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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 3 "RETRAINING THE MIND"
VIII. JUDGMENT AND THE AUTHORITY PROBLEM
71 There is no man who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way. If this is the result of his own free will, he must regard his will as if it were not free, or the obviously circular reasoning involved in his position would be quite apparent. Free will must lead to freedom. Judgment always imprisons because it separates segments of reality according to the highly unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts by definition. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed. Instead of, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven" say, "Will ye first the Kingdom of Heaven," and you have said, "I know what I am, and I will to accept my own inheritance."
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK for STUDENTS
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
A theoretical foundation such as the text is necessary as a background to make these exercises meaningful. Yet it is the exercises which will make the goal possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of these exercises to train the mind to think along the lines which the course sets forth.
The exercises are very simple. They do not require more than a few minutes, and it does not matter where or when you do them. They need no preparation. They are numbered, running from 1 to 365. The training period is one year. Do not undertake more than one exercise a day.
The purpose of these exercises is to train the mind to a different perception of everything in the world. The workbook is divided into two sections, the first dealing with the undoing of what you see now and the second with the restoration of sight. It is recommended that each exercise be repeated several times a day, preferably in a different place each time and, if possible, in every situation in which you spend any long period of time. The purpose is to train the mind to generalize the lessons, so that you will understand that each of them is as applicable to one situation as it is to another.
Unless specified to the contrary, the exercise should be practiced with the eyes open, since the aim is to learn how to see. The only rule that should be followed throughout is to practice the exercises with great specificity. Each one applies to every situation in which you find yourself and to everything you see in it. Each day's exercises are planned around one central idea, the exercises themselves consisting of applying that idea to as many specifics as possible. Be sure that you do not decide that there are some things you see to which the idea for the day is inapplicable. The aim of the exercises will always be to increase the application of the idea to everything. This will not require effort. Only be sure that you make no exceptions in applying the idea.
Some of the ideas you will find hard to believe, and others will seem quite startling. It does not matter. You are merely asked to apply them to what you see. You are not asked to judge them, nor even to believe them. You are asked only to use them. It is their use which will give them meaning to you, and show you they are true. Remember only this-you need not believe them, you need not accept them, and you need not welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter nor decrease their efficacy. But allow yourself to make no exceptions in applying the ideas the exercises contain. Whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than this is required.
~ Original Hand Script of ACIM
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
L e s s o n 34
I could see peace instead of this.
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
1 The idea for today begins to describe the conditions that prevail in the other way of seeing. Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts and then extend outward. It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.
2 Three longer practice periods are required for today's exercises. One in the morning and one in the evening are advised, with an additional one to be undertaken at any time in between which seems most conducive to readiness. All applications should be done with your eyes closed. It is your inner world to which the applications of today's idea should be made.
3 Some five minutes of mind searching are required for each of the longer practice periods. Search your mind for fear thoughts, anxiety provoking situations, "offending" personalities or events, or anything else about which you are harboring unloving thoughts. Note them all casually, repeating the idea for today slowly as you watch them arise in your mind, and let each one go, to be replaced by the next.
4 If you begin to experience difficulty in thinking of specific subjects, continue to repeat the idea to yourself in an unhurried manner, without applying it to anything in particular. Be sure, however, not to make any specific exclusions.
5 The shorter applications are to be frequent and made whenever you feel your peace of mind is threatened in any way. The purpose is to protect yourself from temptation throughout the day. If a specific form of temptation arises in your awareness, the exercise should take this form:
I could see peace in this situation instead of
7 If the inroads on your peace of mind take the form of more generalized adverse emotions, such as depression, anxiety, or worry, use the idea in its original form. If you find you need more than one application of today's idea to help you change your mind in any specific context, try to take several minutes and devote them to repeating the idea until you feel some sense of relief. It will help you if you tell yourself specifically:
I can replace my feelings of depression, anxiety
~ Original Hand Script of ACIM
ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections
I could see peace instead of this
I love how very gentle our teacher is with us. He does not coerce us but simply offers his guidance on how we can change the way we think now. He is not telling us that we should see peace only that we have the option to see peace instead of the pain and suffering we experience in the world. He offers us another way of seeing rather than inducing more guilt in us when we are not at peace.
The Lesson is effective, as are all the Lessons when applied with sincerity and dedication. It is a Lesson that helps me see that it does not matter what the situation is, there is always another way I can choose to see it. This harkens back to the Lesson yesterday where we are told we can choose peace no matter what is happening around us. The fact is that peace is already in our minds and is not dependent on anything that seems to be happening. When we look at any situation or circumstance with the ego, we give outside events power to obscure the peace that is in us. Or we look to circumstances outside of us to be just right, so we will have peace. Jesus says our peace has nothing to do with outside events. Nothing outside of us can bring us peace or take it away, but we often do experience loss of peace as a result of external circumstances. When we turn away from the ego because we don't like how we feel, the Holy Spirit shows us another way to see the situation. He reminds us that peace is always available to us. If we don't experience it, it is because we are actually choosing to throw it away. Our part is to look at the choice we are making in the mind and turn to the miracle instead.
We are gently being guided and supported to open our minds to the power within us to choose again. Remember the comments yesterday about our rigid way of seeing things now. Convincing anyone about anything, even using this teaching to convince others, is a form of violence. It is attacking another's perspective. That is why the Course is big on not proselytizing our position. Our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement (the healing of our minds) for ourselves.
This is a powerful Lesson in helping us to see that we could choose peace, but we must do our part, which is to watch our thoughts. It is to bring to mind ". . . fear thoughts, anxiety-provoking situations, 'offending' personalities or events, or anything else about which we are harboring unloving thoughts." (W.34.3.2) If we deny our attacking, unloving thoughts, the Lesson has no value. We need to get in touch with these thoughts rather than denying they are there. We tend to cover up our thoughts when we are in fear, and we become highly defensive. We have established these defenses in the belief they keep us safe. "You operate from the belief you must protect yourself from what is happening because it must contain what threatens you. A sense of threat is an acknowledgement of inherent weakness; a belief that there is danger which has power to call on you to make appropriate defense." (W.135.2.1-2) Yet defenses keep us from real peace. They keep us in fear. We are working to protect the self that is not real. Now we are being asked to search our mind for these fear thoughts. "Note them all casually, repeating the idea for the day slowly as you watch them arise in your mind, and let each one go, to be replaced by the next." (W.34.3.3) This is important because to look casually is to look without judgment, meaning, we are looking with the Holy Spirit. This means we are willing to see them with some degree of detachment. They are not real and have no real consequences. They are meaningless thoughts we have given meaning.
Jesus says, "It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises." (W.34.1.4) Everything we see in the world starts with our thoughts. When our thoughts are not peaceful, we see them reflected back at us in a threatening way. But the reality is that nothing outside of us can hurt us, as there is nothing outside of us. Again, the cause of any distress is a projection of the thoughts in my mind. The world is an effect of those thoughts and mirrors back to me what is in my mind. If we get anxious about our experience in the world because someone seems to be "causing" us distress, we have an opportunity to go within and ask to see it differently. Jesus reminds us that peace is a choice we can make. The peace we are seeking is already within us. All that is required is that we uncover how it is being blocked by our beliefs, concepts, and thoughts we are holding.
Our part is to bring our awareness to the thoughts and beliefs, "and let each one go, to be replaced by the next." (W.34.3.3) Whenever we are not experiencing peace, love, and joy it is because our thoughts are blocking this experience from our awareness. We may be feeling rejected, vulnerable, not in control, controlled, a failure, or even a success. All these feelings can generate fear in us.
Underneath each of these fears, there are beliefs we hold. For example, I am afraid I am a failure because I have a belief I should be perfect, and it is unacceptable to make mistakes. If I make a mistake, I believe I am bad. I consider striving for perfection important as I value my high standards. These beliefs and values I hold put me under a lot of stress. Jesus asks, would you rather be right (about your perceptions and beliefs) or happy? Clearly the high expectations I place on myself do not make me happy. When I do not meet my standards, the ego berates me, and the cycle continues until I am willing to see how I am keeping myself from peace. Jesus asks us to expose our fears so they can be healed. A good place to start is to look at how we feel. Whenever we are not at peace it is an indication we are holding thoughts and beliefs that are not the truth.
If you experience difficulty in having thoughts come to mind and reach a blank spot in your mind, "continue to repeat the idea [I could see peace instead of this] to yourself in an unhurried manner, without applying it to anything in particular." (W.34.4.1) Whenever I wake up in the night and feel a strange sense of anxiety not necessarily tied to anything specific, I find this Lesson helpful. It may just be a vague generalized feeling that comes up of sadness, anxiety, worry, or expectations. As I apply this Lesson, I feel a sense of relief. These words, (I can replace my feelings of depression, sadness etc. with peace), repeated often, generally bring a sense of calm to my mind.
Identifying the feelings of distress is important because, as Jesus says, "You may wonder why it is so crucial that you look upon your hatred and realize its full extent. You may also think that it would be easy enough for the Holy Spirit to show it to you, and dispel it without the need for you to raise it to awareness yourself." (T.13.III.1.1-2) (ACIM OE T.12.III.10) We need to be vigilant in watching our thoughts. Jesus urges us, "Do not hide suffering from His sight, but bring it gladly to Him. Lay before His eternal sanity all your hurt, and let Him heal you. Do not leave any spot of pain hidden from His Light, and search your mind carefully for any thoughts you may fear to uncover." (T.13.III.7.3-5) (ACIM OE T.12.III.17)
My experience with this practice is there are many thoughts in my mind that create the kind of experience I am having, but I am not always aware of those thoughts unless I stay very vigilant in watching my mind. This takes work and practice. It is easy to go through the day unconscious of what is going on in our thoughts. They simply operate in the background without our awareness like a computer software program.
We all have had experiences of how thoughts affect us. For example, when we awaken and feel content, the day seems to unfold easily and happily. If something distressing shows up, our happy mood simply accepts the distress easily and things seem to go well overall. The opposite is also true. When we are cranky, everything in the day seems to go wrong. That is why we have these Lessons to start the day happily and recognize that everything in the day offers us a perfect opportunity for healing.
We do not make the correction ourselves. We just need to be willing to have the blocks to peace removed. Peace is already in our minds. It is just obscured by our thoughts. We don't need to acquire peace. We just need to uncover the thoughts that obscure it. The hard part for us is that we tend to judge ourselves for the thoughts we uncover because we think they define us; but they are not who we are. By defending our image of who we think we are, we will not be willing to uncover thoughts we judge as hateful or even murderous.
I often get into the trap of thinking that when difficult situations come up what I need to do is change things "out there" in order to be at peace. I am learning, I can respond to any difficult situation or difficult person by bringing my mind to peace first. It is really possible to bring peace to my mind with whatever situation is upsetting me. From that perspective, if I need to take action, I can take it from a center of peace instead of fighting, overpowering, arguing, or making myself right. It is like going to war in order to win peace. It can never work. Only by doing the inner work can we ever bring about peace. I find I can't always do this in the moment, but when I withdraw from these difficult situations and spend time in reflection, I can inevitably, with willingness, have my mind returned to peace.
Love and blessings, Sarah
VIII. Judgment and the Authority Problem
61 We have already discussed the Last Judgment in some though insufficient detail. After the Last Judgment there will be no more. This is symbolic only in the sense that everyone is much better off
without judgment. When the Bible says, "Judge not that ye be not judged" it merely means that if you judge the reality of others at all, you will be unable to avoid judging your own. The choice to judge rather than to know was the cause of the loss of peace. Judgment is the process on which perception, but
not cognition, rests. We have discussed this before in terms of the selectivity of perception, pointing out that evaluation is its obvious prerequisite.
always involves rejection. It is
not an ability which emphasizes only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether it be in or out of the self. However, what has been perceived and rejected-or judged and found wanting-remains in the unconscious because it
has been perceived. One of the illusions from which man suffers is the belief that what he judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless he also believes that what he judged against does not exist. He evidently does
not believe this, or he would not have judged against it. It does not matter in the end whether you judge right or wrong. Either way, you are placing your belief in the unreal. This cannot be avoided in any type of judgment because it implies the belief that reality is yours to choose
63 You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourselves and your brothers totally without judgment. When you recognize what you and your brothers
are, you will realize that judging them in
any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely
because you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from a totally fallacious belief that you are under the coercion of judgment. You do not need judgment to organize your life, and you certainly do not need it to organize yourselves. In the presence of knowledge,
all judgment is automatically suspended, and this is the process which enables recognition to
64 Man is very fearful of everything he has perceived but has refused to accept. He believes that, because he has refused to accept it, he has lost control over it. This is why he sees it in nightmares or in pleasant disguises in what seem to be his happier dreams. Nothing that you have refused to accept can be brought into awareness. It does
not follow that it is dangerous, but it
does follow that you have
made it dangerous.
65 When you feel tired, it is merely because you have judged yourself as capable of being tired. When you laugh at someone, it is because you have judged him as debased. When you laugh at yourself, you are singularly likely to laugh at others, if only because you cannot tolerate the idea of being more debased than they are. All of this does make you feel tired because it is essentially disheartening. You are not
really capable of being tired, but you are
very capable of wearying yourselves. The strain of constant judgment is virtually intolerable. It is a curious thing that any ability which is so debilitating should be so deeply cherished.
66 Yet, if you wish to be the author of reality, which is totally impossible anyway, you
will insist on holding onto judgment. You will also use the term with considerable fear, believing that judgment will someday be used against
you. To whatever extent it
is used against you, it is due only to your belief in its efficacy as a weapon of defense for your own authority. The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When an individual has an "authority problem," it is
always because he believes he is the author of himself, projects his delusion onto others, and then perceives the situation as one in which people are literally fighting him for his authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God.
67 The belief is very frightening to
them but hardly troubles God. He is, however, eager to undo it,
not to punish His Children, but
only because He knows that it makes them unhappy. Souls were
given their true Authorship, but men preferred to be anonymous when they chose to separate themselves from their Author. The word "authority" has been one of their most fearful symbols ever since. Authority has been used for great cruelty because, being uncertain of their true Authorship, men believe that their creation was anonymous. This has left them in a position where it
sounds meaningful to consider the possibility that they must have created themselves.
68 The dispute over authorship has left such uncertainty in the minds of men that some have even doubted whether they really exist at all. Despite the apparent contradiction in this position, it is in one sense more tenable than the view that they created themselves. At least it acknowledges the fact that
some true authorship is necessary for existence.
69 Only those who give over all desire to reject can
know that their own rejection is impossible. You have
not usurped the power of God, but you
have lost it. Fortunately, when you lose something, it does not mean that the "something" has gone. It merely means that you do not know where it is. Existence does not depend on your ability to identify it nor even to place it. It is perfectly possible to look on reality without judgment and merely
know that it is there.
70 Peace is a natural heritage of the Soul. Everyone is free to refuse to
accept his inheritance, but he is
not free to establish what his inheritance
is. The problem which everyone must decide is the fundamental question of authorship. All fear comes ultimately and sometimes by way of very devious routes from the denial of Authorship. The offense is never to God, but only to those who deny Him. To deny His Authorship is to deny themselves the reason for their own peace, so that they see themselves only in pieces. This strange perception
is the authority problem.
71 There is no man who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way. If this is the result of his own free will, he must regard his will as if it were
not free, or the obviously circular reasoning involved in his position would be quite apparent. Free will
must lead to freedom. Judgment
always imprisons because it separates segments of reality according to the highly unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts by definition. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed. Instead of, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven" say, "
Will ye first the Kingdom of Heaven," and you have said, "I know what I am, and I will to accept my own inheritance."
~ Original Hand Script of ACIM
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