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The peace of God passeth your understanding only in the past. Yet here it is, and you can understand it now”.~ACIM

'Now' has no meaning to the ego.”~ACIM

  Through all the religions and spiritual teachings I have read of the universal curriculum, there is a theme that seems to run through all of them. Though, actually there are more than this one theme that runs through them.

   I'm speaking about being present, or being in the now. This seems to be one of the fundamentals that is necessary throughout the universal curriculum. I believe when it comes to this, A Course in Miracles is no different. It emphasizes this again and again. Yet, unfortunately, I have seen many people dismiss this as, “Well that might be good for 'them', but that is NOT ACIM.” In my opinion, this is a travesty for someone trying to undertake the mind training that the course puts forth.

   As students, we should remember that the course is trying to correct our thinking from the bottom-up, not from the top-down. Meaning that the course is not trying to correct the mind's errors through “knowledge”, because it is obvious that if knowledge were in one's awareness already, error would not have arisen in the first place.

   The course emphasizes again and again that it is a practical course and that it emphasizes experience over theology. Yet, I have seen many people try to study the course from a top-down approach and speak from an “ultimate truth” perspective, that in all honesty, not one of us here actually knows. From my perspective, this seems to take the practicality of the course to be only for “beginners” who are still naïve to the “Truth” that some authors about the course pontificate in theology and people take to be gospel.

   Yet, IMO, we should always be beginners. We should always practice the fundamentals, until the fundamentals become as natural as breathing. And for many of us, myself included, this is not the case.

   In the beginning of the course, it speaks of being mindful when it says, “You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, and are passively condoning your mind's miscreations.  The particular result does not matter, but the fundamental error does.”~ACIM

   The course tells us that we are much too tolerant of mind wandering, but where can the mind wander? It can't. The course is obviously not speaking of location as in where, but when. The mind can only “wander” into either the past or the future. This is where miscreations are made. Miscreation cannot happen when the mind is truly in the present moment and the ego needs the past and the future. It does not want the present moment. As the course says, “Now has no meaning to the ego.”~ACIM

   The course also adds this line about mindfulness, “It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough. You may feel that at this point it would take a miracle to enable you to do this, which is perfectly true.”~ACIM

   This may sound a bit over the top that it would take a miracle to enable us to guard our thoughts carefully or be mindful. Yet, the course also tells us that, "Belief in sin arouses fear, and like its cause, is looking forward, looking back, but overlooking what is here and now. Yet only here and now its cause must be, if its effects already have been judged as fearful. And in overlooking this, is it protected and kept separate from healing. For a miracle is now. It stands already here, in present grace, within the only interval of time that sin and fear have overlooked, but which is all there is to time."~ACIM

   We are told throughout the course that there is an inner teacher within all of us that will help correct all of our errors. This inner teacher is The Holy Spirit, which is the mechanism of miracles. This is what the course tells us about the Holy Spirit and time:

His emphasis is therefore on the only aspect of time that can extend to the infinite, for now is the closest approximation of eternity that this world offers. It is in the reality of 'now', without past or future, that the beginning of the appreciation of eternity lies. For only 'now' is here, and only 'now' presents the opportunities for the holy encounters in which salvation can be found.” ~ACIM

   We are also told that the only purpose of this world is healing and if we accept this as our purpose, the course tells us, “If you accept your function in the world of time as healing, you will emphasize only the aspect of time in which healing can occur. For healing cannot be accomplished in the past and must be accomplished in the present to release the future. This interpretation ties the future to the present and extends the present rather than the past. But if you interpret your function as destruction, you will lose sight of the present and hold on to the past to ensure a destructive future. And time will be as you interpret it, for of itself it is nothing.”~ACIM

   The course also emphasizes throughout the curriculum what I think most course students identify with more. Forgiveness is the way in which the mind can be corrected. But this is not the usual type of forgiveness the  people in the world generally understand. As the preface says, it is looking past perceptual errors. To do this, we need to choose the Holy Spirit/Universal Inspiration/right mind.

   Forgiveness is absolutely essential to what the course is attempting to teach. Yet the forgiveness that the course is trying to teach is not just a series of acts, but a state of mind. Trying to practice forgiveness while not guarding one's thoughts and continually letting the mind wander into miscreation will create a circular process in which one will have to forgive the same things over and over again. As the course tells us, “ Miracle working entails a full realization of the power of thought and real avoidance of miscreation. Otherwise, a miracle will be necessary to set the mind itself straight, a circular process which would hardly foster the time collapse for which the miracle was intended. Nor would it induce the healthy respect for true cause and effect which every miracle worker must have.”~ACIM

    The course also cautions us about holding our miscreations against correction when it asks, “Would you impose your idle wishes on the present, and hope to find salvation now?"~ACIM

And it tells us the result of this when it states, “No change can be made in the present if its cause is past. Only the past is held in memory as you make use of it, and so it is a way to hold the past against the now."~ACIM

and

"This is a sacrifice of now, which could not be the cost the Holy Spirit asks for what He gave without a cost at all."~ACIM

  

The course tells us that the present IS forgiveness and also speaks of the immediacy of salvation. As the course states, “ Now is the time of salvation, for now is the release from time."~ACIM

and

The Holy Spirit teaches thus: There is no hell. Hell is only what the ego has made of the present” and that “The Holy Spirit would undo all of this now. Fear is not of the present, but only of the past and future, which do not exist. There is no fear in the present when each instant stands clear and separated from the past, without its shadow reaching out into the future. Each instant is a clean, untarnished birth, in which the Son of God emerges from the past into the present. And the present extends forever. It is so beautiful and so clean and free of guilt that nothing but happiness is there. No darkness is remembered, and immortality and joy are now.”~ACIM

and

The Holy Spirit leads as steadily to Heaven as the ego drives to hell. For the Holy Spirit, Who knows only the present, uses it to undo the fear by which the ego would make the present useless."~ACIM

   The course also tells us to practice this when it tells us to, “ Take this very instant, now, and think of it as all there is of time.”~ACIM

and, “Start now to practice your little part in separating out the holy instant. You will receive very specific instructions as you go along. To learn to separate out this single second and begin to experience it as timeless, is to begin to experience yourself as not separate"~ACIM

Yes, forgiveness is essential in the course, but without mindfulness and being present and in the now, forgiveness as ACIM defines it deteriorates into how the world defines it. Without the now, there is no salvation, no true forgiveness, no Atonement, no experience. ACIM just becomes another theology to be pontificated, another religion  with the belief that this is the “truth” that will set you free.

There is no “getting back home” to God. We are at home in God. But we must remember God, not as in a past event, but as we are now.

   As the course tells us, “The Atonement teaches you how to escape forever from everything that you have taught yourself in the past, by showing you only what you are now”.~ACIM

and

"The Holy Spirit can indeed make use of memory, for God Himself is there. Yet this is not a memory of past events, but only of a present state. You are so long accustomed to believe that memory holds only what is past, that it is hard for you to realise it is a skill that can remember now".~ACIM

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Comment by Eric G. on August 30, 2012 at 8:30am

   There is something that I would like to add to this topic, that I think is quite relevant in discussing the now. One of the strangest concepts I have heard about Jesus in the course is that he is spoken of as the great seducer. Essentially, Jesus tells us one thing in the beginning of the course to get our attention, then gradually speaks the “truth” later on in the course. So essentially, Jesus uses a little deception for the “greater good.”

   There are a few reasons this doesn't make sense to me. One, is that the title “Great Seducer” sounds like something that would be said by Christians in reference to Satan. Another reason it doesn't make sense is deception itself. The course says the Holy Spirit is incapable of deception and Jesus in the course says he is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. This would then only logically follow that Jesus is incapable of deception. Another reason is this, if Jesus uses deception in the beginning of the course and fibs to us only to later speak the truth for the “greater good”, then we are left with the concept of the “ends justifies the means”. Like “good intentions”, this road is also paved to 'hell' and history has shown time and again what happens when people look to the ends justifying the means. Does it make sense that Jesus would use deception to correct our own self deception?

  An example of this “great seducer” concept that I have seen being spoken about, is the thought that in the beginning Jesus tells us that only our small willingness is needed for correction to happen, but a little bit later in the course, Jesus tells us that only infinite patience produces immediate effects. This is the same reasoning given about how the course starts off in duality (multiplicity) and then gradually goes to non-duality (the reduction to a numerical number) which is also not entirely accurate, but that is for another blog.

  The thought that Jesus gradually leads us to the fact that only infinite patience produces immediate effects and not actually only our little willingness, is also not accurate, because much later on in the course (Chapter 21 -The Responsibility for Sight), Jesus reminds us that we have been told over and over that only our little willingness is needed.  So maybe we need to look at what Jesus means by infinite patience in Chapter 5.

   Often times, this line is taken on its own and removed from the context of the rest. The whole passage states, “Your patience with each other is your patience with yourselves. Is not a Child of God worth patience? I have shown you infinite patience because my will is that of our Father, from Whom I learned of infinite patience. His Voice was in me as it is in you, speaking for patience towards the Sonship in the name of its Creator. What you need to learn now is that only infinite patience can produce immediate effects. This is the way in which time is exchanged for eternity. Infinite patience calls upon infinite love, and by producing results now, it renders time unnecessary.”~ACIM

  In the concept of the “great seducer”, infinite patience seems to mean a lot of patience. Yet, the course speaks of infinite patience producing results now and time is exchanged for eternity. I think the confusion is much like thinking eternity means a long long time, instead of meaning only now, as always in only now. Infinite patience is not a lot of patience. It is the acceptance of everything as it is now and in this acceptance are immediate effects produced.

  Let's look at another line in the course on the Holy Instant.

You could live forever in the holy instant, beginning now and reaching to eternity, but for a very simple reason. Do not obscure the simplicity of this reason, for if you do, it will be only because you prefer not to recognize it and not to let it go. The simple reason, simply stated, is this: The holy instant is a time in which you receive and give perfect communication. This means, however, that it is a time in which your mind is open, both to receive and give. It is the recognition that all minds are in communication. It therefore seeks to change nothing, but merely to accept everything. ~ACIM

  It therefore seeks to change nothing, but merely to accept everything, sounds very much like the infinite patience the course speaks of, for  if one were to accept everything as it is in that very moment, what could it be, but infinite patience? The only reason that we could not continually live in this Holy Instant is instead of giving our little willingness to the Holy Spirit for Him to use, we instead put our own ideas into the moment and often times our own private ideas of our own private world does not accept everything as it is and does not believe that all minds are in communication. And a block in communication results in the separation.

   The course tells us that correction is not our function, it must be given to the One who knows what correction is. Correction is our choice, but if we assume correction's role, we lose the understanding of forgiveness.

  Jesus tells us much later in the course about just giving our small willingness to the Holy Spirit and He will correct our minds.

   “We have repeated how little is asked of you to learn this course. It is the same small willingness you need to have your whole relationship transformed to joy; the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit for which He gives you everything; the very little on which salvation rests; the tiny change of mind by which the crucifixion is changed to resurrection. And being true, it is so simple that it cannot fail to be completely understood. Rejected yes, but not ambiguous. And if you choose against it now, it will not be because it is obscure, but rather that this little cost seemed in your judgment to be too much to pay for peace.”~ACIM

Comment by Eric G. on August 29, 2012 at 9:10am

Hi Ruby,

 

    Yes, the UrText does have a lot of gems in the beginning chapters that really give concrete examples to some of the abstract ideas of the course. I think any serious student of the course should read the UrText at least once. I think it would help quite a bit in giving an understanding to some of the passages in the course that may be hard to make out. With there being a free PDF version to read, it is very convenient to do so. I have my own copy that I bought, along with the Original Edition.

 

  Of course, if one is gaining an "understanding" of what the course says through second hand information of what "teachers" say about the course, then the UrText may become confusing to the person. My suggestion is, forget what teachers say about the course and read the course. Accepting second hand information about what the course says is not much different than the average Christian going to a church to listen to a preacher tell them what the Bible says. A teacher can be helpful in help gaining an understanding, but when the course is simply "learned" through the lens of perception of the teacher, then it can become just dogmatic theology, in which any real learning is stifled, because the teacher is speaking the "truth". Anything or anyone that says something which contradicts this "truth" is therefore wrong, even if it is ACIM itself.

 

  A perfect example of what I am talking about is this very topic. I have been told by people that the Now is not ACIM. This is in large part due to Renard's 2nd book. In his 2nd book, Renard is the guise of the voices of his "ascended masters" attempts to discredit other teachers and other teachings in order to make himself as teacher special and ACIM itself special. One of these teachings is Tolle. Unfortunately, not only did Renard's "ascended masters" get Tolle's teachings wrong, it also caused a lot of Renard's followers to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yet, as I believe I have demonstrated in this blog, the course is very much about the Now, and this is only a sampling of passages referring to it.

  We are a fast food nation and when it comes to spirituality, it is no different. We want enlightenment NOW! Hurry up hurry up! Put it in the microwave on high and let 'er cook and viola! Yet, A Course in Miracles has such a depth to it, it can't be ingested quickly and understood, so I think a lot of people look to other people to tell them what the course says. They read authors speak about the course, adopt the explanation as their own and then think they understand it. Yet, 2nd hand information is not really understanding, though it can be a belief in understanding.

 

  I've read so many books about ACIM that my head could spin. It was actually a discussion I read of J. Krishnamurti and an audience member that caused me to snap out of trying to gain an understanding through other people's explanations, when the audience member kept asking Krishnamurti what the truth was. Finally Krishnamurti asked the audience member, "Do you want the truth or an explanation?" Often times we confuse explanations with truth and then we create new organized religions.

 

  I now tend to stay away from reading authors talk about the course and I feel that I am getting a deeper understanding of the course that is not simply 2nd information that I have adopted, but through experience to what the course points to. Of course this "understanding" is evolving, but one thing is clear...this is a course that teaches from a bottom-up approach and not a top-down theology.

Comment by Ruby on August 28, 2012 at 12:53am

Hi Eric, love the quore:  

The course also tells us to practice this when it tells us to, “ Take this very instant, now, and think of it as all there is of time.”~ACIM

and, “Start now to practice your little part in separating out the holy instant. You will receive very specific instructions as you go along. To learn to separate out this single second and begin to experience it as timeless, is to begin to experience yourself as not separate"~ACIM

 

I think it helps me to understand that as Eckhart Tolle puts it, 'eternity is not that time goes on forever, but a stepping out of time' (and space)... "the Holy Instant".    I came across this in the Urtext which had particular significance to me  in the difference between intellectualization and thinking:  

 

T 1 B 12b.       Miracles are thought-creations. Thought can create lower-order or higher-order realities. This is the basic distinction between intellectualization and thinking. One creates the physical, and the other the spiritual, and we believe in what we create.

T 1 B 13.         A miracle is a beginning and an end(ing). It thus abolishes time. It is always an affirmation of re-birth, which seems to go back, but really goes forward. It undoes the past in the present, and thus releases the future.

 

I think everything resonates with us according to our readiness.  I love that Jesus tells us in Rules for Decision:  "And if you find resistance strong and dedication weak, you are not ready. DO NOT FIGHT YOURSELF."

 

Thanks for posting.  Namaste, Ruby

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