“Today’s idea is the introduction to your declaration of release. Again, the idea should be applied to both the world you see without and the world you see within.....” ACIM, Workbook page 48, Lesson 31.
A Course in Miracles insists that none of us are victims of what is going on in our lives or in the world. It asks us to take full and total responsibility for everything we experience in our lives because we have projected our thoughts out into the world and onto other people; these thoughts are then reflected back to us in the form of our experiences.
The affirmations on page 448 of the Text spell this out clearly:
I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide
upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me
I ask for, and receive as I have asked.
It seems difficult to understand how we would choose a deadly disease, a life of drudgery or an unhappy marriage, to give a few examples. Surely, we would prefer to make other choices, such as winning the lottery or having perfect health. But Jesus, in A Course in Miracles, insists that we are not victims. As we read on page 448, “Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you...It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident. No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it, outside of which is nothing...” No accident nor chance is possible! We can see from the last part of this last sentence how non-duality is a key concept in ACIM. Outside of God there is nothing. We are all contained within the Mind of God and we are all sons of God.
It is explained in Chapter 21 that if we listen to the voice of the ego (and, therefore believe that we are guilty due to the separation from God) then we will experience suffering. On the other hand, if we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our Higher Self, we will be happy.
Ill health is an example of guilt being projected back onto oneself, and so it is a consequence of believing that the separation actually happened, and of listening to the ego in the wrong portion of the mind. Ill health is also an ego ploy to get us to focus on our physical bodies. How difficult it is to forget about our physical form when we have a throbbing headache! Yet, one of the key teachings of ACIM is: “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” Lesson 211.
It is important to understand the role that guilt plays in our lives. In fact, one could say that it wreaks havoc in our lives, and it is all tied up with our belief in the ego—or rather, with listening to the ego. This is clarified on page 84 of the Text: “The ego is the part of the mind that believes in division. How could part of God detach itself without believing it is attacking Him? We spoke before of the authority problem as based on the concept of usurping God’s power. The ego believes that this is what you did because it believes that it is you. If you identify with the ego, you must perceive yourself as guilty...”
So how do we silence the ego in our minds so that we can experience more joyful lives? “...you must learn to think with God. To think with Him is to think like Him. This engenders joy, not guilt, because it is natural...The guiltless mind cannot suffer. Being sane, the mind heals the body because it has been healed. The sane mind cannot conceive of illness because it cannot conceive of attacking anyone or anything....” By believing that it has replaced God, the ego feels guilty and is in fear of the wrath of God; the result of this is self punishment in some form or another. “The ego believes that by punishing itself it will mitigate the punishment of God. Yet even in this it is arrogant. It attributes to God a punishing intent, and then takes this intent as its own prerogative...” T85.
To learn to “think with God” we need help, because we have been thinking “with the ego” for aeons. That is why ACIM tells us we need a teacher—we need to keep calling on God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help. A very useful way is to ask for guidance as soon as one wakes up. A lovely prayer that we could use is found in Lesson 232: “Be in my mind, my Father, when I wake, and shine on me throughout the day today. Let every minute be a time in which I dwell with You...” Another way of calling upon the Holy Spirit is to use this prayer, which author and ACIM teacher, David Hoffmeister suggests: “Abide with me, Holy Spirit. Guide me in what to say and do and where to go." David also says that if we welcome and trust the Holy Spirit, He will respond to this prayer. See http://www.livingmiraclescenter.org/question/question.php?questionid=343
If we can really accept the idea that we are not victims of our experiences then it is the beginning of our release from the ego because it means we have started to acknowledge that we have a choice between the ego and the Holy Spirit (which, in fact, is the only choice we have.) If we experience someone acting in a selfish way, for instance, jumping the queue in front of us, it means we still have traces of selfishness within ourselves. We, therefore, accept this, instead of thinking badly about the person who jumped the queue, we forgive him and we ask the Holy Spirit for help once again.
Lesson 304 is another lesson which deals with the projection of our minds. On page 451 of the Workbook we read, “...Perception is a mirror, not a fact. And what I look on is my state of mind, reflected outward. I would bless the world by looking on it through the eyes of Christ. And I will look upon the certain signs that all my sins have been forgiven me.” In other words, by looking upon everything with forgiveness (through the eyes of Christ), we will experience a joyful existence because we will have overcome the guilt in our minds (signs that all my sins have been forgiven me.) Then we will be able to understand and accept Lesson 35: “My mind is part of God’s. I am very holy.”
I am not a victim of the world I see because I created it with my thoughts. If I can be loving and forgiving, I will receive love and forgiveness. It really is that simple but it takes a lot of trust to come to this realisation. It also takes a lot of hard work because every time the ego complains and starts its usual meaningless dialogue in our minds, we have to tell it to be quiet and call upon the Holy Spirit for help.
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