The problem with one lapse is that it makes future transgressions easier. I know this. It’s why the narrow path is essential for me. Cheating leads to more cheating (we aren’t talking marital infidelity so don’t get excited; I’m way too invested in my relationship for that nonsense). But I know me. If I’m working out, I need to do it every day. If I’m on a diet, or avoiding sugar, or whatever, I need to do it every day. It is why for six months I never missed a day of writing. Now, in less than a week, I have slipped twice.
Give me a break, man. My ego has been doing a number on me in the last week. I’ve felt like crap every day. If I were a gambler, I’d be at the casinos every day at this point. If I were an alcoholic, I’d be perpetually drunk. If I were a food addict, I’d be stuffing myself till I felt sick. But I’ve mastered those others – I stop eating when I’m full; stop drinking once I start to feel tipsy, and well, I don’t gamble because I figured out by age ten that it couldn’t be good for me. Instead, I play too many games of spider solitaire; that’s where I go for addiction.
It doesn’t matter the addiction: they all make you feel like crap.
It’s classic avoidance. Procrastinating about some of the things I need to do – like sit on the phone with the IRS to try to get them to abate the penalty for what they say was a failure to file an extension in 2012. (I pay people to do my taxes; if the form wasn’t filed, it is their failure, not mine). Or file some docs with the court, or file the doc with the mortgage company for a loan modification on my old house that’s in foreclosure (long story, the short version is we are trying to do a short sale on it but FHA rules say you have to have been denied a loan mod in the previous thirty days to move forward – a not very helpful rule I might add). Anyway, I have a lot of these sorts of things to take care of and I don’t want to do any of them.
Classic avoidance. Solitaire calls to me like crack to a crack whore. Of course, it makes me feel like shit so I know better. It’s better to man up and just do what I need to do, but I just did one of those things a couple of days ago (another long story that I won’t go into). I’m still reeling from that.
But here’s the nut I haven’t quite cracked yet – I am sure that once I finally do that I will have officially reached grown up status and some angle in heaven will get its wings – how do I get myself to give up the avoidance, how do I get myself to just do what I need to do and skip the feeling like crap part?
Today’s ACIM lesson (technically Tuesday’s because as we’ve established, I’m behind) is, of course, just what I need (sometimes, I think the Course is psychic!): I bless the world because I bless myself.
Here’s the lesson (the one I just couldn’t seem to get through yesterday!):
I bless the world because I bless myself.
No one can give unless he has. In fact, giving is proof of having. We have made this point before. What seems to make it hard to credit is not this. No one can doubt that you must first possess what you would give. It is the second phase on which the world and true perception differ. Having had and given, then the world asserts that you have lost what you possessed. The truth maintains that giving will increase what you possess.
How is this possible? For it is sure that if you give a finite thing away, your body’s eyes will not perceive it yours. Yet we have learned that things but represent the thoughts that make them. And you do not lack for proof that when you give ideas away, you strengthen them in your own mind. Perhaps the form in which the thought seems to appear is changed in giving. Yet it must return to him who gives. Nor can the form it takes be less acceptable. It must be more.
Ideas must first belong to you, before you give them. If you are to save the world, you first accept salvation for yourself. But you will not believe that this is done until you see the miracles it brings to everyone you look upon. Herein is the idea of giving clarified and given meaning. Now you can perceive that by your giving is your store increased.
Protect all things you value by the act of giving them away, and you are sure that you will never lose them. What you thought you did not have is thereby proven yours. Yet value not its form. For this will change and grow unrecognizable in time, however much you try to keep it safe. No form endures. It is the thought behind the form of things that lives unchangeable.
Give gladly. You can only gain thereby. The thought remains, and grows in strength as it is reinforced by giving. Thoughts extend as they are shared, for they can not be lost. There is no giver and receiver in the sense the world conceives of them. There is a giver who retains; another who will give as well. And both must gain in this exchange, for each will have the thought in form most helpful to him. What he seems to lose is always something he will value less than what will surely be returned to him.
Never forget you give but to yourself. Who understands what giving means must laugh at the idea of sacrifice. Nor can he fail to recognize the many forms which sacrifice may take. He laughs as well at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death. He recognizes sacrifice remains the one idea that stands behind them all, and in his gentle laughter are they healed.
Illusion recognized must disappear. Accept not suffering, and you remove the thought of suffering. Your blessing lies on everyone who suffers, when you choose to see all suffering as what it is. The thought of sacrifice gives rise to all the forms that suffering appears to take. And sacrifice is an idea so mad that sanity dismisses it at once.
Never believe that you can sacrifice. There is no place for sacrifice in what has any value. If the thought occurs, its very presence proves that error has arisen and correction must be made. Your blessing will correct it. Given first to you, it now is yours to give as well. No form of sacrifice and suffering can long endure before the face of one who has forgiven and has blessed himself.
The lilies that your brother offers you are laid upon your altar, with the ones you offer him beside them. Who could fear to look upon such lovely holiness? The great illusion of the fear of God diminishes to nothingness before the purity that you will look on here. Be not afraid to look. The blessedness you will behold will take away all thought of form, and leave instead the perfect gift forever there, forever to increase, forever yours, forever given away.
Now are we one in thought, for fear has gone. And here, before the altar to one God, one Father, one Creator and one Thought, we stand together as one Son of God. Not separate from Him Who is our Source; not distant from one brother who is part of our one Self Whose innocence has joined us all as one, we stand in blessedness, and give as we receive. The Name of God is on our lips. And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father’s Love.
Now are we blessed, and now we bless the world. What we have looked upon we would extend, for we would see it everywhere. We would behold it shining with the grace of God in everyone. We would not have it be withheld from anything we look upon. And to ensure this holy sight is ours, we offer it to everything we see. For where we see it, it will be returned to us in form of lilies we can lay upon our altar, making it a home for Innocence Itself, Who dwells in us and offers us His Holiness as ours.
© Foundation for Inner Peace • PO Box 598 • Mill Valley, CA 94942-0598
So this lesson begins, “No one can give unless he has. In fact, giving is proof of having.” It is why I write about these lessons because by writing about them, I anchor them in my soul. It is how I learn them, or at least my half-ass attempt at learning them. As the Course says “when you give ideas away, you strengthen them in your own mind.”
We were discussing this is our ACIM group the other night, when we came across this passage, “Whenever you are with a brother, you are learning what you are because you are teaching what you are. He will respond either with pain or with joy, depending on which teacher you are following. He will be imprisoned or released according to your decision, and so will you. Never forget your responsibility to him, because it is your responsibility to yourself.”
In other words: I bless the world because I bless myself.
The thing that struck us was that somehow we’d thought that other people’s reactions to us were rooted in their ideas. But the Course tells us that “you are learning what you are because you are teaching what you are,” effectively placing the responsibility back in our own laps. (“4 Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation.”) If our ideas about ourselves are less than flattering, if we afraid “they won’t like us” (or don’t like us), then we are effectively teaching we don’t think we are likable.
In the middle of class the other night, I had an epiphany: the idea of a will apart from God’s is an impossible idea because it would make the separation real. If there is no separation, than how could I have my own will? That would mean that I was really separated from God and that my ego, which is the part of me that thinks it is separate, had effectively usurped God’s power.
“3 The ego cannot teach you anything as long as your will is free, because you will not listen to it. It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God Who coerces you, because He shares His Will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit’s lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God’s cannot be out of accord because they are one.”
Our wills are one.
It’s weird because my ego tells me this twisted idea that what God has in store me is “work” and I won’t like it. It’s not what I really want. That’s the lie – that God’s will is somehow different than mine and that it opposes me.
That’s what ego tells us because it sees the world as it is – a liar who can’t be trusted!
Suddenly the idea of separation seemed ludicrous. The idea of a separate will from God’s (with better stuff!) seemed preposterous. I woke up a little.
Which is undoubtedly why my ego lured me back to solitaire like a drug dealer trying to shoot up a former heroin addict to ignite the thirst for the high.
But that was yesterday and it’s time to forgive myself and move on.
I called the IRS and they wiped out the $3814.89 they said I owed them in a matter of five minutes. (Thank you, First Time Penalty Abatement Policy!) You see, ego was lying to me. It always feels better to deal with these things than avoid them. Now, I still have a bunch of other things to tend to, but I know that dealing with them will feel better than endless spider solitaire.
I bless the world because I bless myself. Which means I let myself off the hook for being a fuck up. I forgive myself for thinking I was someone I am not. “No form of sacrifice and suffering can long endure before the face of one who has forgiven and has blessed himself.”
Maybe, just maybe, that angel may be on his way to getting those wings. Maybe not today, but soon, pretty soon.
Oh wait a minute, there is no such things as time. Crap!
As we always say when we pray, It is already done. The game is rigged.
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.