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Approaching ACIM
A transcript on getting ready to explore the ideas of ACIM

Speaker: It is a joy to come together in discussion because when we do, there is a sense that the truth is within each of us. And the Holy Spirit can speak to us because all we have to do is come together with that intention to really get clear; to discern between the ego and the Holy Spirit. We let the Spirit come among us and questions get asked and answers come up and experiences get shared and it’s all a part of this process of getting clearer and clearer. So, its not like there is anyone here today who is going to give us a lecture on the Course, although we may go into some mini-discourses as it is important for us to look closely at the mind and how it works before we can really get clear on this ego - because the ego is a belief in the mind.

This Course is like most spiritualities, in that the ego will try to conceptualize it. In other words, it may try to compartmentalize it or lock it away in the mind. So the ego doesn’t mind if you can just read the book and go through it and memorize passages and are able to talk about it verbally while you are still kind of playing out the rat race, leading the same life as before. To compartmentalize it, the ego thinks that’s great because it is not threatened that way. Its existence is not threatened.

So, we want to try to use a lot of practical examples and apply the ideas to them. If we don’t use it then it’s just a book filled with all these high ideas of metaphysics and theory. On the other extreme, the mind is so terrified of the Holy Spirit and of the Course that it’s good to notice the tricks that the mind does to get distracted into all kinds of things. It wants to water down what Jesus is saying, "He doesn’t really say or mean that" or by trying to make spirituality "experiential". But experiential means more touchy-feeling kinds of things. Its somehow saying that if you go through these experiences, these "diet and try it" experiences, that somehow the experience of waking up will come from these things. Getting together in groups is another way. It seems as if getting together in groups and doing things accelerates the process of awakening. But the main idea is that it always comes back to our own perception that needs to be healed. And it’s our own minds that are making the decision to heal or not. It’s never anything that is happening on the outside in the world of form that is causing our change in mind. If we open our minds to the truth then we have a witness that comes forth on the screen that demonstrates to that. And it’s really important to remember that we always look within first to our mind and then we call forth a witness to it. We are so accustomed to the reverse way of thinking, that I asked for this and I got what I asked for so I know that God is there. Or, some kind of experience on the outside that is supposed to be verifying what is happening within. But it is always what happens within that comes first.

The truth is within us and the Course as we have talked about is just one tool among many tools. We can use some of the ideas and principles but mainly we are all coming together to seek for the truth or to seek… I think a better way of saying it is, to seek the barriers that are in our minds that prevent the awareness of the truth. Because it’s not like truth has gone somewhere and we are trying to get it to come back to us. It’s always right under our nose, right here. So we can get into some of the metaphysics of the Course and keep it as practical as we can. So if people are having experiences or going through issues or even having resistances come up with the Course or certain metaphysical ideas that you may have heard recently, those are good material for us to start to take a look and unravel this ego. The ego is this puff of nothingness and love is everything and so it is foolish for us to continue to cling and hang onto the ego and wallow in it so to speak when we have love right there for us all the time.

Participant 1: There was something I read recently when an author was saying that we have to first learn to accept ourselves as human before we can experience our divinity in a full time way. And to me, I feel like the human is the ego and I think my ego is resisting itself or something. I am kind of confused about… am I supposed to accept the ego? Because if I resist it then it is going to become monstrous. I don’t know what I can do to get rid of it, so to speak. I feel like I am reading about the ego and the horrible things that it does to me and to others and it’s like my ego is hating itself and other egos. But yet here is that author saying that we have to love that human part of ourselves and so maybe you could discuss this.

Speaker: I have heard a lot of times this idea that comes up that you have to ‘love your ego’. And there is something that is a little off with that. The whole point of the Course is that the ego is nothing but it is a puff of nothing that has been given power. But it is not something that you can love because that gives it a reality. The whole point of the Course is to raise this hidden part to awareness and just look at it. You could call it acceptance if you could just see that the false is false. But while the mind still believes that this thing is true… Ah! It is painful. Another analogy that I use is that of an appliance which will not run unless it is plugged in. In this sense the ego is like an appliance that has to have the juice to run. But the plug runs deep down into the mind and so when you think you have unplugged it, or you think you have gone through a few layers there is still a part of the mind that is attracted to the ego and that still wants to identify with it and will try to plug it back in. So it seems to go on another tirade.

It is helpful to hear the metaphysics over and over again. It is foreign and it does seem very radical, compared to the way we are accustomed to thinking about things. One thing that has struck me is that word “unity” or even “oneness”. There are so many philosophies and spiritual paths that all point toward that oneness or the unity. There is a recognition that people have that has to be one or whole. That is a good contrast when we look at the perceived world with the mind in its untrained state, we’ll say, and sees duality all around it. We see high and low, fast and slow, good and bad, male and female, temperature extremes. Even the time is split up into a continuum that has past at one end and future at another. Everything is two, two two. One of the first things is to take a look at reconciling because we are feeling being drawn towards the wholeness, the connectedness, the sense of oneness and then we have this duality that seems to be facing us all the time.

And all the Course is doing is saying that the duality, or the split, is in your own mind – of course speaking to the reader. We see it out in the world. We see issues. Everyone could probably name their pet issue, whether it is a nuclear issue or an environmental issue or a homeless issue, male / female issues… just look at the paper or the news and everyone has an opinion on an issue. When we talk about issues… which side are you on? In fact, many of us have been taught to believe that as a mature, responsible human being as you grow older, you do take sides. You have to stand up for something. You are a wimp if you are neutral if you do not take a stand.

That’s a good entry point to try to get into things because all of us are faced with this all the time… with elections and world problems and so on and so forth. And here comes a tool that is saying that your perception is all twisted. You are like little children that are trying to see in the dark; or in Corinthians, looking through a darkened glass. I think we could all fairly say that we must be looking through a pretty dark lens to be seeing all this pain and anguish when the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, as Jesus says. It’s right now!

One of the easiest ways to start to come at it is a perceptual one. For so many people, the bible has been an inspiration and Jesus has so many quotations from the bible that many of us are familiar with. Early on I came up with some questions and one of the first ones was, “Is distorted perception or lack of vision the same problem?” And there are all these quotations in the bible, such as in Proverbs, “Where there is no vision the people parish. He that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Then there is the one from Corinthians, “For now we see through a glass darkly but then face to face. Now I know in part but then I shall know even as also I am known.”

Most of the things we are going to go into today will be focused on how we correct this perception. If we have this distorted perception that is lacking Vision with a capital ‘V’ that is our inheritance, what do we have to do to correct the perception?

Metaphysically I want to talk about different layers or levels. The first one we will call Spirit which is pure, eternal light. Spirit – the trinity – the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. There are no images for Father, Son and Holy Spirit even though Jesus was a symbol of the Christ and certainly a manifestation or a demonstration of the Spirit that is beyond. But that is what we might call Oneness, absolute Oneness. And the Course is saying that you are not in touch with that at all. This is completely beyond your awareness and it is not something that you will be partially aware of. You can get glimpses but oneness isn’t something that you can have part of the time and the part of the time not have it. It just is… it just always is and there is not much else we can say about it. So we are probably not going to talk that much about that because it is not even describable! We could sit here for hours and just talk about words… magnitude, infinite, unlimited!

What the Course says is that there is a level that is a reflection of that which the Course calls the Real World, the Happy Dream. If I am dreaming, I want to have a happy dream. If makes sense that if you wake up you would have a happy dream instead of waking up from a nightmare. Another thing it calls it is true perception which in the deeper metaphysical levels is an interesting combination of words because the Course is saying that all perception, in the end, is not that oneness. All perception involves form, all perception was made as a defense against the truth, as a defense against the oneness. So, even to say true perception is kind of a metaphor for saying that if you could clean the “mirror” off, if you had a mirror or dark glass - you completely cleaned it off then what you would have is true perception or the real world.

And then the other level is the ego lens, the distorted lens. How can you tell when you are looking through the ego lens? The Course makes it real simple. It asks, ‘How do you feel?’. If you have a deep sense of peace or joy you don’t have to try to figure things out or analytically understand, you are lined up with the Holy Spirit if you are in peace. We have all had those glimmers. And when you are feeling… the Course uses the word "upset"… because there are an awful lot of emotions that could fall into that category… fear, anger and jealous and different ranges of rage and irritation. Basically even minor annoyances are upsetting. One thing the Course is trying to do is to train your mind to think that anytime that you are even mildly upset, you are still upset. Don’t try to dress it up and say, "Oh, I am only feeling a little upset at this person now." Just recognize that either you are at peace or you are upset. And when you are upset you are just looking through the ego lens. There is a distortion going on in your mind and it is based on a decision that you are making in your mind right now. Now that really simplifies things too. Even in psychology, a lot of psychotherapies and even spiritualities are still looking for past causes. So, a lot of inner-child work is trying to uncover these repressed memories, which can be an important part of the whole process, but what the Course is ultimately saying is that you are making a decision right now based on beliefs that are unconscious in your mind that you are holding onto that you really believe are true. And when I say belief, it is a concept or an idea that didn’t come from God. It wasn’t created by God. It is a fictitious thing or a make believe thing and the mind is very powerful and so when it believes in these things and it kind of keeps them secret.

What we must do to begin to correct perception is begin to uncover unconscious beliefs because that is very essential to waking up. The section in the Course we might refer to would be ‘The Obstacles to Peace’ and ‘The Laws of Chaos’. One of the lines in there says, "The laws of chaos can be raised to light, but never understood". If you really look at [the laws of choas], they are not understandable. When they are buried and hidden, the whole world and all these conflicts seem to be set in motion. It seems that way because these beliefs are just unconscious. They are unconscious because they are not looked at. The way to change that perception is to become aware of them. So, this is a good place for us to begin.

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