Lesson 31 is the first time A Course in Miracles uses the word “victim” in the Workbook. It’s a heavy word, a loaded word. We tend to resist it because we associate victimhood with with passivity. And we are the opposite of passive. We are constantly checking out new self-improvement regimes, fine-tuning our spiritual practices, considering tweaks to diet and exercise routines . . .
But this resistance is to miss the point of the lesson, really – and, in an important way, to overlook a core teaching of A Course in Miracles. It doesn’t matter how intense or active or devoted we are in our bodily self in the world – to be in that self at all is to place ourselves at the mercy of ego and its demented belief system. And in that limited (and limiting) sense, we are victims. We are victims of our decision to honor a bad idea rather than the wholeness of mind itself.
It’s like walling off a chunk of Heaven, making it resemble a dungeon, and then trying to pretend the dungeon is Heaven by deliberately forgetting what Heaven is really like.
This is what we do when we serve ego, and we’re good at it, and it is exactly the sort of thing that “victims” do.
Today’s lesson attempts to undo that. Can we get past the bodily self and the egoic self? Can we see how these are, regardless of the forms in which they appear, mere shadows of our true identity? Can we begin to release them – little by little – in favor of whatever awaits us when they aren’t the whole of our perception?
Indeed, this lesson is, as it proclaims, a declaration of freedom (W-pI.31.4:2). And that freedom begins with reconsidering what we actually are, reversing our traditional understanding of cause and effect, and asserting – regardless of whether we believe it or not – our desire to be free. In each of those steps, we accept our responsibility as creators. The inner, as Jesus says, is the cause of the outer (W-pI.31.2:5). There are few ideas that are so important to our understanding of the belief system that is A Course in Miracles.
It is also worth noting that the course is upping the ante again. We have moved away from a minute here and there – and two minutes six times a day – to a morning and evening meditation that can last up to five minutes each, as well as frequent recitations of the idea throughout the day. A sense of order is slowly and gently being imposed on us.
This, too, can lead to resistance. Yet if we will simply do it and not judge its effects, we might discover that the opportunity to deepen into a sustainable ACIM practice is actually welcome. The more its ideas become our default thought system, the freer we are.
No suggestion is made that we should push ourselves so hard we crash or lose faith or become discouraged. But it is good to take note of our spiritual comfort zone and push – gently, even a little – past its boundaries.
Lesson 31, then, is consistent both with ACIM’s gentle but non-negotiable reversal of ego’s thought system, and its emphasis that our active participation – through willingness, through study, and through application – are required. We don’t have to do it perfectly, but we do need to show up.