Tag Archives: ACIM and the ego

Be Still / Experience All that Is Holy

sainte-victoire-lauves - cezanne“Can you let the worries of today leave your mind?  Can you let the disappointments of yesterday go and be no more?  Can you let the planning for the future cease?  Can you be still and know your Self?

“This is perhaps disappointing to you, but it is all that is required.  If you could truly succeed at doing this for one instant, you would experience all that is holy and be forever one.  (A Course of Love, 26.16 – 26.17)”

Affirmation  “May I listen to inspired words and be reassured.”

Reflections:

1 – Christ-Consciousness

This passage, which repeats what was begun yesterday, reinforces all that is required of us.  It makes clear that keeping worry from the mind, not dwelling on the past or planning for the future, will lead us to Christ-consciousness.  We would do this for only one instant, and we would experience “all that is holy and be forever one.”  This is a definition of Christ-consciousness, the blessing toward which we are moving.

2 – A Simple Answer

Is the simplicity of the answer a disappointment to us?  We sometimes like to work too hard, thinking that hard work will get us what nothing else can.  But the heart does not work the way the mind does.  The heart simply knows, and with this knowledge comes the willingness to let go and let God.

3 – Relax

We need to relax in the blessing of God’s presence.  We need to realize that hard work doesn’t really get us what we want.  Christ-consciousness is a gift of God, and a change of what we think about is all that we really need.  We need to live in the Now, as Eckhart Tolle has told us.  Eckhart is an enlightened teacher who is identified with no one faith in our world.  But his books, The Power of Now and A New Earth, have identified the fact that he is indeed enlightened.  His way, though, was not the way of A Course in Miracles, and A Course of Love had not yet been channeled.

4 – Enlightenment

Enlightenment is real is our world.  We do not want to claim this blessing if we risk making assertions that prove not to be true.  So we go slowly.  What we experience may be only a glimpse, and may not be sustained.  But Jesus would have us to sustain the elevated Self of form, something that he says has never been done in our world.  (It is unclear if he includes himself in this statement.)

5 – Rest in God’s Love

We need to drop the worries of the present, close off the past and the future, and rest in God’s love.  Then we will be positioned to accept God’s blessing of Christ-consciousness when he deigns to offer it.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I spend the remainder of the day in contemplating what You would have me experience as I, like all of us, move closer to enlightenment.  May I be still, as Jesus asks, and experience the Self who I am.  May this contemplation give me peace of mind and heart.  Help me to make of the remainder of this day a particular day of meditation.

I need to drop worry, cease senseless planning, and think no more of disappointments that might once have unnerved me.  Your way for me has been best, when I have been faithful enough to follow.  May I be faithful enough today, and may this today extend into the future with ease.  You would not have me struggle in this world.  I can experience effortless ease when my faith in You is sufficient.

Thank You for the reassuring words of Jesus.  May his mission be fulfilled with all the help that he asks of us.  And may never a bit of egotism intrude that would ruin it all.

Amen.

Are You Loveless and Alone?

“Those who are seen as loveless and alone in the world are those you find to be the objects of your pity.  Yet you do not realize that this is the state your ego has you endlessly striving to achieve.  (A Course of Love, 1.13)”

Affirmation:  “Let my ego wither away.”

Reflections:

1 – The Ego and Self-Sufficiency

The ego wants us to, somehow, make ourselves self-sufficient.  We know this, if we stop to think.  Has not much of our adjustment to society included the desire to be independent–first, from our parents, and later on, from almost anyone else as well.  Our egos have prized independence.  But is this natural?

2 – In Relationship to All

It is not natural to be “independent,” separate from God and our brothers and sisters.  We are meant to be in relationship to all.  In union with all and in relationship to all.  We think that we want love, but on our own terms–to give and to receive when we are willing.  Sometimes we agree to separate, and then to meet again when it is convenient to us (from the ACIM Manual).  But love almost never turns out well this way.

3 – The Ultimate Independence

If we realized that the ultimate of independence would be being “loveless and alone,” then we would not prize the independence so much.  We would see its failures in our own lives.  And independence has failed mightily, most of the time.

4 – Being Cared For

Our ego has tried to make us feel guilty for wanting others to sometimes take care of us.  But this caretaking is a two-way street most of the time.  We can help others as well, at least until our oldest old age is reached.  And we dread that day with a passion, though we would not die too early, unless we are driven to distraction by depression.

5 – Communicate with God

So let us not strive for independence, knowing that a failure to communicate with our Creator is most unnatural (from A Course in Miracles).  God is always there to help.  And He is eagerly leading us toward Christ-consciousness, which will be a strength that will show us when to turn to others and when to turn to God alone.

5 – Let’s Take Heed

Let us take heed today, and not strive for the independence that will leave us “loveless and alone.”

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I thank You that I have rarely felt “loveless and alone,” though I have been known to cry into journal pages that seemed to indicate that.  Thank You that those days seem far behind me now, with You as my Mainstay.  Your blessings are the joys of my life, as they would be for anyone.  When one love exits from a life, another enters.  When one door closes, another farther down the pathway opens.  You do not wish us to be loveless and alone.

Whey do we prize independence so much?  Some of us may do so out of shyness, but we are never truly happy when we cut ourselves off from our brothers and sisters.  We are, I feel, not meant to be alone.  Some of us are more introverted, but a certain degree of love asks that we invite others into our heart.

Be with me on this lovely day.  I thank You for the knowledge that we are not meant to be solitary creatures in a lonely world.  We are meant to reach out.  And, when we do, the heavens open for us.  

Thank You.

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.

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.

God vs. the Holy Spirit

ACIM Workbook Lesson 147 – for Friday, May 27, 2011

Affirmation:  “My mind holds only what I think with God.”

Selected Passage:

“I will not value what is valueless.
“Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.  (WB276)”

Reflections:

Real thoughts are the thoughts that we think with God.  Mistaken thoughts partake of the ego.  In distractions of this world, we may not always discern the difference.  Go within to God, and let Him tell us what to say or do.

There may be some confusion about the difference between God and the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, some students/teachers of ACIM believe that God does not even know about us!  I do not subscribe to this belief, because it is not true to my experience.  God is within, and nothing is without (a Text tenet).  We project the world that we see from within.  If we are at the moment overtaken by the ego, we will project a world that is filled with attack and anger.  If we are in touch with God within, we will project love to the surrounding world, and this love will return to us, multiplied.  The Holy Spirit is the communication link between God and ourselves (a Text tenet).  The Holy Spirit acts as our guidance (an oft-repeated refrain in this blog).  The Holy Spirit was given as the Answer as soon as the idea of separation entered the mind.  The solution is always with the problem (an ACIM tenet).  And God gave His Answer immediately.

We can realize that our own little problems have immediate solutions as well.  Only a distracted mind fails to find the way out of any given maze in which we find ourselves.  We do not wish to value that which has no value, and that includes the egoistic world.  We do need to realize that we are all innocent of sin, and that our mistakes can be easily rectified.  Then we will know the joy that is ours for the asking (and taking).

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I turn to You, within me, often today.  May I also turn to You that I perceive as being “without,” meaning my brothers and sisters, as well as this world in which we live–whether we are living in illusion or in the real world at the moment of noticing.  Be with me constantly.  I need You.

Thank You for the guidance that comes to me throughout the day.  Forgive me for my confusion about what that guidance really is.  I confuse myself.  And I would not confuse myself today.

Amen.

Clear a Holy Place within the Mind

ACIM Workbook Lesson 104 – for Thursday, April 14, 2011

Affirmation:  “I seek but what belongs to me in truth.”

Selected Passage:

“We clear a holy place within our minds before His altar, where His gifts of peace and joy are welcome, and to which we come to find what has been given us by Him.  We come in confidence today, aware that what belongs to us in truth is what He gives.  And we would wish for nothing else, for nothing else belongs to us in truth.  (WB186)”

Reflections:

The inner sanctum of our mind, heart, and spirit is where God dwells.  This inner sanctum is His altar.  Like many other parts of the Workbook, this lesson today is mostly reassurance.  We are not alone.  God is in us; we are His dwelling place.

Peace and joy are what belong to us in truth.  We do not often recognize this, especially in the early stages of salvation, a ongoing pathway.  We are still caught up in the ego.

We can make a very practical decision that leaving the ego behind is in our best interests, once we realize that it has never brought us anything that we wanted.  Nothing was bought with the ego that did not bring sorrow in the end (a paraphrase from the Text).  We have  purchased the thrill of egoic ecstasy with tears.  We would have this dynamic end, for what good is it to us?

When we give up egotistical striving, we will know peace as well as joy.  The gentle have already given up this false thinking, and they are at peace.  May we become ever more gentle and ever more harmless toward ourselves, as well as our brothers and sisters.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May my misguided wish to have my way be recognized as the egoic thrust that it is.  We live in a world with many brothers and sisters, and we are to live harmoniously.  We turn over our decisions to the Holy Spirit, and all is well again.  May all be well today.

Be with me as I walk the pathway that is before me today.  May I quickly and easily forgive any brother or sister who appears to be in conflict with me.

Amen.

The Ego. . .Silent and Entirely Undone

ACIM Workbook Lesson 94 – for Monday, April 4, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am as God created me.”

Selected Passage:

“Today we continue with the one idea which brings complete salvation; the one statement which makes all forms of temptation powerless; the one thought which renders the ego silent and entirely undone.  You are as God created you.  The sounds of this world are still, the sights of this world disappear, and all the thoughts that this world ever held are wiped away forever by this one idea.  Here is salvation accomplished.  Here is sanity restored.  (WB164)”

Reflections:

The selected passage is a favorite of long-term students/teachers of ACIM.  Jesus repeats, “You are as God created you,” a number of times in the Workbook.  We have trouble with this tenet.  We think that we have changed; we think that we have fallen.  But all of this is illusion, maya (in Eastern terminology).  We are still the Self that knows no sin.  And in this assurance we can rest content.

We want our sanity restored.  We do not often understand that we really live in madness, in insanity.  That is actually the state of this world.  And only when we have had our sanity restored will we be ready for Jesus’s full message to flower in our lives.  There is great beauty in the sentence, “The sounds of this world are still, the sights of this world disappear, and all the thoughts that this world ever held are wiped away forever by this idea.  (See above)”  “This idea” is the truth that we are as God created us.

May we believe this today.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Be with me today as I rest in Your assurance that my ego is undone.  My ego has caused me great distress, and I would have it wither away, to be replaced by the innocence that is my birthright as Your child.

Help me to stay calm and easy, to realize that the ego has never given me anything that I did not pay for with tears.  May I be fully joyous today.

Amen.

All Is One = God, Ourselves, Others

ACIM Workbook Lesson 79 – for Sunday, March 20, 2011

Affirmation:  “Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.”

Selected Passage:

“If you could recognize that your only problem is separation, no matter what form it takes, you could accept the answer because you would see its relevance.  (WB142)”

Reflections:

1 – Recognition of Oneness Leads to Awakening

We are really One, one with ourselves, with our brothers and sisters, and one with God.  If we only recognized this, and accepted the other words in ACIM, we would be blessed with Awakening.  Of course, we do not have direct control over the timing; only God does.  But we can foreshorten the time, sometimes saving as much as a thousand years (an ACIM tenet), if we are diligent in our study and in our dedication.

2 – We Have No Problems

We do have no problems.  Oh, surely, we have issues that need to be addressed.  But it is the ego that blows those issues into huge problems that seem insurmountable.  These issues are not insurmountable.  If we turn to the Holy Spirit with all of them, over time (sooner rather than later), we will see the issues dissipate.

3 – We Are Not Meant to Go It Alone

Problems are a sign that we need help.  We are not meant to go it alone.  That is the point of this lesson on separation.  All too often, we think that independence is more laudatory than interdependence.  But we are here with our God and our brothers and sisters for a reason.  God wants us to talk to Him.  He is always available, deep within us (as well as without, for we perceive that there is a “without”).

4 – Abandon Separation

Let go of separation today.  Reach out to another, and let that response warm you.  The more that you take to heart the directive to let go of separation, the more we will realize that we do not have to feel alone.  Separation was the idea of the ego that we are encased in bodies, and that this cannot be overcome.  But it can.  There are more ways for God to reach us than the world recognizes.  Jesus says elsewhere ACIM that if the ways of communication that the world recognizes were all that there were, salvation would be impossible.  But it is possible, and highly recommended–sooner rather than later.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I reach out to someone today who needs me.  May I not let his or her need go unmet.  We are indeed all One with God.  And where there is Oneness, there is no separation.

Separation is an illusion of the ego.  Separation has brought us nothing but misery.  May we realize this today, and may we turn aside from the ego and all its supposed “gifts.”  None but have been bought with tears.

Amen.

My Happiness + My Function = One

ACIM Workbook Lesson 66 – for Monday, March 7, 2011

Affirmation:  “My happiness and my function are one.”

Selected Passage:

“Think. . .about. . .the many ways in which you tried to find salvation under the ego’s guidance.  Did you find it?  Were you happy?  Did they bring you peace?  We need great honesty today.  Remember the outcomes fairly, and consider also whether it was ever reasonable to expect happiness from anything the ego ever proposed.  Yet the ego is the only alternative to the Holy Spirit’s Voice.  (WB111)”

Reflections:

This passage explains more fully what we reflected upon yesterday.  Spend some time thinking about the pathways that the ego has led us down.  We were not ultimately happy.  Not one joy was wholly joyous; it always gave us reason for tears–or if not tears, at least a “down” feeling at the conclusion.

Why the down feeling?  In our innermost being, we were being untrue to ourselves.  We knew that we were not following the highest and best of which we were capable.  We did not have sustained happiness when following the ego.  We might have had a momentary “high,” but that is all.  And it was followed by pain.  We would not wish pain for ourselves or any others.  And the way out is to listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Voice of the Holy Spirit can be a bit confusing, because we have not often known exactly what to look for.  If we perceive this Voice more as “intuition,” perhaps the way will seem clearer.  We know inwardly, on some level, when we are veering from the right pathway.  This is the Voice speaking to us.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is there for all who ask for it.  Let us ask for it today, if we have not ever found solace in intuition.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would try to understand today that what You will for me is my happiness.  And my function will reveal my happiness to me.  Let me leave aside the temptations of the ego, which is that part of me which has never wished me well.  I must learn that the only way for me is the way that You direct through the Holy Spirit.

Help me to be consistent in following Your guidance.  And I always will know what You wish for me.  Your still inner Voice speaks softly, but it speaks distinctly.  As long as I am functioning normally, I will know Your Voice.  Help me today to follow that Voice without fail.

Amen.

Escape from All Difficulties

ACIM Workbook Lesson 65 – for Sunday, March 6, 2011

Affirmation:  “My only function is the one God gave me.”

Selected Passage:

“Today’s idea offers you escape from all your perceived difficulties.  It places the key to the door of peace, which you have closed upon yourself, in your own hands.  It gives you the answer to all the searching you have done since time began.  (WB108)”

Reflections:

We have the key to the door of peace.  This is a radical idea, because we have often sought long and hard, outside ourselves, for peace.  We have gone from one religion to another, from one philosophy to another.  But theology, we are told by Jesus in the Text, is not what we would seek.  ACIM is meant to be practical, and many times theology only divides us from our brothers and sisters.  A Course in Love more fully develops this idea. (Note:  ACOL is viewed by some as a sequel to ACIM, and there are numerous postings on ACOL in this blog.  To find these postings, visit the “about” portion at the top of the blog.)

This “only function” is forgiveness, given by God to save ourselves and our brothers and sisters.  If we wonder if forgiveness can do so much, let us try it out for a few days.  We will be convinced.  Forgiveness is the key, in our own hands, that we have previously sought in vain.

We have closed the door of peace by listening to a part of our belief about ourselves, the ego.  Now is the time to let the ego wither away.  We know when we are doing egotistical things.  Let us drop these things from our “to do” list.  The ego does not, though, in ACIM, always mean “egotistical,” though this is a close meaning.  The ego is a false concept of ourselves, and it is always being undone.  We try something that we think will bring us pleasure, and the next thing we know, we are feeling down.  This is not a coincidence.  We will, sooner or later, always feel depressed when listening to the ego, because it is a false way of viewing life.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to find peace today.  I would leave what I have perceived as “my difficulties” behind.  I know that this is Your will for me.  You would have me be still and listen to Your Voice, and know that all is well.

May I leave the ego behind today.  This part of my belief about myself is all wrong, and I do know this.  It is false reasoning on my part that would ignore Your promptings, and turn instead, once again, to the spurious thinking that the ego spawns.  May I have only quiet and calm today, and to have these I must listen to Your voice, Your voice which comes to me often.  May I follow all genuine promptings from You today.

Amen.

How to Hear God’s Voice

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

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

Selected Passage:

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

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

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

Amen.

I Invented the World I See

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

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

Selected Passage:

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

Reflections:

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

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

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

Amen.

The Meaningless = Fear

ACIM Workbook Lesson 13 – for Thursday, January 13,  2011

Affirmation:  “A meaningless world engenders fear.”

Selected Passage:

It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear.  If you are fearful, it is certain that you will endow the world with attributes that it does not possess, and crowd it with images that do not exist.  (WB21)”

Reflections:

In our study, we will learn that there are only two emotions:  love and fear, and the one that we choose will determine everything that happens to us.  The ego is always a fear thought; the Self chooses love, knowing that there is no better choice, and the Self chooses love by genuine forgiveness.  Our brothers and sisters are innocent, in a state of grace, because they are still as God has created them.  And this includes ourselves as well.

Certainly we want to give up fear.  It has never brought us anything but misery.  Fear with its accompanying anxiety is a false image that has been endowed with a reality that it does not actually have.  We need only change our minds, and the fear will diminish and eventually dissipate.  Forgiveness paves the way to love of ourselves (genuine love for the Self that is on the pathway to Awakening) as well as the way to love of our brothers and sisters.

May we reach out today, in love and in forgiveness, and may we see no further images of an illusory world lost in fear.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I do longer live in a meaningless world, for I wish to give up fear.  It has hampered me far too longer and far too often over the course of my life.  I would be done with it.  I realize that when we have truly “had enough,” then the blessings of Reality come upon us.  I would know Reality today, given up illusions perpetrated by the ego.

Be there for me today.  I ask this often, and I sense when You have been able to get through to me.  I need to turn inward, to You.  You are waiting.  Thank You.

Amen.

EGO DYNAMICS = “SPECIALNESS”

by Celia HalesReprinted from Miracles (publisher Jon Mundy).

A close reading of A Course in Miracles suggests that the basis for egotism is a search for specialness.  For all the years prior to discovering the Course, I think I was far too egotistical, and this desire to be “special” undoubtedly constituted a particular form of neurosis.   As I have studied A Course in Miracles over the years, its significant passages have gone a long way toward setting me free of the trials of the ego, the trials borne of my misdirected desires.

Because none of us want to see ourselves as neurotic, we usually can observe this intrinsic craziness in others more often than we can observe it in ourselves.  We see oscillations of personality that appear to twist and turn in the wind.  We see our brothers and sisters alternating between sweetness and hostility.  Until we study the Course, we seldom are reflective enough to see that this oscillation is actually our own problem, projected outward.  Yet these others can make our lives miserable if they have any power over us.  And if manifesting in a peer, a friend or significant other, these conflicting behaviors are puzzling in the least, and personally damaging (though illusory, as the Course says) in the most.  We need to realize that this specialness, the neurosis of these others, is not all “out there.”  The truth is that, to one degree or another, we all think we are special.

It is just to the degree that we ascribe to specialness that we are vulnerable to the ego’s assaults, whether perceived as assaults emanating from another or from our own inner demons.   It is then that we are most vulnerable to the world’s onslaughts.  We are engaged in a dance, one to another, interlocking our complexes to fit, however unpleasant the dance may become.  Usually we see our pride pricked at the point of most vulnerability  This is the ego’s greatest trial, a time of unique opportunity for us if we can only see it thus.  We are being shown what needs to be remedied in ourselves, how the ego needs to be undone.  If we listen, we will find a gift in the ashes of our former “triumphs.”  We will let the ego wither away at the point of specialness.

And so it goes with all points of neurosis.  As they are shown to us, we must let them slip away.  Jesus is able to heal a neurotic if she is cooperating with him.  One way to cooperate is to take the intellectual framework of the Course and marry that to our relationship to our brothers and sisters.  Then the mental and emotional meld as one, and we are on our way to full recovery as Sons and Daughters of God.

When this pathway back to God is begun, the way at first seems hard, because the ego is still strong within us, and it sniffs defeat in the air and would be violent to retain control of one’s mind and heart.  Consistently listening to the Holy Spirit, prayerfully considering the promptings of guidance, will eventually smooth the way so that one knows, deep in the heart, that a withered ego is one’s only salvation.  Then is one’s real Self actually strong, no longer a will ‘o wisp in the breeze, batted about by every foreign opinion thrust upon it.  And we see that it was always the ego that suffered defeat at the hands of its “enemies.”  Always being undone, for that is God’s way, the ego is abandoned by our real Self as well.  And then the way is paved for great and faster growth as the Sons and Daughters of God we truly are. We direct this growth, informed by the Holy Spirit.  Remember that A Course in Miracles tells us that the mind is very powerful.  It also says that the reason that we don’t believe this is because we are afraid of its power:  “You prefer to believe that your thoughts cannot exert real influence because you are actually afraid of them”  (T-2.VI.9:10).  The Holy Spirit’s guidance will take the fear out of the direction in which our minds take us.

Surely we are afraid when we look around and see a ravaged world.  Did we do this?  Yes, the Course counsels, but only in illusion and only in madness.  The Course says that faith, belief, and vision, shared with us by the Holy Spirit, are our way out.  As the goal of salvation replaces the goal of sin, our steps in the mist become clearer. Faith inevitably gives us the power of persistence, but we don’t recognize the tremendous power that is unleashed until we place our faith not in sin, but in love.  It is then that the power becomes the reliable lifesaver that it is meant to be.

I was once described by one of my professors, in a letter of recommendation open for me to read,  as having an “indomitable will to succeed.”  At the time, almost 30 years ago, I took this as a compliment.  Now I see in this a glimpse of the personal power that I (and everyone else) have.  I now know that the “indomitable will” of that era was far too informed by the ego.  It was a competitive bent that later would alienate some of my co-workers.  What had worked well in our educational system worked less well in a reference unit in a university library where cooperation was necessary to accomplish shared goals.  I had to learn how to cooperate for shared goals.

Now I know that this drive to succeed is laudatory only when it is not threatening to other people, as it had been in my first position as a reference librarian.  If there is even a hint of feeling better than others, this is an example of the ego’s goal of specialness.  Jesus says, “You are not special” (T-24.II.4:1).  If we think we are, we are mistaken.   The will to succeed must encompass our fellowman as well.  The will to succeed must also be bent in obedience to the promptings of the Inner Spirit, the Holy Spirit Who guides as far as we are willing, at any given point, to go—but  only as far as we express our willingness—no further.  When we listen to the Holy Spirit, then and only then is our power truly released to serve all of humanity.

When we are at peace, we are at home in God.  When we let conflict reside within our hearts and minds, it leads inexorably to fear.  Where peace abides, love is.  And, in the Course’s terms,  it is a love that knows no specialness in ourselves or others.

Being Upset II

ACIM Workbook Lesson 12 – for Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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

Selected Passage:

“The importance of this idea lies in the fact that it contains a correction for a major perceptual distortion.  You think that what upsets you is a frightening world, or a sad world, or a violent world, or an insane world.  All these attributes are given it by you.  The world is meaningless in itself.  (WB19)”

Reflections:

This passage is a further elucidation of the fact that projection makes perception.  Even if we are new students to A Course in Miracles, we can understand that when we feel good, we are more tolerant of our brothers and sisters.  When we are feeling down, we are more likely to welcome attack of them, an attack brought on by our anger.  And stress or depression may be the underlying emotion that is fueling the upset.

We bring to this world all that it is really is, as long as we are lost in the dream.  The dream will turn happier as we turn our lives over to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and we will dream the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” (a quotation from the Text).  This new way of seeing can follow us quite awhile, until some external event triggers doubt, and we are led to understand that we do not fully understand that even happy dreams are not the culmination of what is desirable.  The real world is, and this God grants when we are ready.  This is at the point of Awakening.  Jesus provides through ACIM the means to get to that end, and revelation may occasionally reveal the end to us in advance (a Text tenet).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to recognize why I see a meaningless world.  It is brought on by my attraction to egoistic thinking.  I do not have to view insane thoughts or attack thoughts as anything but illusion.  And then I have nothing to fear, because illusion does not accomplish anything (though we may allow it to make us absolutely miserable).

Help me today to turn aside attacks or insanity (not legal, but simply meaning that we are seeing amiss).  May I have Your help in living a sane life today.

Amen.

Meaningless Thoughts

ACIM Workbook Lesson 10 – for Monday, January 10, 2011

Affirmation:  “My thoughts do not mean anything.”

Selected Passage:

“Today’s thought can obviously serve for any thought that distresses you at any time.  (WB17)”

Reflections:

Before we have studied very long, we will realize that our minds have actually been so warped that we perceive nothing outside the ego that, as a part of our minds, has separated us from God.  The ego is “egotistical,” but that is not the whole of the meaning.  Freud’s meaning of the ego comes closer, in that it is an image that we make of ourselves, around which the personality coalesces.  Freud did not see a way out, though, and he seems to have thought that a strong ego was an advantage in living.

A Course in Miracles is entirely different.  This Course seeks to have rely us on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to relinquish the ego as our guide to action.   Jesus, in ACIM,  does not in any way think that this part of ourselves has done anything really good for us.  As the image of separation from God, it is constantly being undone, because God is the All, and we perceive ourselves as little parts of the whole that have not been communicating with our Creator.  And we are meant to communicate with our Creator.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I entertain no thought today that distresses me.  May I leave meaningless thoughts behind, and I know that these are the thoughts of the ego that has seemed to separate me from You.

Be with me today.  I ask for a particular day of setting aside thoughts that distress and entertaining loving and joyous thoughts.  Thank You.

Amen.

Being Upset

ACIM Workbook Lesson 5 – for Wednesday, January 5, 2011

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

Selected Passage:

“I cannot keep this form of upset and let the others go.  For the purposes of these exercises, then, I will regard them all as the same.  (WB9)”

Reflections:

1 – Follow the Guidance of the Holy Spirit

This lesson is a particularly intriguing one, in my estimation.  There are always hidden reasons for why we feel as we do, and, try as we may, we normally cannot uncover what is truly bothering us.  Jesus would have us stop the pretense of understanding, and just to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance.

2 – Drop Rebellion

We do have to drop our rebellion about His guidance to follow Him willingly.  All too often, we are reluctant to accept the Holy Spirit’s guidance in every instance, and sometimes we are hesitant to follow even in most instances.  The right stance, adopted as the day begins, will (a Manual tenet) set the day aright.  Of course, as the Manual says, we can always begin again if the day begins in error.  But there are obvious advantages in beginning well in terms of saving time.  Moreover, we are bade in the Manual not to become preoccupied with each step in the process of following the Holy Spirit.  But the right attitude, accepted as the day begins, will allow us to proceed well.  And that is all that Jesus really asks.

3 – When Upsets Come

When upsets come, and they will, we are to stop momentarily, and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.  How might we understand how to do this?  There is no simple answer; the usual ways that we try to control our anger will do–if they are added to a simple and sincere request for help from a Higher Power.

4 – We Are Not Upset for the Reason We Think

We are not upset for the reason that we think.  Why is this?  We do not understand our ego’s wily ways sufficiently to understand what it is that is really upsetting us.  We never should try to analyze this, in fact, because the ego approves of analyzing the ego’s “dynamics,” thus affirming its importance.  So let it be enough that we realize that there are deeper reasons for our usual upsets than we will ever be able to ferret out.  And then let us let it all rest in God’s hands.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I find myself upset for one reason or another nearly every day.  That just seems to be the way of this world.  Help me to turn these upsets, whether major or minor, immediately over to You.  And then let me turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance in how to live better.  He will tell me.  I need only to ask and to ask in sincerity.

Thank You for Your part in giving me a good day.  May my upsets today be small, and may I immediately realize that there is a better way to live–Your way.

Amen.

Understanding Amiss

ACIM Workbook Lesson 3 – for Monday, January 3, 2011

Affirmation:  “I do not understand anything I see in this room.”

Selected Passage:

“These are not exercises in judgment.  Anything is suitable if you see it.  Some of the things you see may have emotionally-charged meaning for you.  Try to lay such feelings aside, and merely use these things exactly as you would anything else.  (WB5)”

Reflections:

We are individuals steeped in confusion, even when we think we know the most.  It is very necessary in these first lessons to avoid the emotional, and to see everything just as it is.  This is not unlike Zen Buddhism, where the object is seen for what it is only.  Whatever one is doing, he or she just “does.”  We do not project meaning onto the world that may only confuse an already troubled mind.

For the perennial student of the Workbook, these first few lessons may seem tedious.  After all, we think we know that projection makes perception (an oft repeated assertion in the Text), and we know that what the ego perceives is always lamentable.  But, we still can learn, once a year, from these early lessons.  We reinforce in our minds the fact that the ego has probably still retained a foothold in our minds.  And we would not have it to be thus.  Exercises such as these early ones can prepare us for ever more attempts to disown the part of our mind called the “ego.”

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May my ego wither away this year.  I am impatient, because my mind is filled with the statements of Your Course.  Yet I have not walked the whole pathway yet, and I know this well.  Help me to disown that part of my mind called the “ego.”  May I reach, ever upward, toward Awakening.

Thank You for being with me as this new year begins.  I have great hopes for a good year.  This year spent with Your Workbook for Students is an exciting way to live.

Amen.

The Cessation of Learning

“Learning is not meant to last.  This is why even this course work comes to an end.  It comes to an end here and now as we move past study and learning to observation, vision, and revelation.  (A Course of Love:  Treatise on the New, 9.1)”

Affirmation:  “May I come to understand how I will ‘know’ when learning ceases.”

Reflections:

As readers, we have been seekers, probably all of our lives.  We have longed to know of the hidden things of heaven and earth.  Surely many who preceded our time in this world were also seekers.  It is our blessing to have more words of reassurance upon which to draw, words from these more recent readings.  Many of us do view both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love as channeled writings of Jesus.

Are we to keep seeking through our reading, and through other means, relentlessly?  Is there a place where we will rest easy, that we are justified?

A Course in Love indicates that there is a time when learning, as such, ought to cease.  Or perhaps to be transformed into another means of coming to know.   It does take a a bit of “learning” to understand what is meant by “observation, vision, and revelation.”

“Observation” is akin to noticing what surrounds us, even in this sometimes misguided world.  “Vision” and “revelation” are familiar words from A Course in Miracles also.  Vision gives us the means to see, and it is viewed in ACIM as a gift of the Holy Spirit.  Revelation is viewed in ACIM as a gift of God, and proceeds from God to us (never the reverse).  A significant passage from ACIM indicates that revelation may occasionally reveal the end to us, but to get there the means are needed.

ACIM is meant to be those means for the time of the Holy Spirit.  A Course of Love, meant for the time of Christ, takes us a step farther along.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

As I reach forth to understand what living in the time of Christ really means, may I be reassured that You are always there.  This time is what many generations have waited to find.  Thank You for my life during this time.

Thank You that I can be reassured that my life does not have to be a constant seeking, that there is an end point, a point of arrival.  Help me to know what this means as my pathway ahead unfolds.

Amen.

ACIM Workbook Lesson for Day 137:

When I am healed I am not healed alone.

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.