[acimlessons_list] Lesson 190 - July 9
sue at circleofa.org
Tue Jul 8 05:33:56 EDT 2008
Lesson 190 - July 9
I choose the joy of God instead of pain.
PURPOSE: To realize that pain is deceptive illusion, and that joy is reality
and truth. To go past pain and experience the joy that lies beyond it. This
will help <your scattered goals blend into one intent>
MORNING/EVENING QUIET TIME: At least five minutes; ideally, thirty or more.
This is a meditation in which you set aside all thought of attack and
defense, all judgment and all assault. These are simply attempts to hide
your holiness. Lay down these thoughts of war and sink into the stillness of
Heaven's peace. In this holy place, you will feel the joy of God arise in
you. Here, you will realize that pain, not joy, is the naive illusion. You
will understand that joy is reality, it is awakening, and it is truth.
HOURLY REMEMBRANCE: One or two minutes as the hour strikes (reduce if
circumstances do not permit). Do a short version of the morning/evening
exercise. Close by asking for God's guidance for the coming hour and
thanking Him for His gifts in the past hour. RESPONSE TO TEMPTATION:
(Suggestion) when tempted to think that the world causes your pain. Realize
this is a judgment, and that this judgment is a sword you hold against your
throat. Then repeat the idea; choose the joy of God instead of pain.
This is a tough lesson. It confronts us with another of those blocks we've
been talking about: the apparent reality of pain. As the lesson very clearly
states, pain seems to bear witness to <a nightmare of abandonment by an
Eternal Love> (2:5). <It witnesses to God the Father's hatred of His Son>
Anyone who has experienced serious pain knows what this is talking about.
Anyone who has had a loved one endure deep, constant pain knows the
questions it raises in the mind. <How could God allow this to happen, if He
is love?> Even the milder forms of pain tell the same story, raise the same
I am not going to pretend that I have entirely succeeded in removing this
block from my mind. I find it hard to write about this lesson because I
recognize that a very present part of me still sees pain as real, rather
than illusion. Yet, I do believe that what the lesson says is true. I choose
to believe it, and I want to believe it. So I do not see myself as being in
conflict over this issue. I am learning, more and more, to look my fears
straight in the face, and to recognize that I still do believe, in large
measure, that pain is real. And if this lesson is true, this must mean that
part of me believes there is no God (3:3 4), that the impossible has
happened, and Eternal Love has abandoned me. If I have been reading the Text
with any discernment, this is not news to me. What then? Do I need to wallow
in guilt because my mind has not yet been entirely renewed? Of course not:
The time has come to laugh at such insane ideas. There is no need to
think of them as savage crimes, or secret sins with weighty consequence.
If the way to remember the Love of God is to look without judgment on my
denial of Him, then seeing these <insane ideas> in my mind is a necessary
part of the process, and an indication of progress, not regression. And the
cure is not guilt, but laughter!
Basically, we have two choices in regard to pain. Either it is caused by
something outside of us, which means ultimately that we are innocents
suffering at the hands of an angry God (or that there is no God and we are
subject to blind fate), or it is caused by myself, my own thoughts. If the
former is true I have no hope of escape. If the latter is true, I can escape
by changing my thoughts. I prefer to believe the latter! Even if I am wrong,
what have I got to lose?
The Course's position is crystal clear:
It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing
external to your mind can hurt or
injure you in any way . No one
but yourself affects you. (5:1 2, 4)
It takes some practice to learn to use these thoughts without any guilt. We
are responsible, but not guilty; the Course is very clear on that as well.
It also takes practice, perhaps even more, to use these thoughts when
interacting with someone else who is in pain. May God forbid that we should
ever use this line of reasoning to make someone guilty for their pain! The
Course is equally clear that if we are unable as yet to fully accept this,
if our level of fear is still too high to rely solely upon the mind to
relieve pain, a compromise approach is necessary. To attempt to forgo
medication, for instance, when to do so increases our fear, is
counterproductive (see T-2.IV.3 5 and T-2.V.2). Healing is the release from
fear; what increases fear cannot be healing. Let me, then, learn to
increasingly apply this lesson in ways that my level of fear can tolerate.
Let me realize, for instance, that the person who cuts me off in traffic has
not hurt me; only my thoughts about it hurt me. Let me realize that the
person who seems to reject my love has not brought me any pain; only my
thoughts about it cause me pain. Let me practice with physical pain as well
as I can; if I have a headache, upset stomach, or cold, let me realize that
my thoughts are the source, not anything outside of my mind. Let me realize
that if I take medication I am masking the symptom, not curing the problem,
and let me give equal attention to the healing of my mind. If I experience
more severe or chronic pain, let me deny what it seems to witness to (God's
anger or nonexistence), laugh at the idea that God is angry, and realize
that the pain is only showing me that my mind is mistaken in what I think I
am (2:3). Let me not focus on making the pain go away, but on healing the
thinking that causes it. Using <magic> (physical means) to alleviate the
pain while I devote myself to retraining my mind simply makes sense, and
frees my mind to do what it needs to do.
And let me take frequent holy instants, to <come without defense into the
quiet place where Heaven's peace holds all things still at last> (9:1). Let
me feel the Love of God within me, and set aside my unmerciful self-judgment
(9:4), even if I can do so only momentarily. I can testify to having
experienced this, at least; I have seen pain disappear during the holy
instant, both in myself and in a friend who was in chronic pain. These holy
instants can train us to experience deeper and more lasting release from all
pain, and liberate the joy that has been smothered by our pain.
Pain is illusion; joy, reality. Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening.
Pain is deception; joy alone is truth. (10:4 6)
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