Chapter 10: The Idols of Sickness

Pope Pious X Praying with a Crucifix
  • What we see in dreams we believe is real until we awake. Then we realize it wasn’t real. It was a dream. We take our dreams in stride. But what we don’t remember is being awake. Is it possible that what we are doing is switching from one dream to another?
  • To remember is to restore to your mind what is already there.
  • All attack is self-attack because when you attack, you have forgotten who you are.
  • Sickness is idolatry, because it is the belief that power can be taken from you.
  • The acceptance of peace is the denial of illusion, and sickness is an illusion.
  • You may believe you are afraid of nothingness, but you are really afraid of nothing. And in that awareness you are healed.
  • “Laws of chaos” is a meaningless term. Creation is perfectly lawful, and the chaotic is without meaning because it is without God.
  • The rituals of the god of sickness are strange and very demanding. Joy is never permitted, for depression is the sign of allegiance to him. Depression means that you have forsworn God.
  • To deny God will inevitably result in projection, and you will believe that others, and not yourself, have done this to you.
  • Allegiance to the denial of God is the ego’s religion. The god of sickness obviously demands the denial of health, because health is in direct opposition to its own survival. But consider what this means to you. Unless you are sick you cannot keep the gods you made, for only in sickness could you possibly want them. Blasphemy, then, is self-destructive, not God-destructive. It means that you are willing not to know yourself in order to be sick. This is the offering your god demands because, having made him out of your insanity, he is an insane idea. He has many forms, but although he may seem to be many different things he is but one idea;–the denial of God.
  • You are not sick and you cannot die. But you can confuse yourself with things that do.
  • Arrogance is the denial of love, because love shares and arrogance withholds. As long as both appear to you to be desirable the concept of choice, which is not of God, will remain with you.
  • If you will accept only what is timeless as real, you will begin to understand eternity and make it yours.

From Wapnick:

  • This is the shortest chapter in the text.
  • From Chapter 4: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Him because there are none”. This is the principle of the Atonement. The separation from God never happened. God is and there is nothing else. Perfect wholeness cannot be anything other than perfect wholeness.
  • The body is the direct expression of the ego’s idol worship.
  • To believe we are physically sick is a form of idolatry, for sickness asserts there is a power outside us that can take away our health. Sickness is not the physical expression of disease (its symptoms). It is the insane belief there is something outside us. Sickness is not found in the body. It is found in the mind’s sick god of specialness.
  • How can the true God be jealous or care about idols that never were? Only the sick god of our imagination would feel such things. All our Creator knows is the undefiled and unseparated Oneness of His Love.
  • You may think you do not listen to the ego, but you do. Even the study of this course is worshipping false gods, because you hope it will make you happier which leads to you using its teachings as a way to honor your individual self. ACIM is a steppingstone, a means toward achieving the end of awakening, not a means of helping you live more happily within the ego’s dream of separation.
  • Place honor and faith in the right mind (the Holy Spirit, not the ego.) ACIM students often get confused about this and instead of placing faith in the ego, they deny the ego which simply serves to preserve it.
  • The God of the Bible is a sick, jealous, separate God who can harm and be harmed. This is much easier for the ego to deal with which is why the Bible is so popular. A God that is whole and cannot be harmed means the ego, which is separate, isn’t real. The ego worships at the shrine of the sick God of separation, not the God of Oneness.
  • This Course is not about outsmarting the ego, it is simply about looking at it. Being made aware of it so we can realize it is unreal. Not looking at the ego is what preserves it.
  • The universe ACIM describes is that of non-dualistic love and oneness in which there is no concept of mine and yours. It is totally unlike the universe of false gods we know and have made real.
  • True health is knowing who we are, and this has nothing to do with the body’s condition, just as true sickness is the belief we are not who we are, which also has nothing to do with the body.
  • “To choose the Holy Spirit”, “take Jesus’ hand”, and “forgive” are different ways of expressing the single decision to end our worship of the idols of individuality and sickness.
  • Reality does not need our decision, but awareness of reality depends on choosing oneness over separation, God over the ego, Creation over mis-creation.
  • We are not fearful of what we have dissociated, but of the very fact that we have dissociated. In other words, we are not afraid of what we have split off from, but that we have split off. We are not afraid of the Love of God, but only our perceived attack on God.
  • Our choice for the ego is not a sin; we did not blaspheme against God, nor destroy His Love. All we did was make the mistake of choosing the wrong teacher.
  • If we do not respect the mind’s power to choose against God, we will be unable to respect its power to choose for Him.
  • According to Plato, true education is remembering (anamnesis). In ACIM, to remember is to undo the forgetting.
  • Minds are joined. Bodies are not. The mind is all there is.
  • “I reflect the oneness of the Sonship in my everyday life by realizing that you and I share the same split mind. I accept that we are one in the insanity of a thought system that says we are idolatrous blasphemers who deserve to be punished for our sin, and in the sanity that says all this never happened. By accepting my shared interests with another I share the sanity with everyone, and this happy remembrance of our unity reverberates throughout the mind of God’s Son, awakening us all from the separating dreams of differentiation and specialness.”
  • Sickness is only the mind’s belief in division, while healing undoes these false beliefs by affirming that illusion has no effect upon the truth of the Son’s unfragmented reality.
  • Joining is not something we do. Joining is accepting that we are already joined in the mind.
  • Our dream of separation contains this spark of truth as a memory in the “Person” of the Holy Spirit. We see it by recognizing it in others, for in truth there is one spark. Seeing the spark in them and not ourselves is special love; seeing it in ourselves and not in others is special hate. To be genuine, the spark must be seen in both parties as one, for the Great Rays are unified.
  • Perception is an illusion; knowledge, truth.

Chapter 9: The Acceptance of the Atonement

Chapter 9 made more sense than Lesson 96 so I suppose I’ll hang in there a little longer.

I took far less notes than I have on previous chapters because it seemed like a lot of repetitive information. Wapnick, however, had a lot to say about the chapter so I have a lot of notes from him.

My notes from the text:

  • You and your creator can communicate through creation because that, and only that, is Your Joint Will.
  • Prayer is not about asking for specific things. Specifics are of the ego.
  • By giving you receive. But to receive is to accept, not to get.
  • If you accept your brothers errors as real, you have attacked yourself. The Holy Spirit forgives all things. Your errors are forgiven as well as your brothers.
  • Unhealed healer. Theologian: I am a miserable sinner, and so are you.
  • Unhealed healer. Psychotherapist. The attack is real for both himself and the patient, but that doesn’t matter.
  • Every healer who searches fantasies for truth must be unhealed because he doesn’t know where to look for truth.
  • Can you find light by analyzing darkness, as the psychotherapist does, or like the theologian, by acknowledging darkness in yourself and looking for a distant light to remove it, while emphasizing the distance? Nothing will change unless it is understood, since light is understanding.
  • If your brothers are part of you, will you accept them? Only they can teach you what you are.
  • You cannot perform a miracle for yourself, because miracles are a way of giving acceptance and receiving it. In time the giving comes first, though they are simultaneous.
  • You will never know that you are co-creator with God until you learn that your brother is co-creator with you.
  • You cannot abide in peace unless you accept the Atonement, because the Atonement is the way to peace.
  • If you choose to see yourself as unloving you will not be happy. Whenever you question your value say: God Himself is incomplete without me.
  • Truth and littleness are denials of each other because grandeur is truth. Truth does not vacillate; it is always true. When grandeur slips away from you, you have replaced it with something you have made.

From Wapnick:

  • The word “forgiveness” summarizes the message in ACIM and it is not until Chapter 9 that the first real discussion of forgiveness begins.
  • Our fear is not of God or His Will, but of the power within our minds to choose His Will. (“What seems to be the fear of God is really the fear of your own reality.”)
  • Plato’s theory of anamnesis – true learning is remembering. The truth is already within us and simply needs to be accepted. Fear conceals it and makes remembering impossible.
  • The only meaningful prayer is forgiveness because we already have everything. The only thing we should ask for is help to change our minds to remember we have a mind.
  • To continually ask for help on the level of behavior goes against everything ACIM teaches.
  • There is nothing in the world we need help with because what happens here is not the issue. The help we need lies in recalling that our self in the illusion is a decision-making mind.
  • The ego cannot ask the Holy Spirit for anything, but the Holy Spirit can use what the ego has made, the world and our relationships in it, to serve a different purpose by changing the content in the mind.
  • We spend a tremendous amount of effort in denying the truth.
  • People do not fight on behalf of an opinion, but for their very existence. This is why it is so important for people to be “right”.
  • One day we will prefer to be happy rather than right.
  • The ego is paranoid (mistrustful and suspicious) because it knows we have the power to choose, or not, on its behalf.
  • Jesus, who once was a member of homo sapiens, is not really a person existing in our minds, but a thought in the right mind that symbolizes our right-minded self. Still we have to anthropomorphize him and other non-specific right minded Thoughts because that is the only way we can begin to relate to our true Self. The problem enters in when we think that Their form is real, mirroring what we believe to be our own separated reality.
  • We either become vicious toward others by becoming angry and justifying our feelings; or vicious toward ourselves by making ourselves physically or emotionally ill. We will do anything to prove that the ego is right and Jesus is wrong.
  • When God’s Son chooses to return to his decision-making mind he becomes a right-minded observer, looking with Jesus at the insanity of the ego thought system.
  • Freud knew the insanity of the ego (what he termed psyche), but he understood it only within the ego itself, which is why he saw no way to escape it. There is, however, a way to move beyond the ego.
  • The ego will switch between littleness and grandiosity and it does not care which insane evaluation we choose. We need to recognize the fear we have of accepting our grandeur of our true Self back into our split minds.We banished its memory and hide it beneath thoughts of grandiosity and littleness.
  • The purpose of ACIM is to reduce our fear of truth.
  • The world is a maladaptive solution to a nonexistent problem.
  • The ego’s plan of forgiveness, forgiveness-to-destroy, is to see sin as real and to do something about it. Instead of blatantly attacking the “sinners” to bring them to justice, we wax spiritual and say “yes, you have done this terrible thing, but I understand and forgive your sins. I still love you because we are all children of God.” We feel “righteous” and do not realize this makes no sense. Thinking like this keeps us focused on the meaningless and mindless.
  • Unhealed Healer: well-meaning people who try to help others but are unaware of their unconscious guilt that they inevitably project. Unhealed Healers deal with the problem where it does not exist. They make the error real and try to heal it.
  • An unhealed healer attempts to heal without being healed themselves. Theologians and psychotherapists (those who deal with the past) are typical examples.
  • Freud and Jung did not know about a mind; the psyche to them was ultimately understood to be an aspect of the body or brain, not the mind as ACIM defines it.
  • Christian theologians make the error of sin real, and then solve it by having God agree with them. The Creator fixes the problem of sin through sending Jesus into the world to be crucified as an act of sacrificial atonement. Psychotherapists see the problem of guilt as real and then magically bring the light of psychology’s truth to heal the problem. Neither approach does anything with the mind, which means the problem remains to fester and be projected.
  • Problems can be undone only in the mind, and not in the ego’s strange world of fantasy and delusion.
  • The only purpose of looking at the past is to realize it no longer has any power.
  • While Freud was brilliant in showing the world the chaotic insanity of the psyche, he could not see a way out.
  • The ego’s plan is to keep us mindless. The Holy Spirit’s plan is to make us mindful, restoring to our awareness the mind’s innate power to choose.
  • Will is the mind’s ability to choose.
  • We revel in finding error. “Errors are of the ego, and correction of errors lies in the relinquishment of the ego.”
  • Overlook – to look beyond. (Not to “not notice”.)
  • There is no hierarchy of illusions and no order of difficulty in miracles. If we deny the light in one person whom we deem evil, we deny it in all persons.
  • In ACIM, the question is always not what we are to do, but with whom we will do it.
  • True healers focus only on their own healing. Problems are internal, not external.
  • A therapist does not heal, he lets healing be.
  • True forgivers do not forgive, they let forgiveness be.
  • Our only function is to remove the ego from our path.
  • If we think we are doing important spiritual work (or work of any kind) we have fallen into the snares of specialness.

Chapter 8: The Journey Back

I. The Direction of the Curriculum

  • Peace, not knowledge, is the motivation for learning this course.
  • Peace is the prerequisite for knowledge.
  • You cannot learn from two teachers whose curriculum is diametrically opposed. If you listen to both, your mind will be split.

II. The Difference Between Freedom and Imprisonment

  • As a teacher the ego is totally confused and totally confusing.
  • The ego is the denial of free will.
  • The difference between pain and joy is the same as the difference between imprisonment and freedom. The ego has taught us that imprisonment is freedom. The Holy Spirit teaches us the difference.
  • The Holy Spirit’s direction is freedom and His goal is God/Reality.

III. The Holy Encounter

  • When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself.
  • The goal of the curriculum, regardless of the teacher you choose, is “Know thyself.” There is nothing else to seek.

IV. The Gift of Freedom

  • Healing is the way in which the separation is overcome. Separation is overcome by union.
  • Freedom is creation, because it is love. Whom you seek to imprison you do not love.
  • The Holy Trinity is holy because it is One.

V. The Undivided Will of the Sonship

I didn’t highlight anything on this section. It felt repetitive to me. The Sonship is One as is the will of the Sonship. The will of the ego is not the will of God…

VI. The Treasure of God

  • God’s Will is Thought. It cannot be contradicted by thought. God does not contradict Himself, and His Sons, who are like Him, cannot contradict themselves or Him.
  • It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed.
  • Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained.

VII. The Body as a Means of Communication

  • Attack is always physical (not spiritual).
  • Communication ends separation. Attack promotes it.
  • …thought is communication, for which the body can be used. This is the only natural use to which it can be put.
  • The removal of blocks, then, is the only way to guarantee help and healing. Help and healing are the normal expressions of a mind that is working through the body, but not in it.
  • To conceive of the body as a means of attack and to believe that joy could possibly result, is a clear-cut indication of a poor learner.
  • When you see a brother as a body, you are condemning him because you have condemned yourself. Yet if all condemnation is unreal, and it must be unreal since it is a form of attack, then it can have no results.
  • There is no attack, but there is unlimited communication and therefore unlimited power and wholeness.

VIII. The Body as Means or End

  • The ego has a profound investment in sickness. If you are sick, how can you object to the ego’s firm belief that you are not invulnerable?
  • A sick body does not make any sense. It could not make sense because sickness is not what the body is for.
  • Sickness is merely another example of your insistence on asking guidance of a teacher who does not know the answer. The ego is incapable of knowing how you feel.
  • The Holy Spirit’s Voice is as loud as your willingness to listen. It cannot be louder without violating your freedom of choice, which the Holy Spirit seeks to restore, never to undermine.
  • The body, then, is not the source of its own health. The body’s condition lies solely in your interpretation of its function.
  • When you lay the ego aside, it will be gone.
  • The purpose of the body is to unify with other bodies. That’s all.

This, again, seems like a lot of repetition. The way I am reading it is that the body can do whatever it does, but that our perception that it is “sick” is of the ego. The idea that we can somehow keep it from getting “sick” is also of the ego. Healing is not about healing a “sick” body, it is about healing a separated mind. It has nothing to do with the body. Whatever your body is doing is what bodies do because it is based on the ego. If it is sick, so what? It still can be a source of healing to the mind. ACIM is NOT about healing the body. It is about making a different choice.

IX. Healing as Corrected Perception

  • When the ego tempts you to sickness do not ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body, for this would merely be to accept the ego’s belief that the body is the proper aim of healing. Ask, rather, that the Holy Spirit teach you the right perception of the body, for perception alone can be distorted. Only perception can be sick, because only perception can be wrong.
  • Sleep is withdrawing; waking is joining.

So… sickness is not physical illness, it is the thought of separation. We can be physically sick and still perceive ourselves as mentally whole if we recognize unity. The bodily state has nothing to do with the mental state! Healing is about unity, not physical well-being.

From Wapnick: (Ch. 8 is the last chapter in Volume 1)

Wapnick says that the theme on the Oneness of Heaven in this chapter is a sort of hymn of joy and gladness that goes on and on. The repetitiveness is necessary to help us hold on to the theme of Oneness when we are tempted to forget, resist, or actively fight against it.

Dissociation describes the dynamic of splitting off unacceptable thoughts. It keeps the thought system of separation intact and is the ego’s solution to its perceived problem of the mind. Our power to choose the truth of oneness is the ego’s great threat, and so it deludes us into thinking we are separate and mindless individuals, a dissociated identity in which we revel.

Sacrifice (deprivation) is one of the core ego beliefs, a foundation for its thought system of guilt and punishment. We are deprived of nothing but our misery when we choose the Holy Spirit as our teacher.

Recognizing the ego’s nothingness is the first step toward restoring our awareness to the power of the mind to choose.

The ego’s thought system evolves through division. There are four divisions:

  1. The Separation from God. The separation, wherein we attack our Creator by in effect telling Him that His Love was not enough for us. Confronted then by two mutually exclusive reactions to the tiny, mad idea, the ego and the Holy Spirit, we need to make a decision between the two.
  2. The Wrong from the Right Mind. Our decision-making selves split the wrong-minded ego from the right-minded Holy Spirit. This virtually buries our Teacher, with the ego telling the Son not to pay any attention to His Voice because It lies. As a result, it appears we have a wrong mind that from the ego’s point of view has attacked successfully, dividing the Son from the Holy Spirit, apparently forever.
  3. The Body from the Mind. The ego tells us there is a battle raging within the mind and we need to flee from attack and make a body. There is now a split between mind and body; and once we split from the mind and see ourselves as bodies, we forget where we came from.
  4. Body from Body. Once we are in the body it divides itself, per the mind’s directive, and now the battle becomes body against body. This takes two forms: The first: when we feel attacked by others and feel justified in attacking in return. The second: inter-body warfare where bodies called germs, bacteria, and viruses attack our bodies. Also included: aging and death.

Sickness is divided purpose: ourselves against ourselves. Healing is unified purpose: mind and body are no longer seen as separate (ideas leave not their source).

Purpose gives the body its meaning, not the body itself.

Projection makes perception: what we choose to see in another, sin or innocence, is the result of what we have first seen in ourselves.

Non-duality: What is not of God does not exist and has no effects.

There is no order of difficulty in miracles. We do not have to analyze a problem because all problems are the same. They do not lie in the world of bodies, but in the mind that chose wrongly.

The only thing wrong in a relationship: Our mind has chosen the ego as its guide, which means we see our interests as separate (sickness) from others rather than shared (healing).

Withdraw faith in the ego’s guidance. Choose instead to follow the Holy Spirit’s journey of forgiveness.

Healing has nothing to do with the body or behavior because they are about specifics. There is one problem, one solution… Healing’s purpose is not to help a body feel better or even to achieve world peace, but to be the means by which the Son’s belief in separation is overcome… Healing has to do only with the content of the mind’s choice—sickness or health, division or unity, pain or joy—and this power to choose is all that exists within the ego’s dream of separation. Don’t ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body. That is not the problem… The Holy Spirit does not see cancer, AIDS, heart problems, or a sprained ankle. He sees only the mind’s decision for guilt as a defense against the decision to forgive. When we ask His help with specific problems, we merely seek to remake Him in our own fearful image.

Purpose of ACIM: If we learn the Course, we will feel better. There is no other purpose for learning it. We may think we are “good” ACIM students, but if we unknowingly reinforce and nurture the ego’s thought system of individuality and guilt, we haven’t learned anything. If we study ACIM because we think it is noble, beautiful or true, we are making it “special” and thereby reinforcing individuality and guilt. The ego makes ACIM, Jesus, God, ourselves, others “special” as a way to keep us from learning the truth of Oneness.

Separation is illusion, oneness truth. Specialness is separation. We will continue to embrace our own specialness, but we can at least be aware that is what we are doing. Simply be aware of the choice. This awareness is how we bring illusion to truth (or darkness to the light). (Again, we do not bring the truth to the illusion or the light to the darkness because that is to be unaware of our choice for the ego. With awareness, we bring illusion to the truth.)

The Trinity: God, Son, Holy Spirit are One. The Son is all of us as One (not Jesus as an individual body). An attack on another is an attack on God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus and ourselves. It is an attack on Oneness which, of course, is illusory because the separation never happened.

Chapter 7: The Gifts of the Kingdom

I try and read an ACIM chapter or every 12 workbook lessons. It’s that time again! The chapters are long! I simply post the ideas that are new to me or that I’m still grappling with, but it’s still a lot!

From the Text

The Last Step

  • The creative power of God and His creations is limitless, but they are not in reciprocal relationship. God created me. I did not create God. Therefore my creative powers differ from Gods. An analogy; parents give birth to their children and give birth to children as parents, but children do not give birth to parents.
  • To create is to love. Love extends outward because it cannot be contained.
  • The ego demands reciprocal rights because it is competitive rather than loving. To gain, you must give, not bargain. What you believe you are determines your gifts.

The Law of the Kingdom

  • To heal is the only kind of thinking in the world that resembles God’s.
  • Sickness and separation are of the world not of God. If you see yourself or your brother as sick and in need, you do are not seeing yourself as you are – whole. To heal is to correct this misperception in your brother and yourself.
  • In the world (outside the Kingdom), what you project, you believe. You will learn what you are from what you have projected onto others and believe they are.
  • In the Kingdom there is no teaching or learning because there is no belief. There is only certainty.
  • The Holy Spirit is the translator of the Laws of God for those who do not understand them.

The Reality of the Kingdom

  • You can see yourself as separated from your meaning only by experiencing yourself as unreal. This is why the ego is insane; it teaches that you are not what you are. The ego is constantly teaching even though it does not know what it teaches.
  • To be In the Kingdom is to focus your full attention on it. If you believe you can attend to what is not true, you have made conflict your choice.
  • The Holy Spirit never questions. His sole function is to undo the questionable. The Answer merely undoes the question by establishing the fact that to question reality is to question meaninglessly.
  • The certain are perfectly calm, because they are not in doubt. They do not raise questions, because nothing questionable enters their minds. This holds them in perfect serenity, because this is what they share, knowing what they are.

Healing as the Recognition of Truth

  • Truth can only be recognized and need only be recognized. Inspiration is of the Holy Spirit, and certainty is of God according to His laws.
  • Healing does not come directly from God, Who knows His creations as perfectly whole. Yet healing is still of God, because it proceeds from His Voice and from His laws.
  • The Holy Spirit must work through you to teach you He is in you. This is an intermediary step toward the knowledge that you are in God because you are part of Him.
  • You have forgotten God, but the Holy Spirit understands that your forgetting must be translated into a way of remembering.
  • Healing is a way of approaching knowledge by thinking in accordance with the laws of God, and recognizing their universality.

Healing and Changelessness of Mind

  • If you teach both sickness and healing, you are both a poor teacher and a poor learner.
  • Minds can communicate, but they cannot hurt. The body in the service of the ego can hurt other bodies, but this cannot occur unless the body has already been confused with the mind. This situation, too, can be used either for healing or for magic, but you must remember that magic always involves the belief that healing is harmful. Healing only strengthens. Magic always tries to weaken.
  • Magic always sees something “special” in the healer, which he believes he can offer as a gift to someone who does not have it. He may believe that the gift comes from God to him, but it is quite evident that he does not understand God if he thinks he has something that others lack.
  • Fear does not gladden. Healing does. Fear always makes exceptions. Healing never does. Fear produces dissociation, because it induces separation. Healing always produces harmony, because it proceeds from integration. It is predictable because it can be counted on. Everything that is of God can be counted on, because everything of God is wholly real.
  • You must learn to change your mind about your mind. Only by this can you learn that it is changeless. When you heal, you are recognizing the changeless mind in your brother by realizing that he could not have changed his mind. By changing your mind about his for him, you help him undo the change his ego thinks it has made in him.

From Vigilance to Peace

  • Attack is never discrete and must be relinquished entirely. If it is not relinquished entirely it is not relinquished at all.
  • The ingeniousness of the ego to preserve itself is enormous, but it stems from the very power of the mind the ego denies. This means that the ego attacks what is preserving it, which must result in extreme anxiety. That is why the ego never recognizes what it is doing. It is perfectly logical but clearly insane.
  • The ego cannot afford to know anything. Knowledge is total, and the ego does not believe in totality. This unbelief is its origin, and while the ego does not love you it is faithful to its own antecedents, begetting as it was begotten. Mind always reproduces as it was produced. Produced by fear, the ego reproduces fear.
  • The Holy Spirit undoes illusions without attacking them, because He cannot perceive them at all. They therefore do not exist for Him. He resolves the apparent conflict they engender by perceiving conflict as meaningless. The Holy Spirit does not want you to understand conflict; He wants you to realize that, because conflict is meaningless, it is not understandable.
  • Understanding brings appreciation and appreciation brings love. Nothing else can be understood, because nothing else is real and therefore nothing else has meaning.
  • Perceived problems in identification at any level are not problems of fact. They are problems of understanding, since their presence implies a belief that what you are is up to you to decide.
  • Creation, not separation, is your will because it is God’s, and nothing that opposes this means anything at all.

The Totality of the Kingdom

  • Every response you make is determined by what you think you are, and what you want to be is what you think you are. What you want to be, then, must determine every response you make.
  • Illusions are investments. They will last as long as you value them.
  • Give only honor to the Sons of the living God, and count yourself among them gladly.
  • One child of God is the only teacher sufficiently worthy to teach another. One Teacher is in all minds and He teaches the same lesson to all. He always teaches you the inestimable worth of every Son of God, teaching it with infinite patience born of the infinite Love for which He speaks.

The Unbelievable Belief

  • The first error is that conflict cannot be projected because it cannot be shared. The second error is the idea that you can get rid of something you do not want by giving it away. Giving it is how you keep it.
  • The more you learn about the ego, the more you realize that it cannot be believed. The incredible cannot be understood because it is unbelievable.
  • The whole purpose of this course is to teach you that the ego is unbelievable and will forever be unbelievable.

The Extensions of the Kingdom

  • The Kingdom is forever extending because it is in the Mind of God. You do not know your joy because you do not know your own Self-fullness. Exclude any part of the Kingdom from yourself and you are not whole. A split mind cannot perceive its fullness, and needs the miracle of its wholeness to dawn upon it and heal it.
  • The miracle is a lesson in total perception. By including any part of totality in the lesson, you have included the whole.

The Confusion of Pain and Joy

  • You no more recognize what is painful than you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain. This confusion is the cause of the whole idea of sacrifice. Obey the Holy Spirit, and you will be giving up the ego. But you will be sacrificing nothing. On the contrary, you will be gaining everything. If you believed this, there would be no conflict.
  • Miracles are in accord with the Will of God, Whose Will you do not know because you are confused about what you will. This means that you are confused about what you are. If you are God’s Will and do not accept His Will, you are denying joy. The miracle is therefore a lesson in what joy is. Being a lesson in sharing it is a lesson in love, which is joy. Every miracle is thus a lesson in truth, and by offering truth you are learning the difference between pain and joy.

The State of Grace

  • If you recognize His gift in anyone, you have acknowledged what He has given you. Nothing is so easy to recognize as truth. This is the recognition that is immediate, clear and natural. You have trained yourself not to recognize it, and this has been very difficult for you.
  • You cannot deny part of truth. You do not know your creations because you do not know their creator. You do not know yourself because you do not know yours. Your creations cannot establish your reality, any more than you can establish God’s. But you can know both.
  • Being is known by sharing.

From Wapnick:

Two main themes in this chapter:

  1. Oneness.
  2. The body’s role in the ego strategy.
  • Creations: The term “creations” is never truly defined in A Course in Miracles. As a symbol for creation or extension, which has nothing to do with the world of time and space, creations cannot be understood by us; our dualistic language points to what is beyond earthly comprehension.
  • Joy: The joy spoken of in A Course in Miracles has no counterpart in this world, in the sense of how we usually define it, which is the happiness we feel when we get what we want. In Heaven, joy is an ongoing state, another term to depict the eternal state of the Kingdom: creation or extension.
  • God: A helpful rule in reading A Course in Miracles is that anything dualistic should be understood symbolically. To speak of God as a Person Who relates to us is to speak dualistically—God and us. Statements reflecting the temporal-spatial world must also be taken only as symbols. God is not symbolic; He is a Fact that can be known by us only indirectly through symbols.
  • Trinity: Within the Trinity, there is no first, second, or third Person. Jesus uses the Trinitarian language of Christianity because that is the world for which his course is written. In truth, these are mere symbols for there is no Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.
  • Increase: Increase is a symbol for the abundance of love, in the sense that it is everything, the only thing.
  • The Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the Thought within our minds that we took with us when we fell asleep, the memory of Who we are as Christ, love’s extension.
  • You: The decision-maker.
  • Heaven: Non-dualistic state.
  • Existence: pertains to the ego, the world of separation and our identity in it.
  • Being: synonymous with spirit, our reality as love.
  • Ego: A Course in Miracles speaks of the ego as if it were a person, a sentient self that in its anxiety plots, plans, and sets up defenses. In reality, however, the ego is simply a thought in the mind of God’s separated Son.
  • Body: The body is the effect of decisions made by the mind. Bodies hurt only because the mind wants them to be hurt—by a person, microorganism, or the body itself.
  • Mind: Mind is the true cause of all we think, feel, say, and do.
  • Healing: What needs healing is not the body, but the deluded mind that believes it is a body.

Wapnick says that ACIM directly refutes Original Sin which was the foundation for the Old and New Testaments. Original Sin came from St. Augustine, not the Bible. There is no term for Original Sin in the ancient Jewish texts. According to Rabbi Kushner, it is more correct to say there is Original Blame – when Cain first blamed Abel for his condition. In that sense, the OT fits with ACIM. Original Blame is what started all the problems. The son didn’t want to accept the reality of his physical condition so blamed his brother for it, instead.

  • Misunderstanding ACIM: Without understanding the ego’s fear of nonexistence and how it leads to its strategy of making a mindless world and body, we will totally misunderstand this course. And we will certainly miss seeing how our lives can be turned into meaningful classrooms in which we learn that we do not live in this insane world of the meaningless.
  • Forgiveness: Forgiveness is the all or none principle of A Course in Miracles… we forgive all the Sonship or we have forgiven none of it. In practice, of course, the process of forgiveness is a gradual one for we seem to forgive in incremental steps. Yet it is helpful to keep in mind that since the Sonship is total, to reject even one aspect of it is to reject all of it…While to the ego forgiveness appears to be a herculean task, it is in truth a great comfort. We do not have to forgive all people, for to forgive one person totally is to forgive everyone.
  • Mind: “What mind? You cannot see or dissect it in a laboratory. There is no mind, only a brain.” Thus do the ego and its world depreciate their source. For example, almost all scientists allow into their study only what they can observe, manipulate, and control, but the mind transcends all such investigations for the body was made not to know it. Bodily identification keeps the mind’s existence forever inaccessible to recognition and understanding. This denial of its means of preservation cannot but engender instability and uncertainty in the ego, the part of us that cherishes being a special and unique individual.
  • Be vigilant: As children, we have all had the experience that our parents did not love or understand us, did not provide enough for our well being. Many have felt their parents did not allow them to grow up, nor let them be what they wanted to be. Indeed, on some level we always feel, having built it into the system, that the world will not let us be who we are, a clear projection of our decision not to be Who we are. Jesus is pleading with us to recognize the importance of being vigilant against this idea, another expression of the Holy Spirit’s third lesson: “Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.”
  • The Holy Encounter. Our encounters are holy because they offer us the opportunity to recognize the projections of guilt we have placed upon each other. Were it not for the presence of people in our lives, we would never be able to gain access to the mind’s decision for guilt. The opportunity to do this is the blessing we offer and receive from our brothers.
  • Healing. Very little is said about physical sickness, because healing has nothing to do with the body. It is the mind alone that is the source of our symptoms, and the mind alone that is the source of undoing them through choosing the miracle. The body does not get sick nor is it healed, for everything happens in the mind. What needs healing is not the body, but the deluded mind that believes it is a body.
  • One Problem/One Solution: There is “no order of difficulty” in healing or miracles because there is but one problem: turning to the ego instead of the Holy Spirit. Following from this, there is but one solution: to reverse our mis-step and choose against the ego’s insanity. What could be simpler?

Chapter 6: The Lessons of Love

Jesus Cleansing a Leper (12th-mid 13th century) on Monreale Cathedral

This chapter is very challenging for me because I have a difficult time accepting the author as a channeled “Jesus” and I am definitely being asked to believe that in this chapter. There is no proof, beyond the Bible, that Jesus ever existed. And what exists in the Bible has most certainly been embellished.

The only way I was able to make myself continue was by thinking of Jesus as the physical embodiment of love and compassion rather than the historical figure in the Bible. This is meant to be a figurative correction of a metaphor gone astray. It is not a literal correction.

Wapnick confirmed this for me:

A Course in Miracles is using the symbols of the Christian myth, since that is what Helen and the world more or less accepted as truth, to teach the content that is the truth. Regardless of one’s belief regarding the historicity of the biblical events, the underlying message is what is truly essential: forgiveness for what never happened. Thus is the emphasis on the crucifixion shifted from an actual event to a decision the mind can make now between crucifixion and resurrection, sleep and awakening,

Highlights from the Text…

The Message of the Crucifixion

  • The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another. This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible.
  • As you teach, so shall you learn. If you react as if you are persecuted, you are teaching persecution.
  • The meaning of the crucifixion: Teach only love, for that is what you are.
  • If you teach the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than a call for peace.
  • The crucifixion was the result of clearly opposed thought systems; the perfect symbol of the “conflict” between the ego and the Son of God. This conflict seems just as real now, and its lessons must be learned now as well as then.
  • God does not need gratitude, but we need to strengthen our ability to be grateful. God does not need our appreciation but we do because we cannot love what we don’t appreciate.

The Alternative to Projection

  • The separation was and is dissociation, and that once it occurs projection becomes its main defense, or the device that keeps it going. (Dissociation: any of a wide array of experiences from mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experiences. The major characteristic of all dissociative phenomena involves a detachment from reality, rather than a loss of reality as in psychosis.)
  • Projection is always a means of justifying attack. Anger, without projection is impossible. The ego uses projection only to destroy your perception of both yourself and your brothers. The process begins by excluding something that exists in you but which you do not want, and leads directly to excluding you from your brothers.
  • There is an alternative to projection. There is a better Voice.
  • The difference between the ego’s projection and the Holy Spirit’s extension is very simple. The ego projects to exclude, and therefore to deceive. The Holy Spirit extends by recognizing Himself in every mind, and thus perceives them as one. Nothing conflicts in this. perception, because what the Holy Spirit perceives is all the same.
  • The ego is legion, but the Holy Spirit is One. No darkness abides anywhere in the Kingdom, but your part is only to allow no darkness to abide in your own mind. This alignment with light is unlimited, because it is in alignment with the light of the world. Each of us is the light of the world, and by joining our minds in this light we proclaim the Kingdom of God together and as one.

The Relinquishment of Attack

  • You have taught yourself to believe that you are not what you are. You cannot teach what you have not learned, and what you teach you strengthen in yourself because you are sharing it. Every lesson you teach you are learning.
  • That is why you must teach only one lesson. If you are to be conflict-free yourself, you must learn only from the Holy Spirit and teach only by Him.
  • Since you cannot not teach, your salvation lies in teaching the exact opposite of everything the ego believes. This is how you will learn the truth that will set you free, and will keep you free as others learn it of you. The only way to have peace is to teach peace. By teaching peace you must learn it yourself, because you cannot teach what you still dissociate. Only thus can you win back the knowledge that you threw away.
  • Teach only love, and learn that love is yours and you are love.

The Only Answer

  • The Holy Spirit is the Answer, not the question.
  • Being alone lives in the Kingdom, where everything lives in God without question. The time spent on questioning in the dream has given way to creation and to its eternity. You are as certain as God because you are as true as He is, but what was once certain in your mind has become only the ability for certainty.
  • The separation was not a loss of perfection, but a failure in communication. A harsh and strident form of communication arose as the ego’s voice. It could not shatter the peace of God, but it could shatter yours. God did not blot it out, because to eradicate it would be to attack it. Being questioned, He did not question. He merely gave the Answer. His Answer is your Teacher.

The Lessons of the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit makes no distinction among dreams. He merely shines them away. His light is always the Call to awaken, whatever you have been dreaming. Nothing lasting lies in dreams, and the Holy Spirit, shining with the light from God Himself, speaks only for what lasts forever.

A. To Have, Give All to All

  • Everything is accomplished through life, and life is of the mind and in the mind. The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you who are life. If we share the same mind, you can overcome death because I did. Death is an attempt to resolve conflict by not deciding at all. Like any other impossible solution the ego attempts, it will not work.
  • To be of one mind is meaningful, but to be one body is meaningless. By the laws of mind, then, the body is meaningless.
  • The ego uses the body for attack, for pleasure and for pride. The insanity of this perception makes it a fearful one indeed. The Holy Spirit sees the body only as a means of communication, and because communicating is sharing it becomes communion.
  • The Holy Spirit’s First Lesson: To have, give all to all. This is apt to increase conflict temporarily.

B. To Have Peace, Teach Peace to Learn It

  • Everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centers on what you believe you are. If the center of the thought system is true, only truth extends from it. But if a lie is at its center, only deception proceeds from it.
  • At this point, the equality of having and being is not yet perceived. Until it is, having appears to be the opposite of giving. Therefore, the first lesson seems to contain a contradiction, since it is being learned by a conflicted mind. Therefore the lesson cannot be learned consistently, yet.
  • If you identify with your thought system, and you cannot escape this, and if you accept two thought systems which are in complete disagreement, peace of mind is impossible. If you teach both, which you will surely do as long as you accept both, you are teaching conflict and learning it. Yet you do want peace, or you would not have called upon the Voice for peace to help you. Its lesson is not insane; the conflict is.
  • The Holy Spirit’s Second Lesson: To have peace, teach peace to learn it. This is still perceptual, but it is a giant step toward unified perception.

C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom

  • This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against.
  • This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive.
  • Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.
  • The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary.

From Wapnick:

The symphony…

  • Ch. 4: Introduction to the ego and the ego’s strategy of trying to convince us we are bodies.
  • Ch. 5: developed the ego system and continues discussion on guilt
  • Ch. 6: further development of the ego thought system: once we have guilt, it gets projected and the major form of projection is anger and attack.

Other highlights…

  • The ego tells us constantly that we both destroyed our Creator and crucified His Son—the prototype for the gospel myth—and as a result have become other than the invulnerable Son that God created.
  • Our nature as being (the Course’s term to express our reality as Christ) cannot be assailed or changed, and certainly not destroyed.
  • We cannot choose the Answer (the Holy Spirit) unless we know the question to which it is a response. To protect itself, the ego makes us mindless—if we do not know we have a mind, how can we change it? It makes us mindless because it knows if we came face to face with the mutually exclusive thought systems, the separation and the Atonement, we’d choose the Atonement and there would be no more ego.
  • The Atonement is simply the recognition that the separation never happened.
  • The decision maker is only the part of the Son’s mind that chooses between Atonement or separation, the part the ego seeks to nullify and render powerless. (The you used in the text almost always refers to the decision maker.)
  • The dream is the ego thought system of separation, including the multitudinous ways it develops its thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, and the specific battleground of the special relationship. It will all disappear the instant we no longer wish to identify with the special figures in these insane dreams of separation.
  • Meaningful change occurs only in the mind, but if we are mindless, meaningful change is impossible—the ego’s ultimate purpose.
  • God did not create the world or the body. We know this because they change, decompose, deteriorate, and die—the world and body are the exact opposite of the changeless and eternal Heaven.
  • Projection: I am not a guilty creature of sin, you are. I am different from you. I am different from God. The guilt is outside of me. We are children of guilt, not God.
  • Projection destroys the perception that we are the same. Forgiveness undoes the belief in differences.
  • “Impartially” means the absence of specialness.
  • The value of Jesus’ biblical crucifixion lies in its content of teaching defenselessness in the face of seeming attack, not the form of suffering, sacrifice, and death. Do not identify with the crucified body, but emulate Jesus’ healed mind. No one has the power to remove from us the peace of God’s mind.
  • What goes on in the dream doesn’t matter because it is the dreaming itself that is the problem. (It makes no difference whether we are being crucified, attacked, insulted, or our country is being invaded with bombs dropping daily on our villages: a dream is a dream is a dream. Our lack of peace comes from our dreaming, not what is happening in the dream.) That is why there is no order of difficulty in miracles.
  • The journey will not be easy. If it is, we’re probably on the wrong journey. Forgiveness is a process in which we have our good days and our bad days.
  • We need to be vigilant each day for when we are not at peace.
  • Conflict is not something external—between you and me, or between my government and yours—but is the seeming conflict between the ego and Holy Spirit. (Seeming because the Holy Spirit is not in conflict with anything.)
  • Many students want to change A Course in Miracles so it reads the way they want it to read, which means they are really not being vigilant for their decisions to be egos.
  • Our true safety lies in the recognition of who we are, in learning that having and being are the same.

Chapter 5: Healing and Wholeness

Over 1500 years old. Artist unknown. Healing the Bleeding Woman.

What I found most interesting form the Text:

(Most of this is straight out of the Text or paraphrased slightly. Some if it is rearranged a bit.)

Introduction: To heal or to make joyous is the same as to integrate and to make one. That is why it makes no difference to what part or by what part of the Sonship the healing is offered. Every part benefits, and benefits equally.

The Invitation to the Holy Spirit:

Remember that spirit knows no difference between having and being. The higher mind thinks according to the laws spirit obeys, and therefore honors only the laws of God. To spirit getting is meaningless and giving is all. Having everything, spirit holds everything by giving it, and thus creates as the Father created.

If you can accept the concept that the world is one of ideas, the whole belief in the false association the ego makes between giving and losing is gone.

  • Thoughts increase by being given away.
  • The more who believe in them the stronger they become.
  • Everything is an idea.
  • How, then, can giving and losing be associated?

The Holy Spirit is the only part of the Holy Trinity that has a symbolic function. (Jesus/Christ is man/Sonship. God ultimate reality.) This makes the Holy Spirit difficult to understand. Holy Spirit = Universal Inspiration?

The Holy Spirit is so close to Knowledge that it calls it forth/allows it to come. You can obstruct knowledge but you can never lose it. The Holy Spirit is the Call to Atonement – the restoration of the integrity of the mind. The Holy Spirit is the Mind of the Atonement.

The Voice for God.

The Holy Spirit is the motivation for miracle mindedness; the decision to heal the separation by letting go. The Holy Spirit is God’s answer to the separation.

God is not in you in a literal sense. The Holy Spirit merely reminds. It brings to your mind the other way, remaining quiet even in the midst of the turmoil you may make. The Holy Spirit is your Guide in choosing. He is in the part of your mind that always speaks for the right choice, because He speaks for God. He is your remaining communication with God, which you can interrupt but cannot destroy.

The Guide to Salvation.

The way to recognize your brother is by recognizing the Holy Spirit in him. The Holy Spirit is the idea of healing. Being thought, the idea gains as it is shared. It increases in you as you give it to your brother. Your brother does not have to be aware of the Holy Spirit in himself or in you for this miracle to occur.

The separation is merely another term for a split mind. The ego is the symbol of separation, just as the Holy Spirit is the symbol of peace. What you perceive in others you are strengthening in yourself. You may let your mind misperceive, but the Holy Spirit lets your mind reinterpret its own misperceptions.

The only aspect of time that is eternal is now. The Holy Spirit is your Guide to salvation, because He holds the remembrance of things past and to come, and brings them to the present.

Teaching and Healing.

Every loving thought held in any part of the Sonship belongs to every part. It is shared because it is loving. Sharing is God’s way of creating, and also yours. The ego can keep you in exile from the Kingdom, but in the Kingdom itself it has no power. Ideas of the spirit do not leave the mind that thinks them, nor can they conflict with each other.

You cannot be hurt, and do not want to show your brother anything except your wholeness. Show him that he cannot hurt you and hold nothing against him, or you hold it against yourself. This is the meaning of “turning the other cheek.” As you teach, so shall you learn.

The Ego’s Use of Guilt.

Guilt is more than merely not of God. It is the symbol of attack on God. This is a totally meaningless concept except to the ego, but do not underestimate the power of the ego’s belief in it. This is the belief from which all guilt really stems. If you identify with the ego, you must perceive yourself as guilty. Whenever you respond to your ego you will experience guilt, and you will fear punishment. The ego is quite literally a fearful thought.

The mind is capable of creating reality or making illusions. You must learn to think with God. Guilt is a sure sign you are not thinking with God. Your thinking is unnatural. Thinking with God engenders joy.

[So interested to hear what Wapnick has to say about this. I was sitting next to two women in a coffee shop earlier. One of the women kept talking about all the things the Lord had told her to do (get a pilots license, buy property in Salt Lake City…) and was telling the other woman she could know what the Lord was telling her to do about moving into a new apartment if the decision made her happy or not. Is that what “Thinking with God” is about? My will be done? A lot of ACIM students seem to think it means making the “right” physical decisions, too. It still seems to me to be about the ego. You want things to go the way you want them to go so you ask the Holy Spirit what you should do that will make you happiest. It’s kind of like praying to God to make things be the way you want them to be. It also contradicts with the statement in the first section that the world is one of ideas, not things. Surely where you move, where you buy property, etc. doesn’t matter to God or the Holy Spirit. It only matters to our egos.]

Time and Eternity.

You need not fear the Higher Court will condemn you. It will merely dismiss the case against you. [I so love that!!] There can be no case against a child of God, and every witness to guilt in God’s creations is bearing false witness to God Himself.

Infinite patience calls upon infinite love, and by producing results now it renders time unnecessary.

The Decision for God.

Decision cannot be difficult. This is obvious, if you realize that you must already have decided not to be wholly joyous if that is how you feel. Therefore, the first step in the undoing is to recognize that you actively decided wrongly, but can as actively decide otherwise. Be very firm with yourself in this, and keep yourself fully aware that the undoing process, which does not come from you, is nevertheless within you because God placed it there. Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace.

  • I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
  • I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
  • I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
  • I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
  • I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.

From Wapnick:

Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge – The Ego and the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 4 was the introduction to the ego. Chapter 5 is the introduction to the Holy Spirit.

Wapnick provides an interesting lesson on Beethoven. He believes Beethoven’s late quartets are the summit of all music. “Grosse Fuge” is what Beethoven wrote for the final movement of the 13th Quartet.

Grosse Fuge means “great fugue”—a fugue being, very briefly stated, two or more themes that are played and developed simultaneously—and herein one finds a powerful depiction of the ego, specifically the laws of chaos. It is aggressive music, almost impossible to play, let alone listen to, and seems to go on indefinitely, even though the piece lasts not even twenty minutes. I remember once, lying on my living room floor listening to these last quartets. As the Grosse Fuge played, it was as if the room spun around me with books falling off the shelves—truly a chaotic experience. Fortunately, a gentle theme, the opposite of the others, is introduced at the beginning even as it is quickly set aside. I then understood the experience of grace that many people have described. The theme is soft and beautiful, and one can liken it to the Holy Spirit and His forgiveness, although that would certainly not have been Beethoven’s term for it. After the introduction, the other fugal themes take over and one is cast into a veritable hell. But this grace-filled theme suddenly reappears, and the chaos gradually comes to an end. For a while, the melody becomes part of the fugue, and it is as if the ego and Holy Spirit go back and forth, until—finally—the ego’s theme is transformed as the fugue ends on a glorious note of triumph.

The next music Beethoven composed was The 14th Quartet, which is also a fugue. Wapnick says it is as close as anyone has come to depicting the peace of God. When taken as a whole, the quartets show that Heaven can only be obtained by first going through the chaos of the ego and that the ego is only navigable with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

We cannot go through ACIM without playing out that battle in our minds.

Language.

The text is written as a work of art and the language within it should not be taken literally. For instance, God (our Source) is not an entity with an identity that is separate from ours, but because we believe we are separated the language in ACIM speaks to us as though we are.

Likewise, the Holy Spirit is referred to with a masculine pronoun and all of the words used to describe the Holy Spirit are personifications: mediator, guide, interpreter, translator etc. But these are just symbols that allow us to relate to the loving presence in our minds. The correct way of looking at the Holy Spirit is that He symbolizes a thought or memory.

The form of the Holy Spirit – a voice or Person within the mind – is an illusion. But as long as we identify with being a person, we need a figure in our mind’s thought system that is also a person. It’s a symbol and not to be taken literally.

The Holy Spirit takes what the ego has made and reinterprets it. He does not transcend it.

The Holy Spirit.

Aha!! Here it is. Wapnick says the Holy Spirit doesn’t help us get stuff we want…

Nowhere does it say the Holy Spirit will get us parking spaces, heal us of cancer, or bring about world peace. His quiet Presence reminds us only of what we have forgotten, the love that urges us to choose differently by reminding us of the other way: peace instead of war. Stated differently, a theme we will come back to again and again, the problem was not the tiny, mad idea of separation, but that we took it seriously when we remembered not to laugh at its inherent silliness (T-27.VIII.6:2).

And toward the end:

We need to be wary of people who tell us that they hear the Holy Spirit, because they are almost always conveying to us their specialness, albeit subtly.

[That’s what it felt like listening to the woman in the coffee shop talking about all the things “the Lord” had told her to do. It seemed as though she thought herself very special…]

No matter how serious the situation, be it cancer or no where to park, what the Holy Spirit does is simply remind us that “we can look at this differently”. It doesn’t tell us where to go to get the parking place or how to heal our cancer. That we are afraid of the cancer or upset because we can’t find a parking place is because we have identified with the ego. Wanting it to be different is an identification with the ego.

Likewise, we are not asked to deny the world we see or our bodily experiences. We are merely asked to look at it differently.

An essential aspect of the Holy Spirit’s function is to take the world we made and change its purpose to our learning it is not our home. To “look as the Holy Spirit looks” means to see the world as the mind’s projection.

Jesus is a symbol that represents the right-minded choice.

Material things are gone when we give them away. Not so with ideas. The more we talk about something, the more we believe it. Everything is an idea and what we think about expands, be it love or fear. The more love we extend, the more we identify with love. The more guilt we “eliminate” by projecting it onto others, the more we identify with guilt and fear.

The Holy Spirit is not a “person” in our minds who intervenes on our behalf, answers questions, or solves problems. The Holy Spirit is a Thought in the mind. It is the other choice once we have decided for the ego.

ACIM is a curriculum in unlearning. We need to unlearn what the ego taught us about God, ourselves, and the world, and discern the difference between illusion and reality, between being children of the ego or of God, our true Source.

The Atonement Principal.

This parallels my comments about Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge: we hear the melody of grace at the beginning, and even though it is set aside, it remains in our memory. We have all heard love’s heavenly song that patiently awaits our right-minded choice. It has not disappeared, but is simply gone from our awareness when, in our insanity, we chose to forget it.

You are free to believe any insane thing you wish, but that does not make it true. Having thoughts does not make them real.

The Ego’s Fear of the Atonement Principal.

[I think my idea of Christianity isn’t quite so bleak as Wapnick’s. The reason the Holy Spirit works for me is because the Holy Spirit was something I understood when I was very young. Maybe that is because I was Methodist whose founder was a mystic? I always thought of the Holy Spirit as fire (based on the Methodist symbol) or wind. Either way, it was something that shifted perspective – either through the Holy Struggle of fire (which I imagine much like Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge) or through the gentle winds of understanding. I think that’s why ACIM has always worked for me. I understand the view of Holy Spirit as symbolic of that something that allows you to change your mind. I don’t remember ever associating the Holy Spirit with something that was defeating the pagans or infidels. If I did understand it that way, I understood it metaphorically. I don’t remember ever thinking it was literal.]

Guilt.

Every country that ever attacks another believes it didn’t make the first attack. Something first happened to provoke the attack. The other party did it, not us. They are guilty, not us. But the mind’s decision for guilt can only lead to pain and so we continually project guilt. Vicious circle. The only meaningful escape it to change our minds.

The Decision for Forgiveness.

The process of forgiveness requires day-in-and-day-out dedication to overcome the resistance to losing our special self; in other words, it requires great willingness.

(VII.5:1) Whenever you are not wholly joyous, it is because you have reacted with a lack of love to one of God’s creations.

If we are in a state of unhappiness or disquiet, it is only because we have withheld love to someone. It is not because someone else has been unloving, it is because we have been unloving.

Our guilt over this “sin” is enormous because it reflects the original withholding of love from God, and we can do nothing more with this guilt than deny and project it, accusing others of our secret sin. The truth remains, though, that when we are in a state of less than perfect joy, it is because we have not been loving to another—in thought, word, or deed.

Error is undone by bringing it to truth.

The five statements we are asked to say at the end of the chapter reflect the process of forgiveness ACIM is asking us to apply whenever we become disquieted. It gently leads us from the perceived source of upset (the body) to its cause (the mind), where the Holy Spirit and His Atonement await our return and corrected decision.

Since nothing outside is the cause of our distress, whether it is a hangnail or cancer, a playground skirmish or war, the form of the problem is irrelevant to the healing power of the miracle. There is no order of difficulty in illusions, for they are all the same: an illusion is an illusion is an illusion. The problem is always our mistaken choice, which means the solution is undoing the error by changing our mind.

Jesus.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit are basically interchangeable in terms of functioning as our inner Teacher, that the journey They lead us on takes us from the specific to the abstract, from Jesus to the Holy Spirit’s Voice, which ends up being our own. Yet we need to begin where we believe we are, in the specific or dualistic world wherein we live as bodies, needing a specific symbol in our minds that corrects our belief in the specific teachings of the ego. For so many of us in the Western world, this symbol is Jesus.

[Holy Spirit works better for me than Jesus, although I get the idea that Jesus symbolizes the human being who chose the Holy Spirit. I’m glad Jesus’ fades out after this, however. That’s because of the baggage of my Christian upbringing. I was forever forced to envision walking with Jesus as though he was my very best friend. I could never do that! When I started going through RCIA to become Catholic, I was surprised to discover I had no difficulty doing it with Mary. Especially when I was pregnant. Protestantism is very masculine. It doesn’t have the same sense of Church as Mother or womb…]

Jesus is the “model” for decision. He did it, so can we. He is the symbol of the mind’s power to choose right-mindedly. When we unite with him we reclaim that power to utilize on behalf of the truth of Atonement instead of the illusion of separation.

Closing.

This passage was originally meant for Helen, especially the opening line, but it is clearly meant for all of us. According to Wapnick it is a unique passage in the Course at this point, for it is the first time we read something in this form..

(IV.8) How can you who are so holy suffer? All your past except its beauty is gone, and nothing is left but a blessing. I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. They are beyond destruction and beyond guilt. They came from the Holy Spirit within you, and we know what God creates is eternal. You can indeed depart in peace because I have loved you as I loved myself. You go with my blessing and for my blessing. Hold it and share it, that it may always be ours. I place the peace of God in your heart and in your hands, to hold and share. The heart is pure to hold it, and the hands are strong to give it. We cannot lose. My judgment is as strong as the wisdom of God, in Whose Heart and Hands we have our being. His quiet children are His blessed Sons. The Thoughts of God are with you.

Chapter 4: The Illusions of the Ego

Hieronymus Bosch – “The Conjurur” (1475-1480)

Notes from the Text:

Introduction

To be fatigued is to be dispirited. To be inspired is to be in the spirit. The truly inspired are enlightened and cannot abide in darkness.

You can speak from the spirit or the ego. To speak from the spirit is “To be still and know that I am God.” This is inspired because it reflects knowledge. When you speak from the ego, you disclaim knowledge instead of affirming it.

The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. Until then, you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose.

Right Teaching and Right Learning.

A good teacher must believe in what he teaches and he must believe in the students to whom he offers the ideas.

Learning means change which is always fearful to the separated. The ego can learn, even though its maker can be misguided. Spirit need not be taught, but the ego must be. You cannot undo the world by changing your mind about it. You must be willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to the Holy Spirit so that it can be corrected.

Your worth is not established by teaching or learning, Your worth is established by God. As long as you dispute this, every situation you encounter will be fearful. God is not the author of fear, you are. God is as incapable of creating the perishable as the ego is of making the eternal.

The Ego and False Autonomy

The ego is only an idea, not a fact.

The question is not how you respond to the ego, but what you believe you are. Belief is an ego function, and as long as your origin is open to belief you are regarding it from an ego viewpoint. When teaching is no longer necessary you will merely know God. Belief that there is another way of perceiving is the loftiest idea of which ego thinking is capable. That is because it contains a hint of recognition that the ego is not the Self.

The ego is the mind’s belief that it is completely on its own.

Myths and magic are closely associated, since myths are usually related to ego origins, and magic to the powers the ego ascribes to itself. Mythological systems generally include some amount of “the creation,” and associate this with its particular form of magic. The so-called “battle for survival” is only the ego’s struggle to preserve itself, and its interpretation of its own beginning. The beginning is usually associated with the physical birth, because it is hard to maintain that the ego existed before that time.

Salvation is nothing more than “right mindedness” which is not the One-mindedness of the Holy Spirit, but which must be achieved before One-mindedness is restored.

Love without Conflict

“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” is not understandable to the ego. The ego interprets it as something outside being inside which does not mean anything. The word within is unnecessary. The Kingdom of Heaven is you.

The Kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it. Amen.

This is a Declaration of Independence in the form of a prayer for moments of temptation.

You who identify with your ego cannot believe God loves you. You do not love what you made, and what you made does not love you. [I so love this!!!!]

This Need Not Be

You cannot change your mind by changing your behavior, but you can change your mind. Whenever you are not joyous, you know you have chosen wrongly. Know this need not be. When you are sad, know this need not be. You are deprived of nothing but your own decisions. Decide otherwise. When you are anxious, know this need not be. It is just the capriciousness of the ego. When you feel guilty, remember that the ego has violated the laws of God, but you have not. Leave the ego to the Holy Spirit. Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego. Give up the voluntary dis-spiriting and your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal. But if you are not able to do this, simply remind yourself, this need not be.

The First Coming of Christ is another name for the creation, for Christ is the Son of God, The Second Coming of Christ simply means the end of the ego’s rule and the healing of the mind.

The Ego-Body Illusion

The body is the ego’s home by its own election. It is the only identification with which the ego feels safe. Yet the ego hates the body because it cannot accept it as good enough to be its home. And here comes the vicious circle: The ego says it really is a part of the body and that the body is its protector. But the mind is also told that the body cannot protect it. The mind asks, “Where can I go for protection?” The ego answers, “turn to me.” But the mind reminds the ego that the ego says it is identified with the body so there is no point turning to it. The ego has no answer for this. It’s typical solution is to obliterate the question from the mind’s awareness. Once out of awareness, the question can produce uneasiness, but it cannot be answered because it cannot be asked.

This is the question that must be asked: “Where can I go for protection?”

The Rewards of God

You cannot escape from the ego by humbling it or controlling it or punishing it. These lessons teach you to associate misery with the ego and joy with the spirit. You have taught yourself the opposite, but you are still free to choose. Can you really want the rewards of the ego in the presence of the rewards of God?

God will come to you only as you will give Him to your brothers. As you come closer to a brother you approach spirit, and as you withdraw from him, spirit becomes more distant to you. The function of love is one.

Creation and Communication

In the Kingdom, there is no difference between “having” and “being”. Creation gives everything since it can create only like itself.

Praising God doesn’t mean you should tell him how wonderful He is. He has no ego with which to accept such praise and no perception with which to judge it. However, He does know when His channels are closed, and He is lonely when the minds He created do not communicate fully with Him. [That is a very strange statement!!]

God is praised whenever any mind learns to be wholly helpful, which requires being wholly harmless. The truly helpful are invulnerable, because they are not protecting their egos and so nothing can hurt them.

Notes from Wapnick:

The two main characters in the myth of ACIM are the ego and the Holy Spirit. Chapter 4 introduces the ego, Chapter 5 the Holy Spirit.

ACIM uses leitmotif. This was used by Richard Wagner in his music and Thomas Mann in his novels. Leitmotif is a highly sophisticated use of musical or literary themes to depict characters, objects, or emotions. Each time the motif is encountered, the listener or reader recalls its other usages.

Atonement Principle

The first motif in ACIM is the Atonement principle – the separation never happened. The second is the ego’s fear of the Atonement. Truth has not changed and this makes the ego fearful because it means the ego does not exist. It’s an illusion.

Theme of scarcity – The belief that there is something missing in us is inherent in the perceptual world of specifics, which ACIM contrasts with abstraction. The ego makes up a world of specifics and tries to make us believe this is reality.

Knowledge is another word for Heaven. It is non-specific. Being/knowledge is the non-specific state of abstraction.

Existence is a synonym for the perceptual world. Existence is always specific.

This is not a course in reconciling opposites which sets it apart from Carl Jung who taught that wholeness comes from reconciling opposites. (The opposites are seen as real and need to be integrated.) ACIM teaches that we cannot integrate spirit and ego, light and darkness, love and fear because in the presence of one, the other must disappear. Everything and nothing can never be reconciled, nor can they communicate with one another.

The phrase, “the ego can learn” is confusing. The decision-making part of the mind is referred to here. The part the learns is not the wrong-minded self. [I’m not sure I agree with him here. When I read this, what I thought was that the ego can be taught to question itself. Although, perhaps that has more to do with the decision-making part of the brain? It’s confusing. It’s not that the right-minded part of the brain learns – that wouldn’t make any sense because there is no need for the right-minded part of the brain to learn. The wrong-minded part cannot learn. So it is the decision-maker who learns? I don’t know!! I’ll keep trudging along…]

The Ego’s Strategy

Understanding the two motifs – the Atonement Principle and the ego’s fear of the Atonement – make the strategy that arose from them unmistakably clear.

The threat to the ego is not Truth, it is the power of the Son’s mind to choose against the ego and for the Holy Spirit. The ego’s strategy is to render us mindless by making a body and making the mind forget there is a decision maker. We thereby become aware of our body cut off from the mind that thought it.

We are asked to use our worldly preoccupations and bodily concerns as classrooms in which to learn that our problems are but projections of the internal problem of guilt we do not want to solve. Instead, we strive to preserve our identities as individual selves. We therefore need a teacher who will expose the lie in our concerns—emotional, physical, societal—and lead us to the mind’s true correction of Atonement. This teacher, of course, is Jesus, the second important theme of this chapter.

Jesus

The role of Jesus is taken by the Holy Spirit in terms of function. They are the same. When we ask, “Is there another way?” this marks the beginning of the ego’s end.

Reinforcement Theory

B.F. Skinner – people learn better through rewards than punishment. This is how ACIM works – recognize the rewards of choosing the Holy Spirit as teacher and you are more likely to continue to do so.

Another crucial motif in the symphony is the recognition that we have a choice between the ego’s pain and the Holy Spirit’s peace. This can only happen when we detach from the ego and restore our identity as a decision-making mind. It is the mind’s decision for the ego that is the problem, not the ego itself. An illusion can never be a problem.

Looking at the Ego

“How could we have made the ego?” There is no point in answering the question because the question assumes the ego is real and it is unreal. Furthermore, since the ego is a belief of the decision-making mind, not a fact, our responses to it are irrelevant.

If we choose the Holy Spirit as our teacher, life becomes easier because we no longer have to struggle against the truth. We don’t have to do this alone: “Help me to help you look at this so you can understand what your mind is choosing.”

If we can understand what our mind is choosing, we can better recognize the decision-making mind that is making the choices and choose again.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is equated with “right-mindedness”. The way we perceive others is vital to our spiritual development. We cannot return to Heaven unless in our minds, we bring everyone with us. Everyone must be included in our forgiveness.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning are the same. Giving and receiving are the same. Allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us that we have a mind is the holiest thing we can do while asleep. Finding the mind’s decision-making self through forgiveness is our only purpose and function in being here. Teaching and learning have nothing to do with form, only content.

We are not asked to teach this course on the level of form or do wonderful things as instruments of peace, all we are asked to do is demonstrate that we are not an ego. We are not a separated and guilty individual who is angry, fearful, anxious, and depressed, who becomes sick and dies. We are asked to live in a state of peace, knowing that this peace extends to, and embraces, all people all the time, without exception.

To summarize, the ego is undone by understanding that its purpose is to keep the right mind’s Atonement principle hidden and obscure. We make up a world in which we can hide in a mindless state of separation, seeing everyone’s interests as separate from our own. This thought is easily corrected when we let Jesus help us understand that we cannot perceive others as separate from ourselves and be peaceful. Recognizing our inherent commonality as split minds—we all share the same need to awaken from the ego’s dream of insanity—is the means Jesus uses to awaken us to our true Self, which we will ultimately choose because of its inherent value to us.