"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
Course in Miracles
Retraining the Mind
PAUSED FOR WEEKEND
VII. The Loss of Certainty
51 We said before that the abilities which man possesses are only shadows of his real strengths and that the intrusion of the ability to perceive, which is inherently judgmental, was introduced only
after the separation. No one has been sure of anything since. You will also remember, however, that I made it clear that the resurrection was the means for the
return to knowledge, which was accomplished by the union of my will with the Father's. We can now make a distinction which will greatly facilitate clarity in our subsequent statements.
52 Since the separation, the words "create" and "make" have been greatly confused. When you make something, you make it out of a sense of lack or need. Anything that is made is made for a specific purpose and has no true generalizability. When you make something to fill a perceived lack, which is obviously why you would want to make anything, you are tacitly implying that you believe in separation. Knowing, as we have frequently observed, does not lead to doing at all.
53 The confusion between your own creation and what
you create is so profound that it has become literally impossible for you to know anything. Knowledge is always stable, and it is quite evident that human beings are not. Nevertheless, they
are perfectly stable as God created them. In this sense, when their behavior is unstable they are
disagreeing with God's idea of the creation. Man can do this if he chooses, but he would hardly
want to do it if he were in his right mind. The problem that bothers you most is the fundamental question which man continually asks of himself, but which cannot properly be directed to himself at all. He keeps asking himself what he
is. This implies that the answer is not only one which he knows but is also one which is up to him to supply.
cannot perceive himself correctly. He
has no image. The word "image" is always perception-related and
not a product of knowing. Images are symbolic and stand for something else. The current emphasis on "changing your image" merely recognizes the power of perception, but it also implies that there is nothing to
know. Knowing is
not open to interpretation. It is possible to "interpret" meaning, but this is always open to error because it refers to the
perception of meaning. Such wholly needless complexities are the result of man's attempt to regard himself as both separated and unseparated at the same time. It is impossible to undertake a confusion as fundamental as this without engaging in further confusion.
55 Methodologically, man's mind has been very creative but, as always occurs when method and content are separated, it has not been utilized for anything but an attempt to escape a fundamental and entirely inescapable impasse. This kind of thinking cannot result in a creative outcome, although it has resulted in considerable ingenuity. It is noteworthy, however, that this ingenuity has almost totally divorced him from knowledge. Knowledge does not
require ingenuity. When we say "the truth shall set you free," we mean that all this kind of thinking is a waste of time, but that you
are free of the need to engage in it if you are willing to let it go.
56 Prayer is a way of asking for something. Prayer is the medium of miracles, but the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness because those who have been forgiven
have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless. Essentially, a prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that we may be able to
recognize something we already have. In electing to perceive instead of to know, man placed himself in a position where he could resemble his Father
only by miraculously perceiving. He has lost the knowledge that he
himself is a miracle. Miraculous creation was his Source and also his real function.
57 "God created man in His own image and likeness" is correct in meaning, but the words are open to considerable misinterpretation. This is avoided, however, if "image" is understood to mean "thought" and "likeness" is taken as "of a like quality." God
did create the Soul in His own Thought and of a quality like to His own. There
is nothing else. Perception, on the other hand, is impossible
without a belief in "more" and "less." Perception at every level involves selectivity and is incapable of organization without it. In all types of perception, there is a continual process of accepting and rejecting or organizing and reorganizing, of shifting and changing focus. Evaluation is an essential part of perception because judgments
must be made for selection.
58 What happens to perceptions if there
are no judgments and there is nothing but perfect equality? Perception becomes impossible. Truth can only be
known. All of it is equally true, and knowing any part of it
is to know all of it. Only perception involves partial awareness. Knowledge transcends
all the laws which govern perception because partial knowledge is impossible. It is all one and
has no separate parts. You who are really one with it need but know
yourself, and your knowledge is complete. To know God's miracle is to know Him.
59 Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation. Correct perception
each other is necessary because minds have willed to see themselves as separate. Each Soul knows God completely. That
is the miraculous power of the Soul. The fact that each one has this power completely is a fact that is entirely alien to human thinking, in which if anyone has everything, there is nothing
left. God's miracles are as total as His Thoughts because they
are His Thoughts.
60 As long as perception lasts, prayer has a place. Since perception rests on lack, those who perceive have not totally accepted the Atonement and given themselves over to truth. Perception
is a separated state, and a perceiver
does need healing. Communion, not prayer, is the natural state of those who know. God and His miracles
are inseparable. How beautiful indeed are the Thoughts of God who live in His light! Your worth is beyond perception because it is beyond doubt. Do not perceive yourself in different lights.
Know yourself in the One Light where the miracle that is you is perfectly clear.
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A Course in Miracles
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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.
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My mind is part of God's. I am very holy.
1 Today's idea does not describe the way you see yourself now. It does, however, describe what vision will show you. It is difficult for anyone who thinks he is in this world to believe this of himself. Yet the reason he thinks he is in this world is because he does not believe it.
2 You will believe that you are part of where you think you are. That is because you surround yourself with the environment you want. And you want it to protect the image of yourself that you have made. The image is part of it. What you see while you believe you are in it is seen through the eyes of the image. This is not vision. Images cannot see.
3 The idea for today presents a very different view of yourself. By establishing your Source, it establishes your identity, and it describes you as you must really be in truth. We will use a somewhat different kind of application for today's idea, because the emphasis for today is on the perceiver rather than on what he perceives.
4 For each of the three five-minute practice periods today, begin by repeating today's idea to yourself and then close your eyes and search your mind for the various kinds of descriptive terms in which you see yourself. Include all of the ego-based attributes which you ascribe to yourself, positive or negative, desirable or undesirable, grandiose or debased. All of them are equally unreal, because you do not look upon yourself through the eyes of holiness.
5 In the earlier part of the mind searching period, you will probably emphasize what you consider to be the more negative aspects of your perception of yourself. Toward the latter part of the exercise period, however, more self-inflating descriptive terms may well cross your mind. Try to recognize that the direction of your fantasies about yourself does not matter. Illusions have no direction in reality. They are merely not true.
6 A suitable unselected list for applying the idea for today might be as follows:
I see myself as imposed on.
I see myself as depressed.
I see myself as failing.
I see myself as endangered.
I see myself as helpless.
I see myself as victorious.
I see myself as losing out.
I see myself as charitable.
I see myself as virtuous.
8 You should not think of these terms in an abstract way. They will occur to you as various situations, personalities and events in which you figure cross your mind. Pick up any specific situation that occurs to you, identify the descriptive term or terms which you feel are applicable to your reactions to that situation, and use them in applying today's idea. After you have named each one, add:
But my mind is part of God's. I am very holy.
10 During the longer exercise periods, there will probably be intervals in which nothing specific occurs to you. Do not strain to think up specific things to fill the interval, but merely relax and repeat today's idea slowly until something occurs to you. Although nothing that does occur should be omitted from the exercises, nothing should be "dug out" with effort. Neither force nor discrimination should be used.
11 As often as possible during the day, pick up a specific attribute or attributes you are ascribing to yourself at the time and apply the idea for today to them, adding the idea to each of them in the form stated above. If nothing particular occurs to you, merely repeat the idea to yourself with closed eyes.
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My mind is part of God's. I am very holy.
Yesterday was the anniversary of my brother's death. I was not thinking about him, but I was unhappy for no particular reason of which I was aware. The malaise just hung on like a gray cloud. Finally, toward evening, I decided to do some work to prepare my mind for today's Lesson. As I did so, I flipped the text open to
"The Acceptance of Your Brother,"
(T.9 VI.1.1-5) (ACIM OE T.9.V.31) and there was the exact paragraph I had sent to my brother in his final days. It was a paragraph given to me by the Holy Spirit for him and made quite an impact on him. Now it seemed like my brother was reminding me of the same message that I needed for myself on this anniversary! It blew me away. Yet when I got over the initial amazement, I realized this is always available to us at every turn. We are never abandoned. We are never left comfortless.
The paragraph that showed up was as follows:
"How can you become increasingly aware of the Holy Spirit in you except by His effects? You cannot see Him with your eyes nor hear Him with your ears. How, then, can you perceive Him at all? If you inspire joy and others react to you with joy, even though you are not experiencing joy yourself there must be something in you that is capable of producing it. If it is in you and can produce joy, and if you see that it does produce joy in others, you must be dissociating it in yourself."
(T.9 VI.1.1-5) (ACIM OE T.9.V.31)
In today's Lesson, we learn what that "something in you" is. It is our holiness. We are not consistently aware of our holiness. It comes from nothing we have done. It exists only because of who we are as God created us since He is our source. This is our inheritance, our true Self, and has the same characteristics as our Creator. All His attributes are ours. As Jesus says,
"Today's ideas does not describe the way you see yourself now."
We need to clear away all the thoughts we think we think that have made this false self we think we are! This is the ego with which we identify. It is the image of who we think we are, carefully construed and protected, containing all we value and believe about ourselves. What will it take for us to know our true reality, to know our holiness? This Lesson says,
. . .
vision will show you,"
(W.35.1.2) and the way to vision is to bring our false thoughts to awareness. These thoughts block vision. Thoughts can be uncovered directly or by bringing awareness to what we are feeling. Under our feelings are the beliefs and concepts we hold.
We identify with the ego, which reflects the wrong mind. It believes in its autonomy and individuality and, as such, we resist any thought that we are dependent on God. We believe we have made ourselves. We pride ourselves on our independence. We embrace our uniqueness and our individuality. Jesus calls this the authority problem.
"The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When you have an authority problem, it is always because you believe you are the author of yourself and project your delusion onto others. You then perceive the situation as one in which others are literally fighting you for your authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe that they have usurped the power of God."
(T.3.VI.8.1-4) (ACIM OE T.3.VIII.66)
We really believe we are in this world. Jesus tells us the reason we think we are in this world is because we do not believe that we are part of God. Rather, we believe we are living in a world separate from each other and on our own. We have surrounded ourselves with the environment which seems to protect that image. Everything we look upon attests to the reality of this world and to separation and differences. We seem to be in competition with each other, striving to make our way and constantly defending ourselves against the vicissitudes of life. We perceive ourselves as being hurt by people and circumstances in our lives and thus feel unfairly treated. Jesus says we actually invite this to prove we are not responsible for our state. He reminds us that we want this in order to
". . . protect the image of yourself that you have made."
(W.35.2.3) As long as we identify with this image and value what we have made, we will resist the holiness we are. When we recognize the core of this image is neediness, fear, guilt, unworthiness, and hate, we become motivated to do the healing work through the process of Course-based forgiveness.
The truth is, although we think we have left God, we have not and cannot. This is the Atonement Principle that states we cannot leave our Source though we can believe we have.
"Ideas leave not their source, and their effects but seem to be apart from them."
(T.26.VII.4.7) (ACIM OE T.26.VIII.49) While it seems to us that we are in this world, the reality is that we are at home in God. We are still very much connected with the holiness of God and can never change ourselves in spite of our experience in this dream. The memory of God is still in our right minds and is always available. All that is required is that we bring our misperceptions to the truth where they are dissolved. We could say no one in his right mind would come here and no one would. It was the wrong mind that made the ego.
The idea for today presents a very different view of yourself. By establishing your Source it establishes your Identity, and it describes you as you must really be in truth.
" (W.35.3.1-2) Our Identity as the Christ is not supported by the environment we seem to be in because it is not our real environment. Our Source is God. Our mind is part of God's Mind and not of this world. The Atonement principle reminds us that we never separated from God.
On one level, it seems great to realize that we are not what we have made of ourselves, and there is nothing we have to do to become holy because we already are. To know the peace and joy and love we are, we need to become aware of how we defend the image. When we identify with the separated self, what we perceive will now be wrong. Everything we think about ourselves are attributes we believe about ourselves, whether
"positive or negative, desirable or undesirable, grandiose or debased."
(W.35.4.2) The reality is, none of them are true. They are all meaningless perceptions based on a belief in separation. He calls them all fantasies we hold about ourselves and all untrue. Even if I describe myself as spiritual or holy, it is still coming from an image operating within a false and illusory environment. Seeing myself in this way is like wearing a cloak of spirituality or being a spiritualized ego.
No matter what we may think about ourselves, we are totally innocent because that is what God is. We are not this small, vulnerable, independent, and fearful self, separate from each other and separate from God, all alone in a terrifying world. Yes, it is reassuring, but frightening at the same time if we really get this Lesson. It means we don't exist and are not even here. As long as we are invested in our separate, independent selves, we will work to defend our specialness. Jesus knows this. He says,
"And you want it
to protect the image of yourself that you have made."
(W.35.2.3) Because of this, we resist what the Course is teaching. We fear the love we are.
Jesus is saying that who we really are is holy. He tells us that the way we will know this is to bring the darkness of our ego thoughts to the light. Jesus knows we do not see ourselves as holy now. He does not expect us to believe this about ourselves. We are not asked to cover our ego perspectives with this thought as an affirmation or spiritual override for ego thoughts. Instead, we are told that we have a right mind where truth abides, available to us because it is within us and accessible. Thus, it is always important that we watch our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and be willing to release them.
"In the earlier part of the mind-searching period, you will probably emphasize what you consider to be the more negative aspects of your perception of yourself."
(W.35.5.1) Perhaps this is because we may be more comfortable with what we consider our smallness, our imperfections, and our self-criticisms in the name of humility. We may even be comfortable sharing our faults with others. We can quite readily admit to feeling stupid, being disorganized, feeling imposed on, feeling victimized, and not getting it right. Then why does he say,
"Toward the latter part of the exercise period, however, more self-inflating descriptive terms may well cross your mind?"
It may be because the conceited self is disturbing to us. The grandiose ideas we have about ourselves are just not that acceptable to us. Think about how uncomfortable you are about admitting you feel better and more superior than others. It is uncomfortable for us to share the things we believe about ourselves where we feel superior. It makes us squirm. To describe myself as victorious or virtuous is hard to say to myself, let alone to anyone else.
"Try to recognize that the direction of your fantasies about yourself does not matter. Illusions have no direction in reality. They are merely not true."
(W.35.5.3-5) All fantasies are false self‑images and illusory. They are all untrue and entirely meaningless, so there is no need to take any of them seriously.
We are constantly evaluating ourselves in every situation. We constantly look at how we are doing and who we think we are. How I react to various situations, personalities, and events brings up self‑evaluations. Today, a situation came up where I felt imposed upon, and another one brought forward feelings of frustration. I felt a sense of superiority in another conversation, and then offered some money to a street person and felt both sad, virtuous, and superior. Do you see how we can use the Lesson to constantly watch our minds? It is easier to see how we describe ourselves when these situations and people show up in our day to day activities or various events trigger some kind of self-assessment. All our assessments about ourselves, whether positive, or negative, are illusory. That is why, in each instance, we remind ourselves of the truth.
"But my mind is part of God's. I am very holy."
(W.35.7.5) The reason, of course, is that our real environment is not this world but God's Mind.
Love and blessings, Sarah
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