The Process of Image Making

More than one spiritual path explains that this world is an illusion.  Even science now agrees.  But what do they mean?  And if this world is an illusion, what good does it do us to know that?

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) teaches us, “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.” (ACIM Workbook Lesson 15)  ACIM posits that we are hallucinating this world by projecting our thoughts outward.  In Hinduism and some forms of Buddhism, this is called  “maya”–the dream of duality, or the ignorance of our true God-Self.  Einstein has assured us that solidity is a mirage. Quantum physics explains that the observer affects what is observed.

Let’s break this down: “… the thoughts you think you think” tell you that what you consider thinking is not really thinking.  What the ego (our sense of individual identity) does is replace God’s Thought with images–imaginary thoughts that appear as pictures.  You view these pictures and call them “eyesight.”  You believe in them, but that does not make them real.  The function the ego gives the body’s eyes is to hallucinate images which are not real to distract us from the Reality of God’s Vision.

But why would the ego want to distract us from God’s Vision?  Because the ego knows that if we re-discover this formless Peaceful Creative Light within ourselves, the personal self as we know it will unravel and “die.”  Within this “death” lies Eternal Life–but that’s not the way the ego sees it.  One scientist put it this way, “If you look at the universe with through a golf ball-sized lens, you will see a universe the size of a golf ball.”  The ego limits our experience, but denies that it does this.

Un-think your way through this.  Tell yourself, “I do not really think. What I think are my thoughts are images the ego made. These images are neither good nor bad, they simply are not real.  Would I rather think these puny little thoughts that lead to suffering and death, or would I rather gently peel these images from my eyes today, and truly see what God would have me see?”  Ask God, “What would You have me see?”  He will show you.  Then you can decide for yourself whether you prefer the image making eyesight of the ego, or God’s Vision.

© Amy Torres 2011

Review III: Introduction

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

The Course is training us to desire the Thought of God all day long. To set a watch to make us remember is to fulfill a ritual in order to do the Course “right.” This misses the point.

The Introduction to Review III in the ACIM Workbook for Students explains how the exercises are meant to be remembered as part of the mind training, rather than done ritualistically to fulfill some criteria to “achieve” enlightenment.  This is worth reading and re-reading, then practicing and practicing!  Enjoy 🙂




Our next review begins today. We will review two recent lessons every day for ten successive days of practicing. We will observe a special format for these practice periods, that you are urged to follow just as closely as you can.

We understand, of course, that it may be impossible for you to undertake what is suggested here as optimal each day and every hour of the day. Learning will not be hampered when you miss a practice period because it is impossible at the appointed time. Nor is it necessary that you make excessive efforts to be sure that you catch up in terms of numbers. Rituals are not our aim, and would defeat our goal.

But learning will be hampered when you skip a practice period because you are unwilling to devote the time to it that you are asked to give. Do not deceive yourself in this. Unwillingness can be most carefully concealed behind a cloak of situations you cannot control. Learn to distinguish situations that are poorly suited to your practicing from those that you establish to uphold a camouflage for your unwillingness.

Those practice periods that you have lost because you did not want to do them, for whatever reason, should be done as soon as you have changed your mind about your goal. You are unwilling to cooperate in practicing salvation only if it interferes with goals you hold more dear. When you withdraw the value given them, allow your practice periods to be replacements for your litanies to them. They gave you nothing. But your practicing can offer everything to you. And so accept their offering and be at peace.

The format you should use for these reviews is this: Devote five minutes twice a day, or longer if you would prefer it, to considering the thoughts that are assigned. Read over the ideas and comments that are written down for each day’s exercise. And then begin to think about them, while letting your mind relate them to your needs, your seeming problems and all your concerns.

Place the ideas within your mind, and let it use them as it chooses. Give it faith that it will use them wisely, being helped in its decisions by the One Who gave the thoughts to you. What can you trust but what is in your mind? Have faith, in these reviews, the means the Holy Spirit uses will not fail. The wisdom of your mind will come to your assistance. Give direction at the outset; then lean back in quiet faith, and let the mind employ the thoughts you gave as they were given you for it to use.

You have been given them in perfect trust; in perfect confidence that you would use them well; in perfect faith that you would see their messages and use them for yourself. Offer them to your mind in that same trust and confidence and faith. It will not fail. It is the Holy Spirit’s chosen means for your salvation. Since it has His trust, His means must surely merit yours as well.

We emphasize the benefits to you if you devote the first five minutes of the day to your reviews, and also give the last five minutes of your waking day to them. If this cannot be done, at least try to divide them so you undertake one in the morning, and the other in the
hour just before you go to sleep.

The exercises to be done throughout the day are equally important, and perhaps of even greater value. You have been inclined to practice only at appointed times, and then go on your way to other things, without applying what you learned to them. As a result, you have gained little reinforcement, and have not given your learning a fair chance to prove how great are its potential gifts to you. Here is another chance to use it well.

In these reviews, we stress the need to let your learning not lie idly by between your longer practice periods. Attempt to give your daily two ideas a brief but serious review each hour. Use one on the hour, and the other one a half an hour later. You need not give more than just a moment to each one. Repeat it, and allow your mind to rest a little time in silence and in peace. Then turn to other things, but try to keep the thought with you, and let it serve to help you keep your peace throughout the day as well.

If you are shaken, think of it again. These practice periods are planned to help you form the habit of applying what you learn each day to everything you do. Do not repeat the thought and lay it down. Its usefulness is limitless to you. And it is meant to serve you in all ways, all times and places, and whenever you need help of any kind. Try, then, to take it with you in the business of the day and make it holy, worthy of God’s Son, acceptable to God and to your Self.

Each day’s review assignments will conclude with a restatement of the thought to use each hour, and the one to be applied on each half hour as well. Forget them not. This second chance with each of these ideas will bring such large advances that we come from these reviews with learning gains so great we will continue on more solid ground, with firmer footsteps and with stronger faith.

Do not forget how little you have learned.
Do not forget how much you can learn now.
Do not forget your Father’s need of you,
As you review these thoughts He gave to you.

To see the entire Workbook for Students, get a copy of the book, A Course in Miracles, or visit the original publisher, Foundation for Inner Peace, online at  To have the lesson delivered daily to your email box for free, sign up with An excellent line-by-line analysis called Journey Through the Workbook of A Course in Miracles is offered by Kenneth Wapnick through the bookstore at

What You Can Do to Grow on Your Spiritual Journey

Many years ago, at an Al-Anon meeting, someone asked, “Are we human beings on a spiritual journey? Or are we spiritual beings on a human journey?” From A Course in Miracles perspective I would say we are spiritual beings on a human journey. Underneath the limitations of our humanity, there is a boundless Light from which we can live. We can use our human journey as a classroom to learn about our true spiritual nature. There are many practices which can help us grow on our spiritual journey and, depending on your nature and circumstances, one may be more useful than another.

Below I list five practices that can access our Inner Light. Read through them and see if one or more stand out for you. Then focus on the practice to which you are drawn. Set yourself up for success. If you think you are ready to take action, make a plan to do the practice regularly for a specific amount of time. If you feel concerned about your self-discipline, or lack thereof, be gentle with yourself. Read and re-read the practice. Write it down and put it in places where you will see it and read it throughout the day. That alone will strengthen your ability to follow through down the road.

1. Chant. A very simple and powerful way to kickstart your spiritual growth is to chant, or recite, a mantra. You can try “Om Namah Shivaya”-I have been cleansed, balanced and empowered by it, and have offered it to many clients who report great results. Roughly translated it means, “I bow to the Divinity within me” but more important is the potent vibration that Om Namah Shivaya provides. It is pronounced the way it looks. You can search YouTube to hear variations for yourself and choose the one you like best. If you would prefer to use English, try “I am that I am” highly recommended by Sri Ramana Maharshi.

2. Pray. It is said that prayer is speaking to God and meditation is listening to His Answer. Most of us use prayer to beg and barter for what we want, and in this way we miss the point of prayer. A Course in Miracles says that the only meaningful prayer is to request that we be able to recognize what we already are. We already are that boundless Light which is eternal, peaceful, unified Oneness. As we ask God to help us identify with that Light rather than our personal lives, we will have a new perspective on whatever is paining, angering or scaring us.

3. Meditate. Meditation is the second part of prayer. Now we sit and listen. The way to do this is to clear our minds just like opening a door for God to enter. If we sit with the door closed, and get caught up in our thoughts, God has no entry point. When thoughts come, we can give them to God and in this way keep directing our minds back to God. Swami Chidvilasananda says that God is in the space between the thoughts. Just one brief opening and you will have a mystical experience that is beyond words.

4. Move. Some of us are too restless to sit quietly in meditation. There is the option of moving meditation, where we use yoga, dance, or qi gong, for example, to quiet the mind and help us get out of our own way. As long as we control our experience, we are blocking God. When we are willing to let God guide us, then any practice will work for us. Setting an intention to step back and let God lead the way before we start our day will accomplish this.

5. Breathe. Most of us are shallow breathers and don’t know how it feels to fully inhale and exhale. We’re too busy talking and running around to stop and invite a complete breath to fill us, nourish us, open us to Spirit. Spiritual energy rides on the breath. The breath carries the healing energy, like a train tranporting cargo, and deposits this life energy within us. We can direct it to specific parts of the body if that seems useful, or simply inflate on the inhale all over, like a balloon, and deflate on the exhale to empty the lungs of all toxins and the body of overall tension. There are countless breath techniques, called pranayama in yoga, which you can look into.

These five potent practices are tried and true techniques found in many spiritual teachings throughout the world. The more you do them, the more you learn from your own inner experience. If you would like more tools to help you grow in your spiritual journey, please drop me a request-there are plenty more to share.

© 2011 Amy Torres

Review II: Introduction



We are now ready for another review.  We will begin where our last review left off, and cover two ideas each day.  The earlier part of each day will be devoted to one of these ideas, and the latter part of the day to the other.  We will have one longer exercise period, and frequent shorter ones in  which we practice each of them.

The longer practice periods will follow this general form: Take about fifteen minutes for each of them, and begin by thinking about the ideas for the day, and the comments that are included in the assignments.  Devote some three or four minutes to reading them over slowly, several times if you wish, and then close your eyes and listen.

Repeat the first phase of the exercise period if you find your mind wandering, but try to spend the major part of the time listening quietly but attentively.  There is a message waiting for you.  Be confident that you will receive it.  Remember that it belongs to you, and that you want it.

Do not allow your intent to waver in the face of distracting thoughts.  Realize that, whatever form such thoughts may take, they have no meaning and no power.  Replace them with your determination to succeed.  Do not forget that your will has power over all fantasies and dreams.  Trust it to see you through, and carry you beyond them all.

Regard these practice periods as dedications to the way, the truth and the life.  Refuse to be sidetracked into detours, illusions and thoughts of death.  You are dedicated to salvation.  Be determined each day not to leave your function unfulfilled.

Reaffirm your determination in the shorter practice periods as well, using the original form of the idea for general applications, and more specific forms when needed.  Some specific forms are included in the comments which follow the statement of the idea.  These, however, are merely suggestions.  It is not the particular words you use that matter.

To see the entire Workbook for Students, get a copy of the book, A Course in Miracles, or visit the original publisher, Foundation for Inner Peace, online at  To have the lesson delivered daily to your email box for free, sign up with

Review I: Introduction

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This is our first review.  It weaves together the first fifty lessons, reinforcing them in my mind.  I am learning to bring the principles into any situation, especially if I am upset, to live from the Calm and Quiet of my Eternal Truth.  Opportunities present themselves all day long 🙂

These first fifty concepts are reviewed in slightly different language enabling us to sponge in the ideas themselves rather than ritualizing or memorizing, which serves no purpose.  Saturation in God’s Mind is the healing which leads me Home.  Happy sigh.



Beginning with today we will have a series of review periods.  Each of them will cover five of the ideas already presented, starting with the first and ending with the fiftieth.  There will be a few short comments after each of the ideas, which you should consider in your review.  In the practice periods, the exercises should be done as follows:

Begin the day by reading the five ideas, with the comments included.  Thereafter, it is not necessary to follow any particular order.  In considering them, though each one should be practiced at least once.  Devote two minutes or more to each practice period, thinking about the idea and the related comments after reading them over.  Do this as often as possible during the day.  If any of the five ideas appeals to you more than the others, concentrate on that one.  At the end of the day, however, be sure to review all of them once more.

It is not necessary to cover the comments that follow each idea either literally or thoroughly in the practice periods.  Try, rather, to emphasis the central point and think about it as part of your review of the idea to which it relates.  After you have read the idea and the related comments, the exercises should be done with your eyes closed and when you are alone and in a quiet place, if possible.

This is emphasized for practice periods at your stage of learning.  It will be necessary, however, that you learn to require no special settings in which to apply what you have learned.  You will need your learning most in the situations that appear to be upsetting, rather than in those that already seem to be calm and quiet.  The purpose of your learning is to enable you to bring the quiet with you, and to heal distress and turmoil.  This is not done by avoiding them and seeking a haven of isolation for yourself.  You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are.  And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.

You will note that, for review purposes, some of the ideas are not given in quite their original form.  Use them as they are given here.  It is not necessary to return to the original statements, nor to apply the ideas as was suggested then.  We are now emphasizing the relationships among the first fifty of the ideas we have covered, and the cohesiveness of the thought system to which they are leading you.

To see the entire Workbook for Students, get a copy of the book, A Course in Miracles, or visit the original publisher, Foundation for Inner Peace, online at  To have the lesson delivered daily to your email box for free, sign up with

What I Realize as I Blog the ACIM Workbook

I started off blogging the Workbook this year without really knowing what would happen.  Initially a tagline popped out of me effortlessly, “My experience with the ACIM Workbook” and that is what I wrote about.  My habit is to do the morning lesson, then go straight to my computer, letting the feeling of my experience of the exercise or meditation flow through my words.

Now I notice that sometimes I’m explaining the lesson, or even trying to explain or translate what Jesus says into my own words so that I understand, clarify and reinforce the teachings for myself.  Maybe this is overkill.  Maybe I should stick with my pure experience …  It’s occurring to me that this year the blog is meant to be my experience without explanation–let the lessons speak for themselves.

And NEXT YEAR I’m going to translate the lessons !  I wonder if that will actually happen.  What’s funnier is that according to ACIM metaphysics everything has already happened … I wonder if I’m having a memory of what has already happened: first I reported my experience and communicated the experience Itself as best I could.  Then I translated … it’s like the Harville Hendrix Imago work: repeat back what was said and understand more fully as you do.

My concern is that a pure report of my experience may be confusing to my readers.  That’s funny.  Who are my readers?  I am you, you are me … anyway, if you do need clarification, please feel free to shoot me a question or comment and I will be happy to respond.

Inexplicably Predictably Happy

white lilyRecently a phrase popped into my head, “Inexplicably predictably happy.” That’s one way I experience God — words come to me and I can tell they are not mine (some people call this “channeling”).

I was actually grieving at the time I “heard” those words, but even though I was grieving, I remembered to ask God to remind me of who I really was. In that moment, as I cried, I felt my heart expand and a peace move through me that was filled with joy. There was no logical explanation about why I needn’t grieve — I just felt at peace, even as I wept.

There was a smile inside me that said, “Inexplicably predictably happy” and I knew it to be True. “Inexplicably” because the joy of God is beyond words and explanations. “Predictably” because God is reliable, and if I ask Him for help, I will receive His help. “Happy” because God is full — full of joy, peace, love, eternal life, infinite creativity, and there is no way I cannot be happy because God’s treasures are my inheritance. Joy, peace, love, eternal life, infinite creativity are always mine — I just forget.

These days I remember my inheritance more and more and life is so interesting, full of wonderful surprises and beautiful people. I know that when I’m scared and overwhelmed that I’ve just forgotten Who I really am, and knowing that is a great comfort. Another name for the Holy Spirit is The Comforter, and He really is. When I accept Him, I am inexplicably predictably happy 🙂  And then comes the realization, just like A Course in Miracles says: there is no “me”!

Copyright © 2011 Amy Torres.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory

The original 12 steps were scribed by Bill W. when he was illuminated with the idea to establish Alcoholics Anonymous.  No doctor was able to help him in his desperate attempts to end his addiction to liquor.  Only the Holy Spirit instructing him to help his brother was successful.  I say the 12 steps were scribed because it’s my sense that they flowed through Bill as opposed to his deliberate writing of them.  I’m opening the Big Book right now to double-check my facts and I’ll be back to revise them if I’m mistaken.  (In the past, I would have said “if I’m wrong,” but now I spontaneously use the word “mistaken”–much gentler, and, of course, open to correction.)

Step 10:  Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 10 grows out of Step 4–Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. After we have written down a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, taking our time to be ruthlessly self-examining, we naturally cultivate a taste for using this process on daily basis.  Part of this process is sharing what we’ve written with God and with a trusted witness.  That person is usually a sponsor in the 12-step program, but in my case it was my psychotherapist who participated in 12-step programs himself, so he had a good understanding of what this was about.

It is crucial that the listener we choose is non-judgmental.  That way, through his ability to see the light in us, we begin to experience ourselves as worthy of forgiveness–this often takes time.  When we do finally get it that we are deserving of forgiveness, we are much more able to extend forgiveness to others.  Sometimes this works conversely: as we notice how generously we extend forgiveness to others, we begin to experience ourselves as deserving of the same kindness, understanding and generosity from others.

It is very similar to miracle principle #3 in A Course in Miracles:  “Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love.  The real miracle is the love that inspires them.  In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.”  Doing a 10th step on a daily basis is a way of loving ourselves and others.

There is something I’ve come to believe about the 12 steps which I want to share.  They were written by an alcoholic who got into all kinds of trouble and hurt lots of people along the way.  That is a certain kind of person, and that type of person has amends to make to lots of other people.  But in the case of the codependent, the one who depends on the alcoholic, and often enables the alcoholic, the type of person is more likely to hurt herself.  In this case, the amends and the character defects are most needed toward oneself, rather than others.

This is important because it occurs to me that a customized 10th step for me might read, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were right promptly admitted it.”  I was right that the alcoholic’s drinking was harmful to both of us.  I was right that the atmosphere of an alcoholic household was toxic.  I was right that my feelings of depletion and despair evaporated when I was in a healthier environment, such as a yoga class, a support group, a spiritual retreat, or with people who were sober and in recovery or psychotherapy in some shape or form.

In other words, for the codependent the essential task is to build a sense of self, to trust ourselves more, to listen to our intuition, and to develop more inner strength.  As we believe in ourselves, we can take better care of ourselves and become emotionally self-sufficient and financially independent.  These are the healing tasks for earnest people like me who unconsciously turned to alcoholics for a more daring, playful approach to life.

Of course I sometimes need to make amends to other people.  Al-anonics, or codependents, tend to feel victimized and so we blame others for being mean or self-centered or emotionally unavailable.  The truth is we need to be a little more self-centered in order to meet our own needs before catering to other people.  We only do that because we hope that once they are well, they will partner with us, or take care of us. This is all well and good if they would–but if they are not inclined to heal, we have to cut our losses and heal ourselves with God’s help.

We are not victims and no one is to blame for anything.  We are all immature in our own particular way, and we are learning to grow up.  Jerry Seinfeld said he liked being grown up because it meant he could eat cookies before dinner if he wanted to!  Many of us feel that being grown up robs us of carefree fun and imprisons us in a life of endless responsibilities and obligations.  But A Course in Miracles says, “Beware of the temptation to perceive yourself unfairly treated.”  It explains that, “You have no enemy except yourself, and you are enemy indeed to him [any person in our life we are upset with] because you do not know him as yourself.”

The teaching is that as we see the Light of Forgiveness in ourselves, we realize that underneath the personality of ourselves and others is a spiritual Light which is our Truth.  As long as we insist that there is someone to blame, we block God’s Light.  This is not to condone bad behavior–it is to empower us to realize that bad behavior is a call for Love.  Sometimes Love means we take care of ourselves first and pray for another without having to take a concrete action on their behalf.

I’ll be writing more on the 12 steps and how I’ve customized them to myself.  I hope this makes their message even clearer and more useful for people like me–people who tend to take ourselves for granted and haven’t realized we’ve blamed ourselves or hurt ourselves in ways that deserve forgiveness toward ourselves.

Sunday Afternoon ACIM w Amy Class

A Course in Miracles with Amy Torres

When:  Sundays, 2 – 4 pm
Where:  Amy’s Place, Naples, Florida
Suggested Donation:  $20 per class (no one turned away due to lack of funds)

A Course in Miracles is a brilliant form of spiritual psychotherapy which teaches us to work miracles on a daily basis, and how to forgive effortlessly.  The format of this weekly ongoing class includes:

  • We read aloud from A Course in Miracles
  • Questions, commentary and discussion flow naturally from the material
  • Join class at any time–you do not have to “start from the beginning” … and you can drop in when you like–consistent attendance is optional 🙂
  • Learn how to cultivate a relationship with your Inner Teacher
  • Understand why it is essential to develop a “healthy ego” in order to give up the ego thought system
  • Establish the habit of looking at the ego with your Inner Teacher, and how to discern the ego’s voice and the voice of Spirit
  • Work with the Course on both Level 1: the metaphysical teachings, and Level 2: daily practices for using this world as a spiritual classroom
  • Gain more clarity on miracles, forgiveness, the holy instant, our true purpose, projection/perception, special relationships, the obstacles to peace, the origin of the world, the development of trust, who are God’s teachers, and more
  • Enriching for both beginners and longtime Course students
  • Warm, non-judgmental atmosphere where all questions are welcome

Come join us for a light-hearted approach to an ego-annihilating (in a good way!) spiritual teaching.  ACIM reverses our fearful ego-based thinking and offers us the “happy dream” through which we experience ourselves as innocent rather than guilty, and life as peaceful rather than threatening.  We learn a new definition of forgiveness, and how to remove the obstacles to the awareness of Love’s presence in the undoing process the Course offers us.

Reverend Amy Torres is an established ACIM teacher, as well as an interfaith minister, spiritual counselor, Gestalt psychotherapist, and yoga instructor.  You can watch Amy’s video interviews and read what students have to say about her classes at  She is also available for private and individual sessions.  For more information, call 212-340-1201 or email You can also join via

Lesson 6: I am upset because I see something that is not there.

Commentary (full lesson beneath commentary)

This lesson equalizes all upsets.  It calmly, with authority, states that I am seeing something that is not there, namely, the illusory world, the world of form.  I am seeing something that is not there, and then I am attributing my upset feelings to a world that is not there.   I am projecting my upset feelings outward, in order to avoid awareness of what caused my upset feelings.  As I practice the exercises in Lesson 6, there is an undoing process that takes me back to the original upset–the tiny, mad idea that I could separate from my Father’s Mind.


I am upset because I see something that is not there.

The exercises with this idea are very similar to the preceding ones.  Again, it is necessary to name both the form of upset (anger, fear, worry, depression and so on) and the perceived source very specifically for any application of the idea.  For example:

I am angry at _________ because I see something that is not there.
I am worried about __________ because I see something that is not there.

Today’s idea is useful for application to anything that seems to upset you, and can profitably be used throughout the day for that purpose.  However, the three or four practice periods which are required should be preceded by a minute or so of mind searching, as before, and the application of the idea to each upsetting thought uncovered in the search.

Again, if you resist applying the idea to some upsetting thoughts more than to others, remind yourself of the two cautions stated in the previous lesson:

There are no small upsets. They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.


I cannot keep this form of upset and let the others go.  For the purposes of these exercises, then, I will regard them all as the same.

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.