1 – Herein Lies Heaven or Hell
“It is impossible that the prayer of the heart remain unanswered in the perception of the one who asks. If he asks for the impossible, if he wants what does not exist or seeks for illusions in his heart, all this becomes his own. The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lies hell and Heaven. (M53)”
2 – Protected
Few of us know our hearts well. We sometimes ask for things that we really don’t want, and yet in our hearts, we do, and then these prayers are answered. Elsewhere Jesus assures us that God will protect us from danger in prayers that are really bad for us. So even in the prayer of the heart we are protected.
3 – Projection Makes Perception
We may not realize that we are protected, though. We may, since projection makes perception (a Course tenet), find that erroneously we are in a situation that we didn’t think we asked for. Yet, we did, on some level. This is a particularly difficult concept when we are dealing with painful issues in our lives or in the world.
4 – Not Punished
Elsewhere the Course says that we can believe what nobody else believes to be true, because in our perception, we have made it true for ourselves. Particularly do we find this in emotional matters, but it is true in the physical as well. This is not a “blame the victim” mentality, because we are not being punished, however much it may appear that we are. God does not punish, however much we may think punishment is warranted. Our own decisions give us hell or Heaven. That puts us in the driver’s seat, a very good place to be if we are attuned to God’s power and His way.
5 – Words in Teaching
“Is the teacher of God, then, to avoid the use of words in his teaching? No, indeed! There are many who must be reached through words, being as yet unable to hear in silence. (M53)”
6 – Smiles
Actually, the only time that the Manual encourages us not to use words is when other people are not ready, when they don’t want to hear what we have to say. Jesus never counsels reaching out to someone is he/she is not ready, not open to what we say. Some are ready only for a smile, he says elsewhere.
7 – Words
But, when we teach, when others are ready to hear what we say, we are led to speak in words—even though words are just symbols, twice removed from reality.
8 – Proselytizing
Proselytizing doesn’t usually work, unless the person is very open to change, to a realization that he/she has not yet had. Proselytizing to the uninterested will turn that individual even further off. By what analysis would it work in the reverse? We aren’t open to what we don’t want to hear, and this is especially true in matters of faith, where doubt may make a closed mind.
9 – Share
So, share, but share carefully, when asked—or when we recognize that the other would like to hear what we have to say. A too-holy attitude will always be a turnoff. And religious people may not always represent their faith well. I have noticed that the ego gets a strong toehold in many very religious people. In fact, three of the most religious individuals I have ever known have also had the biggest egos, as I have evaluated them.
10 – Ego
This is not the way of A Course in Miracles. We need to, and indeed must, stop when we see that our ego is getting in the way of our witnessing. We need to just let the ego calm down as we don’t reinforce it. We need to pray that the ego will just dissipate, just wither away.
11 – Definition of the Ego
Note that this ego is not the same as what Freud and other psychologists are talking about. Psychologists recognize the importance of a strong sense of self in growing up to adulthood. When we are strong, then our boundaries can melt safely. This is an attitude recommended by acclaimed Course teacher Marianne Williamson in her book on prayer entitled Illuminata.
12 – Ego = Part of Our Belief about Ourselves
The ego that A Course in Miracles decries is a persona that is not only egotistical, but also a false way of seeing ourselves. It is, as defined by ACIM, a part of our belief about ourselves. But it is false, through and through. And it is constantly being undone. What good thing pursued by the ego doesn’t become ashes and dust over time? So what we pursued was not really a good thing at all.
13 – Holy Spirit
The ego always brings us to this impasse. But there is a way beyond. It is found in the simple, daily walk with the Holy Spirit, listening to His guidance (in the many ways that He shows guidance to us). Often we sense guidance by intuition. Sometimes it is just an inner knowing. Sometimes it is a chance word or phrase uttered by another. Don’t get superstitious about what you see or hear in the outer world, but test out guidance and see if you don’t thrive in a way that you have never known before.
May I know that You protect me always, even when I ask for things that would not be good for me. Jesus assures me of this. Yet my own perception can seem to give me bad things. May my perception of my world be cleansed.
Thank You for helping through the confusions of this world. I know that You love me always, and in that I will be protected.