Notes from the Text:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.