Let Love teach you what You are.
One of the most quoted lines in the course is the line, “This is a course in cause and not effect.” I think it is also many times misunderstood to mean that the course is not about behavior. Yet the course never says it is not about behavior. It says that we cannot correct error at the level of effect (behavior) and that correction must be made at the level of the mind, but this in no way dismisses or disregards behavior itself.
In fact, the passage in which the above quote about cause is made, is asking the reader about their choice to attack or heal; to see our brothers through our body's eyes or through vision. I will point out that the course also says that attack is ALWAYS physical and one doesn't have to attack physically for this to be the case. This implies behavior, for even to verbally attack someone is a behavior. There is a line that precedes the famous quote that says, “How this decision leads to its effects is not your problem. But what you want to see must be your choice. This is a course in cause and not effect.”~ACIM
This is not dismissing behavior, but stating that one need not be concerned with how the decision to see our brothers leads to its effects of either attack or healing, because the fact is, the decision DOES lead to its effects. Our concern must be the choice itself, effects of the choice will then automatically follow.
I think there is a fundamental distinction between not trying to correct error on the level of behavior and the course not being about behavior. In its more manipulated forms through this misunderstanding, I have seen people act vindictively towards others and then dismiss this behavior by stating the course isn't about behavior, because it is about the level of the mind and that the course is about cause and not effect and behavior is an illusion. It's all about the mind and forgiveness.
Yet, this is “logic” is strange in many ways. First, forgiveness is an illusion also, but we don't dismiss it. If all attack is self attack as thoughts cannot leave their source and the mind must have a thought to attack before it can attempt to project it outwards; then the self destructive behavior is a result. Cause and effect cannot be separate and as the course says, behavior does not have autonomy. If the outside picture is a result from an inward condition, why would we exclude our own behavior from this statement? It is obviously part of the outside picture of an inward condition (unless we are trying to behave “correctly” in ways we think we should without our mind entirely wanting to do so. In other words, trying to correct error at the level of effect.)
The course says that action must occur in time. If, as the course also says, to teach is to demonstrate, then obviously to demonstrate does not exclude behavior either. Also, the course says that the Holy Spirit can use the body as a means of communication. If a body “behaves” or “acts”, this also obvious does not exclude behavior or disregard/dismiss it, but is a result of the decision of the mind. The course also says that miracles induce action and are expressions (not merely experiences) of Love.
There are many passages in which the course speaks about behavior/acting/action, here are some of them.
One of the first passages that speaks on this that I am aware of, is in the Preface, when it says: “The body appears to be largely self-motivated and independent, yet it actually responds only to the intentions of the mind. If the mind wants to use it for attack in any form, it becomes prey to sickness, age and decay. If the mind accepts the Holy Spirit's purpose for it instead, it becomes a useful way of communicating with others, invulnerable as long as it is needed, and to be gently laid by when its use is over. Of itself it is neutral, as is everything in the world of perception. Whether it is used for the goals of the ego or the Holy Spirit depends entirely on what the mind wants.”~ACIM
“Behavior is response, so that the question "response to what?" becomes crucial. Since stimuli are identified through perception, you first perceive the stimulus and then behave accordingly. It follows, then, that:
As ye perceive, So shall ye behave.”~ Original Edition-ACIM
“The Golden Rule asks you to behave toward others as you would have them behave toward you. This means that the perception of both must be accurate. The Golden Rule is the rule for appropriate behavior. You cannot behave appropriately unless you perceive accurately, because appropriate behavior depends on lack of level confusion. The presence of level confusion always results in variable reality testing and therefore in variability in behavioral appropriateness.”~Original Edition-ACIM
“What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate yourself from the truth by "giving" autonomy to behavior.”~ACIM
“If you cannot hear the Voice of God, it is because you do not choose to listen. The fact that you do listen to the voice of your ego is demonstrated by your attitudes, your feelings, and your behavior. Your attitudes are obviously conflicted, your feelings have a narrow range on the negative side but are never purely joyous, and your behavior is either strained or unpredictable.”~ACIM
“Any decision of the mind will affect both behavior and experience.”~ACIM
“As the teacher of God advances in his training, he learns one lesson with increasing thoroughness. He does not make his own decisions; he asks his Teacher for His answer, and it is this he follows as his guide for action.”~ACIM
“Mind cannot attack, but it can make fantasies and direct the body to act them out.”~ACIM
“Only the mind is capable of error. The body can act erroneously, but this is only because it is responding to mis-thought.”~ACIM
Honesty does not apply only to what you say. The term actually means consistency. There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought; no act belies your word; and no word lacks agreement with another.~ACIM
“I have enjoined you to behave as I behaved, but we must respond to the same mind to do this. This mind is the Holy Spirit, whose will is for God always. He teaches you how to keep me as the model for your thought and to behave like me as a result.”~Jesus-ACIM
This is a sampling of the course speaking about behavior and action/acting. Yet I think that it demonstrates that the course does not disregard/dismiss behavior. In fact, this passage from the UrText and Original Edition states this about behavior.
“As you awaken other minds to the Holy Spirit through Him and not yourself, you will understand that you are not obeying the laws of this world, but that the laws you are obeying work. "The good is what works" is a sound, though insufficient, statement. Only the good can work. Nothing else works at all. This course is a guide to behavior. Being a very direct and very simple learning situation, it provides the Guide who tells you what to do. If you do it, you will see that it works. Its results are more convincing than its words. They will convince you that the words are true. By following the right Guide you will learn the simplest of all lessons—
By their fruits ye shall know them, and they shall know themselves.” ~UrText- Original Edition
By their fruits ye shall know themselves seems to me to be a statement that one's behavior is a witness to the result of one's thinking. It also ties in with the passage in the Preface and also the passages in the course that say that we cannot see the Holy Spirit, but we can see His manifestations and results. The preceding passage also speaks of experience rather than just theology.
I think it is important to make this distinction between what the course says in not trying to make correction at the level of behavior (effect), but of the mind (cause) and dismissing behavior as having nothing to do with the course.
While we appear to be in a world of space and time and in bodies, as the course says, action must occur. Through the world of perception, behavior can be seen as a witness or result of our state of mind, as cause and effect, even in the world of illusion cannot be separate. We cannot give behavior autonomy, for it is a result of what we think.