How do we manage to live with our imperfections? As we grow spiritually, we become so aware of what true love is like, what forgiveness is, and how we “ought” to live that we grow increasingly aware that most of the time we don’t live up to what we know. How can we be comfortable with that? How long is it going to take until we learn to live consistently and wholly in the spirit? How can we avoid being discouraged and feeling guilty about our sluggish growth?
One key is found in Workbook Lesson 158, which talks of time as an illusion.
Time but seems to go in one direction. We but undertake a journey that is over….We but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by. (W-pI.158.3:5-6; 4:5; my emphasis)
From God’s viewpoint all our lives are past lives, including this one! We are already whole and complete, already at the journey’s end. Imagine that this is so. Imagine that you already are perfected and resting in eternity. All of the struggle and pain is past.
And, resting there, you begin to “mentally review” your past lives, remembering all the foolish mistakes you made, how you forgot who you were, how you thought—or dreamed—that you were separate, alone, weak and frightened. The memories of the dream seem so real! You take a deep breath, thankful that you are safe at Home. None of those terrors every really happened; all of it was a bad dream.
That picture, Jesus is saying, is the exact truth. All our present, negative experiences are just a mental review of a bad dream. Whenever we become aware of them, we can laugh at their foolishness. They mean nothing. “This isn’t the truth,” we can say. “This is not who I am. I am the holy Son of God, now only remembering this lifetime.”
We can observe ourselves almost objectively: “Okay, now he’s experiencing fear. Now depression. He’s being nasty to the bus driver because he doesn’t see the driver is really himself in another form, another actor, another part in the play he wrote.”
Changing your mind about who you really are, beginning to break the link of identification with this body, this ego, is the key. Changing your mind about who you are comes before any behavioral changes. Indeed, changing the behavior almost does not matter! The behavior is just part of the dream. As Marianne Williamson says so aptly about our past, “You are not your resumé.”
The actions to which we attach so much importance are just projections of mistaken thoughts about ourselves. They prove nothing. They change nothing. They are inadmissible evidence in God’s court.
He judges us worthy, not because of what we do, but because of who we are. He sees us as He created us. When we judge ourselves as undeserving of His love we are questioning God’s judgment and valuing our own judgment above His. And that is simply foolish, isn’t it?
Only the mind is capable of error. The body can act wrongly only when it is responding to misthought. (T-2.IV.2:4-5)
Therefore, behavior, or an action of the body, is meaningless. It is the mind that has erred and must be corrected. All correction is at the level of the mind (see T-2.V.1:7).
All we are responsible for is the way we think, not the way we act.
You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think. (T-2.VI.2:5-7)
And behavior is “controlled by me automatically as soon as you place what you think under my guidance” (T-2.VI.2:9).
You must change your mind, not your behavior.(T-2.VI.3:4)
One of the root thoughts we have is that we create ourselves. We see our actions, or those of others, and mistake them as real. We think our actions prove something about us, or about others; that somehow they change what we are. God says they don’t. They prove nothing.
God created me, and what He created me to be, I am. Nothing I do can affect that! My misdeeds are just foolish mistakes based on forgetting the truth about myself, and they change nothing about who I really am. Nothing I think can affect that, either. Truth doesn’t change just because I forget it!
In this race, we start at the finish line. We are perfect already because God created us that way, and every mistaken action we perform is only the result of forgetting that fact. Therefore, the only appropriate response to “failure” is to remember again who we are, remember God’s evaluation of us, and give thanks for the lesson.
Sometimes this kind of thinking terrifies us. We think, “If I don’t condemn my sins, I’ll never change them. If I don’t condemn their sins, they will never change them.” The fact is that when any one of us remembers his true Self, accepts his own holiness, and acknowledges his perfect oneness with God, his or her behavior is automatically adjusted. Because all negative behavior arises only when our mind refuses to believe the truth about us. When we are conscious of who we really are, we cannot misbehave.
There is nothing to fear.
[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
If you enjoyed this article, you might like this one!
To learn more about our community of A Course in Miracles students, visit Course Companions.