A Course in Miracles Lesson 55

Lesson 55 of A Course in Miracles – and the lessons it reviews – is a chance to see again – to experience again – that we do not not know our own best interests because we do not know who or what we are. Our experience, filtered through the ego’s teaching lens, establishes that we suffer alone in a world of chaos. It is this we try to avoid, or try to fix, or try to reimagine.

What I see now are but signs of disease, disaster and death . . . The very fact that I see such things is proof that I do not understand God. Therefore I also do not understand His Son (W-pI.55.1:2-4-5).

The solution to this problem requires no activity on our part. Rather, it is a shift in thought. The only real problem we have is that we think we have a problem (T-26.II.3:3). The abstract solution is to remember that none of this is real because we are not separate from God. The specific solution is to be willing to change the way we think in order to see “the witnesses to the truth” (W-pI.55.1:7).

The world I see is hardly the representation of loving thoughts . . . It is anything but a reflection of the Love of God and the Love of His Son. It is my own attack thoughts that give rise to this picture (W-pI.55.2:2, 4-5).

When we accept responsibility for these thoughts, we simultaneously become able to make contact with our “loving thoughts” which reform the deranged projections of hate and restore to the peace that is God’s intended gift for us (W-pI.55.2:6).

Do you notice ow the narrative voice has changed in the review lessons? In the regular lessons, the narrative Jesus addresses us directly – “you” have this experience, “you” think that, “you” must try to do this in order to heal. But now the text adopts the first person. “I do not know who I am . . . “(W-pI.55.5:2). This is a deliberate shift, and it accomplishes two things.

First, it begins to merge our self with that of Jesus. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus is both teacher and elder brother – a role model for how a separated Child of God follows the Holy Spirit to full acceptance of the Atonement. He is like us and we are like him, different only in our belief in the illusion of separation.

There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you (T-1.II.3:10-13).

So the lessons are helping us accept Atonement, in order to better realize our potential for holiness.

The other thing that happens in the narrative shift is that we begin to learn how ideas in A Course in Miracles can be expressed in many ways, and often the most effective is in language that is personal to us. Several main lessons near the end of the first fifty encourage us to try restating the lesson in the form of related ideas (Lesson 43 and Lesson 46). We are being given license to integrate them more fully into our experience and thus increase their helpfulness.

Why is that helpful? Because the more loving our thoughts become, the easier it is to turn those thoughts toward the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the fact that they are loving is evidence that they are flowing from and to and with the Holy Spirit already. Thus, we are taking the teacher who can translate our experience from fear and hate into the gentle light of Heaven.

It is easy to overlook the benefits of review periods. But these lessons are here for a reason; they are structured the way they are for a reason. When we merely glance at them, we don’t hurt ourselves. We merely fail to use time as constructively as possible. We are postponing salvation.

Is there not a better way? And is it not right before us?

←Lesson 54
Lesson 56→

Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom

So as students of A Course in Miracles we have to make this fundamental decision – we have to choose that we want joy (which is the Kingdom of Heaven) and we have to turn to the teacher who knows how to bring us there. That is what we have to do. This happens naturally when we embrace a serious spiritual path, the one that is ordained for us personally. It’s not about saying no to the other valid paths, or disparaging them, but about saying yes to the one that is laid out for us by God.

When we say yes, we are given help. Jesus becomes available in a tangible way. Lately I imagine him as a long-distance friend – one I don’t see because he lives in another country, but with whom I maintain a deep and thoughtful two-way contact. This personal relationship is critical to my practice and understanding of A Course in Miracles. But, just like friendship necessarily varies from one relationship to the next, your own experience of Jesus will be different.

Jesus points us to the Holy Spirit and urges us to accept “him” as our teacher. This pointing can take the place of prayerful directives, clarity in reading the text, or a combination thereof. The Holy Spirit is symbolic. When we pray to the Holy Spirit we are praying to that part of our mind that a) knows its wholeness in God and b) sees the separation alive in another part of our mind and, by virtue of its capacity to see and know our whole mind, heal it.

We are participants in that healing process. This section and its subsections outlines the essence of how we participate. We reverse our understanding of what it means to give. We teach peace in order to learn it. And finally, we adopt a position of vigilance in favor of God. This is another way of restating another Course adage: what is it for (T-17.VI.2:1-2)? Everything that we experience – images, events, people – are opportunities to choose the Holy Spirit as our teacher. They are chances to wake up to the Kingdom of Heaven. If we are always looking for Heaven – if we are always on the alert for signs of Love and the Joyful Peace that attends God – then we are more likely to see those things.

This is a corollary to projection. We project what we don’t want and thus see it – and attack it – in others. I’m not an insensitive parent, that other person is. But projection – a dubious tool employed by the ego to maintain the illusion of separate bodies and separate experiences – can be used by the Holy Spirit too. That’s what happens when we take him as our teacher. Rather than project fear or guilt, he extends love. So where the ego finds evidence of the separation, the Holy Spirit points out signs of Heaven’s peaceful glory. To have this, we simply have to invite him in.

Well, maybe it’s a bit more complicated. We have to invite him – but of course he is already there, because he is part of us in a real way. He is our right minds. What we really have to do – and what this section calls on us to do – is be vigilant on his behalf. Seek God and you will find him. Knock and the doors will open. There are no maps and no mysteries and no secret handshakes. Those who seek Heaven will remember they are already there.

A Course in Miracles Lesson 54

In a sense, Atonement – which is the correction for the mad idea of separation – includes an appreciation of the power of our mind. If thought can create a world in which we suffer and die, can it not also set that world aside in order to behold the origin and truth of its own creative ability?

Can it not create – through extension, not projection – only the perfect, the good and the true?

. . . life is thought. Let me look on the world I see as the representation of my own state of mind. I know that my state of mind can change. And so I also know the world I see can change as well (W-pI.54.2:3-6).

Life is inclusive, rather than divisive. There is Life, not many lives. God creates in a continuous flow, rather than by bits and pieces. Thus, there is no such thing as a private thought. Since all mind is one, “every mind contains all minds” (W-pI.161.4:2). Our power to create is shared; it comes forth in unity with our brothers and sisters.

As my thoughts of separation call to the separation thoughts of others, so my real thoughts awaken the real thoughts in them. And the world my real thoughts show me will dawn on their sight as well as mine (W-pI.54.3:6-7).

Critically, Lesson 18 describes a mutual experience. As we awaken others, others awaken us. It is impossible for a Child of God to be alone or to create in isolation. Love does not reinforce separation – the illusion of the personal self with private thoughts and separate interests. It undoes separation by demonstrating that the power to change every mind about what it is, is in us because it is in God.

And only what God created is real, and nothing God did not create exists. This is the source of unending peace (T-in.2:2-4).

The workbook lessons teach us that the world has already been changed, and in doing so, reminds us that what we are in truth is beyond the reach of illusions. It can’t suffer; it can only heal and be healed.

I would behold the proof that what has been done through me has enabled love to replace fear, laughter to replace tears, and abundance to replace loss. I would look upon the real world, and let it teach me that my will and the Will of God are one (W-pI.54.2:4-5).

The answer – and all the happiness it can offer us – has been given. Are we ready now to accept it and – through our active acceptance – extend it to a world in need of salvation?

←Lesson 53
Lesson 55→

A Course in Miracles Lesson 53

The world is a series of images made by that which is incapable of accurately perceiving reality. It is impossible for us to be happy in the world because the world is not real but also because the mind which made it is unhealed. It has no idea what is actually going on.

The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see. Yet God’s way is sure (W-pI.53.5:4-5).

Because we have forgotten what we are in truth, we have forgotten how to use the creative power of our shared mind. It’s like we’re a single leaf trying to pretend it’s the whole tree. It can’t work because it’s not true.

What is producing this world is insane, and so is what is produces. Reality is not insane, and I have real thoughts as well as insane ones (W-pI.53.1:3-4).

The promise A Course in Miracles makes is that despite the mistaken identity and fearful world, and despite the intensity of the suffering that attends it, we have not lost our actual identity. Reality remains unchanged and unaffected by our confusion. A single leaf can say and do whatever it likes in its vain attempts to “be” a tree but it cannot destroy the tree of which it is a part.

So there is a way out of madness. We need not despair. We have made the world and the self and we believe they are real because we made them. Yet we can always make another choice, one that arises in love and reaffirms love as our source.

. . . I place my trust in reality. In choosing this, I will escape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledging that it does not exist (W-pI.53.3:7-8).

This shift is not like throwing a light switch (though technically it can be). It’s more like a gentle evolution unfolding in time. We see a little light, step towards it and . . . turn back to the darkness of guilt and fear.

And then start again.

This is the path that we follow as ACIM students. It’s not a crisis. The lessons are gentle reminders that our work is simply to our best to remember – moment by moment – that God did not create a meaningless world and so our suffering is entirely optional.

This is good news! The more so because it actually works when brought into application. Our journey through the workbook is a journey from darkness to light, from guilt to grace, and from fear to love. We want no other journey and no other journey becomes us. No other journey leads us home because this journey is our home.

←Lesson 52
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A Course in Miracles Lesson 52

Sometimes the question is: how shall we live in these bodies? How shall we live in this world? We grasp the idea that we aren’t bodies and the world isn’t real but . . . That’s not how it feels. It’s not how it seems.

A Course in Miracles acknowledges this confusion, and gently corrects it by asking us to give attention to how we perceive our self, other selves, and the world.

Reality brings only perfect peace. When I am upset, it is always because I have replaced reality with illusions I made up (W-pI.52.1:4-5).

This is reminiscent of the ACIM insight that the “secret to salvation” is to realize that our suffering is of our own making. We are doing this to our own self (T-27.VIII.10:1).

The “self” in question is not the embodied self with its past and its future, struggling for survival on a blue marble floating through an indifferent cosmos. It is God’s creation, currently confused about its origins and thus its identity but perfectly capable of remembering truth.

Thus, the only problem the course is actually solving – the only error it is actually correcting – is the one where we have forgotten what we are.

When I have forgiven myself and remember Who I am, I will bless everyone and everything I see. There will be no past, and therefore no enemies. And I will look with love on all that I failed to see before (W-pI.52.2:5-7).

Forgiveness, as the course uses it here, is a form of “right” seeing or “right” thinking. It is a way of focusing on neither past nor future, but on the living present (e.g., W-pI.52.3:4). We think that we are able to select between past and future; we think that the present is a choice as well. But in fact, the decision is simply whether or not we will see at all.

In essence, we are choosing between spiritual blindness and the Vision of Christ.

What I have chosen to see has cost me vision. Now I would choose again, that I may see (W-pI.52.4:5-6).

Critically, as lesson ten points out, this new vision has nothing to do with the body’s eyes. Rather, it is a form of thought and – more than that – of relating to and through thought with our brothers and sisters.

This is why the course teaches that what we are in truth has “no private thoughts” (W-pI.52.5:2). Instead . . . 

. . . my mind is part of creation and part of its Creator. Would I not rather join the thinking of the universe than to obscure all that is really mine with my pitiful and meaningless “private” thoughts (W-pI.52.5:6-7)?

When we say “yes,” we are committing to retraining our mind to remember its underlying connection to God and to wholeness. We are affirming our intention to remembering our own holiness, and perceiving the world and our brothers and sisters through it.

Step by step – lesson by lesson – we are being gently guided through the tangled mess we have made of thought and reclaiming the purity and perfection that is our true home and identity.

←Lesson 51
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A Course in Miracles Lesson 51

The premise of A Course in Miracles is that we are confused about what we are in truth. We identify with ego, rather than spirit. This mis-idenfication has allowed a world of illusions to replace reality. This is painful!

Fortunately, as Bill Thetford and Helen Schucman learned together, there is another way: we can be taught how to remember what we are in truth.

The review periods are opportunities to reinforce key ideas in the workbook, and thus extend our understanding and practice beyond the familiar, beyond our comfort zone.

The early lessons ask us to give attention to how the world appears. Our physical senses gather data – light, sound, shape, color, smells. We organize this material, give the organization a name (“tree,” “apple pie,” “friend”) judge it all according to what it does for the body (the ego’s chosen home) and then . . .

. . . suffer.

We don’t suffer because we made the world wrong, or because the world is real and capable of causing hurt. We suffer because it isn’t real and thus has no meaning. Faced with meaninglessness, we rush to fill the apparent blanks. But since we’re confused to begin with, our efforts only increase our guilt and fear and anger.

Thus the importance of accepting that “my judgments have hurt me, and I do not want to see accordingly to them” (W-pI.51.2:6).

The work we do is the work of “letting go.” We are not trying to make a better world, or replace one defective judgment with another. We are simply seeing the false as false and opening to the possibility of another way.

I do not understand what I see because it is not understandable. There is no sense in trying to understand it. But there is every reason to let it go, and make room for what can be seen and understood and loved (W-pI.51.3:4-6).

Only willingness to be healed is required in order that we be healed. As we let go of egoic thoughts, our real thoughts begin to reveal themselves, and we remember that “all creation lies in the thoughts” that we think “with God” (W-pI.51.4:8).

Are we willing to end our suffering? And, in ending it, to end the suffering of the world and all those who mistakenly believe they live there?

A Course in Miracles is “the other way” that Bill Thetford longed for all those many years ago. In time, its lessons remind us that we are not bodies and the world is not real. The question is: are we ready to be as happy as our Creator would have us be?

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Lesson 52→