Below is a list of what the School for ACIM considers to be many of the common mistakes that we all make as Course students. It would however be good to point out from the start that there is only one real mistake that we all consistently make when we are in ego mode, and that one mistake gets mirrored in all the different renditions that reflect that first and only mistake…
We took, and continue to take, the tiny mad idea (TMI) of separation from Our Father in Heaven seriously, whenever we are feeling anything less than real peace.
If we hadn’t taken the idea of separation seriously when we pretended to step outside of Heaven, none of the other Course mistakes we seem to make would have, or could have followed, as distractions from recognizing that original silly error. We could have simply dropped the idea (the TMI) immediately as preposterous and impossible, and realized our experience of Heaven’s Oneness as our one and only true identity.
2 A sense of separation from God is the only lack (i.e. mistake) you really need correct. This sense of separation would never have arisen if you had not distorted your perception of truth (our identity in Heaven), and had thus perceived yourself as lacking. The idea of order of needs (the mistaken belief that we could even have needs) arose because, having made this fundamental error (belief in separation), you had already fragmented yourself into levels with different needs.
The idea of orders of need, which follows from the original error that one can be separated from God, requires correction at its own level (in the mind) before the error of perceiving levels at all can be corrected (and we return to Heaven).
The other awareness that it would be helpful to look at and admit, if only at first intellectually, is the following.
Similar to the very first miracle principle in Chapter One that says there’s no order of difficulty in performing miracles… likewise there is no hierarchy of Course mistakes (indeed, no hierarchy of sins either), and no order of difficulty in correcting them. This is in spite of how much we think some mistakes and sins are more severe and serious than others.
They all equally have the same content (taking the TMI seriously), and need the same solution. (see WB Lessons 79-80: “One Problem, One Solution”)
We need the HS help to forgive our mistakes and ‘sins’, i.e. to let our belief in their reality and their effects upon us go…
1 There is no order of difficulty in miracles (and mistakes also). One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same.
(Text p. 3)
Mistakes We Make as Course Students:
1) Level Confusion: behavior/body/brain level or mind level?
2) “I” can see my brothers’ sins as a call for love.
3) Asking HS help to find a parking place…
5) The “I” in… “I need do nothing.”
6) Spiritual Specialness
7) A Course Community of Bodies…
8) The Course vs Genesis: The world was created by whom?
9) My salvation (and my holiness) depends on my being a Good Course Student.
10) Jesus of the Course vs Jesus(s) of the Bible
1) Level Confusion: behavior/body level or mind level?
This first mistake of level confusion really underlies all the other mistakes that we will look at. What does level confusion mean then? How many levels are there anyway?
The Course talks about three levels of experience… Heaven, the mind, and the body. Since we are identified at the the lower level of believing we are bodies in the world, we really need to explore the difference between our seeming experience as bodies and how we get back to an awareness that we are really decision makers in our mind (constantly choosing between the ego as our guide, or the Holy Spirit).
The Course says that we need to realize that everything we do and think as bodies (and brains) in the world is only a reflection of one of two thoughts (separation or forgiveness) or teachers (ego or HS) in our mind. When we do understand that fully, then God takes the “Last Step” and returns us to our awareness of Heaven.
[N.B. In the Course our bodies, including the body’s brain and its brain thoughts, are all simply a reflection of one of two thoughts (ego or HS) in our mind. The mind is an internal level of experience inside us (that in the Course is not the same as our brain). It is an inner “place” where we choose the teacher of separation and guilt or the teacher of healing and forgiveness.]
As bodies, we believe the source of our lack of peace, and misery, comes from something causing stress in the world… usually somebody’s behavior (yours or mine). Then we set about trying to fix that behavior or worldly condition as if it were the problem, even as Course students… We get confused about where the real source of our pain is, and where the miracle needs to take place to heal that pain (i.e. in our mind, and not the world).
Jesus clearly says early on in Chapter Two:
2 I do not foster level confusion, but you must choose to correct it. You would not excuse insane behavior on your part by saying you could not help it. Why should you condone insane thinking (choosing the ego in your mind)? There is a confusion here that you would do well to look at clearly. 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 (in the mind) that you can exercise choice (which teacher we choose). What you do comes from what you think (in your mind). You cannot separate yourself from the truth by “giving” autonomy to behavior…
You must change your mind, not your behavior, and this is a matter of willingness. You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level (in the mind) where change is possible. Change does not mean anything at the symptom level (bodies and the world), where it cannot work. (Text p.29)
Body appetites are not physical in origin. The ego regards the body as its home, and tries to satisfy itself through the body. But the idea that this is possible is a decision of the mind (choosing the ego), which has become completely confused about what is really possible. (I think I can fix things in the world and find satisfaction and peace as a body.)
(Text p.58, par.7)
So when we begin to think and believe that any of our issues/problems at the level of the world and bodies are the actual source of our distress and concern, that if only that person or situation would straighten out and I would feel better, we are back in level confusion believing we are “upset for the reason we think.”
We then need to be willing to step back and ask Jesus for help to see that person or event a different way, from his point of view in the mind. What if… I’m simply upset because I pushed Jesus and God away, and now I’m blaming my pain and lack of peace on something or someone else in the world?
2) “I” can see my brothers’ sins as a call for love.
Most of us think as good Course students that we can choose to see something outrageous that our brother is doing as a “call for love.” The answer is nope, not ‘us,’ not our job… But we can and must ask the Holy Spirit for help to do that if we don’t want to feel the pain and blame of judging, and try figuring all that out by ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit’s function, not ours.
You may wonder how you who are still bound to judgment can be asked to do that (seeing a call for love), which requires no judgment of your own. The answer is very simple. The power of God (the Holy Spirit), and not of you, engenders miracles (the experience of seeing a call for love through the Holy Spirit’s vision)…
7 The only judgment involved is the Holy Spirit’s one division into two categories; one of love, and the other the call for love. You cannot safely make this division, for you are much too confused either to recognize love, or to believe that everything else is nothing but a call for love. You are too bound to form, and not to content. What you consider content is not content at all. It is merely form, and nothing else. (Text p.294)
No one should attempt to answer these questions alone. Surely no teacher of God has come this far without realizing that… Ask and He (the Holy Spirit) will answer. The responsibility is His, and He alone is fit to assume it. To do so is His function. To refer the questions to Him is yours. Would you want to be responsible for decisions about which you understand so little. Be glad you have a Teacher Who cannot make a mistake. His answers are always right. Would you say that of yours?
The imagined usurping of functions not your own is the basis of fear. The whole world you see reflects the illusion that you have done so, making fear inevitable. To return the function to the One to Whom it belongs is thus the escape from fear. And it is this that lets the memory of love return to you. Do not, then, think that following the Holy Spirit’s guidance is necessary merely because of your own inadequacies. It is the way out of hell for you…He understands that an attack is a call for help. And He responds with help accordingly. (Manual p.70-71)
Also, our brother’s call for help is really our own call for help! Hearing and answering a brother’s call for love is really hearing and answering our own. Don’t pretend it’s just about him.
Although your interpretations of reality are meaningless in your divided state, His (the HS interpretations of a call for love) remain consistently true. He gives them to you because they are for you. To fail to recognize a call for help is to refuse help (yourself). Would you maintain that you do not need it? Yet this is what you are maintaining when you refuse to recognize a brother’s appeal, for only by answering his appeal can you be helped. Deny him your help and you will not recognize God’s Answer to you. The Holy Spirit does not need your help in interpreting motivation, but you do need His.
Do not attempt to “help” a brother in your way, for you cannot help yourself. But hear his call for the Help of God, and you will recognize your own need (your own call) for the Father.
7 Your interpretations of your brother’s needs are your interpretation of yours. By giving help you are asking for it, and if you perceive but one need in yourself you will be healed. For you will recognize God’s Answer as you want It to be, and if you want It in truth, It will be truly yours. Every appeal you answer in the Name of Christ brings the remembrance of your Father closer to ‘your’ awareness. For the sake of ‘your’ need, then, hear every call for help as what it is, so God can answer ‘you’. (Text p. 216)
3) Asking HS help to find a parking place…
or whatever it is we think we need as a physical/psychological entity. Jesus tell us that it is ok to ask for specifics in the world, but we don’t want to stop with just that kind of asking. Our prayers need to evolve as we move in our awareness from the body level to the mind level as mentioned above…
These references, and many other insightful looks at what prayer is, and what prayer isn’t, are in the Song of Prayer pamphlet and its in-depth discussion on “Prayer”:
(p.3, par.2) These forms of prayer, or asking out of need, always involve feelings of weakness and inadequacy, and could never be made by a Son of God who knows Who he is… Yet it is also true that no one who is uncertain of his Identity could pray in these forms…
(p. 2, par.4) The secret of true prayer (eventually) is to forget the things you think you need. To ask for the specific is much the same as to look on sin and then forgive it. Also in the same way, in prayer you overlook your specific needs as you see them, and let them go into God’s hands. There they become your gifts to Him, for they tell Him you would have no other God’s before Him; no Love but His.
Can this be traded for a bit of trifling advice about a problem of an instant’s duration?
Prayer should not be confused with supplication of any kind, because it is a way of remembering your holiness… There is nothing to ask because there is nothing left to want. (Song of Prayer p. 2-3)
In our experience of prayer as maturing Course students, the prayer that Jesus asks us to pray the most in the Course is some version of this request… Holy Spirit, please help me see that person or situation the way You do, and please help me have the willingness to see all our true innocence as God’s One Son, beyond the others’ seeming sins and wrongdoings… and my own.
It is to be willing to hear Jesus and our brother say: “Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.” (Les.# 161)
What the world think of as forgiveness isn’t really forgiveness. It’s what the Course calls forgiveness-to-destroy. We don’t forgive a brother for what he or she did, but we learn to let go (forgive) our own believing that what they did was responsible for our pain. Jesus tell us …”do not set forgiveness in an earthly frame.”
The true source of any pain we are feeling and reacting to, is the pain of pushing God away and believing that we separated from Him in our minds. We don’t deny that we actually believe others are responsible for hurting us, but we ask for Jesus help to see that their innocence and ours is still intact (in spite of our internal guilt for believing we could separate from source, and then projecting that guilt onto our brothers.)
For a complete understanding of true forgiveness compared to forgiveness-to-destroy (with specific examples of what each looks like), see Song of Prayer Supplement, #2. Forgiveness, sections I, II, and III (p.9-15).
Here is par. 4 on p. 10:
As prayer is always for yourself, so is forgiveness always given you. It is impossible to forgive another, for it is only your sins you see in him. You want to see them there and not in you.That is why forgiveness of another is an illusion… Only in someone else can you forgive yourself, for you have called him guilty of your sins, and in him must your innocence now be found….do not ever think you can see sin in anyone (ultimately) except yourself.
5) The “I” in… “I need do nothing.”
When we hear that phrase quoted so often by Course students, we immediately tend to think of it in terms of behavior as a body with a psychological personality. What do you mean I need do nothing? What about working and eating and basically just surviving? If I did nothing I would die…
That line is the title of section VII in Chapter 18 “The Passing of The Dream.” (p.388) It comes just after the section called “Beyond The Body.” Jesus is trying to shift our body identification to an awareness of our selves as minds (and to stop insisting that we are weak helpless entities, victimized and plagued by all kinds of things.) The “I,” that he is addressing in ‘I need do nothing,’ is that part of our mind that is constantly choosing between the ego (separation and sin) or the Holy Spirit (forgiveness: letting separation go). He’s reminding us that our true reality in heaven as God’s One Innocent Son is an already done deal, and all we have to “do” is stop pretending it isn’t.
I need do nothing to be holy. I don’t have to do all my workbook lessons perfectly, or take the right vitamins, or make the planet a better place to live, in order to have salvation. Jesus is not telling us not to do those things, but he’s letting us know he didn’t go anywhere because of what we did or didn’t do. He didn’t leave us (as the picture “Footprints in the Sand” points out). We simply keep trying to believe we left him, and then blame him for abandoning us..
This is not a Course about Love, but it is a Course about letting go of our blocks to our awareness of love’s presence (Text Introduction, p.1)… that is, letting go of all our judgements about others and ourselves. Then, realizing we’re really minds with Jesus by our side, we continue to do what we do everyday as bodies….eat, sleep, work, play… but without all the guilt and all the taking ourselves so seriously.
Stay tuned for more to come on the remaining five mistakes….
And so, do you agree… what’s your top ten?