security in danger, nor attempt to find my peace in murderous attack.  I live in God.  In Him I find my refuge and my strength.  In Him is my Identity.  In Him is everlasting peace.  And only there will I remember Who I really am.

“Let me not seek for idols.  I would come, my Father, home to You today.  I choose to be as You created me, and find the Son whom You created as my Self.  (WB426)”

Reflections:

It is so typical of us to want security above all else, even love.  We especially think that we want security when times are rough in our world.  This passage indicates that our only real need is the relationship that we need to develop with our God.  He is not a magic wand; life does not always run smoothly, even for very saintly people.  But He makes life, regardless of outward circumstances, worth living.  He is there for us, and we recognize His presence (and feel His presence) when we are there for Him.

God wants to communicate with us, according to ACIM.  It is an “unnatural habit” (a Text quotation) not to communicate with God.  He knows that the channels of communication are closed, and He thinks that we sleep and need to be awakened (paraphrases from the Text).  We are in a sleep, according to ACIM, and we need to experience Awakening.  For all of us to experience Awakening may take millions of years.  The separation, according to ACIM, occurred over millions of years as well.

I personally think that the more we seek, the quicker we will be to find.  (This is an interpretation elaborated upon from the New Testament.)  God would have all of us return sooner rather than later.  The world is very weary now (an ACIM tenet), and many of our brothers and sisters see no hope.  It is to us that Jesus would turn to give hope to this world.  He is not limited to A Course in Miracles, of course.  There are many curricula, and each teacher of God teaches in his or her own way.  But together we can realize that we can make a difference.  And one blessing is that we will find ourselves in the process.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would find peace today, not attack.  The fact that attack can seem murderous does give me cause for reflection.  Jesus has said that rage is not unlike a fairly gentle anger.  I would have neither today.  Be with me to ensure that I stay on Your pathway.

May I follow Your guidance.  I sometimes seek to improve on what is already good.  Help me to be contented with the lot in life with which You have so blessed me.  Thank You.

Amen.

In My Insanity I Thought I Made Myself

ACIM Workbook Lesson 260 – for Saturday, September 17, 2011

Affirmation:  “Let me remember God created me.”

“Father, I did not make myself, although in my insanity I thought I did.  Yet, as Your Thought, I have not left my Source, remaining part of Who created me.  Your Son, my Father, calls on You today.  Let me remember You created me.  Let me remember my Identity.  And let my sinlessness arise again before Christ’s vision, through which I would look upon my brothers and myself today.  (WB424)”

Reflections:

This prayer is a summation of much that the Workbook for Students would have us understand.  It has a calming effect that is reminiscent of the emotion that will be evoked in many prayers in this part of the Workbook.  We are here led to understand that we did not create ourselves.  God did.  We tend not to understand this, because ACIM also alludes to idea that we made the illusory world (“made,” not “created”).  But we are the only real Essence in this world, and by this we see ourselves as a part of the God Who resides within.  We project the illusory world, but God is the Whole.  If you should find this interpretation of the theology of ACIM hard to believe, then do not feel required to subscribe to it.  I would not say anything that is dividing.  We need, as ACIM says, to have a universal experience, because a universal theology is impossible.  And it is the practical with which ACIM is most concerned (a Text tenet).

We would see with the eyes of Christ; we would see sinlessness in ourselves as well as in our brothers and sisters.  This definition of Christ includes the Self that we all are; it is not limited to Jesus, our elder brother.  Jesus has walked the whole pathway back to God, and now he stands at the end, to resolve the mistakes that we are not able to correct.  According to A Course of Love, his was the “example life,” but we are not led to be crucified as was he.  We do not have to experience his experiences.  We do have to find our way back to God; this is a necessity, and sooner or later all of us will know that there is “another way,” a better way to walk this world.  We will seek it, and as we seek, we will find (from the New Testament).  Our lives do not have to be bleak and humorless.  We can learn how to live well regardless of outward circumstances in this world.

This section of the Workbook encourages silent communing with God.  This communion is not called “meditation,” but many ACIM students/teachers do see these lessons as examples of meditation.  It does not matter what we call it.  It only matters that we do it.  We need daily time, morning and evening, and time in between, in which we turn to God and let the raucous noises of this world be stilled in our minds and spirits.  May we do so often today.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would spend time today, much time, in communion with You.  And I would speak to Jesus, remembering that he said that he takes us by the hand and leads us through this world.  May I find myself by finding You in my brothers and sisters.  May this knowledge lead me Home.

Thank You for the words that Jesus has given in A Course in Miracles.  Thank You especially for the more comforting passages, the ones to which I return over and over.  May I never let any theology delay me, but may I seek the practical application of what Jesus says.  Be with me today, as always I ask.

Amen.

Little Senseless Aims / Pointless Little Goals

ACIM Workbook Lesson 258 – for Thursday, September 15, 2011

Affirmation:  “Let me remember that my goal is God.”

“All that is needful is to train our minds to overlook all little senseless aims, and to remember that our goal is God.  His memory is hidden in our minds, obscured but by our pointless little goals which offer nothing, and do not exist.

“Our goal is but to follow in the way that leads to You.  We have no goal but this.  What could we want but to remember You?  What could we seek but our Identity?  (WB423)”

Reflections:

The ego would send us on imaginary journeys away from God to satisfy all manner of “senseless aims.”  But all of our needs are met when we are at home in God.  He is actually Who we have been searching, in vain, when we have sought substitutes in this world that our egos tempted us to own.  We have followed meandering routes away from God, believing that we have separated from Him.  We have, it is true, not been communicating with Him, and this, according to the Text, is a “most unnatural habit.”  We would change all of that nonsense as we seek to be at home in Him.  He will give us the real aims of our hearts.  He will give us his “felt presence” (a favorite phrase of Eckhart Tolle).

These goals that we have sought have actually been illusory nonsense.  We have never found anything that the ego prompted without paying for it with tears (a Text tenet).  Why continue along this pathway any longer?  Why not let go today?

Perhaps we are not sure that God is the only gift that we really want.  Perhaps we would try additional pathways, but to do so is to follow the ego’s mistaken bent.  God does not lead us down these illusory pathways; we do this to ourselves.  One of the most seminal tenets of ACIM is that we are doing this unto ourselves.  And much that we experience as a result is “distress based on error” (from the Text).

The great preoccupation of this world is to try to determine our identity, who we are.  We often think that we do not know ourselves.  This is actually the beginning of wisdom, as cited in the Text.  There is a lovely sequence of thoughts in the Text that ends with the desire of God that we say to Him that we do not know what we are.  We are then ready to open our minds to His revelation.  And revelation will occasionally reveal the end to us (we are told in the Text).  These glimpses of Awakening are evidence indeed that we are seeking the goal that God would have us seek, however often we are tempted to follow the errant pathways to the world’s goals.  The world has nothing to offer that we really want, and the sooner we recognize that, the sooner we will drop our defense of the ego.  This does not mean that we cannot be happy in this world.  ACIM would have us happy; indeed, repeatedly, happiness is seen as our function, and, as such, it is synonymous with forgiveness (also said to be our function).  These are goals in line with ACIM, and then we can know the Heaven on earth that we would all desire, if we were not so deluded as to fail to know how to find just that.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not follow senseless aims and try for pointless goals today.  Much that we seek in this world is pointless, and I sometimes seek the pointless just because it is so meaningless.  This is insanity of the ego, and I would leave that behind today.

I have spent years of my life bolstering the ego, all to no avail.  I know now that the ego is constantly being undone, that this is the way of the world.  The ego must be undone if we are to find a way that actually makes sense.  We need You today, as always–perhaps, today, more than usual.  When the ego calls to me, then I must be sure that I turn aside and seek Your presence instead.  Help me to seek Your presence in today’s chaotic world.

Amen.

I Would Reach the Peace God Wills for Me

ACIM Workbook Lesson 257 – for Wednesday, September 14

Affirmation:  “Let me remember what my purpose is.”

“Father, forgiveness is Your chosen means for our salvation.  Let us not forget today that we can have no will but Yours.  And thus our purpose must be Yours as well, if we would reach the peace You will for us.  (WB423)”

Reflections:

Our function on earth is salvation’s pathway of forgiveness, according to A Course in Miracles.  Though we truly do not have anything to forgive, because the negative things that happen to us happen from the ego’s dream, we need the discipline of forgiveness because we are not saintly enough to recognize, like God, never to condemn.  It is said in ACIM that God doesn’t forgive because He has never condemned.  There is no need for God to forgive us; he knows that we are innocent, and that we are exactly, still, as He created us (an ACIM tenet).

We need to forgive for our own mental health and our own sense of felt Oneness with God.  If we carry around anger and attack thoughts, our peace of mind will be naught.  There is never any need for anger and attack, but as long as we are fallible (which we will be on earth), we are very, very likely to succumb to these emotions–perhaps even after Awakening.  The Dalai Lama has admitted to being angry at times, but he said this in a lecture with a kindly demeanor.  (He also denies being awakened.)

Forgiveness, then, will give us peace.  And peace of mind is our great need, and the great need of the world.  So we forgive almost more for ourselves than for our brothers and sisters, though their receipt of our forgiveness heals the holy relationships that we are meant to sustain.  We will not walk this world long without making mistakes.  We will get angry, and we will attack, feeling “justified” in our wrath when the ego is temporarily in control.  The best way to combat our tendency to drop into these emotions may have been identified by Norman Vincent Peale.  He tells an anecdote in which a man of 40, besieged by negative emotions, asked God to change him, and believed that He had.  His simple belief that a prayer in line with God’s blessing would be honored led him to “fly into a great calm” instead of expressing his temper.  His son reported, in this anecdote, that after this great prayer, he never saw his father in an angry outburst again.  Surely a miracle, and one that we might all ask to have in our own lives.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I asked about ten days ago to eliminate attack entirely from my cluster of ego-oriented misdeeds, and I have had a placid ten days.  Perhaps I have not been tested yet.  But perhaps also I am seeing my own small miracle.  After all, I live in close proximity with my most significant relationship to a “brother,” and we have lived normally for these ten days.

I would continue my prayer that attack be eliminated for me.  I never get angry unless I am stressed, and I never attack unless I am angry.  I thank You for these understandings.  Help me not to get cocky, for surely then the start of a new record of peaceful interactions will be disrupted.  

Be with me today, as always.  I cannot keep a resolution myself.  I am not strong nor saintly enough.  But You can walk the whole pathway with me, giving me (for me) the supernatural grace to walk as You would have me walk.  And You would not countenance attack, of that I am sure.  Be with me daily as I seek to walk Your way, only Your way.

Amen.

Today God Is My Only Goal

ACIM Workbook Lesson 256 – for Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Affirmation:  “God is the only goal I have today.”

“And so, our Father, would we come to You in Your appointed way.  We have no goal except to hear Your Voice, and find the way Your sacred Word has pointed out to us.  (WB422)”

Reflections:

This affirmation and prayer, in a capsule, are most precisely how I view A Course in Miracles.

We must follow guidance, because we do not have the prescience to know all past, present, and future factors that affect our reality (a paraphrase from the Manual).  When I follow guidance, my day goes well.  When I get off the track, being willful, then my day goes downhill (and fast).  We must be flexible enough, as I have said previously in this blog, to turn on a dime.  We must start the day over again, metaphorically, when we have gotten off track.

This is the only sane way to live.  It gives the blessings which ACIM promises to us.  It is the greatest piece of wisdom, in my estimation, that ACIM offers.

The means of following guidance is through our relationships, especially a particular relationship to a “brother” who, once in our life, stays in it.  There may be more than one of these relationships in a lifetime, but generally they are few (a Manual tenet).

Finding God (who was never lost, but we turned away) is our greatest need.  Until we do this, we flounder, though He has never abandoned us, and He can help even when we think He is hiding from us.

Some of our brothers and sisters go throughout life without a spiritual experience.  I once had a close friend who said, “I didn’t choose not to believe.”  And she was on a constant search.  Finally, just before her death, after counseling, she found the peace that she had sought.

Surely there are many in our circle who are in similar straits.  We would reach out to them to the extent that they are ready.  They probably would not welcome proselytizing.  We would turn them off.  The most we can offer is to live our lives so that our friends who are searching can wonder, and ask, in their own way, for what we have found.  Then we are freed to talk.  What we say will find a receptive audience.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for allowing me to find a sense of being “saved” at an early age.  I did not know then how much would be offered me in this lifetime.  Thank You for the many blessings that knowing You has brought to me.  Forgive me in the moments–past, present, and possibly future–when I turn away.  I know that You have never abandoned me.  It is I who is fallible.

Help me not to judge, not to attack, and not to make plans against contingencies to come.  Jesus has given these three facets of our lives as the danger points.  May I bypass danger today.  And may I know that life can only be lived one day at a time, and tomorrow must I pray the same prayer.

When You are not my sole goal, then let me realize that I am thinking amiss.  When my goal is solely for You, then all lesser desires and loves fall into place easily.  You would not leave me alone, but You do want me to reach inwardly to You above all else.  Then and only then is my welfare assured.  Thank You.

Amen.

This Day I Choose Perfect Peace

ACIM Workbook Lesson 255 – for Monday, September 12, 2011

Affirmation:  “This day I choose to spend in perfect peace.”

“And so, my Father, would I pass this day with You.  Your Son has not forgotten You.  The peace You gave him still is in his mind, and it is there I choose to spend today.  (WB422)”

Reflections:

Let us follow the affirmation and prayer for today.  Let us spend this day with God in perfect peace.

What would that mean for this day?  It would mean, first of all, a moment-by-moment attention to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  This does not mean that we have to ask what to do at every juncture, because in the Manual Jesus says that this would not be practical, and it is the practical with which we are most concerned.  But we start the day aright, and we end it aright–in communion with God.  When we have asked for guidance as the day begins, we can only recognize that it will be given (a Manual tenet).

Second, it means that we will stay in the peace of God, regardless (and this is a big consideration) of how hectic or stressed the day becomes.  If we get off track, Jesus says that we can always begin the day again (a Text tenet), but there are obvious advantages in saving time by staying on the pathway throughout the day (also a Text tenet).

Third, we forgive ourselves, as well as our brothers and sisters, when we have slipped into egoic thinking.  Unless Awakening is a constant state, the ego has not fully withered away, and we will have mishaps in our thinking, which will lead to mishaps in the larger world.

These three considerations are my own interpretation, and they are not stated precisely like this in ACIM.  But in my own life, these three considerations work for me as I seek to live my holy relationships, as well as turn as many others from special to holy as possible.  Our primary relationship to a “brother” is the main guidance that A Course in Miracles presents.  That relationship is our way home.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Today I would ask You for guidance, through the Holy Spirit; for freedom from a too-intense day filled with potential stress; and the will to forgive my brothers and sisters when they (or I) have failed in some way to fulfill the function expected of me.  May I not have expectations of a particular end toward which I wish others to reach me.  May I walk in peace with them and with myself.  May I walk home today.

I would have perfect peace, and this starts with beginning the day with a good mind slant.  May I listen to the guidance that I have asked to receive, and may my day be filled with all good–for others as well as myself.  Be with me today, as always I ask this.

If the day turns stressed, may I realize that I have it in my power to relieve this stress by turning inward, quieting myself in Your presence, and asking for the next right thought or action to take.  May I turn aside stress by the silence in which I will find You.  Thank You for the assurance that I have felt that all is well in a world which You oversee, even though all of us have free will, and sometimes we do foolish and mistaken things.

Amen.

In Deepest Silence I Come to You

ACIM Workbook Lesson 254 – for Sunday, September 11, 2011

Affirmation:  “Let every voice but God’s be still in me.”

“Father, today I would but hear Your Voice.  In deepest silence I would come to You, to hear Your Voice and to receive Your Word.  I have no prayer but this:  I come to You to ask You for the truth.  And truth is but Your Will, which I would share with You today.  

“Today we let no ego thoughts direct our words or actions.  When such thoughts occur, we quietly step back and look at them, and then we let them go.  We do not want what they would bring with them.  And so we do not choose to keep them.  (WB421)”

Reflections:

In silence we hear the Holy Spirit speak.  This is also how we best commune with God.  Words are steps removed from reality, for they are only symbols (a Text tenet).  When we are silent, we are in a form of meditation, though A Course in Miracles does not ever use this term.  Indeed, Jesus describes contemplation as “tedious,” and says that our way is in our relationships (moving from special to holy).  But prayer and communion are always welcomed.  And much of this Part II of the Workbook is prayer to God.  We are, once again, communicating with Him.  He knew when His children did not communicate, that the channels were closed, and He thought that we were asleep and needed to be awakened.  This is what Jesus is trying to do in A Course in Miracles, to awaken us.

Once again, today, we are encouraged to drop the egoic thoughts from our holy minds.  We would not have those things that egoic thinking would bring to us.  And be forewarned that what we think about does often come about.  This is the understanding given in The Secret, and while we are no longer seeking the material world, the ego is wily and will lead us into spiritual pride.  We do not want this, and we need to ask the Holy Spirit to protect us from this mistake.

The “truth” that the passage for today discusses is a difficult concept, because in our lives, the truth sometimes seems to be different for different people.  Certainly we are told that our personalities differ (a Manual tenet).  But there are universal truths, and those are the ones we would seek today.  We would not stay mired in mistakes and mishaps.  We need to ask that our steps on the pathway be steady and stable, and that we awaken gladly and without fear.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I rest in silence today.  On this deep day of mourning in the United States, may we realize that our tragedies can, ultimately, not only make us stronger but also make us better.  May we learn from the past the lessons that we need to learn, and may we forgive those whom we ought to forgive.

Be with me today as I seek to live in this troubled world.  May we see the good and not let egoic anger take us over.  May we live with minds that are ever-closer to Awakening in the knowledge of You.

Amen.

It Is I Who Rule My Destiny

ACIM Workbook Lesson 253 – for Saturday, September 10, 2011

Affirmation:  “My Self is ruler of the universe.”

“It is impossible that anything should come to me unbidden by myself.  Even in this world, it is I who rule my destiny.  What happens is what I desire.  What does not occur is what I do not want to happen.

“You are the Self Whom You created Son, creating like Yourself and one with You.  My Self, Which rules the universe, is but Your Will in perfect union with my own, which can but offer glad assent to Yours, that it may be extended to Itself.  (WB421)”

Reflections:

We do not often realize that we indeed do create our own reality.  I first read of this in the books channeling Seth by Jane Roberts, an early psychic writer.  And now A Course in Miracles has the same concept.  This concept is also made clear in the opening pages of the Text.  Here we see it elaborated in Workbook Lesson 253, which is well along in our year of following Jesus’s plan for our learning.  We do enjoy communion with God in these Part II lessons, and Jesus encourages us to remember that it is ourselves who are creating the reality that we know.

We “made” the reality of the ego; we “create” the reality of the real world (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  The real world is the one of intangibles, as we have noted previously in this blog–the love, the joy, the peace of God.  And then He reaches down and lifts us up, when He knows that we are ready, for the boon of Awakening.  Before Awakening becomes a constant state, we may know glimpses by revelation.  As Jesus says, revelation may occasionally reveal the end to us, but to get there the means are needed.  And the means are being carefully explained to us in ACIM (paraphrases from the Text).

May we know that our will and that Will of the Holy Spirit are actually identical.  He chooses for us when we are too confused to make that choice ourselves.  This eliminates any sense that we are puppets in this world of a God who would will for us something that we would not.  We need to put aside the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) sense of Jonah being pursued by an angry God.  God is not angry.  He just could not allow our miscreations to consume our whole world.  He set the limits on how far we could stray.  Eventually we would have to realize that there was a better way.  Pain does have limits, and pain is brought about from an imprisoned will.  (These are paraphrases from ACIM.)  The Holy Spirit will set us free from all such foolishness.

We are one with God, and when we realize this, we will understand the truth that the Holy Spirit wills for us exactly what we too will, when we are, however momentarily, in our right minds.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be in my right mind today, the mind that You created, not the mind that I made, the one ruled by egoic thinking.  I would be ruled by love only.  If I am tempted today to walk my own path, not asking for and therefore receiving, the Holy Spirit’s guidance, do pull me up short.  I would rule my destiny as You would indicate.  My real will is the same as Yours for me.  Help me always to remember this important truth.

May my temperament today be calm and tranquil.  May nothing upset me, for upsets are normally of the ego.  I would give love to others.  I would not lead anyone astray consciously.  Guide my whole mind to follow the Will that is Yours.

Amen.

May Heaven Be Restored to Us

ACIM Workbook Lesson 252 – for Friday, September 9, 2011

Affirmation:  “The Son of God is my Identity.”

“My Self is holy beyond all the thoughts of holiness of which I now conceive. . . .Its strength comes not from burning impulses which move the world, but from the boundless Love of God Himself.

“Father, You know my true Identity.  Reveal It now to me who am Your Son, that I may waken to the truth in You, and know that Heaven is restored to me.  (WB420)”

Reflections:

We would have Heaven restored to us, and the sense in which the prayer for today encourages this, is the sense that Heaven can begin while we are still in this world.  We can indeed know “Heaven on earth,” though this may not be a constant state.  We will return to “lowly paths of learning” (an ACIM quotation), but we have been to the heights.  A Course of Love carries this understanding a step farther.  We are led to a mountaintop experience, and we are told that we are not meant to take this climb repeatedly.  Some of us, I would intuit, are never satisfied when we are not yet perfect.  Jesus says in A Course in Miracles that he stands at the end, to correct the mistakes that we ourselves could not correct.  A Course of Love makes plain that he is our equal (by this time), and that our learning time is over.  A Course in Miracles, as the first set of books, does not go this far.  (A Course of Love is seen by some as a sequel, channeled by Jesus to Mari Perron, to help us farther along the pathway.)

Our holy Self is not something that we can understand fully.  We do not know the Self because we are too caught up in the little self that thrives and also despairs in this world.  But we would move to knowledge (not perception) of this Self by communion with God in these Workbook lessons.  We are coming closer to God’s Way.  We will soon be out of the woods of the ego’s wily ways.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to respond to You and to others in this world with love and understanding of where all of us are coming from.  May we listen to You through Your Universal Inspiration, the Holy Spirit.  May we live today the compassion for others that you would have us exhibit.

I would do nothing today that I would regret later on.  Help me to see evermore frequent glimpses of the Heaven on earth that You intend for us.

Amen.

Overcome Despair

ACIM Workbook Lesson 251 – for Thursday, September 8, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am in need of nothing but the truth.”

“I sought for many things, and found despair.  Now do I seek but one, for in that one is all I need, and only what I need.

“And for that peace, our Father, we give thanks.  What we denied ourselves You have restored, and only that is what we really want.  (WB420)”

Reflections:

1 – Do Not Seek for the Things of the Ego

When we seek for the “many things” meant in this passage, we are seeking for the things of this world, the things of the ego.  And we will always find despair at the end of the pathway, for the ego is constantly being undone.  It has been said that there is no such thing as a “superiority complex,” that all such manifestations actually mean that one has an “inferiority complex.”  I think of this psychological state most in regard to particularly egotistical longings.  We are not meant to inflate ourselves with our ego; we are acting out of a sense of inferiority, and we will always know despair when we do not see ourselves as children of God.

2 – The Peace of God

The One that we seek now is God.  He knows that we are all equals, and therefore there is no basis to believe that we are either superior or inferior to others.  Jesus does say that temporarily some of us know more than others, but this is simply a function of our being in time, and time does not really exist (paraphrases from the Text).  As we look to Jesus as our elder brother, others who feel led will come to us to learn what we have already assimilated.  We are each given individuals who will seek us out as soon as we have answered the call (a Manual tenet).  There are individuals intended for each of us (also a Manual tenet).  It is impossible that we not be in the right place at the right time.  Because we cannot encounter everyone, we have a chosen number to whom we give our learning.  And they, when they are ready, will appear in our lives; they have waited for our answer to the call (a Manual tenet).

3 – Share with Others

When we have found the peace of God, even when it is not a constant state, we will want to share what we have experienced.  But we must be careful not to be overbearing.  Not everyone is yet ready.  Jesus says at one point in ACIM that some are ready for only a smile.  The relationships that we develop in this world are fleeting, sometimes.  Others come and go in our lives, for moments of learning that do not remain constant.  A select few we encounter are constant in our lives for the rest of our time on earth; once met, we never part.  These select few are few in number, and we may not recognize that the perfect lesson is embedded in our relationship to them.  But the lesson, once learned, will enhance our potential to be helpful to others.  Frequently, it is said, we do not recognize the perfect balance of these select few to ourselves, the perfect lesson that they embody.  But, if recognized, we will grow in knowledge.  (These are all paraphrases from the Manual.)

4 – From Special to Holy Relationships

We are learning here through “our” way, which is the way of learning to move from our special relationships transformed into holy relationships.

5 – Peace of God

When we do so, we know the peace of God increasingly at points of time in our lives.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not stoop to despair today.  If I do, regardless of how difficult my circumstances might be or might become, then I am not staying close to You.  I would find the love in everyday life, the tiny things that people do that show that we are meant to live well.  If we are struggling, we will turn to You, and in so doing we will find a peace in the midst of circumstances that may be tough.  We are not immune to the problems of the world, regardless of how strong our faith may be.  But we will create a better reality, even in this world, when we turn to You for the guidance that is ours for the asking.

Be with me today, as You are always.  Thank you for guiding me gently throughout my life, and especially during this time when many of us live in a world that is filled with troubles.

Amen.

Walking in the Real World with My Brother

ACIM Workbook Lesson 250 – for Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Affirmation:  “Let me not see myself as limited.”

“He is Your Son, my Father.  And today I would behold his gentleness instead of my illusions.  He is what I am, and as I see him so I see myself.  Today I would see truly, that this day I may at last identify with him.  (WB418)”

Reflections:

This prayer is another example of the idea that we are all One, including being One with God.  Perhaps we are forgiving of another to the extent that we identify with him or her (not stated explicitly in ACIM).  Certainly identifying with another is a sure way to invite intimacy, a term used often by Mari Perron, who scribed A Course of Love and authored The Given Self.  We need the intimacy that Mari extols, because otherwise our sense of separation from each other in this world, and perhaps our perceived separation from God only is accentuated.  As we have noted previously, we have not separated from God; we have simply made illusions and lived in an illusory world.  We would return home to the real world as soon as our learning can take us there.  (And A Course in Miracles is very helpful to returning us to the real world.)

The real world is not defined precisely in ACIM.  We are told that our stay in that “place” will be of short duration, that shortly after we perceive the real world, God will act to awaken us.  We will then not be identified with God (unless we are not drawn to stay on earth any longer), but we will recognize ourselves as His Sons and Daughters.  We will embody the Self that we have been meant to be all along, before a “tiny, mad idea” came along about which we “failed to laugh” (the quotations are from ACIM).  When the tiny, mad idea came along, we thought that we wanted to have a will different from God’s, and, while we could not actually separate from Him, we could imagine that we had.  That was the beginning of our insanity.  ACIM does not state precisely when in our history this occurred, but does used the symbolic Adam to illustrate.  This first man fell into a deep sleep, and ACIM notes that nowhere in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) is it said that he awoke.  There has been no comprehensive Awakening in all the eons since, but we may be on the brink of a breakthrough.

Eckhart Tolle, an enlightened teacher (The Power of Now and A New Earth), sees himself as at the epicenter of a new Awakening.  Those who sense that enlightenment (another term for Awakening) is upon them frequently contact Eckhart for counsel.  He is arguably the most visible example of an Awakened individual in our midst, at least in that he talks openly and writes often about how we too might have what he has.  He quotes from A Course in Miracles, but his pathway to Awakening was one of pain rather learning through rewards (as ACIM counsels).  Jesus tells us in ACIM that pain can bring only a temporary effect, and that the lasting comes through rewards.  But Jesus also recognizes that pain is part of the human condition, as he says that the threshold for pain may be high, but that sooner or later all will recognize that there is a better way.  (These are paraphrases from the Text.)

One of the inheritances of the Son or Daughter of God is trust.  It is the one trait on which all the rest are built (an idea from the Manual).  We need to trust our God to join us a we seek to leave illusions behind and to experience the real world, with Awakening promised soon to follow.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would notice only the gentleness that is in the Self that my brother has, the inner Self that is as You created him.  And I would see this gentleness in the real world, which I hope that he and I will share sooner rather than later.  Help us to be good to each other in our holy relationship.  May my most significant other love me as I love him.  May we be there for each other, both under Your loving gaze at all times.

I would find You inwardly.  Please help me to understand this fully, and to project the best of You that I can reach within.  When I project the best, my perception is cleansed, and then my brother and I walk into the sunlight always.  Thank You for the many blessings that are ours today.

Amen.

A SPIRITUAL SOLUTION TO EXCESS WEIGHT: A Review of Marianne Williamson’s “A Course in Weight Loss”

Reviewed by Celia Hales.  Published in September/October 2011 issue of Miracles (publisher Jon Mundy).  To order, visit Marianne’s web site at http://www.marianne.com and click on “Books and Audio.”  Also available in bookstores internationally.

Title:  A Course in Weight Loss
Subtitle:  21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever
Author:  Marianne Williamson
Publisher:  Hay House, Inc.

Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss is a magnificent contribution to the wrenching problem of being overweight in our society.  I see this book primarily as a loving instigator of a miraculous solution for the many who suffer from excessive eating and/or food addiction.  Weight Loss is affectionately dedicated to Oprah (Winfrey), who inspired it as a personal friend of Marianne’s and someone who herself has often spoken of problems with weight.  Marianne writes in the dedication of the book to Oprah, “To any reader who might feel that this book is a gift, please know that it was a gift from her.”

It is Marianne who writes of the solution, though, and her ideas are phenomenal.  We will appreciate that they are frequently, though far from exclusively, based on A Course in Miracles.  There is a solution to the never-ending cycle of overeating and dieting, Marianne says, and it is a spiritual solution.  She notes that if anything other than a spiritual solution had worked, those with a weight problem would be cured already.  She goes on to say that the problem originates in the mind, and this is what she calls the “fear-mind.”  (Here we see Marianne’s indebtedness to A Course in Miracles, though she uses a slightly different term.)  We need to turn to Divine Mind (again, a variation on terms from ACIM) for healing.  Nothing less than a full surrender to Love, or God, will solve the problem.

But we pray for a miracle, and Marianne herself has known one, and so she knows whereof she speaks.  Years ago she had a food problem, in that she would eat excessively and then starve herself to regain her slender frame.  Once she began working intensively with A Course in Miracles, and healed some of the neurosis that was causing her problems, she looked down at her body one day, and surprisingly, noticed that it was slim–and had become so without her starving herself.  She had not asked for a miracle, because she had not recognized that this was an area which she should surrender.  But God answered her.  And she says that He can do the same for any of us.  Indeed, none will know a permanent solution to weight loss until one does experience that miracle that only God can give.

We do prepare ourselves for a miracle, though, and Marianne’s book details a comprehensive program for a way to view ourselves differently, and thus invite the miracle for which we ask.  She includes exercises (especially writing letters to and from one’s “not-thin” and thin selves); rituals  (such as a ceremonial oil treatment for the body that will promote a love, rather than hate, for one’s body, and the buying of a single piece of fruit, a healthy food choice); ceremonies (in which we invite friends–an “inspirer” and a “permitter”–to help us along the journey); new cues in the environment (such as a home altar and a special table setting that, along with the other items that are meaningful to our journey toward weight loss, go on the altar, until these items are ready for use).

Marianne never tells us how rapidly to go through the 21 lessons.  Perhaps she realizes that the one driven to find a solution will read through the whole very quickly.  But then those with a weight problem will return to study the solution that she recommends.

She explains repeatedly that the mind is what must be healed, before the body will respond.  We are trying to find solutions to our distress in food, and food is not a good place to go.  The self-loathing of the compulsive overeater is described throughout this book; it is the body to which these emotions are attached, but the body is not the real culprit.  The body is only the place where these unprocessed emotions have been played out.  These unprocessed emotions are from a past that has had its share of pain, whether in traumatic events (such as rape or sexual abuse), or the word of our culture that the blossoming body of the adolescent girl is no longer appreciated by some with whom the girl has been most closely associated, such as her father (who is not accustomed to dealing with his little girl as a woman).  We should not underestimate the power of these emotions in dealing with weight gain.  We “hide out” in a big body to escape the pain of living in a thin one; we are afraid of being thin.  Marianne says that the fear of being thin is actually what keeps the compulsive overeating in place.

She stresses the importance of healthy food choices, recognizing that many with a food problem, paradoxically, do not appreciate food enough, but too little.  We are eating for comfort, to quiet the demons inside, but we are not truly tasting what we eat.  She counsels easing into healthy choices, giving an example of her love affair with grapes, which satisfied her longing for sugar gradually, as she also sometimes ate cake.  She emphasizes, in a comforting way and the way of one who knows whereof she speaks, that our best days with food are ahead of, not behind us.

A Course in Weight Loss is carefully written.  One can tell that much time and energy went into its compilation.  This is not an intuitive book; this is one that has been reasoned out for the maximal effect upon its desperate readers.  And those with a weight problem will not come away disappointed.  There are many who read everything that Marianne writes.  She is, in fact, often described as the one whose name is most recognized as a student/teacher of A Course in Miracles.  Marianne, once again, has come through in this book with an illuminating contribution to her canon and to her large audience of returning readers.

The book is both inspired and inspiring.  Weight Loss is first recommended to those with weight issues, but is also recommended to others who love Marianne and/or want to read some very practical applications of A Course in Miracles to the problems in our lives (regardless of how much we might weigh).  My secondary recommendation to everyone is not the intent of Marianne, though.  Her words of wisdom never leave the central thrust of helping those who have obsessive, compulsive eating habits.  In reading between the lines, though, we find gems that can help us all.

We can be sure that A Course in Weight Loss will be, and, indeed, has already been,  received enthusiastically and gratefully by individuals in our society with both weight issues and other urgent needs.

The End of Suffering and Loss = Forgiveness

ACIM Workbook Lesson 249 – for Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Affirmation:  “Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss.”

“Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible and anger makes no sense.  Attack is gone, and madness has an end.  What suffering is now conceivable?  What loss can be sustained?  The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving.  It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects.  And so the journey which the Son of God began has ended in the light from which he came.

“Father, we would return our minds to You.  We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death.  Now would we rest again in You, as You created us.  (WB418)”

Reflections:

The passage for today paints a lovely, indeed a glorious, picture of what life on earth is meant to be.  It is a picture of Heaven on earth.  And all that we need to do is forgive ourselves, and our brothers and sisters, and, of course, Jesus himself (our “elder brother,” according to the Text, because he has walked the whole pathway and can show us the way).  What joy it is to know that even the need for forgiveness is an illusion, but a necessary one that takes us out of the mad world in which we have resided.  It is an illusion that leads to no more illusions.  In this world, indeed, we do need to forgive, as much for ourselves as for anybody else.  And then we will be healed.

The picture that is painted is akin to the “happy dreams that the Holy Spirit gives.”  We need these happy dreams so that we will not be afraid of Awakening.  If we were completely lost in madness, and the light were turned on prematurely, we would be frightened.  The Text compares what would be our fright to a light turned on while someone is dreaming in sleep.  When the person recognizes that the dream is over, he is not afraid of the light.  We need not be afraid of the light of Awakening.

Awakening is not a goal to be sought.  If so, it becomes one more goal that takes on egoistic implications.  We need to let the ego wither away, doing nothing to enhance the tarnished goals of this world.  God will quietly show us Awakening when He deems that we are ready.  If the way seems long, we are on the pathway, and we know the conclusion.  The conclusion is sure.  (These are paraphrases from the Text.)  We will be at home in God.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I will be alright today if I remember that forgiveness solves all my problems.  At any time in my life that I would sense loss or suffering, I need only ask wherein have I failed to forgive?  When the answer comes, then I am to act to remedy my mistake, and then all will be well again.  May I count on You to help me, because I am so often frail and weak, and I so often forget the simple truths that You would point out in A Course in Miracles.

I would put suffering and loss behind me.  I sometimes wonder if this is too good to be true, but then I look at my life now and compare it to the life before I studied ACIM.  There really is no comparison.  And the times that I have forgotten its tenets, then I have found myself falling on my face.  May I not fall on my face anymore, beginning today.

Thank You for Your felt presence in my life.  And thank You for the presence of Jesus, who promised to hold our hand as we walk through this world.

Amen.

Pain and Suffering Are Illusory

ACIM Workbook Lesson 248 – for Monday, September 5, 2011

Affirmation:  “Whatever suffers is not part of me.”

“I have disowned the truth.  Now let me be as faithful in disowning falsity.  Whatever suffers is not part of me.  What grieves is not myself.  What is in pain is but illusion in my mind.

“Father, my ancient love for You returns, and lets me love Your Son again as well.  Father, I am as You created me.  Now is Your Love remembered, and my own.  Now do I understand that they are one.  (WB417)”

Reflections:

Pain is illusion.  I have often said this in this blog.  Here we find the quotation that identifies this truth.  We would leave suffering, grieving, and pain behind.  We would walk into the sunlight with Christ.

When we become intimately aware that God loves us, we are led to love the Son/Daughter that we are as well.  This Son/Daughter is the Self that has risen above the ego.  The ego, having dissolved, leaves the true Self behind.  Then we respond to circumstances with love, where previously we were prone to offer attack in return for attack.  Or anger in return for anger.  Attack and anger are never justified (a Text tenet).  And we realize this when we practice the forgiveness that God is gently leading us to experience and to offer freely, without a trace of resentment or other negative emotion, to our brothers and sisters–regardless of what we have perceived, in illusion, that they have said to us or that they have done to us.

God’s love and our love are identical.  But we would never have believed this earlier in the Workbook.  We have come a long way along the pathway home.  We are preparing for Awakening, which is an ineffable state of Oneness that knows by revelation the truth of God’s love.  When we awaken, if we have followed ACIM, it is a gentle process.  We are not thrown headlong into Awakening, which would cause us great terror, but are led to welcome the experience.  (These are all paraphrases from the Text.)  Our love for the Father is ancient, and we are retracing steps that we have taken before.  (This is part of the theological understanding of ACIM, an understanding that is not immediately easy to accept or even to comprehend dimly.)

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

When I feel pain, let me realize today that I am living in an illusory world.  When I “suffer,” may I realize the same.  You are with me to help me to rise above these everyday occurrences for the vast majority of people in our world.  Many who have the least are, somehow, protected from feeling the ravages of a difficult world.  Faith in You will do this for me.  May I have such faith today.  And when my faith fails me, may I remember again that this world is illusion, that my Self has not been hurt or harmed in any way.

I am as You created me.  I have made mistakes, and some of those mistakes lead inexorably to pain and suffering.  I would follow Your Guide today, so that I eliminate the cause of much pain and suffering, even in this world.  Be with me as I try to turn on a dime today, when the Universal Inspiration, the Holy Spirit, prompts me to change directions.  May all of my decisions be in accord with what You would have me say and do.

Thank You for always being here for me.

Amen.

I Forgive Mistakes – Not “Sins”

ACIM Workbook Lesson 247 – for Sunday, September 4, 2011

Affirmation:  “Without forgiveness I will still be blind.”

“Sin is the symbol of attack.  Behold it anywhere, and I will suffer.  For forgiveness is the only means whereby Christ’s vision comes to me.  Let me accept what His sight shows me as the simple truth, and I am healed completely.

”So would I look on everyone today.  My brothers are Your Sons.  Your Fatherhood created them, and gave them all to me as part of You, and my own Self as well.  Today I honor You through them, and thus I hope this day to recognize my Self.  (WB417)”

Reflections:

1 – Mistakes–Not “Sins”

We must realize that our brothers and sisters make only mistakes; they do not “sin.”  And with mistake, we are prone to forgive more readily.  Contrariwise, we are not so quick to forgive what we see as sin.  In the case of misdeeds called sin, we would sometimes magnanimously grant forgiveness, but at the cost of feeling superior to our brother/sister.  And this is an unacceptable cost, because we are equals.  We are separate only in the degree of understanding that we may have at any given moment.  Eventually all will come back home to God, with those in our circle helped by us.

2 – We Suffer when We Withhold Forgiveness

We also suffer, as the passage says, when we behold sin and withhold forgiveness.  At base we withhold our own forgiveness of ourselves, completely comparable to the degree that we withhold forgiveness from our brother/sister.  We are One.  That simple truth cuts through a lot of the seeming complexity of A Course in Miracles.

3 – Out Self Includes Others

Our brothers and sisters are part of our Self.  This is a truth that is not often discussed  in ACIM and is easy to overlook, but this passage (above) makes it clear.  This Self is the Christ Self that we all share, the Christ Self that Jesus came to embody (an interpretation, not stated precisely in ACIM).  When we honor our brothers and sisters, we come closer to recognizing our Self.  And this leads inexorably toward Awakening.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

It is so reassuring to know that I must forgive mistakes, but that “sins” are simply illusory; they did not really happen as I sometimes think.  I do not want to be attracted to my own misdeeds, and so help me to remember to label them “mistakes,” and there will not be the attracting feature that forbidden “sin” seems to hold out to all of us.

May I be quick to forgive today and everyday.  Your Word is true, and forgiveness is the overarching principle of A Course in Miracles.  Jesus knows what he is talking about, and I have explicit faith in him.  Thank You for the inspiration that led him in the writing of ACIM.

Amen.

The ACIM Way to God

ACIM Workbook Lesson 246 – for Saturday, September 3, 2011

Affirmation:  “To love my Father is to love His Son.”

“I will accept the way You choose for me to come to You, my Father.  For in that will I succeed, because it is Your Will.  And I would recognize that what You will is what I will as well, and only that.  And so I choose to love Your Son.  Amen.  (WB416)”

Reflections:

This prayer comes to the heart of A Course in Miracles.  The way that is intended for us to come to salvation is through our relationship to our brother (or sister).   This way is different from contemplation (which is described as tedious, and a way meant for others).  Why try a different way, since there is one that has been chosen for us?  (These are all paraphrases from the Text.)

I do believe that this means that some contemplation (and perhaps also meditation) is not inappropriate for us.  This is an interpretation, based on the fact that the last few months of the Workbook are composed of fairly brief reflections, and we are encouraged to go deep within ourselves when we read and reflect on the lesson for the day.  When we drop deep within ourselves, we touch God.  And this is a result of traditional contemplation and meditation.

But our primary way home is the relationship that we share with our brother/sister.  When we come to love intimately the one who is closest to us, we overlook entirely his/her anger and attack by recognizing that such insanity is actually a call for help and/or love.  We choose to overlook this madness, rather than to dwell on it and thus to make it real to ourselves, and therefore much more difficult to forgive.  And forgiveness is our function (along with salvation and happiness, two additional “functions” that are mentioned in ACIM).  When we draw near to our brother/sister, we come as close to Heaven in a holy relationship as we can.  Our special relationship has not been snatched from us (a paraphrase from ACIM), but it has been transformed into a holy relationship.  And, with this miracle, our way to Awakening is opened, to be decided when God Himself feels that we are ready.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I reflect deeply, going within deeply, as I reflect on today’s lesson.  And may I choose to find You, to find the salvation that You hold out to me, the way that Jesus has set forth in A Course in Miracles–through my relationship to my most significant other, my brother/sister.  This special relationship-turned-holy is the touchstone to understanding the path to salvation set forth in ACIM.  May I not forget today that when my brother withdraws from me, or even attacks me in anger, that he is actually asking for love.  May I remember that all that happens is either an expression of love or a call for love; there are no exceptions to this rule.

Be with me today as I deal with the sometimes difficult brothers and sisters in my world.  Help me to look on the bright side of life, not to take life too seriously, to add humor.  We need each other in this world.  Our moments of solitude with You prepare us to embark once again on forays into the world and into interactions with others.  May my times with You today prepare me to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as I interact with all of my brothers and sisters.

Amen.

God’s Peace Is with Me

ACIM Workbook Lesson 245 – for Friday, September 2, 2011

Affirmation:  “Your peace is with me, Father.  I am safe.”  

“Your peace surrounds me, Father.  Where I go, Your peace goes there with me.  It sheds its light on everyone I meet.  I bring it to the desolate and lonely and afraid.  I give Your peace to those who suffer pain, or grieve for loss, or think they are bereft of hope and happiness.  Send them to me, my Father.  Let me bring Your peace with me.  For I would save Your Son, as is Your Will, that I may come to recognize my Self.

“And so we go in peace.  To all the world we give the message that we have received.  And thus we come to hear the Voice for God, Who speaks to us as we relate His Word; Whose Love we recognize because we share the Word that He has given unto us.  (WB416)”

Reflections:

This are prayerful comments from Jesus.  We are reminded that our duty is to save our brothers and sisters, but to do that (we learn from other part of ACIM), we must first be healers.  We must be healed ourselves; we cannot be “unhealed healers,” or we will not be effective in our chosen vocation (i.e., being healers).

How do we become healed ourselves?  We study, we learn, and we commune with God.  We do not feel that it is all up to us.  We have the guidance of the Holy Spirit always.  If we are not flexible enough to turn on a dime, we will miss many opportunities to do His Will, and that will be a pity.  The Holy Spirit is our Communicator with God (a tenet of the Text), and we would do well to ask for more and more guidance.  We are not bereft of comfort ourselves.  We are never alone.

We listen with our heart, not just our mind (a tenet of A Course of Love, which some view as a sequel to ACIM, a sequel channeled by Jesus).  We must not lose ourselves in trying to do good, because choosing which miracles we will perform is a sure way to take the wrong turn.  The miracles we choose ourselves will be misguided (a Text tenet).

Listen to the words of Jesus in ACIM, listen to the intuitive guidance of the Holy Spirit, and thereby be guided into which miracles to perform.  We will be answered every time we ask.  As many in churches have proclaimed, we are the hands and feet of Jesus in this world.  He needs our cooperation to bring everyone to the recognition that he/she is One with God.  The return may take millions of years, just as the separation was over millions of years (a Text statement).  But the end if certain (also a Text statement).  We will all find our way home.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would extend Your peace to all that cross my path today.  I thank You that life has calmed down, for the moment, and I am reach outward more without preoccupations with my own personal self.  Help me to find the way to the Self that You love.  I would be all that You would wish for my brothers and sisters, and myself.

Thank You for the ease of this day.  I thank You for struggle is alien to Your Will, and that when we struggle, it is likely that we are being influenced by an ego that has not withered away.  I would be a healed healer, as Jesus asks.  Help me to know how to respond to those in need.  Be with  me as I seek to an instrument of Your peace.  When I fail, please restore my good humor, and help me to try again.

Amen.

How to Be Safe

ACIM Workbook Lesson 244 – for Thursday, September 1, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am in danger nowhere in the world.”

“Your Son is safe wherever he may be, for You are there with him.  He need but call upon Your Name, and he will recollect his safety and Your Love, for they are one.  How can he fear or doubt or fail to know he cannot suffer, be endangered, or experience unhappiness, when he belongs to You, beloved and loving in the safety of Your Fatherly embrace?

“And there we are in truth.  No storms can come into the hallowed haven of our home.  In God we are secure.  For what can come to threaten God Himself, or make afraid what will forever be a part of Him?  (WB415)”

Reflections:

We are a part of God.  And many others have explained a metaphor of God and His universe as a hologram.  We find God within, and we project the world of illusions without, making it clear, from a theoretical point of view, that we are in control of our destiny.  ACIM also makes this point in slightly different context, assuring us that we are in control, in the center of things, and that we cannot blame another for our plight.

The prayer above is an example of a level of understanding A Course in Miracles for which all individuals are not ready.  It takes great learning to realize that our suffering is all illusion, as is our unhappiness.  We seem to live in a very real world, though we are told that most of us inhabit an illusion of a world.  We find the real world when we come closer to union with God (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  Until we know salvation more intimately, we must see these words in the prayer as a goal toward which we reach.  We must not fall into dismay if we are not ready.  ACIM says this, in slightly different words.  If we fight the words of ACIM, we are not ready (a Text tenet).  We are told in the Text not to “fight” ourselves.

The embrace of God (in this passage, above) is akin to the embrace of Jesus in A Course of Love, which some view as a sequel to ACIM.  Both are comforting in the extreme.  We are not meant to wallow in our misery, but to ask for help, and to know, ahead of time, that that help will be forthcoming.  We may experience pain, but we do not have to experience suffering.  Learning through pain is temporary, Jesus tells us, and only learning through rewards is lasting.  Let us ask for the way to learn through rewards today.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be safe today.  I would think of Jesus often, for he gives no indication in the New Testament that he was ever afraid, despite the horrendous end to his earthly life.  Help me to recall Jesus’s example, and to feel and to act on my own safety.

May I reach inwardly to You frequently today.  Doing so allows me to feel Your presence, and is there a better way to spend a day?  Help me to spend today wisely, with calm, serenity, peace, and tranquility.

Amen.

I Will Judge Nothing

ACIM Workbook Lesson 243 – for Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Affirmation:  “Today I will judge nothing that occurs.”

“I will be honest with myself today.  I will not think that I already know what must remain beyond my present grasp.  I will not think I understand the whole from bits of my perception, which are all that I can see.  (WB415)”

Reflections:

If we do not have “present grasp,” then how do we know anything?  We do not know from our perception, for perception is projected from within and is illusory.  We can “know” when we have invited the Holy Spirit to show us the real world.  This real world will arise before our eyes, and it is composed of joy, truth, beauty, happiness, peace, and the like (an interpretation, not stated directly in ACIM).

Perception and knowledge are quite different.  And it is knowledge that we seek.  May we turn to guidance of the Holy Spirit for that knowledge.  And let us not be misled by egoistic thinking that parades as guidance.  We need to test the indications that we receive to be sure that they pass the test of love.  Do nothing that fails this test, for it is not of God (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).

We are not to be the judge of what may happen.  We are to leave this judgment to the Holy Spirit, Who alone can see the whole picture.  We do not know all from the past, the present, or the future.  And we have been wrong many times, when we thought that we were right.  Would we use such faulty reasoning as our own judgment to make decisions?  No, we would not.  (These are all paraphrases from the Manual.)  Turn all decisions over to the Holy Spirit, and we will walk in peace.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I judge nothing today.  May I recognize that there is One who knows all the circumstances–past, present, and future–and it is only He Who therefore can judge wisely.  This is Your Communicator, the Holy Spirit.  May I not fall into judgment, for to do so is surely to invite the ego into my doings.

Be with me today as I seek to lead a good life amid individuals I love, some of whom have reason not to forgive me for the mistakes that I have made.  May I be patient, knowing that You will right my errors, and also bring my loved ones into an acceptance of me as a person who tries, but sometimes fails.

Amen.

I Am Not Alone

ACIM Workbook Lesson 242 – for Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Affirmation:  “This day is God’s.  It is my gift to Him.”

“I will not lead my life alone today.  I do not understand the world, and so to try to lead my life alone must be but foolishness.  But there is One Who knows all that is best for me.  And He is glad to make no choices for me but the ones that lead to God.

“And so we give today to You.  We come with wholly open minds.  We do not ask for anything that we may think we want.  Give us what You would have received by us.  You know all our desires and our wants.  And You will give us everything we need in helping us to find the way to You.  (WB414)”

Reflections:

The point for all of us is to return to God, knowing that we are One with Him.  As A Course in Miracles makes clear, we did not in actuality separate from God at all; this was part of the illusion in which we live.  But of course we live that illusion, and so, until we have awakened, we think that we are separate.  And we suffer from feeling apart from God.  It is unnatural, as ACIM makes clear, not to communicate with our Creator.  He knows that our channels to Him are closed, and He would awaken those who sleep.  (These are paraphrases from ACIM.)  We would awaken also, if we knew that it were possible.  And it is possible.  We do not know the time nor place, because God Himself reaches down (metaphorically) and lifts us up to Himself.  He makes that decision of timing; we do not.  All of the thrashing about that we might do to bring the time of Awakening in for naught.  The best that we can do is to learn the means, and ACIM gives us those means.  We learn in ACIM that moments of revelation may reveal the end to us, but to get there the means are needed.  And Jesus is carefully explaining the means.

If we would be home in God, we need to commune with Him–and “communing” means prayer.  This is explained in the 50 opening principles of miracles in the Text.  We are communicating with God when we are communing or praying.  Then He knows that we are with Him.  We can imagine that this makes the God within very happy.  Certainly we can know from experience that this communicating with God makes us very happy.  And we are meant to be joyous.  We are not meant to carry solemn faces.  Before we awaken, in order that the Awakening be gentle, we are given the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” (a quotation from the Workbook).  May we come to understand that happiness is not an inferior goal for all of us.  “Saving the world” will not be done by solemnity, though reverence is a  laudable trait.  We must first know salvation ourselves before we will be in a position to heal others.  Otherwise, we are unhealed healers attempting the impossible (a Manual implication).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I thank You that since I became a believer, I have realized that I am not alone in all the universe.  This was a very long time ago, now, but there is still much that I am learning.  I am not through with learning yet, as You are not through with creating me as You would have me be.

I still make many mistakes, and I know that as soon as I can forgive myself, and the others in my life forgive, then all is well.  Help me to reduce the number of mistakes that I make.  May I find today a glorious day, spent in Your presence.

Amen.

Holy Instant = Salvation Comes

ACIM Workbook Lesson 241 – for Monday, August 29, 2011

Affirmation:  “This holy instant is salvation come.”

“The day has come when sorrows pass away and pain is gone.  The glory of salvation dawns today upon a world set free.  This is the time of hope for countless millions.  They will be united now, as you forgive them all.  For I will be forgiven by you today.

“We have forgiven one another now, and so we come at last to You again.  Father, Your Son, who never left, returns to Heaven and his home.  How glad are we to have our sanity restored to us, and to remember that we all are one.  (WB414)”

Reflections:

When we forgive others, including Jesus for what he and they have not done, then we are freed.  Jesus is particularly keen on the idea that we forgive him for what he has not done, for we often hold negative feelings toward him.  We may not even be aware of the extent to which we are ambivalent toward our savior.  We may not realize that this is our own downfall, and that it will delay our homecoming by much time.

When we forgive, our thoughts affect “millions.”  The passage says this, but we do not really believe it.  We do not believe that our minds are that powerful, because we are really afraid of that power (an ACIM tenet).  But the psychic nature of our world is true.  Salvation, Jesus says in the Manual, would be impossible if only the channels that the world recognizes were true.  When we become more psychic, we are merely becoming more natural.  There are no unnatural powers.  And knowing this is not a cause for a greater egotism.  (All of these sentences are paraphrases from the Manual.)

We are united with our brothers and sisters when we have forgiven them.  Let us forgive today, that we may know the joy that Jesus holds out to us in this day’s lesson.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would choose holy instants today.  I would choose salvation in its most pristine form.  Be with me as I seek You grace today.  Do not lead me into a dark night.  I would ask for the felt presence of Your Being.

Thank You for the holy instants that I have known over my lifetime.  Some came before I studied A Course in Miracles.  I did not know what lay ahead, and I am particularly thankful today for those early holy instants.  

I would invite holy instants today.  Be with me so that I am not tempted to turn this holy experience into something ego-driven.

Amen.

False Humility

ACIM Workbook Lesson 239 – for Saturday, August 27, 2011

Affirmation:  “The glory of my Father is my own.”

“Let not the truth about ourselves today be hidden by false humility.  Let us instead be thankful for the gifts our Father gave us.  Can we see in those with whom He shares His glory any trace of sin and guilt?  And can it be that we are not among them, when He loves His Son forever and with perfect constancy, knowing he is as He created him?

“We thank You, Father, for the light that shines forever in us.  And we honor it, because You share it with us.  We are one, united in this light and one with You, at peace with all creation and ourselves.  (WB412)”

Reflections:

The ego would have us believe that all sense of justification by God is prideful; ACIM calls it “arrogance.”  But we are not being arrogant when we proclaim God’s choice of us to lead others to salvation (with ourselves coming to salvation first, or else we are “unhealed healers”–a quotation from ACIM).  We do not have to feel the false humility that this lesson warns against.  We can be genuinely strong in our understanding that we are beloved of God, and that He will keep us from the pride that is ego-driven.

We have made mistakes, which can be corrected, but we have not “sinned.”  We are at base purely innocent beings, doing the best that we know how at any given moment.  Of course, we slip, but we can correct our course as soon as we become aware of it.  Then we can forgive ourselves for the slip.  God does not forgive, because He has never condemned (an ACIM tenet).  We need our forgiveness, because only then can we feel justified by God.  This is part of the dream that we find ourselves caught in.  Forgiveness is unnecessary in Heaven, and we can know a Heaven on earth, given time to assimilate God’s Word to ourselves.

We would be at peace on any given day by forgiving ourselves of all the perceived mistakes that we have made.  There is no attraction to a mistake, as there is to sin (an ACIM tenet).  Mistakes do not call for continuation, as do sins.  We simply move to make correction, and we are freed thereby.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I have made mistakes today.  Indeed, I make mistakes constantly when I dip into egoic thinking and fail to remain attuned to the Holy Spirit and His guidance.  May I forgive myself for the mistakes that happen, that seem to happen almost against my will.  I get angry and attack when I am stressed.  Help me to see the value in remaining calm and quiet, and with such serenity I am not tempted to feel anger nor to attack.

Be with me in the upcoming day as I try again.  I know that when a day goes badly, I can always start again, have a new beginning to that day.  I would have a new beginning today.  I would be comforted by the fact that You love me, and that You have provided the Holy Spirit to guide me, even as I misperceive.  Help me to have cleansed projections today, so that I perceive aright.  And then may these cleansed perceptions lead into knowledge of You.

Amen.

The Ego’s Questions

“The ego may ask, ‘How did the impossible occur?’, ‘To what did the impossible happen?’, and may ask this in many forms.  Yet there is no answer; only an experience.  Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you. (M77)”

Affirmation:  “May I seek spiritual experience rather than theology.”

Reflections:

This passage refers to the beginnings of time as we know it.  How did we separate from God?  What tiny, mad idea did we entertain?  The ego wants to know, and maybe we do also.

The Course is always practical, and elsewhere tells us that it is concerned with only the practical.  It says that a universal theology is impossible, but that a universal experience is not only possible, but necessary.  The Course does not waste much, if any, time debating theological issues, and recommends that we not do so either.  It suggests that theology is heavily influenced by the ego, which is our false concept of ourselves.

We need to seek the experience that the Course holds out to us–an ego-less form of living that marches us straightway toward Awakening.  We get there, as we have said repeatedly, by following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus would not have us delayed on this “journey without distance,” and so bids us to seek the experience and not to let theology delay us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Theology is the preoccupation of so much religion.  Please let my religion, my spirituality, be different.  May I seek an experience of spirituality, one that You lead me to discover.

Thank you for Your guidance always.  May I better follow Your guidance this day.

Amen.

Workbook Lesson for Day 83:

Today let us review these ideas:

My only function is the one God gave me.

My happiness and my function are one.

Ask of Your Teacher and Receive Immediately

“Ask all things of His Teacher, and all things are given you.  Not in the future but immediately; now.  (M71)”

Affirmation:  “If I ask, I will receive immediately.”

Reflections:

This passage is incredibly helpful.  We receive answers immediately to our questions and to our prayers.  “Now” may not be recognized by us, though.  We may not hear the Answer that we are expecting, leading us to believe that we are not heard at all.  But we are.

When answers do not seem to come immediately, go within.  Get calm and relaxed, or, as the Course says, “perfectly calm and quiet.”  Ask why there seems to be a delay.  And you will be told.  The answer will present itself.  If you are very upset, you may not be able to hear the response immediately.  Pray diligently, and then quietly go about your life.  When you are quiet within, the Answer will appear.  This is an assurance that this passage gives.

The fact that the answer is given “now” does not necessarily mean that we are in the frame of mind that can hear that answer.  Be patient with yourself.  We are not without limitations in this world (a Course concept).  Know in your deepest heart that the Answer you are seeking has been given, and in time, usually soon, the Answer will appear spontaneously in your mind and heart.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I know that when I ask, I will receive answers.  The Course says “immediately.”  But I know that Your time is not always mine.  When my faith is strong, though, the beginning of an answer to my problems does come immediately.  That much I know for certain.  Thank You.

Once again I ask for the strength and willingness to follow guidance always.  I have often said that I am much happier when I do follow these whisperings, and I ask for that willingness, that flexibility, today.

Amen.

Workbook Lesson for Day 82:

We will review these ideas today:

“The light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness.”

“Let me not forget my function.”

Your Father Loves You

“God would be cruel if He let your words replace His Own.  A loving father does not let his child harm himself, or choose his own destruction.  He may ask for injury, but his father will protect him still.  And how much more than this does your Father love His Son?  (M71)”

Affirmation:  “My Father loves me.”

Reflections:

This passage seems to suggest the real reason that we sometimes think that we do not receive answers to our prayers.  The Course makes clear that we are always answered in our best interests, and our prayers may have asked for something that, in the long run, would be to our detriment.

The Holy Spirit, just like Jesus, is our Friend.  He will protect us in this sometimes chaotic world.  We have only to offer Him the slightest nod in His direction, and He tells us where to step next.

God is our Father/Mother.  He, like an earthly father (normally), wants only the best for us, His children.  He will protect us by sending the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to help us make our way in this world.  Then we will know the blessings that are truly intended for us.  We must pray for solutions to our difficulties.  We will not be disappointed, though God’s timetable in answering may not be our own.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

You know how often I have prayed for certain things in my life.  I do not know Your timetable, but I do pray that You will remove the barriers in me, if there are some, that hinder Your answer to my prayer.

Thank You for being there always for me.  If I ask amiss, help me to realize this  possibility, and to pray that You guide my prayers aright.

Amen.

The Requests of Your Heart

“Never forget that the Holy Spirit does not depend on your words.  He understands the requests of your heart, and answers them.  Does this mean that, while attack remains attractive to you, He will respond with evil?  Hardly!  For God has given Him the power to translate your prayers of the heart into His language.  He understands that an attack is a call for help.  And He responds with help accordingly.  (M71)”

Affirmation:  “May I always remember that any attack is always a call for help.”

Reflections:

A very reassuring passage (as are so many in the Course), these words assure us that the better “thoughts” of our heart will be what the Holy Spirit listens and responds to.  We may ask for what may hurt us, but God will protect us from such false dreams.  The Holy Spirit knows what the Self really wants, and this Self is the larger life that we have beyond this world.

This passage repeats the oft-given truth that an attack is a call for help.  This explains what we may already realize from other passages:  that our brothers and sisters are only asking for help when they attack.  The same holds true for ourselves as well.  Attack is never what it seems.  Attack asks that we rush to the side of the offending party, and give whatever sort of help seems called for.  Once we take this truth to heart, we will never view our brothers and sisters the same.  We have no reason to become angry when we are the brunt of an attack.  Our brothers and sisters always just want our help, however disguised the request comes to us.

The Holy Spirit always helps us.  He does not intrude, but once we have made Him welcome, He will be there for us.  The most important aspect is our flexibility is following His guidance.  He does not frequently give advice unsolicited or even too far in advance; that is why we must be ready and even eager to “turn on a dime.”  When we follow guidance consistently, we open the way to a glorious world, the real world, that is far beyond anything that this prosaic world seems to offer us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I realize that God will give me good.  He understands the requests of my heart, and he translates my sometimes imperfect words into the best for me.

May I also come to terms with all attack, whether from others upon me or from myself upon others.  May I recognize that attack is always a call for help.  Then may I turn inward to find that help that is so much needed at times of attack.

Amen.

When Do You Ask for Help?

“If you have made it a habit to ask for help when and where you can, you can be confident that wisdom will be given you when you need it.  Prepare for this each morning, remember God when you can throughout the day, ask the Holy Spirit’s help when it is feasible to do so, and thank Him for His guidance at night.  And your confidence will be well founded indeed.  (M71)”

Affirmation:  “ask for help when and where you can”

Reflections:

This passage outlines the way in which Jesus would have us respond to the Holy Spirit.  Ask in the morning, turn to God during the day, and thank Him at night for His guidance.  We will then know the truth of these important words.

If we become more egotistical, which will happen from time to time, we can gauge our state of mind by how willing we are to be flexible about following the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  We will need to be flexible, because sometimes the guidance comes at the immediate point that we have begun to do something different.

Following guidance is the way to happiness in this world.  And it is also our way Home.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank you that I have recently been able to ask for and to receive guidance more frequently than I sometimes do.  I have been on the pathway.  Thank You for giving me the strength to trust.

May my willingness to follow guidance remain strong.  You know how much happier my life becomes when I am pliable in Your hands.

Amen.

The Practical

“To ask the Holy Spirit to decide for you is simply to accept your true inheritance.  Does this mean that you cannot say anything without consulting Him?  No, indeed!  That would hardly be practical, and it is the practical with which this course is most concerned.  (M

Affirmation:  “Be practical.”

Reflections:

Here is another entreaty to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.  Moreover, we are given specific guidelines:  Be practical, which means that we do not ask on a continual basis because that is not practical.

Our true inheritance is to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  An inheritance is a gift, a mighty gift.  We are encouraged to realize the blessing that God has bestowed on us by giving us such a Helper.

The more often we turn to the Holy Spirit, with a willing mind and heart, the more He can do for us.  This does not negate the practical, but turning to Him as a matter of course becomes habitual the farther along the pathway of the Course we go.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to promise to turn to the Holy Spirit increasingly, but only in a practical manner.  I realize that this means that I don’t have to stop and ask at every juncture, but simply when the occasion seems right.  Thank you for assuring me that the practical is what A Course in Miracles wants to set forth.

Be with me as I go about my day.  Don’t leave me to wander helplessly, or to think that I wander helplessly.  May I know that help is always near, and may I  be open to accepting the help that is given me, freely and without any compunction.

Amen.

Decisions Wholly Devoid of Attack

“But the Teacher Who knows the truth has not forgotten it.  His decisions bring benefit to all, being wholly devoid of attack.  (M71)”

Affirmation:  “Be wholly devoid of attack.”

Reflections:

Here is a reason that the Holy Spirit, the “Teacher,” does so well in guiding us.  His answers are totally devoid of attack.  Our judgments, even when we are at our best, may have an edge of attack, often very subtle.  Our judgments can even be passive-aggressive, in which we do not directly confront another, but we attack then subtly by kind words that are not really kind.

Note that the Teacher’s truth brings benefit to all.  And that includes us as well.  So we are not wrong to see a selfish motive to following this guidance.  It helps us as well as our brothers and sisters.

We cannot stress too often the need to give up attack in all its forms.  Until we do, we are caught in the ego, for only the ego will attack.  May we pray to be free of the machinations of the ego, and to turn to our Teacher in as many times as would be practical.  Jesus does say elsewhere that we are not bade to ask the Holy Spirit’s advice constantly, as this is not practical.  We are bade to ask for guidance in the mornings and again at night, and to turn to the Holy Spirit at other times that are propitious.  Then our thoughts and actions will be well-placed.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to give up attack.  If I cannot reach this ultimate good, may I reach for love as long as I possibly can.  Only love is the way of the saved.

Be with me throughout the day today.  I know that I feel better when I have loved rather than attacked.  This is evidence that Your way is right for me.

Amen.

A Teacher Who Cannot Make a Mistake

“Be glad you have a Teacher Who cannot make a mistake.  His answers are always right.  Would you say that of yours?  (M70)”

Affirmation:  “Are my answers always right?”

Reflections:

The Teacher here is the Holy Spirit.  And this is yet another prodding that we will follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The probing question, “Would you say that of yours?,” referring to the correctness of our answers, if insightful.  Certainly we know that we make mistakes, and that our answers about what to do in various situations are not always correct.  Indeed, they are perhaps more frequently wrong than right.  This is what behooves us to follow a higher guidance.

We have earlier indicated a number of ways that the Holy Spirit speaks to us.  Probably the most common is what we usually call intuition.  This means that we go against the teaching of this world, in that we are taught to rely on our judgment.  The Course counsels just the reverse, noting in significant passages that our judgment is frequently wrong because we cannot see the whole picture.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Once again I find that I am negligent in always following the guidance that I receive.  I fall down when I don’t follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  May my understanding be honed so that I ascertain rightly, and may I then walk quietly and calmly into Your light.

Thank you for providing this sure guidance.  I have not always followed, but I have known of Your guidance for many years.  When I have followed Your guidance, I have been happy.

Amen.

Who Needs Prayers or Just a Smile?

“Who would profit more from prayers alone?  Who needs but a smile, being as yet unready for more?  (M70)”

Affirmation:  “Who needs but a smile?”

Reflections:

Our interactions with our brothers and sisters always must be attuned to what they are ready to accept.  Perhaps a vocal witness is the wrong tactic.  Then we will be let to pray for them, or, as this passage says, to give only a smile.  We do not want to turn off others by unwelcome proselytizing.

Catherine Marshall, a spiritual writer of earlier times, counseled putting a “golden zipper” upon our lips when around unbelievers who are not actively seeking our help.  This is Mrs. Marshall’s advice particularly where significant others are concerned.  Those closest to us do not want to be inundated by unsought advice about their salvation.

If we are lucky, when they see that we have changed, they will begin to ask questions.  Then is the time to take off the “golden zipper” from our lips, and to witness to them.  May this day come soon for all of us, especially with those closest to us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I be a good witness for You.  May I not let my own troubles interfere with helping those who surround me.  May I choose rightly what they are ready to accept by way of salvation.

Help me today.  I need Your help.  I am hesitant to choose what my brothers and sisters can best accept from me now.

Amen.

Wakening the Minds of Those Asleep

“These things await us all, but we are not prepared as yet to welcome them with joy.  As long as any mind remains possessed of evil dreams, the thought of hell is real.  God’s teachers have the goal of wakening the minds of those asleep, and seeing there the vision of Christ’s face to take the place of what they dream.  (M69)”

Affirmation:  “May I awaken the minds of those asleep.”

Reflections:

This passage says some very important things to us.  The passage equates evil dreams with the thought of hell.  And the passage spells out what we are to do about that:  waken the minds of those asleep.  When we do so, the vision of Christ’s face takes the place of  the evil dreams.

This says that we have work to do, to bring Awakening to all minds.  We can move toward Awakening for ourselves by studying the Course diligently.  We will then not be unhealed healers, but those ready to take our part in the plan of salvation, the part that God has prepared just for us.  Until we respond affirmatively to the call for salvation, our part is missing.  Nor can it be taken by anybody else.  We are unique in that sense.

The vision of Christ’s face is mentioned several times in the Course.  We will see Christ in our brothers and sisters when we are prepared.  In large measure, that is what we are meant to see.  In dreams, which are what we are caught in before we waken, we will not see Christ’s face, because our brothers and sisters sometimes elicit anger and attack in us.  When we have let anger and attack fall away, we will be on our way to the salvation that we are bring to others, as well as accepting salvation for ourselves.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I leave aside thoughts of anger and attack, and take my place in Your plan for salvation.  May I awaken the minds of those asleep.  Until I have accepted the Awakening of my own mind, I will not be a completely healed healer.

Thank you for Your help.  I need You more than ever today.

Amen.

The Resurrection = End of Dreams of Misery

“Very simply, the resurrection is the overcoming or surmounting of death.  It is a reawakening or a rebirth; a change of mind about the meaning of the world.  It is the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world’s purpose; the acceptance of the Atonement for oneself.  It is the end of dreams of misery, and the glad awareness of the Holy Spirit’s final dream.  (M68)”

Affirmation:  “May I experience a rebirth and the dawning of the Holy Spirit’s final dream.”

Reflections:

This passage is frequently misinterpreted by Course students.  Many think that somehow the fact of immortality in this body will happen.  But this is not what is being said.  Death has no meaning, because it is merely a change of form; death is a rebirth into a new life beyond this world.  We can symbolically achieve this state while in the body in this world.  We will then know the end of dreams of misery, and accept the final dream from the Holy Spirit:  “the happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” (a quotation from the Course).

Jesus does not deny his own resurrection in A Course in Miracles, though.  This Christian doctrine is upheld.  The point is not that we are to follow Jesus’s way in all its particulars, though.  That was his contribution.  We do not have to face crucifixion.  And our resurrection is a means to rebirth into the real world (a Course tenet).  The real world is the one sanctioned by the Holy Spirit to be a world in which our perceptions have been cleansed, and therefore we do not project misery into our lives by our own doing.

A rebirth is the great Awakening, one of the final steps before we reach Home.  We all long for this miracle, and occasionally revelation reveals this end to us.  To reach Awakening permanently, though, we need to know the means, and it is this that the Course spells out for us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I need rebirth today.  I feel weak, and I am fallible.  Please give me Your insight.  May the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” come upon me, and then may they give way to Awakening.

Be with me today as I try to live Your Word.  Thank You for Your promise always to be near.

Amen.

Limitations

“Do not despair, then, because of limitations.  It is your function to escape from them, but not to be without them.  (M64)”

Affirmation:  “Help me to escape from my limitations, even though they recur.”

Reflections:

We often despair when we are in pain and suffering, but these too are a form of limitation, and Jesus here says that we will not be without limitations in this world.  We can get help to resolve the conditions that brought fear about, though, and it is this that we ought to pray for.  Elsewhere Jesus says that he cannot properly remove the fear for us, because it is our minds which have brought it about, and the alteration of cause-and-effect would not be a good thing for us.

So we are meant to escape from our limitations, as they arise.  We can learn how to do this, but it does take patience and willingness to follow guidance.  If a limitation is not removed after much prayer and trying different methods of cure, perhaps this is a “thorn in the side” that St. Paul speaks about in his letters in the New Testament.  He believed that this thorn was meant for his good.

So Jesus would not have us despair.  Help is always near, and we will receive healing, or we will receive the wherewithal to sustain our good will while caught by limitations.  Faith is not often stressed in the Course, but this is the attribute that will enable us to withstand limitations.  Know that Jesus and his Helpers are nearby, and be reassured.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I am very aware of my limitations today.  Help me not to be my own worst enemy.  Help me to reach out to You and Your helpers, and be absolved of the current limitation under which I find myself.

I know that You want only good for me.  Jesus says that we are meant to escape from our limitations, though we are not without them.  Help me to escape from my limitations today.

Amen.

Teachers of Teachers

“There are those who have reached God directly, retaining no trace of worldly limits and remembering their own Identity perfectly.  These might be called the Teachers of teachers because, although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon.  (M64)”

Affirmation:  “May I call upon Teachers of teachers often as I go about my day.”

Reflections:

This passage proclaims that when we have reached God directly, we will not long stay on this earth.  We will no longer be seen on earth, but our “image” can be called upon.  We are then “Teachers of teachers.”

Elsewhere Jesus says that very few of us willingly lay down the body simply to be of help to others in a greater way.  So most of us will not attain this degree of salvation while in this world.

We do have help from beyond the earth.  We can call upon this help, and we will receive assistance.  No greater bounty can be ours, than to know that we are never alone, that God and His Teachers care for us always.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to understand the concept of “Teachers of teachers.”  May I reach for their help often once I comprehend whom I am asking.

Thank you for providing all this help to me in this uncertain world.  May I be quick to take advantage of this help as I go about my day today.

Amen.

Can God Be Reached Directly?

“Can God be reached directly?  God indeed can be reached directly, for there is no distance between Him and His Son.  His awareness is in everyone’s memory, and His Word is written on everyone’s heart.  (M64)”

Affirmation:  “The awareness of God is in my memory, and His Word is in my heart.”

Reflections:

This passage recalls to mind the biblical quotation, “The kingdom of God is within.”  Certainly many passages in the Course suggest that God is within, that there is no division between God and ourselves.  We see here that there is no distance between God and His Son (or Daughter).  This is the Self that is the larger part of ourselves, the part that has never left God.

How reassuring to know that the awareness of God is in everyone’s memory!  And that we can indeed, as the Bible says, “Ask, and ye shall receive,” because His Word is written on everyone’s heart.  The sentence from the passage that says this is particularly beautifully written, and it encourages peace and inner quiet by its reassurance.

We can receive God’s Word directly in the midst of our busiest activities, but more often we hear His word when we are quiet and therefore more receptive to the still, small Voice within.  May we turn to Him when perplexed, and may we know that our prayers are heard, and, better still, our prayers are answered.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I turn to You often during the day.  I know that I can reach You directly.  Help me to reach into my memory and into my heart to find You.

Only if I turn to You will have a truly good day.  I know this.  Help me to live it.

Amen.

Strengthening the Ego

“‘Psychic’ abilities have been used to call upon the devil, which merely means to strengthen the ego.  (M63)”

Affirmation:  “May I never be tempted to use the psychic for egoistic reasons.”

Reflections:

The “devil” is not seen by the Course as a powerful figure; the devil is simply seen as a way of characterizing the ego.  Moreover, the contest between hell and Heaven is seen to be an egoistic drama, something that our minds have made up because of the rise of the ego in us.  This happened as a result of a tiny, mad idea that entered the mind of the Sons and Daughters of God, and this tiny mad idea became our downfall.  In actuality, we have not left Heaven; our Self is there.

And we travel back in time to that time past remembering, until we are Home again.  All of these ideas as Course tenets.  We cannot begin to understand, but we can accept these tenets, because they come from Jesus–our elder brother who has walked the whole pathway, and who stands ready to give us a helping hand when we cannot undo all the mistakes that we have made.

These psychic abilities may be as simple as a tiny intuition of what to do or say next.  We can test out these feelings, and if they lead us to a better world, we would be foolish not to follow them.  We are not being led by the ego at such times, or by the “devil.” indicates).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I not use my psychic inclinations as a way to strengthen the ego.  May I have no pride in having psychic abilities.

Please be with me as I explore my psychic nature.  And may I use it only for the good of my brothers and sisters, and the good for myself.

Amen.

Psychic Powers

“Certainly there are many ‘psychic’ powers that are clearly in line with this course.  Communication is not limited to the small range of channels the world recognizes.  If it were, there would be little point in trying to teach salvation.  It would be impossible to do so.  (M62)”

Affirmation:  “If it is best for me, may I develop the psychic powers in line with the Course.”

Reflections:

The Course is never specific about these “psychic” powers, but it may be interpreted that the usual kinds of psychic powers are meant, all a form of ESP.  Certainly we sometimes seem to know what those closest to us are thinking.  This is a universal experience.

Guidance from the Holy Spirit is often received in a psychic manner.  We get an intuitive sense of what to say or do next, and we follow, and we discover that what we said or did by this prompting was, oh, ever so right.  Living by following guidance is the most joyous way to live.

We must be flexible, be able to turn on a dime, if we wish to take advantage of psychic powers that are in line with the Course.  The Holy Spirit does, indeed, sometimes guide us months and years in advance, but this is not the most common way.  The most common way is to intuit the next thing that we should do or say.  Otherwise, we would, in our egoic state, be susceptible to planning against contingencies to come, which the Course specifically says is not a desired characteristic.  We need to do the next right thing, and then the next, and the next.  Then life flows smoothly, and we know the blessings that A Course in Miracles holds out to us.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I be led to the psychic powers that can benefit my world.  May I not seek for what would be harmful.  May the Holy Spirit guide me.  May I always be willing to accept His guidance.

Be with me today as I explore my psychic nature.  Thank you for being a part of my life always.

Amen.