Learning through Rewards vs. Learning through Pain

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

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


1 – We Do Not Have to Learn through Pain

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

2 – Study of ACIM Brings Increased Peace and Joy

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

3 – Pain Brings Only a Temporary Effect

It is enormously gratifying to know that someone like Jesus says that pain brings only a temporary effect.  So long in our world we have brought pain upon ourselves and our world, and we have believed (when we reflected) that we have learned something from this pain.  But here Jesus makes it plain that our pain is not wanted by God, and, especially, that God did not “cause” our pain.  We do not have Him to blame, but only ourselves and our mass hallucination (an interpretation, not stated in ACIM).  We can turn to reward whenever we wish.  We just need to ask the Holy Spirit for help in how to proceed.

4 – Choose to Learn through Rewards

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


Dear Father/Mother,

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

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


Solace for a Bewildered Mind and Frightened Heart

ACIM Workbook Lesson 334 – for Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Affirmation:  “Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives.”

“I seek but the eternal.  For Your Son can be content with nothing less than this.  What, then, can be his solace but what You are offering to his bewildered mind and frightened heart, to give him certainty and bring him peace?  Today I would behold my brother sinless.  This Your Will for me, for so will I behold my sinlessness.  (WB469)”


1 – Is “Sinlessness” Valid?

We need to recognize the sinlessness of our brothers and sisters, and of ourselves.  This is why we seek only the eternal.  While the concept of sinlessness is often one of the stumbling blocks in A Course in Miracles, it is a completely benign concept.  It says that the impossible has never occurred.  We have not really separated from God, despite the appearances of this illusory world.  We are caught in unreality, and we blame each other, as well as ourselves, for the “sins” that we believe brought this state of affairs upon us.

2 – The “Tiny, Mad Idea”

We have not sinned.  We are still as God created us (a frequent refrain in ACIM).  But we have made mistakes, and these mistakes began with a “tiny, mad idea” about which the Son/Daughter of God forgot to laugh, making what seemed to be real effects borne of this cause.  We thought in that tiny moment of time that we wanted something more than everything, something more than God.  We thought that separation would offer us something that we would like better.  And so the long descent, over millions of years, happened for all of us.  Jesus says that the return may take a similarly long time, over millions of years.  But, once begun, the end is certain.  We will return.  And in the meantime we do what we can to see that our brothers and sisters also return.

3 – Madness of This World

When we gain an intuitive inkling of what sinlessness really holds out to us, then we are well on our way to understanding how genuine we can make our forgiveness of our brothers and sisters, and of ourselves.  We will realize that the separation, though seemingly real enough to build up a whole world around us, is actually based on very flimsy grounds.  We should not underestimate the insanity, the madness, of this world.  But we can look at it, and simply say, “This is unreal.”

4 – Enter the Eternal

When we behold our brothers and sisters as sinless, we will be entering into the eternal.  And we will be immeasurably happier for not holding their “sins” against us as grievances any longer.


Dear Father/Mother,

I would not spend any time today nursing grievances.  Holding them close to my heart is senseless and brings only despair.  We are not innocent in time, but we are innocent in eternity.  If this idea seems elusive, perhaps we need to realize that the eternal is the place where we want to spend our day.  The things of the eternal–the joyous, peaceful, tranquil, and serene emotions–are manifestations of the love that we are need to receive.  The fear that we sense is only in time, and thus it is as unreal as time itself is.  Illusions do not grab us, asking for verification, when we turn our day over to the guidance of the Guide that God gave.

May the Holy Spirit take me by the hand today and lead me along peaceful pathways.  May we not turn the inevitable pains of day-to-day living into suffering.  May we realize that even the experience of pain, as Jesus tells us, is unnecessary.  May I take to heart today the statement in A Course in Miracles that I do not have to learn through pain.  I would, as would anyone, choose to learn through rewards.  And may Jesus direct me along the way that will lead to this eventuality.  May learning through rewards be a part of my experience today.

Thank You for Your Guide, the Holy Spirit.  May I discern His guidance accurately, and may I not drop into ideas that partake of falsehood rather than truth.  May I follow Your will in all that transpires.


What Is the Word of God?

ACIM Workbook Lesson 276 – for Monday, October 3, 2011

Affirmation:  “The Word of God is given me to speak.”

“What is the Word of God?  ‘My Son is pure and holy as Myself.’  And thus did God become the Father of the Son He loves, for thus was he created.

“Father, Your Word is mine.  And it is this that I would speak to all my brothers, who are given me to cherish as my own, as I am loved and blessed and saved by You.  (WB434)”


1 – We Are Still as God Created Us

“Pure” and “holy” are different ways of saying that we are all actually innocent of wrongdoing.  We are still as God created us (from the Workbook).  We have made mistakes, but we live in an illusory world, and these mistakes and this world are not reality.  Of course, we do see effects of our mistakes in this illusion, and we will act to undo wrongs that we may have perpetrated, if this is now possible.  We see, in our egoic minds, the result of mistakes made “real” in illusion, but nevertheless felt by flesh-and-blood creatures that we are.

2 – We Choose Our Reality

Our suffering is felt by us and felt by those who love us.  Even though we are told in A Course in Miracles that nothing happens that we have not chosen, we do have difficulty with this concept.  If we see this message truly, we will not blame the victim, although much New Age thinking does.  We will see that the Self that chose this pain did so for a reason, and that God’s best answer to us is to guide us away from the pain.  He would not have us learn through pain, which is quite unnecessary (a Text tenet).  We learn best through rewards, which are lasting in their effect (unlike pain, which is temporary at best, a Text tenet).  We are living in illusion, and so the Self that chose the pain knows that the illusion is just that–and not real.  But we are little selves that do not see the broader picture, and so we question and bemoan our fate.  It should not be thus.

3 – Guide Our Thinking to a Better Life

We can create a better life for ourselves by changing the manner of our thinking.  ACIM counsels this, and a close study of Jesus’s words will change one’s life for the better.  The more our minds are filled with Course-centered thinking, the better our lives will become.  We lose those “happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings” only when we attack, drop into judgment, or plan unnecessarily against contingencies to come.  (If there are plans to be made, the Holy Spirit will tell us of these–an ACIM tenet.)

4 – Our Real Selves Are Holy

So, today, let us see ourselves, our real Selves as pure and holy.  In no way are we to attach ego to this perception, because, if we do, we fall on our face again.  Let us know that innocence is real because illusion is not real.  And it is the real world that we would choose for our living today.


Dear Father/Mother,

I would listen to Your Word and not the egoic voice that I made in a foolish, but tragic desire to be separate from You.  I would not end the separation on Your timetable, but I ask that Your Voice guide me all through the day, so that I fulfill Your requirements for salvation.  Help me to be patient and kind always, the epitome of loving.  May I not hold anything that is amiss against my holy brothers and sisters, Your children.

Be with me throughout this day, something that I ask of You repeatedly.  Your Voice will guide me when I am flexible enough to listen.  Help me to be pliable today.