This is the second lesson that deals specifically with God’s Name and, to recall our discussion of Lesson 183, the term Name of God is not to be taken literally – as is stated at the conclusion of the lesson, “God has no name.” The phrase is used only specifically for the belief in separation: the ego’s name of sin, attack, punishment, and death. Thus the Name of God is a symbol that reminds us of our oneness as God’s Son, and the Oneness of Christ with God. The lesson’s major theme, therefore, is that the world of separation is illusory, made up to deny the reality of God’s perfect unity. Depicted here, therefore, is the dichotomy of duality and non-duality, perception and knowledge, separation and oneness – all reflecting the split from God.
Remember, when Jesus refers to the Son of God, he is not talking about human beings. God’s Son is a Thought in the Mind of God and, in his separated state, a thought in the split mind that transcends the specific forms – animate or inanimate – that we identify and give names to.
To make this point again, when Jesus tells us that God did not create the world, he means it literally. He did not create a perceptual, separated world in which there are individual differences – indeed in which there is individuality of any kind.
Referring to 2:1, Ken writes:
This holds for right-minded as well as wrong-minded perception. The very fact you can perceive – recognizing an object or person as discrete from another – tells you this world is a dream, and not the world of oneness God created as His Son’s home.
The body’s purpose is to bring messages that speak of the world’s reality, reflecting our belief in the reality of the ego’s thought of separation. Because we think we see a phenomenal world we think it to be true, and therefore we believe there is life here.
Our wish is to establish the separation as real, but also to establish that we are not responsibility for it, being the innocent victims of what the world has done to us. Here’s a quote Ken shared:
“It is essential it be kept in mind that all perception still is upside down until its purpose has been understood…Perception seems to teach you what you see. Yet it but witnesses to what you aught. It is the outward picture of a wish; an image that you wanted to be true (T-24.VII.8:5, 8-10).
In 3:3-4, Ken writes:
In this passage, Jesus teaches that once we think the world is real and have given names to its forms – meaning we think we understand their nature – they seem to be causative. For example, people’s bodies seem to affect us; toxins and viruses seem to make us ill. They are a cause with true effect, the ego tells us, which is our suffering. Yet the effect is an illusion because its cause is illusion, and the “consequence inherent in itself” is never separate from its cause. Since there is nothing outside us in the world, nothing here can be a cause, and therefore can have no effects – what we experience is thus made up. However, the ego maintains its illusory thought system by convincing us of the opposite: what we feel is due to something outside us.
ACIM teaches that everything we perceive is an illusion – “Nothing so blinding as perception of form” (T-22.III.6:7) – and we know perception is illusory because we see in fragments and not the whole. We think God’s Son is many, with differences that do make a difference. These either become sources of pleasure, in which we indulge our special love needs, or establish that someone has the power to hurt us, in which case they indulge our special hate. It is therefore inevitable that Jesus, as well as his message – then, and now in ACIM – be perceived as a threat. As long as we identify with the body and believe our thoughts and specific experiences are real, we must believe his course is dangerous and we will have no choice but to attack, distort, or deny it.
NOTE: Below follows a reference to a “conversation” Jesus had with Helen:
Ken writes in response to 5:2-3 the following:
This is the same thought Jesus speaks of at the beginning of Chapter 31, where he addressed Helen who was complaining of the Course’s difficulty, and how she could not learn it. Jesus’ response to her, and to all of us, was simple and clear: “Do not tell me you cannot be taught. Look at the power of your mind and learning skill. You have taught yourself a thousand alien names, and thousands more – a most daunting task when reality is perfect oneness.” The mind is thus so extraordinarily powerful that we can fall asleep and dream a dream, believing its world of multiplicity is true Thus Jesus denies our assertions that we cannot learn his simple course, for we need but say: “I am wrong about everything.” The principle is simple, and once understood, we would never again take our thoughts quite so seriously, recognizing our ego attacks to be like a little child’s temper tantrum that screams: “I want it thus!” (T-18.II.4:1). Once more, Jesus asks us not to protest to him that we cannot learn or practice ACIM – our learning experience belies our words.
In 7:3, Ken writes:
Jesus now shifts to the right-minded way of looking at the world. Once we recognize on what the world’s learning rests, we can they say: “There must be another way of looking at this.” Thus, we being to understand the world’s nature, where it originated, and our roles within it, opening our minds for Jesus to teach us his other way.
The radicalness of ACIM lies in its negating what the world teaches is true. As a result, people may fearfully seek to blur its teaching to say that it is like some other spirituality the world holds dear. If you fall into that trap, however, you will stop short of meaning, and will not understand the world’s role in your salvation, to be described below.
Seen properly through Jesus’ guidance, the world is a classroom in which “a ne perception come(s) to me” (W-pII.313). The world does not change; our choice of inner teacher changes.
With respect to 8:1-2, Ken writes”
Thus, when Jesus says, “Think not you made the world. Illusions, yes”, he is not referring to the illusion of forgiveness. The point is to recognize that the shift in perception allowing us to see the world as a classroom does not come from us, but from the Holy Spirit, Who induces the shift from false to true perception.
When we are in charge we see a body, someone separate from us who serves the purpose of fulfilling our needs of special love or special love. Yet with the Holy Spirit as our eyes, we see expressions of love or calls for love, as we learn His happy lesson of forgiveness that undoes the ego’s judgmental perceptions.
NOTE: If you find yourself entrenched in any form of special relationship, Ken’s response to 8:6-7 might be helpful:
When I see you as an object of my ego’s specialness, I not only reinforce my belief in separation, but yours as well. I tell you that you are right in thinking of yourself as an ego, and in the process I reinforce the ego in myself. Thus if we both are in our wrong minds, we reinforce each other’s ego. Thus “his unity is twice denied” because you and I believe it is, and we reinforce that mistaken choice in and for each other. If you, however, are right-minded and I, wrong-minded, you will be unaffected by my attack thoughts and misperceptions, since you will know they have nothing to do with you, thus offering me the opportunity to choose again.
In response to 10:1, Ken writes,
Jesus refers to the holy instant, wherein we realize there is something wrong with our perceptions. Returning to Jesus in our minds, we are helped to realize there is another way of looking – through the lens of the holy instant. More specifically, Jesus speaks here of the intervals these lessons ask us to reserve each day, so we would spend a little time with him.
We are not urged to go to a monastery or convent, or retreat into the desert, for Jesus wants us to practice ACIM in the world of our relationships. Thus he teaches us his split vision: on the one hand, focused on the world’s specifics; on the other, focused on his light-filled presence in the mind. He informs us of the proper purpose of everything here, expressed in terms we can accept and understand. Our behavior appears worldly, for its purpose is to be helpful, yet we do not identify with the world’s interpretations.
Many people mistakenly believe that if they practice ACIM they should not indulge in certain behaviors such as war, sex, or marriage, or relate to certain groups such as lawyers or doctors, because they are of the ego! It is the purpose we give to what we do that is important, and so Jesus says: “Use all the little names” – not some, all – that are part of your world, but “accept them not as your reality.” In other words, we do not identify them as truth, but see them as opportunities to reinforce our learning and help us teach others. Again, it is a question of purpose – what are the symbols for?
Our practicing does not consist of meditation specifically on God’s Name, but on realizing the differences we have made real and important, and have used as a weapon against God and our true Self.
Today I will close with Ken’s thoughts on 15:4 where Jesus says, “And we are glad and thankful we were wrong.”:
You can tell you have advanced in ACIM when you are truly grateful for the fact you have been wrong about absolutely everything. Genuine humility – to be discussed again in Lesson 186 – undoes the arrogance of thinking you know what is best for yourself and the world. Thus you want to be glad and thankful you are wrong. First, however, be aware of how “unglad” and “unthankful” you are, and how angry it makes you that Jesus, and not you, is right. It is helpful to know how infuriating it is to realize this course is true – every word, just as every word you have thought, uttered, or written has been false. “Do you prefer that you be right or happy?” (T-19.VII.1:9) remains the only question we need answer.
Right or happy?
Glad and thankful or their opposites?
Hey, I just acknowledge it is unimaginable that every word I have thought, uttered or written has been false. Nope, don’t like that, don’t often buy it, but I am finding the resistance to accepting the Atonement is less intense, less frightening, less terrorizing to me.
I will get there, slowly but surely, and I am “buying” that I can learn this Course based on what Ken wrote above when he shared the “dialogue” between Jesus and Helen.
Have a blessed day!