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In Times of Temptation

“Child of God, you were created to create the good, the beautiful, and the holy. Do not lose sight of this. Invite me to enter anywhere temptation arises.” (ACIM, COA ed., T-1.46.7:1-3)

“The good, the beautiful, and the holy.” This phrase antedates The Way of Mastery, and these words reappear in this later channeling. The one who channeled (and continues to channel) Jesus, Jayem, emailed me that Jesus had prevented him from reading A Course in Miracles, a directive, as it were. So Jesus himself is responsible for this turn of phrase.

What does this beautiful phrase actually mean? It is what we are to be about in this world. And in changing this world, and, ultimately, in creating a new world. The words are actually synonymous, though we recognize that there are differences among the words. May we listen to Jesus today, and do what we can to lead a beautiful life while carrying out his instructions to create the “good, the beautiful, and the holy.”

If we sense that we are about to take the wrong turn, let us turn to our leader, Jesus, to refrain from allowing temptation to have its way with us. None of us are above temptation. Actually it is the last vestiges of the ego in ourselves. The ego is one way to look at the hated and feared “devil.” The ego does not mean us well. Historically and traditionally, we have seen the devil as the tempter.

Jesus at this point in A Course in Miracles is taking upon himself the role that will later be assumed by the Holy Spirit, and, later still, the Christ-Self. He is telling Helen and Bill, and, by extension, us, to turn to an epitome of good (in himself) to withstand the wily ways of temptation.

We know when we are being tempted. There will be a little excitement, and a sense of not being able to stop ourselves from moving forward. But we will have an uneasy feeling, and all will not be well.

Turn to our companion and guide, Jesus, at such times. Let the good, beautiful, and holy envelop us.

And all will be well.

There Will Be Temptations along the Way the Teacher of God Has Yet to Travel, and He Has Need of Reminding Himself throughout the Day of His Protection

1 – Temptations

“Yet there will be temptations along the way the teacher of God has yet to travel, and he has need of reminding himself throughout the day of his protection. How can he do this, particularly during the time when his mind is occupied with external things? He can but try, and his success depends on his conviction that he will succeed. He must be sure success is not of him, but will be given him at any time, in any place and circumstance he calls for it. (M42)”

2 – Protected

Temptations! Yes, we are still subject to them, despite how many hours we have studied the Course. But if we are convinced that we are protected, we will overcome these temptations.

3 – If in Doubt, Don’t

How do we recognize a temptation? “If in doubt, don’t.” This is an interpretation of the Course, a statement not found therein. But it seems to work most of the time. It sounds cautious, but perhaps avoiding temptation is a time to be cautious.

4 – Holy Spirit

We cannot depend upon ourselves to overcome temptation. It “will be given him,” (i.e., “us”) at any time that we call for it. We overcome temptation by calling on the Holy Spirit to guide us, to give us strength to overcome.

5 – Wavering

“There are times his certainty will waver, and the instant this occurs he will return to earlier attempts to place reliance on himself alone. Forget not this is magic, and magic is a sorry substitute for true assistance. (M42)”

6 – “Magic”

Jesus uses a particular definition of “magic” that is largely negative. He does not use the lighthearted wish for something exquisite that we have usually associated with this term. His is the term used in traditional psychology, in which “magical thinking” is seen as essentially irrational.

7 – Irrational Thinking

If we turn to irrational thinking, we will not receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We will be caught by egoic thinking. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is eminently better, because the Holy Spirit helps us to move into flow in our days. Our days will develop as beautiful pearls on a necklace, one right after the other, wondrously being created as we walk along our pathway through life.

8 – Certainty

If our certainty wavers, we will miss all this. So be careful today, and don’t let certainty waver. God wants us happy, and He will arrange events for us that will make us so, if we are amenable to His Will. His Guide, the Holy Spirit, takes the time and attention with us that we need. There can be no better way to craft a life than to give up personal judgments to the all-embracing knowledge of God’s Universal Inspiration.

9 – Nothing

“When all magic is recognized as merely nothing, the teacher of God has reached the most advanced state. All intermediate lessons will but lead to this, and being this goal nearer to recognition. (M42)”

10 – Nothing at All

Magic—irrational thinking—is not actually anything at all. It is illusory, but being illusory doesn’t mean that we won’t see it as real. We are very likely to see our most irrational thoughts as reflecting true reality, and when this happens, we are truly lost in the insanity to which all in this world are ultimately found.

11 – Insanity

But when we realize that all of our irrational thinking, our insanity, brings us nothing that we want, that it is truly meaningless, then we have reached the most advanced state.

12 – Today

Let that place be where today finds you.

13 – Will of God

“There is no substitute for the Will of God. In simple statement, it is to this fact that the teacher of God devotes his day. Each substitute he may accept as real can but deceive him. But he is safe from all deception if he so decides. Perhaps he needs to remember, ‘God is with me. I cannot be deceived.’ Perhaps he prefers other words, or only one, or none at all. (M42)”

14 – God’s Will = Our True Will

God’s Will and our true will are actually identical. He says, in effect, “Do this, for it will make you happiest.” That is not to say that we will be doomed if we fail to follow any and all guidance, just that we will be less than as happy as we could be. And God would not have us less than as happy as we could be.

15 – Guidance

We move with God through the day, God as speaking to us through the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And we live well this way. Nothing and nobody can take our joy from us when we are living close to God, close to His Guide. We have limitless release and pure joy (from the Manual of ACIM), and we find delight in the smallest things with which we are confronted in a given day. We no longer rue the day.

16 – Charmed Life

Even another who attacks us cannot break through our protection. When we are One with God, we walk a charmed path.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Help me to recognize temptations when they arise. And help me to say, “If in doubt, don’t.” This has helped me before, and I pray that this statement will help me always.

Please be with me to guide me from the temptations that may beset me. May I know that this is a particular form of trial, and I know that trials do beset us in this world.

Amen.

A Warning about Righteousness

paris street - rainy day
“This first lesson on the temptation of the human experience comes in truth as a warning against righteousness. It comes to remind you, as you replace the thought system of illusion with the thought system of the truth, that having remembered the truth of who you are, you are called to forget the personal self who would find this cause for righteousness. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 11.17)”

Affirmation: “I would avoid self-righteousness today and every day.”

Reflections:

1 – Ego

The passage for today gives a stern warning about how the ego can entrap us again. The ego is very wily, and though only a part of our belief about ourselves, it does seem to act out of our control. But it is simply madness, but madness that can wreck great havoc. We are moving from illusions to truth, and when we recognize this, the ego can rear its head through a sense of self-righteousness, that we are somehow “better” for this difference. We are “better” to the ego, which sees this change as a chance for self-aggrandizement. And then we are trapped in illusion again. The journey from the house of illusion to the House of Truth has been aborted.

2 – Only Time Separates

The temptations of the human experience are great, and it is up to us to bypass these temptations. Only time separates the Son/Daughter of God, the Christ Self, from those these trapped in an egoic sense of the personal self. All will find the way back eventually, and we are needed to bring that time closer, because the world is weary, and all things in it are weary (from A Course in Miracles). The world is very tired, and it winds on in a wearying fashion, causing us to weary ourselves (also from ACIM). Do our brothers and sisters not need as greatly? And to save them from themselves, we ourselves must be “saved,” heading through salvation to Christ-consciousness.

3 – Journey

The journey has been long, though it has all been an illusion, and we are actually on a “journey without distance” (from ACIM). Let us not become self-righteous on this illusory journey, negating all the good that we could do for ourselves as well as others. Self-righteousness is such a pitiable state, and those who are on a spiritual pathway are the main ones who are afflicted with this trait. So it behooves us to watch ourselves carefully. We can still backslide, in my opinion. We can still lose our way. And certainly knowing the contents of A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love, if we lack the lack and fall into self-righteousness, is a prescription for disaster.

4 – Pray

Let’s pray today that we may be spared from the temptation to think ourselves better than others who have not read all that we have read, studied all that we have studied. We are not better. We are equals. And in heaven we share all talents equally. The only advantage today in having “more” than another is the chance to be happy, and the chance to share that happiness with others. This is all that salvation holds out for us. We are perfectly calm and quiet, without drama, and so enlightenment is really “nothing special” (a Zen thought). But it can be everything for us when we walk the narrow pathway that keeps us from temptations and draws us ever closer to God.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would avoid righteousness today. If I succumb to it, I will be like the Pharisee of the New Testament, who thanked God that he was not like other men, and he left his prayer unjustified. I would recognize that the ego can still entrap me with such thoughts. I would avoid this maladjusted thinking today.

Help all of us to realize that we are here to assist each other in our path toward salvation. I do not seek to proselytize, only to share with others who are ready to hear what I might be able to say. And in this endeavor there is a minefield for the ego. I would avoid that minefield today. Help me to recognize that You are there for all of us, and that only time separates any bit of knowledge that any of us have come to recognize.

Amen.

How to Avoid Temptation

“The avoidance of magic is the avoidance of temptation.  For all temptation is nothing more than the attempt to substitute another will for God’s  (M-16.9)”

Affirmation:  “avoid temptation”

Reflections:

1 – How to Avoid Temptation?

How might one avoid temptation?  There will be temptations along the pathway that we walk, and there is no getting around this.  We are not perfect, even, perhaps, when we have awakened.  (A Course in Miracles is not definitive about this, but A Course of Love
indicates that we will still not be perfect.)  The best way to avoid temptation, or, more precisely, not to accept the tempting thing that is offered, is to ask for help at the “point of contact.”  When we are tempted, we are seeking something of the ego, the part of ourselves that thinks that it has separated from God.  We think that another will (our imperfect will) will get us something that we want, something more than the everything that we are promised.  (Yes, we are promised “everything” in ACIM.)  Jesus says that it is as though we would say that we want this one (little) thing, and it will be as everything to us.  But this one little thing would not satisfy for long, and in so doing we are making a pact with our ego–and the ego always fails us.

2 – ACIM‘s Definition of “Magic”

What does “magic” mean in this context?  It is akin to mental illness, the “magical thinking” that secular psychology describes so precisely.  We are thinking things that are not true, and never can we make the true out of the false.  The false will remain false, and it will take us down with it.  We do not want this.

3 – Following the Will of God

If we have love for God (and all of us do, or we would not have read this far), then we will want to follow the Will that grants us everything that we really want.  We really want the intangibles, the promises that God gives; but we also want the material, and we should not think, wrongly, that God Himself cares little for the material.  Jesus recalls to our minds the lilies of the field, and their beauty, and the lilies do not toil.  Yet they cannot compare even to Solomon’s glory.

4 – May We Avoid Temptation

May we not fall prey to temptation today.  May we know that the idea that there is something out there that is better than what God would give is an anomaly.  We will always get the best when we attract it through our gratitude and love for God and our brothers/sisters.  And we must always love ourselves as well, even when we have disappointed ourselves.  We cannot measure up, ever, because we are trying to be perfect, and that is essentially a disheartening message.  The Bible does quote Jesus as saying that we should be perfect, even as the Father in Heaven is perfect.  But I think that there are mysteries here that we cannot understand until we have walked the whole pathway back to God.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would stop, consider, and not go forward when I sense that I am trying to somehow get around Your will for me.  Please help me in this endeavor, today.  I would not seek to walk a different pathway, an egoic pathway that will take me far from You.  You want Awakening for me; I know that this is Your will.  But I need help.  And You are there for me.  This I know.

May I say the right things to reach my brothers and sisters, especially those in my immediate circle and those who read this blog.  I would help and not hinder in any way.  

Be with me through this glorious day, this harbinger of better days ahead.

Amen

Temptation

“Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not.  And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead.  It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear.  This is temptation; nothing more than this.  Can this be difficult to choose against? (T665)”

 

Affirmation:  “Be vigilant against temptation.”

Reflections:

1 – Comforting Attitude

This commonsense attitude toward temptation does not scare us.  It comforts.  At this same time, though, it warns of the very real problems that yielding to temptation does bring.  “Be vigilant against temptation” because, in part, it is a “thing of madness.”

2 – Be Flexible

When we feel tempted to follow a way that is not of the Holy Spirit or of Christ-consciousness (the latter from A Course of Love), then we are not being flexible enough.  We need, as I have often said, to be ready and willing to “turn on a dime.”  Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us just at the precise moment, and if we are pressing ahead, we may not turn on a dime.  But we need to do so.  And the secular words, “Be flexible,” help me more often than not to make that shift in what I was planning to say or do.

3 – A Warning about Temptation

We know when we are being tempted, because the guidance of the Holy Spirit warns us (if we listen to Him).  Then, our best response is to turn away as soon as we are able.  Sometimes we yield momentarily, because our stubborn wills get in the way.  We feel rebellious, and we don’t listen to guidance from the Holy Spirit.

4 – Choose “Against”

The madness, though, is answered in Jesus’s final question, “Can this be difficult to choose against?”   The description just prior to this question is vivid indeed:  “black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die.”  Surely we can be flexible enough to follow the Holy Spirit when He warns us that we are treading into dangerous, ego-willed, behavior–temptation.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and thank You for the fact that I am warned, as You promise, when I would not be flexible enough, when I would be tempted to make a poor choice.  May I always remain flexible enough, knowing that being in the flow of the day that my Guide gives me is the very best way to live.

Be with me today as the sun shines and the light is a harbinger of fresh and new days ahead.  Thank You for the joy that I feel in the midst of any and all problems.  Your felt presence is always there, when I am open to sensing You.  Thank You.

Amen.

Temptation

“‘Lead us not into temptation’ means ‘Recognize your errors and choose to abandon them by following my guidance.’  (T9)”

Affirmation:  “I would abandon my errors today.”

 

Reflections:

1 – Jesus’s Words

This is Jesus’s interpretation, for students/teachers of A Course in Miracles, of a biblical statement attributed to him.  Perhaps the interpretation has always been in place, but now the world is ready to hear it through ACIM.  We may see herein that the temptation to go against the guidance of Jesus, or the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is a choice that will slow us down.  We need to be flexible, to find the affirmations that will keep us from rebelliously avoiding guidance because we are still so strong-willed.  My personal favorite, which is very secular, is simply, “Be flexible.”  This talks to my ego in a way that undoes it, and it uses secular language that will not cause temptation to overcome me.

2 – We Do Not Sin in Eternity / We Make Mistakes in Time

Elsewhere the Course makes clear that we do not sin in eternity (we are still innocent, because we are caught in illusions), but we do make mistakes.  And if we recognize mistakes, we will move quickly to correct them.  Calling a mistake a “sin,” though, is highly attracting, in a perverse sort of way.  We will sometimes choose to sin again and again; changing the concept to that of a “mistake” eliminates the attraction at its core.  Who would repeat mistakes that, with Jesus’s guidance, are very easily corrected?  At one point in ACIM, we are told that we have “sinned” in time, but that time does not really exist.  Eternity is on the valid concept that is close to time, but not the same.

3 – How Do We Recognize Our Errors?

We need to recognize when we have made errors, though.  This is not always easy, because our conscience may have damaged areas in it.  We may be led astray, having rationalized poor thinking and behavior in ourselves many times previously.  This is the time to return to A Course in Miracles, and to ask humbly for guidance to see anew.  This guidance will lead us along more positive lines, and we will leave behind the erroneous thoughts and misdeeds of the past.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

Sometimes when my emotions are especially strong, I am sure that I have great difficulty in discerning Your guidance.  My emotions, sometimes ruled by my ego, interfere with my intuition, my discerning of Your way.

I would not have it thus today.  I would stop, calm myself, and then ask quietly and peacefully, “What would You have me do?”  I pray that this is enough.  Please guide me even when my thinking is muddled by overwrought emotions.  When stress is heavy, we often cannot discern in peace.  Be with me especially at such times.  I know that my good intentions are not enough, but I pray that when times are hard, You will always remember me–even when I forget You.

Thank You.

Amen.

Temptation = Insane and Meaningless

“Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not.  And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead.  It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear.  This is temptation; nothing more than this.  Can this be difficult to choose against? (T665)”

 

Affirmation:  “temptation – insane and meaningless”

Reflections:

1 – Temptation Should Not Scare Us

This commonsense attitude toward temptation does not scare us.  It comforts.  At this same time, though, it warns of the very real problems that yielding to temptation does bring.  “Be vigilant against temptation” because, in part, it is a “thing of madness.”

2 – We Know when Temptation Visits

We know when we are being tempted, because the guidance of the Holy Spirit warns us (if we listen to Him).  Then, our best response is to turn away as soon as we are able.  Sometimes we yield momentarily, because our stubborn wills get in the way.  We feel rebellious, and we don’t listen to guidance from the Holy Spirit.

3 – To Choose to Follow Temptation Is Madness

The madness, though, is answered in Jesus’s final question, “Can this be difficult to choose against?”   The description just prior to this question is vivid indeed:  “black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die.”  Surely we can be flexible enough to follow the Holy Spirit when He warns us that we are treading into dangerous, ego-willed, behavior–temptation.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would be flexible enough today to avoid temptation, because, if I am listening closely enough, the Holy Spirit warns me when I am becoming a little bit insane.  Thank You for keeping my Guide within close to my conscious mind.  I would, as part of You, not diverge from the pathway that is best and right for me.  You would wish no less of me.

Be with me as I escape from the madness that temptation really reflects.  A thing of madness is not the thing that I would choose.  Help me today to be turn aside when temptation beckons, and lean instead to a listening ear that hears my Guide.

Thank You for letting me feel Your presence.

Amen.