Lesson 22 – What I see is a form of vengeance.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

In 1998, there was great resistance to this lesson because I took it personally.  I thought Jesus was not acknowledging how far I had come in not judging people and being open-minded.

Now it is clear that Jesus is not speaking to little ego-fragment “me, Amy”, as a person.  He is simply stating that ego eyesight shows us forms and forms were made to obscure the Formless God-Self we truly are.

Forms can be transformed–the undoing process is an unforming, which these early lessons initiate.  Forms do not stop at material objects–forms begin with thought-form.

If I have attack thoughts, criticisms and judgments of myself or others, then I must see the world as vengeful.  The Course says I’ve projected my own anger out at the world and I expect revenge in return; I expect to be attacked.  Expecting attack, I lash out (and often lie to myself and say I’m being nice, or that I wouldn’t have lashed out if you hadn’t started “it”) and call it self defense.

“Why’d you have to make me do it?”

And so there is a vicious cycle of fear of attack leading to attack over and over again.  All the forms I see are a testament to my belief that I’ve separated from God and that I’m afraid I’ll be punished, so my best defense is an offensive strike.

Another way of putting it is that every form I see is a curtain I’ve drawn between myself and God.  This curtain obscures my Source so that I won’t remember God exists.  I don’t realize that I’m the dreamer dreaming an unreal dream which will end, and I with it, when “I” awaken … awakening is the opposite of condensation … a spreading back into Wholeness where All is the same One.

Jesus assures us that none of this is real; it is a savage fantasy from which we can “escape.”   There is a trans-formation process where we ask the Holy Spirit to use the forms we made for His Purpose of Love and Unification.  For a while we still see forms but from a Unifying Perspective.

We made up the whole story of the world and humanity, because we dreamed we separated from God, and we dreamed up the hatred and murder with which we live.  But actually we are seeing “only the perishable,” “nothing that will last,” because what we see is not real–what we see is a form of vengeance.  Vengeance can be transformed with the Holy Spirit’s Vision … to help ourselves look with Him, we ask ourselves, “Is this the world I really want to see?”

LESSON 22

What I see is a form of vengeance.

Today’s idea accurately describes the way anyone who holds attack thoughts in his mind must see the world.  Having projected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike at him.  His own attack is thus perceived as self defense.  This becomes an increasingly vicious circle until he is willing to change how he sees.  Otherwise, thoughts of attack and counter-attack will preoccupy him and people his entire world.  What peace of mind is possible to him then?

It is from this savage fantasy that you want to escape.  Is it not joyous news to hear that it is not real?  Is it not a happy discovery to find that you can escape?  You made what you would destroy; everything that you hate and would attack and kill.  All that you fear does not exist.  Look at the world about you at least five times today, for at least a minute each time.  As your eyes move slowly from one object to another, from one body to another, say to yourself:

I see only the perishable.
I see nothing that will last.
What I see is not real.
What I see is a form of vengeance.

At the end of each practice period, ask yourself:

Is this the world I really want to see?

The answer is surely obvious.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

Lesson 21 – I am determined to see things differently.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This is the lesson that tells us “a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.”

Anger is anger no matter what gradation we experience.  Most of us are very uncomfortable with anger anyway, and cannot permit ourselves to know how angry we are–the consequences of our anger are too threatening to us.

In the kind of psychotherapy work I used to do, we are invited to fully feel our emotions in the safety of the therapy room, and find out that they can run their course, be released, and we can feel relieved, re-balanced, and transformed from that process.

For example, if I allow myself to yell at someone who’s not actually there using Gestalt chairwork, and express that energy through my voice, body language, eyes, etc., then I will find out more.  I may grow angrier and feel the effects in my body: shaking hands, heat rising through my torso into my face, etc.

I may feel impotent as the person I am angry at ignores me or mocks me.  I may feel satisfied that I’ve said my piece.  I may feel frightened that I could hurt the other person, or myself through a violent gesture, or by internal bursting–a stroke or a heart attack.

Eventually, if I practice this technique and use it well, I will learn that strong feelings are energy in motion, e-motion, and that at the other side of this swell of anger is peace.  Underneath every human emotion is peace, joy and love … if we are willing to plumb the depths.  At the depth we discover our truth: we are all the same and we are just frightened that we are alone, misunderstood and deserving of punishment.

Someone told me that he learned this lesson when he was 12 years old and was on a lacrosse team.  It became clear to him that if he faced his opponent down by running straight at him,  penetrating him with a look that said, “I’m going to kill you” and wielding his lacrosse stick with fury, that he would win the game.  He fully grasped in that moment that under the veils of learning lacrosse technique and back-slapping team camaraderie was simply “kill or be killed.”  And he never went back to lacrosse.  He may not have known it at the time, but he was determined to see things differently 🙂

Yesterday’s lesson, morphed into, “I will not be deterred…”  Today I feel confident that I will not be blinded by the ego because my willingness is Greater than ego objections.  Willingness adheres to the Truth, my true Will Power, my Source.  Let the ego hypnotize and swirl and makes its magic.  Magic disappears in a poof of smoke when Light pours through.  And I am able to see … things … differently.

Ramana Maharshi offers the mantra, “I am that I am.”  I am that I am clears away debris and ego darkness.  I am that I am sweeps obstructions away.  Enough I am that I am clears space for the Light.  Seems similar.

LESSON 21

I am determined to see things differently.

The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one.  This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise.  Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.

In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself.  Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you.  The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage.  The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter.  You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.

Try, therefore, not to let the “little” thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods.  Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything.  You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or persons more than others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more “obvious.”  This is not so.  It is merely an example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others.

As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:

I am determined to see __________ [name of person] differently.
I am determined to see __________ [specify the situation] differently.

Try to be as specific as possible.  You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect.  If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say:

I am determined to see _____________ [specify the attribute] in _____________ [name of person] differently.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

Lesson 20 – I am determined to see.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Determination has not been my strong suit, and I’ve learned it’s because the ego’s willpower is capricious and not in my best interests.

However, it occurs to me that determination, as Jesus is using it, can be seen as “not to be deterred or detoured” and I relax into the lesson.  I will not be deterred or detoured from following (and relaxing into) the Holy Spirit’s Vision.

Grace is actually the determining factor in my life.  Grace is clearly a firm decision, which I am resolved not to change, which has already been made for me by Spirit.  The unplanned openness of this life of “mine” is a testament to That.

Lesson 20 spontaneously crystallizes for me as a line from Chapter 2 comes to mind: “You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, and are passively condoning your mind’s miscreations.”

No interest in mind wandering anymore.  Resting in God and knowing the Source of Guidance is Where I truly am, is all that is important now.  Despite that, the mind does wander. I just catch it sooner and choose the Holy Spirit, again. And again. And again.

Eleven years ago, when I practiced Lesson 20, this is what I wrote:  Jesus starts off this lesson with the word “We.”  “We have been quite casual about our practice periods thus far.”  It’s as if he’s put his arm around my shoulder in a friendly way, and yet somehow I get the feeling he’s scolding me.

Maybe he’s been quite casual, but it seems to me I’ve been quite dedicated.  He’s telling me that we’ve barely done any work in practicing the lessons so far because if I felt coerced in any way I might give in to resentment and opposition and that wouldn’t be useful in the path to Oneness.

Still, I feel the effort I have put in is going unappreciated and I also have no idea how I’m going to put more discipline into the Workbook since just the word “discipline” brings up my uneasiness on whether I’ll follow through or not.

Also, Jesus is candid about his strategy to allow us to feel whatever we feel and believe whatever we believe in order that we do the exercises and be influenced by our own experience.  (This is very much what I did as a psychotherapist and a yoga teacher.  “Don’t change anything — observe and get to know yourself. Then you’ll have the ability to make real choices.”  This applies to emotions, body tension, breath constriction, and, spiritually, undoing the ego.)

He comes out and says that his approach so far has been intentional and “very carefully planned.”  Why is Jesus revealing that?  Maybe Helen needed to hear that.  Honestly, I’m having trouble fulfilling the loose schedule with minimal effort required as it is.

Well, at least it’s obvious to me that this is the voice of the ego, railing against the invitation to return Home.  Some people find these words of Jesus comforting — they are glad that Jesus understands not to expect too much of them, especially at first.

Still, a lot of annoyance is coming up for me.  All of my nitpicky perfectionistic tendencies are affronted by Jesus saying, “This is our first attempt to introduce structure.”  Up until now he’s recommended morning and evening readings of the lesson with practice periods throughout the day.  And he has expressly said not to get ritualistic about practicing the lesson.  My days have felt pretty structured around the Workbook, while not compulsive.  Don’t I get good marks for that?  Grrrrrrr.

And then the actual instructions for today’s lesson turn out to be the easiest of all.  Just repeat today’s idea, “I am determined to see” every half hour (as much as I can remember to do so).  Many Course students start setting their wristwatches at this point.  Ken Wapnick says they are missing the point — it’s a process of remembering, not following instructions to the tee. On the other hand, a reminder to practice your lesson is not a sin!

Dipping back into the lesson, we are told that we don’t have happiness and peace now because our mind is totally undisciplined.  Sigh.  I have to agree with that.  Often my mind is jumpity and squawking. It’s an ongoing process to catch this distractedness and choose again all day.  I’m no Eckhart Tolle (master of no thought).

Right now, Jesus says, we don’t even know the difference between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear.  We have them mixed up and actually mistake them for each other.  But “great indeed” will be our reward once we learn how to tell them apart.  Okay, I’m excited about the great-indeed-reward.  But why do you have to take that lofty tone?

Even with my cranky feelings about this lesson, I am still quite motivated :).  Yep, because I am determined to see.  And one thing I see right now, is that the ego is all stirred up, but I can observe it and its seeming effects of irritation and critical assessment and still be quite unmoved mentally.  Because the mind training is working nicely and my state of mind can observe my emotions with a gentle smile.

Mentally, I am determined to see.  I am committed to the undoing process the Course offers me.  I am quite pleased that Jesus is pushing me, despite his tone :).

Revisiting this lesson the next day, I want to add that I am determined to see has many possible inferences.  I AM determined to see.

I am DETERMINED to see.  I am determined to SEE.

I am determined to see (particularly ego driven).

Where I come out is a softer, more surrendered, “I am willing to see” which, for me, feels like what Jesus is asking … when I’m determined I’m too much on my own, trying too hard, making too much of a personal effort.  So this lesson has morphed from “I am determined to see” to “I am willing to see” for me.

LESSON 20

I am determined to see.

We have been quite casual about our practice periods thus far.  There has been virtually no attempt to direct the time for understanding them, minimal effort has been required, and not even active cooperation and interest have been asked.  This approach has been intentional, and very carefully planned.  We have not lost sight of the crucial importance of the reversal of your thinking.  The salvation of the world depends on it.  Yet you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced, and if you give in to resentment and opposition.

This is our first attempt to introduce structure.  Do not misconstrue it as an effort to exert force or pressure.  You want salvation.  You want to be happy.  You want peace.  You do not have them now, because your mind is totally undisciplined, and you cannot distinguish between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear.  You are now learning how to tell them apart.  And great indeed will be your reward.

Your decision to see is all that vision requires.  What you want is yours.  Do not mistake the little effort that is asked of you for an indication that our goal is of little worth.  Can the salvation of the world be a trivial purpose?  And can the world be saved if you are not?  God has one Son, and he is the resurrection and the life.  His will is done because all power is given him in Heaven and on earth.  In your determination to see is vision given you.

The exercises for today consist in reminding yourself throughout the day that you want to see.  Today’s idea also tacitly implies the recognition that  you do not see now.  Therefore, as you repeat the idea, you are stating that you are determined to change your present state for a better one, and one you really want.

Repeat today’s idea slowly and positively at least twice an hour today, attempting to do so every half hour.  Do not be distressed if you forget to do so, but make a real effort to remember.  The extra repetitions should be applied to any situation, person or event that upsets you.  You can see them differently, and you will.  What you desire you will see.  Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

Lesson 19 – I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Uh oh, Jesus says the idea for today is obvious.  That could make a girl feel stupid.  But since I’m sure he doesn’t mean it that way, lol, let’s consider what he’s saying.  It is obvious that my seeing does not affect me alone.

Therefore, it is obvious that my thinking doesn’t affect me alone.  Actually, thinking and its results happen at the same time because cause and effect are never separate. Hmmmm.

Minds are joined.  Minds are joined, like it or not.  Whether that makes me feel a great sense of responsibility, or a horrible lack of privacy, doesn’t matter.  Minds are joined.

A student related this story:

“I had an experience several years ago of receiving a message from the Holy Spirit that ‘love is not a private matter.’ I was visiting family and though I arrived in great spirits, their bickering chipped away at me until I felt deeply depressed in a way that is unusual for me. 

I prayed incessantly.  What made the situation more painful and confusing for me was that my family members said nice things but their energy and the atmosphere in their home made it unbearable to be with them.  

Finally, when asked if something was wrong, I blurted out, ‘There is no love in this house’ and was surprised to hear what I had said, though it felt true and didn’t directly attack anyone.

I was told by one family member that their love took place behind closed doors and the Words came to me: Love is not a private matter. I felt a sense of certainty and peace come over me at being reminded of Truth.”

Love can’t be parceled out at certain times, in certain places, and only to certain people.  Minds are joined and either Love or fear is rippling through, depending on which station we tune in.  The static can be so strong, that we can be mightily challenged to stay tuned to God’s Wavelength.  That is our commitment though, and so we keep coming back to the Holy Spirit and asking to be aware of What I Already Am that I may shine that Light all the time.

So, minds are joined and that is a good thing.  Woody Allen said, “Even though I may be paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”  From the ego’s perspective, minds being joined is threatening.  From God’s perspective, minds being joined is a constant outpouring of radiant Love.

LESSON 19

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

The idea for today is obviously the reason why your seeing does not affect you alone.  You will notice at times the ideas related to thinking precede those related to perceiving, while at other times the order is reversed.  The reason is that the order does not matter.  Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate.

Today we are again emphasizing the fact that minds are joined.  This is rarely a wholly welcome idea at first, since it seems to carry with it an enormous sense of responsibility, and may even be regarded as an “invasion of privacy.”  Yet it is a fact that there are no private thoughts.  Despite your initial resistance to this idea, you will yet understand that it must be true if salvation is possible at all.  And salvation must be possible because it is the Will of God.

The minute or so of mind searching which today’s exercises require is to be undertaken with eyes closed.  The idea for today is to be repeated first, and then the mind should be carefully searched for the thoughts it contains at that time.  As you consider each one, name it in terms of the central person or theme it contains, and holding it in your mind as you do so, say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about ______________.

The requirement of as much indiscriminateness as possible in selecting subjects for the practice periods should be quite familiar to you by now, and will no longer be repeated each day, although it will occasionally be included as a reminder.  Do not forget, however, that random selection of subjects for all practice periods remains essential throughout.  Lack of order in this connection will ultimately make the recognition of lack of order in miracles meaningful to you.

Apart from the “as needed” application of today’s idea, at least three practice periods are required, shortening the length of time involved, if necessary.  Do not attempt more than four.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

Lesson 18 – I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Water Shadow by Scott Johnson

The thoughts which give rise to what I see are never neutral and are always important.
Minds are joined. Today’s idea is not so much about what we see as how we see it.

I can see Love or fear … whatever I’m looking at can be seen through eyesight or Vision.  Eyesight produces fearful effects.  Vision produces loving effects.  If I see my brothers  and the world with the ego’s eyesight, then I see them with a sense of separation, guilt and fear.

If I see my brothers and the world with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and vision, then I see them with Love which joins us.  I can only choose one or the other (ego cause and its effects, or God cause and Its effects)–there is no neutral limbo.  Whichever thought system I choose affects the effects of my seeing.

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of how I see this cup of hot milk.
I am not alone in experiencing the effects of how I see this body on the sofa.
I am not alone in experiencing how I see this lamp on my desk.

Together or separate?  Peaceful or fearful?  If I don’t think this through, if I leave it alone and don’t try to understand, if I stay in the present moment and forget about referencing what I’ve learned from the text, I don’t know what this means, but I feel good.  I feel solid and peaceful and happy … I just do.

LESSON 18

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

The idea for today is another step in learning that the thoughts which give rise to what you see are never neutral or unimportant.  It also emphasizes the idea that minds are joined, which will be given increasing stress later on.

Today’s idea does not refer to what you see as much as how you see it.  Therefore, the exercises for today emphasize this aspect of your perception.  The three or four practice periods which are recommended should be done as follows:

Look about you, selecting subjects for the application of the idea for today as randomly as possible, and keeping your eyes on each one long enough to say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of how I see ____________.

Conclude each practice period by repeating the more general statement:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

A minute or so, or even less, will be sufficient for each practice period.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

Lesson 17: I see no neutral things.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Perception is not the cause of reality, although we think it is.

Perception is the effect of our thinking.  Our thinking is really not-thinking, and perception is really effect.  Not-thinking produces perception so that we don’t Think.  Perception is the MacGuffin … perception is the grand distraction, the best the ego can do to maintain its sprint away from Heaven.

Then, with dry humor, Jesus concludes, “In view of [perception’s]  highly variable nature, this is hardly likely. (that perception is cause)”

The lesson tells us that no matter what we believe, we do not see anything that is really alive or really joyous … and this is because we are not yet aware of a thought that is really true and therefore really happy.

I see no neutral things because I think no neutral thoughts because I’m using thinking to obscure Thought.  I’m actually not-thinking and calling it Thinking, but now I can’t be fooled by that anymore.  This is the awakening process.

LESSON 17

I see no neutral things.

This idea is another step in the direction of identifying cause and effect as it really operates in the world.  You see no neutral things because you have no neutral thoughts.  It is always the thought that comes first, despite the temptation to believe that it is the other way around.  This is not the way the world thinks, but you must learn that it is the way you think.  If it were not so, perception would have no cause, and would itself be the cause of reality.  In view of its highly variable nature, this is hardly likely.

In applying today’s idea, say to yourself, with eyes open:

I see no neutral things because I have no neutral thoughts.

Then look about you, resting your glance on each thing you note long enough to say:

I do not see a neutral _____________, because my thoughts about ___________ are not neutral.

For example, you might say:

I do not see a neutral wall, because my thoughts about walls are not neutral.
I do not see a neutral body, because my thoughts about bodies are not neutral.

As usual, it is essential to make no distinctions between what you believe to be animate or inanimate; pleasant or unpleasant.  Regardless of what you may believe, you do not see anything that is really alive or really joyous.  That is because you are unaware as yet of any thought that is really true, and therefore really happy.

Three or four specific practice periods are recommended, and no less than three are required for maximum benefit, even if you experience resistance.  However, if you do, the length of the practice period may be reduced to less than the minute or so that is otherwise recommended.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

Lesson 16: I have no neutral thoughts.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This lesson says everything that I see is the result of my thoughts without exception.  There are only true or false thoughts — there is no such thing as powerful/weak thoughts.  There is no such thing as idle thoughts … because thoughts have given rise to the dream of the world, and every thought we have makes something happen … in our mind … which seem to appear here, in the “world.”

I might consider daydreaming idle thinking … laying on my back in a meadow on a spring day gazing up at the clouds.  This kind of thinking can be aligned with the Holy Spirit and used to extend the truth, or aligned with the ego thought system and multiply illusions.

Every thought I have contributes to my belief in God’s Truth or the illusion of the world.  Salvation requires that I become aware that every thought I have brings either peace or war, love or fear.

Fear thoughts, those that make me uncomfortable enough that I minimize them, dismiss them, deny them, sweep them under the rug … those are the thoughts that need scrutiny.  I need to understand that fear thoughts are all equally destructive no matter how “big” or “small” because they choose for the ego.

Thankfully they are also equally unreal, but that takes time to fully trust and know.  That is the right use of time — to use it to unwind the dreaming mind, which leads naturally to awakening.

It will be hard at first to avoid making “artificial distinctions,” meaning I am so used to prioritizing some needs over others that what is obvious to me, e.g., not having a job is much worse and bigger than breaking a coffee cup, is going to have be undone in my mind.  Both are equally fearful in that they indicate the ego is doing the thinking when accompanied by distress at any level.  Here goes:

This thought about what am I going to eat for breakfast is not a neutral thought.
This thought about it being cold outside today is not a neutral thought.
This thought about having a vet give my cat an annual checkup is not a neutral thought.
This thought about getting all my work done by deadline is not a neutral thought because there are no neutral thoughts.

LESSON 16

I have no neutral thoughts.

The idea for today is a beginning step in dispelling the belief that your thoughts have no effect.  Everything you see is the result of your thoughts.  There is no exception to this fact.  Thoughts are not big or little; powerful or weak.  They are merely true or false.  Those that are true create their own likeness.  Those that are false make theirs.

There is no more self-contradictory concept than that of “idle thoughts.”  What gives rise to the perception  of a whole world can hardly be called idle.  Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions.  You can indeed multiply nothing, but you will not extend it by doing so.

Besides your recognizing that thoughts are never idle, salvation requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war, either love or fear.  A neutral result is impossible because a neutral thought is impossible.  There is such a temptation to dismiss fear thoughts as unimportant, trivial and not worth bothering about that it is essential you recognize them all as equally destructive, but equally unreal.  We will practice this idea in many forms before you really understand it.

In applying the idea for today, search your mind for a minute or so with eyes closed, and actively seek not to overlook any “little” thought that may tend to elude the search.  This is quite difficult until you get used to it.  You will find that it is still hard for you not to make artificial distinctions.  Every thought that occurs to you, regardless of the qualities that you assign to it, is a suitable subject for applying today’s idea.

In the practice periods, first repeat the idea to yourself, and then as each one crosses your mind hold it in awareness while you tell yourself:

This thought about ______________ is not a neutral thought.
This thought about ______________ is not a neutral thought.

As usual, use today’s idea whenever you are aware of a particular thought that arouses uneasiness.  The following form is suggested for this purpose:

This thought about _____________ is not a neutral thought, because I have no neutral thoughts.

Four or five practice periods are recommended if you find them relatively effortless.  If strain is experienced, three will be enough.  The length of the exercise period should also be reduced if there is discomfort.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

Lesson 15 – My thoughts are images that I have made.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

Reckless Dreamer by Rene Magritte

Reckless Dreamer by Rene Magritte

This lesson tells me that I think that I am thinking, therefore the truth is that I am not thinking.  Because what I call thinking is actually not-thinking.

Because I think I am thinking, I think I see what I’m “thinking” about.  This is what eyesight is for: to witness to the ego that the ego indeed exists through false visuals.

Lesson 15 goes on to say it is teaching us an  “introductory idea to the process of image making” [bold mine].  This was said to Helen and Bill in the 1970s before the mainstream popularity of New Age ideas about creating your reality, visualizing your future and positive affirmations.  I’ve come to understand that positive affirmations, vision boards, setting intention, etc., are methods of manipulating the ego dream — which is okay for a while, but at some point this is no longer gratifying.

Discovering the power of the mind, even in the ego dream, is very useful.  The belief in ego mind has miscreated powerfully with the use of imagination:  galaxies, planets, the elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether, humans — yet, none of this is real.  You can think of it as virtual reality.

Lesson 15 says that we will begin to understand the process of image making when we see little edges of light around the same familiar objects which we see now, and that that is the beginning of real vision.  Jesus says once this happens we can be certain that real vision will come quickly — of course, we don’t know what Jesus means by quickly, lol.  Billions of years are nothing to him, and anything can happen in a holy instant.  We are also told that as we go along we may have many light episodes.  I’ve had some, and many others (perhaps you?) have as well.

Although light episodes can seem dramatic, they are, as my first yoga teacher Dharma Mittra used to say, “just another experience.”  Yogic practices can lead to light experiences, just as Course practices can.  As the Course says in the Text, there are many legitimate paths and A Course in Miracles is but one of them.  But if the Course does turn out to be your path, as it is mine, there is a satisfaction in acknowledging that the world has been a terrifying, unjust and vicious place.

In my experience it is also a depleting, unsatisfying, perversely uncooperative, unreasonable and irrational place.  In recent years, since I found the Course, the world and my relationships have become much more gratifying.  Everything is much simpler now that I can remind myself that everything is a call for love, or Love Itself, and the only response is Love.  Now I can focus on letting go of the ego thought system with Love and return Home.

Some students of the Course take this information about light episodes literally.  Ken Wapnick, a renowned teacher of A Course in Miracles, and my mentor, used to say that the light episodes are symbolic.  I think they are both — sometimes literal, sometimes symbolic.  Personally, I have had many experiences of seeing what Gurumayi and others call the “blue pearl.”   And I have also had a series of ocular migraines that, as I stopped feeling afraid of them and relaxed into them, have had a softening and opening effect on my mind.  They are a painless light show, jewel-like, kaleidoscopic-ish, and give me a strong demonstration of how “eyesight” is actually “brainsight”!

In the ACIM Preface, Jesus says, “The opposite of seeing through the body’s eyes is the vision of Christ, which reflects strength rather than weakness, unity rather than separation, and love rather than fear.”  Give yourself a treat and read the Preface at the beginning of the first book in A Course in Miracles called the Text.  In the third section of the Preface, called “What It Says,” Jesus speaks and gives us an excellent synopsis of the entire ACIM teaching.  This will better help you absorb the workbook lessons.

LESSON 15

My thoughts are images that I have made.

It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing.  You think you think them, and so you think you see them.  This is how your “seeing” was made.  This is the function you have given your body’s eyes.  It is not seeing.  It is image making.  It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.

This introductory idea to the process of image making that you call seeing will not have much meaning for you.  You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now.  That is the beginning of real vision.  You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.

As we go along, you may have many “light episodes.”  They may take many different forms, some of them quite unexpected.  Do not be afraid of them.  They are signs that you are opening your eyes at last.  They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge.  These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you.  But they will prepare the way to it.

In practicing the idea for today, repeat it first to yourself, and then apply it to whatever you see around you, using its name and letting your eyes rest on it as you say:

This _______________ is an image that I have made.
This _______________ is an image that I have made.

It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today’s idea.  It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself.  The idea should be repeated quite slowly each time.

Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible.  Less than a minute will do for the practice periods, if you begin to feel uneasy.  Do not have more than three application periods for today’s idea unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and do not exceed four.  However, the idea can be applied as needed throughout the day.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

Lesson 14 – God did not create a meaningless world.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

One of my favorite lessons!  I get a big kick out of facing my “personal repertory of horrors”.  When you’ve worked with the Course enough, the savagery of the ego is reduced to a “quaint absurdity”.

What God creates is not the world as we know it.  In the undoing process A Course in Miracles offers us, we get to see the story we have made up about the world and unwrite this story, revealing God’s Word underneath our make-believe.

We learn to let go of the thoughts we have written on the world … salvation is the exchange of our thoughts for God’s Thought.  The process leading to salvation can be difficult, painful and lead us directly into fear BUT this fear that seems so real is eclipsed in a holy instant with perfect safety and perfect peace.

We are given a powerful exercise to address the “horrors in the world” and our “personal repertory of horrors.”  We name each one and state that it is not real because the horror was not created by God — it was made up by us.  This can seem outrageous, absurd, indifferent and cruel.

How can Jesus ask us to deny the obvious horrors and the pain they cause when we are convinced that they are having a profound effect on the world (“some of them are shared illusions”) and ourselves personally (“others are part of your personal hell”)?  No matter how depraved this attitude seems to us, we are told, “It does not matter.  What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His.  Therefore, it has no meaning.”

In the text there is a line, “Seek not to change the world, choose to change your mind about the world.”  This lesson is training us to detach from the ego mind’s obsessive/compulsive thought that pain and suffering are real, and to allow the mind to telescope to a longer, wider perspective from which vantage point we suddenly see that the body is not real, therefore nothing the body seems to suffer from is real.

This is a process of dis-identification with the ego thought system which instantly restores Identification with God’s Mind.  It’s a worthy challenge.

Lesson 14
God did not create a meaningless world.

The idea for today is, of course, the reason why a meaningless world is impossible.  What God did not create does not exist.  And everything that does exist exists as He created it.  The world you see has nothing to do with reality.  It is of your own making, and it does not exist.

The exercises for today are to be practiced with eyes closed throughout.  The mind-searching period should be short, a minute at most.  Do not have more than three practice periods with today’s idea unless you find them comfortable.  If you do, it will be because you really understand what they are for.

The idea for today is another step in learning to let go the thoughts that you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place.  The early steps in this exchange, which can truly be called salvation, can be quite difficult and even quite painful.  Some of them will lead you directly into fear.  You will not be left there.  You will go far beyond it.  Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace.

With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind.  Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its reality.  God did not create it, and so it is not real.  Say, for example:

God did not create that war, and it is not real.
God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real.
God did not create that disaster [specify], and so it is not real.

Suitable subjects for the application of today’s idea also include anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned.  In each case, name the “disaster” quite specifically.  Do not use general terms.  For example, do not say, “God did not create illness,” but, “God did not create cancer,” or heart attacks, or whatever may arouse fear in you.

This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking.  These things are part of the world you see.  Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell.  It does not matter.  What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His.  Therefore, it has no meaning.  In recognition of this fact, conclude the practice periods by repeating today’s idea:

God did not create a meaningless world.

The idea for today can, of course, be applied to anything that disturbs you during the day, aside from the practice periods.  Be very specific in applying it.  Say:

God did not create a meaningless world.
He did not create [specify the situation which is disturbing you], and so it is not real.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.

 

Lesson 13 – A meaningless world engenders fear.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

We are chopping up God’s Thought into languages and words.  This prevents us from having the Whole Concept in our mind.  Words are like letters on the Scrabble board — they do not mean anything in and of themselves until they are put together.

Or we might liken the chopping of up God’s Thought to a jigsaw puzzle — we cannot see the whole picture until we bring the pieces back together into the Whole.  This occurred to me after re-reading the first paragraph of the lesson and I’m just blurting it out before I lose it.

The lesson says, “Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones.” [bold mine]  This touches my heart.

To be referred to as a “separated one” stirs a sense of being Loved inside of me.  Jesus knows about our intense anxiety, loneliness, and helplessness.  It is so comforting to sit with Our Mutual Friend (Holy Spirit) and just be together.

Next it says, “It represents a situation in which God and the ego “challenge” each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides.”  Ram Butler said many years ago in the Siddha Yoga Correspondence Course that “God is in the space between the thoughts.”

He may have been quoting Gurumayi, who, perhaps, was quoting Baba Muktananda.  Meaninglessness provides an empty space … if we choose not to pay attention to the ego’s scrawls and decide for the Holy Spirit … my heart feels a scroll-like design written upon it as I feel my way into this …

“It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear.” [bold mine]   Develop awareness without judgment, just with an ability to observe with interest and enjoy the outcome of That.  As we’re able to recognize the meaningless, we are Undone.  Meaninglessness changes back to Fearlessness.  Fearlessness, guiltlessness, sinlessness, Innocence 🙂

The lesson says that to the ego, illusions are safety devices, used to endow the world with attributes it does not have and images that do not exist.  Why would the ego need a safety device?  Because it is afraid of God.

Why is the ego afraid of God?  Because once we rediscover our awareness of God, the ego instantly evaporates.  The ego is simply an idea that is trying to block God out, as it plays at being God, so that it can believe it has succeeded at replacing God.

By the way, there is nothing offensive to God about the idea that the ego could replace Him, just as a father would simply be amused if he found his son dressed up in his oversized clothes playing “Daddy.”  We have simply psyched ourselves out and are paranoid about nothing.  There will be no punishment.  Through the undoing process of these lessons, you will find that out for yourself.

LESSON 13

A meaningless world engenders fear.

Today’s idea is really another form of the preceding one, except that it is more specific as to the emotion aroused.  Actually, a meaningless world is impossible.  Nothing without meaning exists.  However, it does follow that you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning.  On the contrary, you will be particularly likely to think you do perceive it.

Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones.  It represents a situation in which God and the ego “challenge” each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides.  The ego rushes in frantically to establish its own ideas there, fearful that the void may otherwise be used to demonstrate its own impotence and unreality.  And on this alone it is correct.

It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear.  If you are fearful, it is certain that you will endow the world with attributes that it does not possess, and crowd it with images that do not exist.  To the ego illusions are safety devices, as they must also be to you who equate yourself with the ego.

The exercises for today, which should be done about three or four times for not more than a minute or so at most each time, are to be practiced in a somewhat different way from the preceding ones.  With eyes closed, repeat today’s idea to yourself.  Then open your eyes, and look about you slowly, saying:

I am looking at a meaningless world.

Repeat this statement to yourself as you look about.  Then close your eyes, and conclude with:

A meaningless world engenders fear because I think I am in competition with God.

You may find it difficult to avoid resistance, in one form or another, to this concluding statement.  Whatever form such resistance may take, remind yourself that you really are afraid of such a thought because of the “vengeance” of the “enemy.”  You are not expected to believe the statement at this point, and will probably dismiss it as preposterous.  Note carefully, however, any signs of overt or covert fear which is may arouse.

This is our first attempt at stating an explicit cause and effect relationship of a kind which you are very inexperienced in recognizing.  Do not dwell on the concluding statement, and try not even to think of it except during the practice periods.  That will suffice at present.

Let’s practice together!  Watch and listen to me reading each ACIM Lesson on Youtube.  Also, check out Workin’ the Workbook, my online class which supports the ACIM Workbook practice.