One of my personal struggles with A Course in Miracles always comes from the impulse to interpret it or assume that it does mean literally what it teaches. A contribution from me becomes essential to understanding. And where the egoic self insists on its prerogative, God can only gently wait.
So I have to read carefully and slowly. I have to question what I read, and what I decide it means. I have to beware of the inclination to assume I get it, or that I get it more than somebody else does. Whenever I start comparing myself to other ACIM students, it’s a sure sign that fear has entered.
That’s not a crime, of course, and there’s no point in losing sleep over it. But it does call for gentle correction, a return to reading humbly, by which I mean with the Holy Spirit and not against God.
Take, for example, this sentence from Perception versus Knowledge.
All your difficulties stem from the fact that you do not recognize yourself, your brother or God (T-3.III.2:1).
That is clear, isn’t it? It does not equivocate. Each and every one of my problems arises from the fact that I do not presently remember what I am, what you are, and what God is.
I read that and at a very subtle level, I add a qualifier. Internally, I insert “Almost” before “All.”
Why do I do that?
The answer is actually not very complicated. The sentence as scribed is clear: what needs solving is not the external problem, but the internal reference point. I need to learn to see you, me and God through the eyes of Christ (with Jesus, through the Holy Spirit’s lens, et cetera). There is absolutely no source of conflict or anguish in my life that cannot be solved that way.
That line is the very essence of Lesson 34: “I could see peace instead of this.”
Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward. It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises (W-pI.34.1:2-4).
The self I believe I am – what A Course in Miracles calls “the ego” – cannot bear such clarity. It fears a terrible consequence, the course assures us will come to pass.
There are no strangers in God’s creation . . . God knows His children with perfect clarity. He created them by knowing them. He recognizes them perfectly (T-3.III.7:7, 9-11).
When I use “almost” to qualify “all,” I create a space for my own judgment to wreak its havoc. Now I have to decide which problems are a result of not knowing God and which are not. I introduce degrees and intervals. Is that clear? I have literally brought the separation from God into the sentence – have fostered level confusion (T-3.IV.1:5-6), and so it can no longer heal me.
This is what happens when I am not careful and attentive in my reading. Thus, the imperative is always to slow down, to invite what is into my reading and study, and to be willing to learn according to its light-filled curriculum – and not the feeble substitute I make in the darkness of guilt and fear.