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Joy

ACIM Workbook Lesson 210 – for Friday, July 29, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me.”

“I choose the joy of God instead of pain.  (WB392)”

Reflections:

So much is up to us.  We can choose joy, even in the midst of sorrow.  We do not have to choose pain.  Jesus says that it is not necessary to learn through pain.  Many do, though, and Eckhart Tolle is one who did so.  Eckhart is an awakened teacher, who has quoted from A Course in Miracles in his writings (including The Power of Now).  But Jesus says that learning through rewards is more powerful, and more lasting (normally).

Bad things do happen to good people, as Harold Kushner has told us.  But we do not have to invite misery at such times.  We need to reach inwardly to God, to the personal experience of God’s inward joy.  Prayer and communion with God will do it for us.  Forgiveness of ourselves, as well as our brothers and sisters, will also give us joy.  Find today some of those experiences which have led to joy.

Our choice at such times is very important.  The Text says that we choose what we will experience.  We have just that much power.  We do not often want to believe this, because we are actually afraid of the power of our minds (an ACIM tenet).  But we will not respect what appears to be weak, and our minds are not weak.  We can experience the joy of God today despite outward evidence to the contrary.  And repeatedly choosing God’s joy will become a habit that will see us through any dark days ahead.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

May this be a good day.  May this not be a dark day.  I would choose joy, believing that with Your help I have this choice within my power.  Be with me throughout the day.  When I forget that You want happiness for me, that it is a laudable goal, help me to recall this truth anew.  

I choose to be joyous in my life, despite any trials that may come my way.  Help me to remember this choice even in the midst of the trial itself.  Ease my way, but do not make me soft.  I would be strong in Your service.

Amen.

The Great Rays / Little Edges of Light

ACIM Workbook Lesson 208 – for Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me.”

“The peace of God is shining in me now.  (WB391)”

Reflections:

The passage selected for today is a reason to pause and be thankful.  If we can feel the peace of God shining in us, we can walk a glorious pathway today.  Let us open our hearts to gratitude and accept all that God holds out for us.  We will not be disappointed.

There are a number of instances, early in the Text, in which Jesus explains “light” moments.  Notably these are the Great Rays and the tiny edges of light that surround objects when we have newly found the Way.  Why “light” experiences?  I think that the answer lies in the New Testament, where we are told that we are the light of the world.  The Great Rays beam down upon us when we have accepted the pathway of A Course in Miracles, and this experience, mystical that it is, can be frightening.  The little edges of light  around objects is a perceptual experience, a miracle, and will not last.  We ought not to be afraid of it.  It is simply a harbinger of better things to come.

Little more is said about light in A Course in Miracles about either the Great Rays or the edges of light around familiar objects.  Why not?  Likely it is because we are not to place great emphasis on this type of miracle.  Displays of miracles are not Jesus’s way.  He causes shifts in our perception, which are the real miracles.  When these shifts happen, we have an “aha” moment, but we do not dwell on it.  There are no coincidences in salvation (a Manual tenet), and we will find our way to home by following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the time that I experienced the Great Rays.  Thank You also for the earlier time in which I experienced the little edges of light around familiar objects.  Neither of these experiences lasted, but I understand that the miracles that they were would not last, were not meant to last.  The experience, the memory of the experience, has stayed with me.  For that I thank You.

May I walk through this day attuned to the miracle readiness of my brothers and sisters.  May I perform a miracle, if Jesus would have it so.  I ask that he guide me in what I do in regard to the miracles that he wants performed.

Amen.

Blessings

ACIM Workbook Lesson 207 – for Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me.”

“I bless the world because I bless myself.  (WB391)”

Reflections:

We need our own blessing.  So many of us slink through this world, quaking from the terrors in it, rather than to ask for the courage that we need to negotiate smoothly.  When we have blessed ourselves, we will naturally bless our brothers and sisters, because we can only love others to the extent that we have genuine, not egotistical, love for ourselves (paraphrased from the New Testament).

We will want to bless the world when we have accepted ourselves just as we are.  Jesus in ACIM assures us that we have not lost our innocence, that all that we thought we did through “sin” never happened in reality.  We have made mistakes, but these can be corrected, even when the person or persons involved are no longer at our side.  It is enough to ask for forgiveness for our wrongs, and to make amends when possible.  Then we walk freely and innocently in even this world.

How do we bless the world?  We take our part in salvation, a part dictated to us by the Holy Spirit.  This is the real meaning of guidance.  We do not have to “judge” what to do, because we would be wrong anyway, not seeing the whole picture.  We cannot know all the variables, but the Holy Spirit can.  So we give over our judgment to Him Who cannot fail.  And we are free.  (These previous sentences are paraphrases from the Manual.)

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to accept myself today and at the same time to feel free enough to feel my own blessing.  When I have blessed myself, I will be more ready to reach out to all the world.  I will love, in part, because when I bless the Self, I recognize that I have accepted myself and my Self.

Be with me today as I seek to follow Your guidance.  I would love all of those in my circle, and I would extend my blessing of them to the whole world.  May my thoughts and actions today reflect the blessings that You have given me so abundantly.

Amen.

I Want the Peace of God

ACIM Workbook Lesson 205 – for Sunday, July 24, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me.”

“I want the peace of God.  (WB390)”

Reflections:

ACIM says that to say these words can be meaningless, but to mean these words, “I want the peace of God,” is everything.  If we truly want the peace of God, we need to meet the conditions, which is a true, lasting commitment to seek and therefore to find.  Neale Donald Walsch, in his Conversations with God series, cautions us against using the word “want,” because the very use of this word will make the “wanting” all that we get.  ACIM does not seem to take this caution to heart.  God knows what we mean by “want,” although other writers also, especially Shakti Gawain, have encouraged us to state affirmations in the here and now–as though we already had that for which we are asking.

Perhaps we do not have to see inconsistency in these two positions.  We can move from “want” to “be” to “have” (similar to Shakti’s writing) in one easy stroke.  God will move mountains to help us, once we are expressing the desire that He move into a central place in our lives.  Indeed, He is here even when we have not asked for His presence.  God does not leave His children.  We need, though, to open to Him in order to be aware of His presence.

The peace of God will give us everything that is for our highest good.  It does not dwell on material things, for these are illusion.  But if we have peace, we can live calmly, regardless of what life may deal us.  We will be at home in God, and nobody is ever homeless with such a Haven.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Be with me today as I seek to follow Your way ever more closely.  I would be happy in this world, and to do that I must overlook the attack that another may make upon me.  I need to forgive.  Then I will know the peace that only You can give.  And I will heal my brother or sister who attacked me.  They do know forgiveness when it is offered, even when nothing is said.

Be with me today.  It is all that I ask.

Amen.

The Name of God = My Inheritance II

ACIM Workbook Lesson 204 – for Saturday, July 23, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me.”

“The Name of God is my inheritance.  (WB389)”

Reflections:

Who among us does not sometimes wonder, if we have wealth in the family, what our inheritance, monetarily, will somewhat be?  On a higher note, we may think about what we have received from our parents and grandparents that has made us what we are, our genetic and environmental gifts.

Here, though, we are seeing what our greatest inheritance really is:  the Name of God.  What does this mean?  The Name of God means (in an interpretation of ACIM, not stated therein) that we are One with God.  When our parents gave us our surname, we were, in a sense, one with them–at least in our younger years.  Now God Himself is claiming us, and we need not fret about any other kind of inheritance when we are in His corner.  He will take care of us.

It has been said many times, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.”  While surely this maxim is not always true, it is true far more often than we anticipate.  Many of us choose the sure pathway to security.  The Name of God gives us, though, the safety that we have longed to have.  He is there for us in every situation.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would choose You in every circumstance.  You are the only security that I need.  I do not need monetary security, in any real sense, though in our society nearly everyone would disagree with this.  We need the sureness of the inheritance that only You give us.  We need Your support.  Help us not to turn to egoistic means of security.  Help us to depend on You totally.

We do have obligations to provide for our families and our brothers and sisters who do not have their basic security needs met.  We need to reach out, for we are all One, and we must take our place in the great panorama of human living in this world.  But we will never live a happy life, regardless of how much money we have, if we fail to put You first.  I would claim your inheritance today, and this is all that I need.  Thank You for being here for me.

Amen.

Sickness = A Form of External Searching

ACIM Workbook Lesson 203 – for Friday, July 22, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me.”

“I call upon God’s name and on my own.  (WB389)”

Reflections:

1 – We Are Not Bodies

We are not bodies; we are the spirit that inhabits the body, and the body itself is illusion (ACIM tenets).  The physical shell that we define, all too often, as ourselves, is not eternal, and therefore it is not “real.”  It is a shell only.  And would we dress up fancily a mere shell of the eternal spirit that is waiting for our attention inside?

2 – Madness Is Ego-Driven

Frequently in A Course in Miracles, we are led to equate God’s thinking with our own minds (when sane).  When driven by the ego, ACIM says that we are mad, and that this madness is the basis for the many insane drives that the world seems to hold for us.  We seek outside ourselves for God’s mercy, and we not find Him outside ourselves.  But we make ourselves sick, but all illness, we are told in ACIM, is a form of external searching.

3 – Don’t Demand Too Much of the Body

Let us keep our illusory bodies well and strong by not demanding too much of them (ACIM tenets).  When we reach within, we will be far more likely to keep a healthy body, because ACIM is quite factual in saying that the source of sickness is external searching.  May we look inward for our healing, inward where God resides.  This does not preclude pills, for to do so might increase fear, and Jesus tells us in ACIM that the last thing that the sick need is an increase in fear, because they are already in a fear-weakened state.  May we ask today to  be free of fear in all its insidious forms, and may we call on the name of God to heal us of any and all afflictions.  The physical may not know healing, though, but its debilitating effects will diminish as our investment in fear is lessened.  Our minds will rise above, and with this change, often the physical can be healed as well.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be well today, physically and emotionally.  So I would not seek external to myself and You by trying to find solutions in a world that does not hold solutions.  Let me turn inward and find peace.  Let me find You.

Even if physical manifestations of illness remain, may I know that my true Self has not been hurt.  A healing is quite possible, though in this world sometimes it is the mind that is healed rather than the body.  May my spirit know wholeness which knows no sickness.  Be with me today as I seek to rise above any physical or emotional trouble that may seem to beset me.  I know that the real I is completely protected from harm by You.  Thank You for carrying me when trials seem to beset me on all sides.

Amen.

I Will Be Still An Instant and Go Home

ACIM Workbook Lesson 202 – for Thursday, July 21, 2011

Affirmation:  “I am not a body.  I am free.  For I am still as God created me.”

“I will be still an instant and go home.  (WB388)”

Reflections:

How do we go home?  We just get “still.”  What a revelation to many of us who have spent years running on adrenaline!  This home is not the Other Side, where we “go” when we die.  That is not what is meant at all.  This home is a form of Heaven on earth, a moment when we let ourselves be “stilled,” and we experience the peace of mind that we all crave.  This craving is not a negative, as so many cravings in this world are.  It is the best of experiences, a time when we know that we are safe and that God protects us even in the midst of what might, at times, seem to be terrible tragedies.  We are still and quiet in His love.

Until we learn how to be still in the midst of a busy world, we probably will find that ultimate salvation will elude us (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  We cannot rush about and hurry constantly and find the still, small Voice that encourages us to be filled with God and His love.

This passage emphasizes that only an “instant” is needed.  It is reminiscent of the “holy instant” in which we come to know God, according to A Course in Miracles.  These moments do not have to be infrequent, though they sometimes are.  We can invite holy instants by our demeanor.  We can ask God to fill us with His love at any time.  He waits on our invitation.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be still today, especially when conflict seems to exist all about me.  I would seek quiet and calm, two happenings that are sometimes difficult to find in our very busy world.  May we all take a moment and invite God early in the day, invite Him to take us by the hand and guide us as we walk in today’s world.

I would like to go home today.  This does not mean that I want to die, but that I want to awaken to the most glorious thoughts and actions in this world.  All are mine to have.  I know that You will this for me, and so I know that I am asking aright.  Thank You.

Amen.

The Peace of God II

ACIM Workbook Lesson 200 – for Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Affirmation:  “There is no peace except the peace of God.”

“Peace is the bridge that everyone will cross, to leave this world behind.  But peace begins within the world perceived as different, and leading from this fresh perception to the gate of Heaven and the way beyond.  Peace is the answer to conflicting goals, to senseless journeys, frantic, vain pursuits, and meaningless endeavors.  Now the way is easy, sloping gently toward the bridge where freedom lies within the peace of God.  (WB 385)”

Reflections:

The passage quoted above is especially beautiful as well as meaningful.  We can have an easy pathway home, and we do not have to die to this world to go home.  We do need to die to the egocentric way of viewing life, and when we do so, the real world comes before our eyes–at first in snatches, and then, ultimately, to be experienced on a continual basis once God has “reached down” and lifted us up to Awakening.

So often we have been led by the ego and by egotistical thinking to pathways that were bad for us.  We chose vain pursuits and hard pathways, thinking that the harder the way, the more likely that it was God’s will for us.  What a mistake!  Jesus assures us in ACIM that the way is easy, and that very little is asked of us–because the Holy Spirit contributes the greater part of our transformation.

It is said in the Text that the first obstacle that peace must flow across is the desire to get rid of it.  Why would we try to get rid of peace, because peace is a great boon for those who experience it daily?  We are addicted to the adrenaline rush (a belief of Marianne Williamson), and many of us think that when we are peaceful, we are really “depressed.”  Nothing could  be farther from the truth.  We are just unaccustomed to being peaceful, and the perfect calm and quiet that ACIM promises are not always welcomed by us.  We still like drama.  Give peace time to work its way with us.  When we slow down and reach for the Holy Spirit and His way in this world, we will live a quiet life that will surpass all the time spent previously in frantic pursuits.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would know the peace of God today.  Guide my decisions so that I do not ever feel that I am doing something amiss.  Help me to be good to all of my brothers and sisters, especially those who are intimates.  May all of us together have a good day.

Peace is a great boon.  So often we have chosen drama, even the drama of anger and attack, when there is a much better way to live.  When we live in peace with our intimates, we know joy that knows no bounds.  And You, God, surely smile upon us.

Amen.

The Peace of God

ACIM Workbook Lesson 185 – for Monday, July 4, 2011

Affirmation:  “I want the peace of God.”

“To say these words is nothing.  But to mean these words is everything.  If you could but mean them for just an instant, there would be no further sorrow possible for you in any form; in any place or time.  Heaven would be completely given back to full awareness, memory of God entirely restored,,,, the resurrection of all creation fully recognized.  (WB348)”

Reflections:

This is another favorite quotation of students/teachers of A Course in Miracles.  In an early cassette tape of necessarily limited quotations from ACIM, this passage was one of those selected.

If we can actually mean these words, we will be well on our way to the right pathway.  Heaven will be restored to our awareness, even while we live in this world.  We will remember God, i.e., we will know Awakening.

So often when we are peaceful, we think that we are depressed, and we rush about trying to “do” something.  We create adrenaline coursing through our arteries, and we are ever farther from peace.  How foolish we really are at such times!  If we would only remain still and quiet, the memory of God would return (however briefly).  Which of us would not desire this memory to return?  But it is up to us to create the conditions that can invite the experience.  That much, at least, is in our power.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I do so want the peace of God, and this prayer is as genuine as I know how to make it.  If I pray amiss, correct my prayer.  If I do or say amiss, correct those things as well.  I know that neither my brothers and sisters, nor I, will be happy until we have Your peace.

Be with me today.  I pray that if the day is stressful or peaceful, I will still feel Your peace in the midst of it.

Amen.

The Name of God = My Inheritance

ACIM Workbook Lesson 184 – for Sunday, July 3, 2011

Affirmation:  “The Name of God is my inheritance.”

“Father, our Name is Yours.  In It we are united with all living things, and You Who are their one Creator.  What we made and call by many different names is but a shadow we have tried to cast across Your Own Reality.  And we are glad and thankful we were wrong.  All our mistakes we give to You, that we may be absolved from all effects our errors seemed to have.  And we accept the truth You give, in place of every one of them.  Your Name is our salvation and escape from what we made.  Your Name unites us in the oneness which is our inheritance and peace.  Amen.  (WB347)”

Reflections:

Some teachers of A Course in Miracles believe that this is ACIM‘s version of the Lord’s Prayer from the New Testament.  Helen Schucman, the co-scribe, herself thought this.  Certainly it is a prayer that has much in common with the Lord’s Prayer.  God’s “Name” is seen as the unifying Force, keeping us all as One.

The Name of God has always been seen as a mystery.  It earlier was not said, but merely alluded to.  Yahweh was an early rendition, from the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible).  And this was a spelling that only rendered letters easier to pronounce.

This prayer lets us understand that all our mistakes can be made as nothing in God’s sight.  We will be absolved of the effects that they have seemed to cause.  (In actuality, because they have been illusions, there have been no effects at all.)

If we dwell on the mystery of God’s Name, we will come farther along the pathway to understanding this lesson.  We will be at home when we have taken unto ourselves the Name of God, our inheritance.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would like to understand more about what is meant by Your Name.  I am humbled that I share that Name with You.  Be with me today as I ponder these mysteries.

Thank You for giving me Your support through all the years of my life.  Even when times seemed difficult, I know that You were in my mind, comforting me.  I know that I was not always aware of that comfort, but I would be aware today.  May I give You a good day.

Amen.

Escape All Bondage of the World

ACIM Workbook Lesson 183 – for Saturday, July 2, 2011

Affirmation:  “I call upon God’s Name and on my own.”

“Today you can achieve a state in which you will experience the gift of grace.  You can escape all bondage of the world, and give the world the same release you found.  You can remember what the world forgot, and offer it your own remembering.  You can accept today the part you play in its salvation, and your own as well.  And both can be accomplished perfectly.  (WB343)”

Reflections:

If we read the passage carefully, we will know that today can be a very important day for us.  We accept grace, we are reconciled to God in every detail, and we offer salvation to the brothers and sisters who people our little world.  And we can, according to this passage, accomplish this perfectly!  What a promise we have in store for the encounters that we will have today.

Make today a special commitment to God.  Turn to the God within, and then turn outwardly.  Know that only each of us can accomplish the very task that God gave to us alone.

We would be released today.  If we have felt in bondage at any time in the past, let us know that this bondage is now definitely in the past.  We have remembered God.  He has led us to a new and better life.  Let us share what we have learned with those we meet today.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be mindful today of the truth that I can escape all the bondage that seems to hold me to this world.  You are with me; You have never left me.  We are One.  I would enjoy grace today, Your grace.  And I would be happy in experiencing You with no veils separating us.

Thank You for Your assurance that You are One with me.  Be with me today.  May I feel Your presence when the day turns stressful, which it may.  Help me to eliminate all sources of negative stress in my life today.  With Your help, this seemingly impossible task will be done.

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.