Defense = Makes What It Defends Against

ACIM Workbook Lesson 170 – for Sunday, June 19, 2011

Affirmation:  “There is no cruelty in God and none in me.”

“How thoroughly insane is the idea that to defend from fear is to attack!  For here is fear begot and fed with blood, to make it grow and swell and rage.  And thus is fear protected, not escaped.  Today we learn a lesson which can save you more delay and needless misery than you can possibly imagine.  It is this:

“You make what you defend against, and by your own defense against it is it real and inescapable.  Lay down your arms, and only then do you perceive it false.  (WB326)”

Reflections:

This is one of the more important passage in A Course in Miracles.  It emphasizes that when we defend ourselves, we actually help to create that which we would defend against.  Who in their right mind would do such a thing?  But we are not in our right mind, and that is the point.  We are here to come into our right mind, to let the insanity go, and to go home.  When we have awakened, we will not understand how we could have been so deluded so long.  We will shake our heads in disbelief.

Defenses also cause delay, and the world has waited long enough to be saved.  It is worn and weary (ideas from the Text), and the world needs us badly.  Let us not fail to do our part to set things aright.  Jesus himself, God Himself, depends on us in league with the Holy Spirit, Who gives us our guidance of what to say or do next.

When we give up defenses, we understand what this passage is trying to say.  It is only in the doing that we will see the benefit of following its teaching.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I have learned in my lifetime, since reading A Course in Miracles, that defense is a straw man, that it can only hurt and never help.  Help me to recall this truth to mind when a brother or sister attacks me, and I am tempted to try to defend myself.  Help me always to remember that attack is a call for help, and I do not have to defend myself at all–but to help the other as much as he or she is able to accept in that moment or later on.

Thank You for these truths.  I need to remember them in my daily life, and I ask you to call them to mind when temptation to return attack for attack arises in me.  I would not respond to this egoistic call, but instead use it as an instance to further let the ego wither away.

Amen.

When Anger Is Gone = Fear Gone = Love Here

ACIM Workbook Lesson 161 – for Friday, June 10, 2011

Affirmation:  “Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.”

“Today we practice differently and take a stand against our anger, that our fears may disappear and offer room to love.  Here is salvation in the simple words in which we practice with today’s idea.  Here is the answer to temptation which can never fail to welcome in the Christ where fear and anger had prevailed before.  Here is Atonement made complete, the world passed safely by and Heaven now restored.  Here is the answer of the Voice for God.  (WB304)”

Reflections:

The Text says that there is never any excuse for anger nor attack.  All anger and attacks are calls for help on the part of our brothers and sisters, and we need to rush to their side with reassurances.  We will not actually make the physical effort if they are unreceptive, but we will stay calm and peaceful, and we will recognize the insanity of it all.

When our brothers and sisters will welcome our response, we are to give it.  We will let them know that we love them and that we do not hold the anger and attack against them.

Anger and attack on our part has the same solution.  We must realize that we are calling for help, and that we need only turn to God for our answers.  All things, ACIM suggests are expressions of love (or help) or calls for love (or help).  When we realize this, and when we know that our real Self has not been hurt, we will forgive.  This does not mean that we will stay in an abusive relationship.  ACIM does not ask this.  But it does mean that, from a distance, we will be able to forgive.  Sometimes we have to remove ourselves from the situation for self-protection.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May nothing today tempt me to respond in anger to any perceived attack, whether that attack originates from within or from without.  My brothers and sisters are asking for help when they attack; it is basically a call for love.  Help me to respond with the best gift that they are ready to accept.  I do not want to force my beliefs on them, but everyone will, sooner or later, respond to love demonstrated.

I wish to leave anger and attack behind.  There is not just anger.  Anger is a human quality, but it is an attribute of the ego, which still rules me more than I would wish to acknowledge.  Help me to allow the ego in me to dissolve in the light of Your compassion and love.

Amen.

Do Not Defend Yourself!

ACIM Workbook Lesson 148 – for Saturday, May 28, 2011

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

Selected Passage:

“If I defend myself I am attacked.
“Sickness is a defense against the truth.  (WB276)”

Reflections:

We often think that if we do not defend ourselves, we will be treated even more badly.  But this is not the way of A Course in Miracles.  ACIM would have us to drop defense entirely as a bad idea.   As the passage says, defense does what it attempts to stop.  If we defend ourselves, we are actually attacking ourselves.

What do we do instead?  We realize that all attack and anger is either an expression of love or a call for love.  We rush to our brother or sister’s side with the love for which he/she is calling.  If this individual is not receptive at the moment, then we withdraw, and we wait to give our gifts.  A non-receptive individual will come around sooner if left to his/her own devices.  It never helps to get angry in return or to attack back.

Our sicknesses are self-chosen, though usually not on a conscious level.  We would close our eyes to the truth, and retreat into feverish dreams, afraid to let the Light in.  This will never work.  When we are sick, we need to ask very sincerely, in a quiet moment, for what our body is trying to tell us.  Maybe we are pushing too hard, and we choose sickness to get out of some of the stress.  Or maybe the stress itself is what brought on the sickness.  If stress is the issue, we need to spend time in quiet reflection with God about how we ought to bring our bodies back into peace and quiet.  I cannot say enough about spending some time in quiet with God each day, morning and evening.  This is a basic Manual technique for keeping our lives on track.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

May I honor my commitment not to defend myself when circumstances come about that seem to warrant defense.  I know that the defense is actually ineffectual and makes the situation worse.  May I not respond to blame with defense–ever.

This day I long for Your presence, felt by me throughout the day.  Days that are like this are the jewels in my lifetime.  May today be such a day.

Amen.

Don’t = Attack, Judge, Make “Plans”

ACIM Workbook Lesson 136 – for Monday, May 16, 2011

Affirmation:  “Sickness is a defense against the truth.”

Selected Passage:

“Yet this protection [i.e., healing] needs to be preserved by careful watching.  If you let your mind harbor attack thoughts, yield to judgment or make plans against uncertainties to come, you have again misplaced yourself, and made a bodily identity which will attack the body, for the mind is sick.  (WB260)”

Reflections:

A very important passage that is easy to overlook in the large picture of ACIM.  This passage tells us what has gone wrong if we lose the happy dreams that the Holy Spirit brings (an ACIM tenet).  We have attacked, yielded to judgment, or made plans to defend ourselves against uncertainties to come.  It is always one of these three that is causing the trouble–or it maybe two or all three of them.  But be reassured that if these warnings are heeded, and we stop attacking, judging, planning, we will be healed in our minds.  We will know happiness again.

We do not want a sick mind.  A sick mind has always looked outside itself in external searching (a Text tenet).  A sick mind can make a sick body (though it is never the other way around).  A body cannot make a mind sick, though the ego would have us to believe that this is the way that our bodies are autonomous and in control.  It is always the mind that is in control, regardless of what the ego tries to tell us.

We want to remain healed.  And we need to memorize these three warnings–attack, judgment, planning–and take steps to refrain from any that we are taking unto ourselves again.  They will always bring us down.  May we today make a commitment to refrain from all three, and then the Holy Spirit can work His will for healthy mind and body in us.

Prayer:

Dear Mother/Father,

When I fall into attack thoughts, judgment, or planning against uncertainties to come, I quickly lose the “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings.”  I would have those happy dreams today.  Help me to know that refraining from these three warnings is the way to stay in the happy dreams.

I would not forever hold to happy dreams.  I would awaken, and I ask that You will reach to me and guide me into Awakening.  Always Your time, though, not mine.

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.

I Can Escape from This World by Giving Up Attack Thoughts

ACIM Workbook Lesson 55 – for Thursday, February 24, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am determined to see things differently.”

Selected Passage:

“I am determined to see the witnesses to the truth in me, rather than those which show me an illusion of myself.  (WB90)”

Reflections:

We see illusions in ourselves, others, and this world, until we give up the illusions.  There is no other way.  How do we give up illusions?  We make a determination that we will ask to see the real world, and then we wait patiently until the world changes.  And we will not have long to wait.  Jesus is in charge of time (a Text tenet).

Affirmation:  “What I see is a form of vengeance.”

Selected Passage:

“The world I see is hardly the representation of loving thoughts.  It is a picture of attack on everything by everything. . .It is my own attack thoughts that give rise to this picture.  My loving thoughts will save me from this perception of the world, and give me the peace God intended me to have.  (WB90)”

Reflections:

This passage reflects a summary of all that has recently gone before.  We need to make a decision to give up attack, once and for all.  We need to choose love, and then our perception of the world will change (because our projections have changed), and we will have peace.

Affirmation:  “I can escape from this world by giving up attack thoughts.”

Selected Passage:

“As forgiveness allow love to return to my awareness, I will see a world of peace and safety and joy.  (WB90)”

Reflections:

Forgiveness is our only function in this world.  And we forgive only what has actually never happened in reality.  Our brothers and sisters, and we ourselves, have only made mistakes, and these can be corrected.  A mistake is a call for help and a call for love (ACIM says this for attack).  May we allow forgiveness to overcome us today, and may we live peacefully.

Affirmation:  “I do not perceive my own best interests.”

Selected Passage:

“I am willing to follow the Guide God has given me to find out what my own best interests are, recognizing that I cannot perceive them by myself.  (WB91)”

Reflections:

The Guide is the Holy Spirit, a frequent emphasis in ACIM.  When we let the Holy Spirit, the Universal Inspiration (a Text term), speak to us, then we will know our best interests.  And peace will overtake us.  This may not happen all at once, because the ego still may be strong in us, but it will happen sufficiently for us to see the truth of the passage quoted above.

Affirmation:  “I do not know what anything is for.”

Selected Passage:

“The purpose I have given the world has led to a frightening picture of it.  Let me open my mind to the world’s real purpose by withdrawing the one I have given it, and learning the truth about it.  (WB91)”

Reflections:

May we not let our own thoughts frighten us.  We are quite capable of doing so; in fact, this is why we are so frequently frightened.  May, instead, we extend loving thoughts, and then our own fear will recede.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I am going to try to go through this day without any attack thoughts toward myself or others.  If I vow to give up illusions of myself and others, and to see only the loving in myself and others, I will have a better chance of having this peaceful day that I want.  Be with me throughout the day as I seek to make good on my promise.

Help us to give up illusions of ourselves, the illusions that are borne of egoistic thinking.  May my view of myself change to a more benign concept, leading eventually to the truth that I do not truly understand myself at all.  Only You can give me the understanding that I will need to carry out my function of forgiveness in Your world.

Amen.

Would You Rather Be Right or Happy?

ACIM Workbook Lesson 34 – for Thursday, February 3, 2011

Affirmation:  “I could see peace instead of this.”

Selected Passage:

“It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.  (WB51)”

Reflections:

1 – Today an Important Day

This is a particularly important day in our search for peace of mind.  We do not have to choose conflict.  The Text asks, “Would you rather be right or happy?,” making it clear in the context that it is better to be happy.  The ego, which is actually always being undone, likes for us to value conflict, to be right about anything and everything.  But our brothers and sisters do not often countenance such authority in us.  We can push just so far.  Then our peace of mind, already precarious, is gone.  Surely we want something better than this.

2 – We Would See Peace

We can have something better than this.  We can see peace.  Whether we are alone or with others, we can avoid tension-producing conflict.  We do not have to become angry or to attack.  We can choose to leave behind fear thoughts (which cause the anger and attack).  True, we do not always have ourselves in firm control, and perhaps A Course in Miracles would not counsel “firm control” at all.  Relax in the joy of the Holy Spirit.  Pray.  Reflect on the words of ACIM.  Say the affirmation for the day.  If all this seems to fail, absence yourself from the scene.  A few moments of a timeout may be all that you need to have the peace of mind that sometimes seems so elusive.

3 – Peace of Mind Leads to Happiness

Peace of mind leads to happiness.  Nothing else really does.  Certainly the ego does not lead to peace of mind.  But we have expressed our willingness for the ego to wither away.  We will know far more peace, on a continuing basis, as we study the Workbook throughout this year.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Please guide me through this day to see peace instead of conflict.  I would truly rather be happy than “right.”  And this, I do understand, is not capitulation.  It is the sanest sense.  It is the answer that dismisses the ego and egoistic thinking from our awareness.  Help me to feel comfortable in dropping egotistic thinking from my mind.  Perhaps sometimes I think that I would almost not know how to react without the ego’s guidance.  But help me to realize that this is false reasoning.  The new way that You will show to me will offer gifts that go beyond my wildest imaginings.  May I know some of those blessings immediately, today.

Be with me today.  There are many hassles in daily life, and I would so rise above them today that I experience Your peace all day long.  I would not attack or experience anger in life today.  I would go within to sense You, and in the peace that I find in Your presence, all will be well.

Amen.

Invulnerability = No Attack Thoughts

ACIM Workbook Lesson 26 – for Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Affirmation:  “My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.”

Selected Passage:

“Practice with today’s idea will help you to understand that vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of your own thoughts.  Nothing except your thoughts can attack you.  Nothing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulnerable.  And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so.  (WB40)”

Reflections:

1 – “Venting” Is Not a Healthy Choice

To act out, to vent, is often seen in our world as healthy, but A Course in Miracles would say that it is anything but.  ACIM does not counsel “stuffing” feelings, though, and to believe that ACIM recommends this is a common misconception of students and even of teachers of the Course.  Jesus would have you immediately turn the matter that is causing upset over to the Holy Spirit for resolution.  If we are angry, we are judging or interpreting, and not seeing facts.  It is always an interpretation that gives rise to anger, and, as such, the interpretation can be changed to see our brother or sister as innocent, as being in grace.

2 – ACIM and Pardon/Forgiveness

This explanation brings up the matter again of just what “pardon” and “forgiveness” really means in the understanding of A Course in Miracles.  We do not pardon wrongdoing; we recognize that everything is either an expression of help or a call for help, and, given that, our first instinctual response would be to rush to the side of our brother or sister and to offer that help.  Sometimes this idea is expressed as an expression of love or a call for love.  This love is the underlying factor.

3 – Vulnerability

When we attack, we make ourselves vulnerable to the interpretation of attack being pulled back unto ourselves.  We feel vulnerable, because we have made ourselves so.  And we will suffer for it.  There is no other way.  Forgive others and we forgive ourselves the many mistakes that we make.  Fail to forgive others, and one has failed to forgive one’s self.  And we know best how numerous are the mistakes that we have made, and for which we desire forgiveness (pardon).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I leave behind attack thoughts forever today.  If this seems too unrealistic, too idealistic, may I realize that miracles are in the hands of Jesus, and he can heal a neurotic.  I would like to feel invulnerable, and today’s lesson tries to get me to see that it is my attack thoughts that are making me feel vulnerable.

Be with me today as I relinquish attack thoughts, either kept within or verbalized.  I need Your help, because, as You know, attack is something that most of us struggle to overcome.  We get angry about virtually anything, and then we frequently lash out.  I would end such foolish behavior, starting today and continuing forevermore.  Then I learn today that I will feel invulnerable, and in fact I will be so.

Amen.

The Way Out of Fear

ACIM Workbook Lesson 23 – for Sunday, January 23, 2011

Affirmation:  “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.”

Selected Passage:

“The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed.  Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless.  But this way cannot fail.  Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see.  It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.  (WB34)”

Reflections:

There is power in these words, real power.  And they work; I can speak from experience.  (Of course, I believe that everything in A Course in Miracles “works.”)  But, as Neale Donald Walsch in his Conversations with God (a trilogy) has said, evolution is not a straight line.  A Course in Miracles says that if we return to attack, to making judgments, or to unnecessary planning for contingencies to come, we will fall again from the higher plane that ACIM is patiently taking us.  So it behooves us to walk carefully, lest we slip.

This passage is based, as are so many, on the premise that projection makes perception.  When we give up attack (thoughts, feelings, actions), we will see a more peaceful world, because we will not be projecting our inner state of mind outward and seeing attack poised to strike back at us.

Test out this important lesson today.  Try to spend the day, not as it might please you most, but as it might please the Holy Spirit most.  Try to spend a day without planning, following guidance consistently (but not compulsively).  Most importantly, start the day off right.  And if something goes awry, metaphorically, start the day again.  We always get second chances, though we do want to save the world and us time, and starting the day aright does save time (an ACIM tenet).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I give up attack that I might no longer have fear–at all.  I believe what Jesus has said in this very important words from A Course in Miracles.  Help me to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout the day today.  It will be a special day of dedication if I can stay true to this declaration.

Be with me today as I try to follow the best and highest that I know.  Know that I do wish to live aright, and it is only when I slip that I have problems.

Amen.

Attack = No Peace of Mind

ACIM Workbook Lesson 22 – for Saturday, January 22, 2011

Affirmation:  “What I see is a form of vengeance.”

Selected Passage:

“Today’s idea accurately describes the way anyone who holds attack thoughts in his mind must see the world.  Having projected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike at him. . . .[T]houghts of attack and counter-attack will preoccupy him and people his entire world.  What peace of mind is possible to him then?  (WB33)”

Reflections:

This passage affirms the oft-repeated truism that when one points a finger at another, three fingers are pointed back at him (or her).  Repeatedly ACIM says that what we think or say or do to another is actually something that we are thinking or saying or doing to ourselves.  This is because projection makes perception (an ACIM tenet).  We must learn to think more kindly of our brothers and sisters in our world if we are to think more kindly of ourselves.  Otherwise, we will think that someone or something is about to strike us down.  And what peace can there be in that?

Note that we have just begun the Workbook.  We do not yet have vision, and so we are seeing vengeance.  Anger and attack are characteristics of this world, and we are very much a part of it until we change our minds.

Jesus would have us change our minds today.  Ask him for his help.  He has said elsewhere in ACIM that we can imagine that he walks with us, holding our hand.  And he has assured us that this is no idle fantasy.  He has also said that he is available for everyone at any time.  And he will come at the first unequivocal call.  These reassurances are all culled from the Text, but they are particularly appropriate in the context of this lesson today from the Workbook.  The theme is the same.  And we do have help.  We are not cast adrift in a world of vengeance, to be left there without any assistance to find our way to a better frame of mind.  This is a course in mind training, and with this lesson on this day, we have made great strides forward.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May I attack nobody today, and may I not even entertain attack thoughts.  I realize that as long as I think “attack,” I will think that this attack is rebounding back to me.  I would not have this today.

Please be with me all day long.  Help me to be aware of Your presence.  Keep my mind safe and peaceful, free of attack wishes.  Then my day will go well.  Thank You.

Amen.

Slight Twinge of Annoyance = Intense Fury

ACIM Workbook Lesson 21 – for Friday, January 21, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am determined to see things differently.”

Selected Passage:

“You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.  (WB32)”

Reflections:

The chosen passage for today is a crucial step in understanding the message of A Course in Miracles.  Because we live in a world of illusion (a “dream”–an ACIM tenet), then our forgiveness of our brothers and sisters is always justified.  They are innocent, in a state of grace.  We do not pardon real things that have happened out of the “goodness” of our hearts.  We pardon because nothing real has actually happened; our Self has not been damaged in any way.  And this is why anger and attack are never justified (ACIM tenets).

We see today in this lesson that mild annoyance is just as disturbing to our inner state as intense fury.  This emphasis is characteristic of ACIM.  There is nothing “partial” in our world; the smallest emotion is given as much credence as that happening which would arouse tremendous emotion.

We want to see ourselves, as well as our brothers and sisters, “differently.”  We want to be able to forgive with a whole heart, holding nothing back.  When we have studied ACIM, this blessing is what is held out to us.  We will have true vision.  We will see differently.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to arrest my slight twinges of annoyance at the start, before they mushroom into intense fury.  Jesus says that actually the emotions are the same, with the former only a veil over intense fury.  May I forgive in the beginning of feeling attacked; this will abort the anger that seems automatically to arise.

I love my brothers and sisters, and I would do them no harm.  They deserve pardon (forgiveness).  My real Self has never been damaged by any attack, which is actually an illusion in this world.  May my illusions (dreams) not mislead me today.

Amen.