ACIM Chapter 6. V. C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom, P 7, 8. The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the center, where God placed the altar to Himself.
ACIM Chapter 6. V. C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom, P 7, 8
C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom, P7
7 The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the center, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.
Right now, we are learning to distinguish between the untrue beliefs in the mind and the beliefs that are in alignment with truth. Ultimately, we are being guided to a place beyond belief because belief implies question, and what is of God is not questionable. As long as there is still doubt and uncertainty in the mind, we will continue our vigilance on behalf of God, allowing our mind to be healed of all ego beliefs.
You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.
I have been watching my mind very consistently for several years now, and I am good at it. I more often than not catch the ego thoughts before they take hold, and it is in catching them quickly that I am able to release them with relative ease. Still, there are some ego beliefs that are harder for me to release than others. This is because I still believe in them and because I still value them.
I’m re-reading Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, and I like his description of the process we go through with our thoughts. What I learned from reading his chapter on clinging (clinging to a thought) is this. Thousands of thoughts pass through our mind, and most of them go unnoticed. Michael Singer says, “Now let one object stand out above the rest. It catches your attention and draws the focus of your awareness. You immediately realize that the more focused you become on the object, the slower it moves. Until, eventually, if you focus on it enough, it stops. The force of the consciousness ends up holding the object stable simply by concentrating on it.”
When the thought stops, and we give it our full attention we can get so involved in it that we forget everything else. This is like being in a movie theater and becoming so interested in the movie, so involved in the drama and the characters that we no longer notice the seat, the temperature, or the people around us. That has happened to me and so I can relate to the idea.
I can lose all perspective when I narrow my focus to a particular thought.
I can forget what I know to be true while focusing on a different belief, but only if that belief is meaningful to me. Sometimes I have thoughts about being lonely and wishing that I was in a relationship. Those thoughts might catch my attention, but only momentarily. They slow down while I think about them, but they don’t stop because I don’t have a lot of interest in them.
On the other hand, if I notice a thought about one of my children being upset about something, I will nearly always give it my attention. It slows down on its passage through my mind, and I think about the implications of their problem. If I narrow my focus enough, that is, if I continue to look at all the ego thoughts around the situation, and if I believe those thoughts, I will obsess about the problem until I can think of nothing else. Maybe I will try to think of solutions. Maybe I will become sad or fearful. It used to be very hard to pull myself out of this.
Here is what I usually do now.
I notice the thought that my child is upset, which grabs my attention. As I consider the ramifications, it slows down, and more thoughts show up. I notice the feelings that are invoked by these thoughts and now the thought has stopped completely and my focus is narrowing to this one thing. I started thinking of ways I could help them with advice I could give. At the same time, I have been practicing mind-watching because I have a strong desire to be healed. And because I am learning to be more vigilant for God than for the ego, I make a decision to let that thought go on by.
Certainly, the longer I hold onto the thought and the narrower my focus the harder it will be to shake it off, and that is why vigilance is important. As soon as I notice what I am doing, I ask the Holy Spirit for another thought. I ask that He help me to see this differently. Recently, when this happened, I was reminded of a passage from A Thousand Names for Joy, in which Byron Katie talks about her children. She says this:
“Why would I give my children advice when I can’t possibly know what’s best for them? If what they do brings them happiness, that’s what I want; if it brings them unhappiness, that’s what I want, because they learn from that what I could never teach them.”
I desire healing more than I desire to cling to my ego thoughts.
Because I do, I received an answering thought as a memory of what I read in this book. This thought is closer to the truth than the one that said I should be anxious for my child and that I should advise her on her problem. With this new thought, it was easy to let the old one go on by. This is the way in which I am vigilant for God and return my mind to the center. It is the way I protect my mind. When I am fully certain that I want only the thoughts I think with God, I will be ready to go beyond belief.
8 C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom, 8
8 To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.
I started contemplating this lesson by asking if there is someone in my life I don’t want to think of as part of me, someone I don’t want to teach. A person was brought to mind, and I was shown that I resist this person because he is very competitive, and this triggers in me the competitive nature within myself that remains unhealed. I find it very unpleasant to be reminded of this in myself so I resent him for showing it to me.
Of course, the ego’s solution is to avoid the one who triggers me.
The ego will always want to fix the inner problem by seeing it outside me and fixing it there. The Holy Spirit’s solution is to heal the belief I compete with my brother and that I need to win, and winning means he loses. All I have to do to have this healing is to stop defending my belief, which in this case means stop hiding it from myself and pretending it isn’t there. The Holy Spirit says to bring it into the light, and He will undo it for me.
I don’t want this barrier between me and this brother of mine. Nor do I want it to keep me from any other brother. As long as I hold onto the belief that I am in competition with others, I will exclude parts of the Sonship and so will not teach Wholeness because I don’t believe in it. With all my heart, I want this belief to be undone because I want to know who I am, not as a concept, but to know it, to be it. I ask for and accept the Atonement for this. I open my mind to seeing any exceptions that I make so that I can take it to Wholeness and ask for healing.
The Sonship is One, it is Whole.
Nothing I believe can change that. But my belief does affect me. ⁵What you believe is true for you. (ACIM, T-2.VII.5:5). Jesus has convinced me that there is only One. I don’t understand this and don’t know how this works, but I accept that it is true. But when I am not vigilant for the truth in my mind, the mind reverts to separation thinking again.
Then I start thinking that my brother is my enemy and I must defend myself against him. I can’t teach Wholeness if I think I am separate from him, and what I teach I learn. This puts me right back into the endless cycle of separation thinking. So I have lost sight of the truth of my being. I am not being vigilant for the truth in order to keep the truth true. Rather, I am being vigilant against the illusions so that I remember only the truth.
The years of practice have convinced me that the Course is simple.
Awakening is simple. So, I have been simplifying my practice wherever possible. In the workbook, beginning with Lesson 1, Jesus tells us that what we see does not mean anything. Nothing I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] means anything. (ACIM, W-1) He tells us that we give everything we see all the meaning it has for us. I have given everything I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] all the meaning that it has for me. (ACIM, W-2) By Lesson 10 he tells us that this is true for our thoughts as well.
Thus, when I am in a situation that feels difficult for me or scary, I can know this one thing. How I see it is up to me. For instance, recently, I was in extreme pain and didn’t know why. I was guided to go to the emergency room, and so I did. Tests showed that the problem was my gall bladder and that it had to be removed.
I could have been afraid, but I wasn’t. I was even aware of the ego thought that I should be afraid. And at the same time, I realized that I wasn’t afraid. When the thought that I should be afraid arose in my mind, I knew this was an evaluation made by the split mind. I also knew that I didn’t really know that I should be afraid. Done as simply as possible, I asked the Holy Spirit what I should think. I was left with a feeling of peace. This was how I was to think of the situation.
The truth is that I don’t know what anything means or how I should think of it.
I don’t even know where I am or how I got here. How am I supposed to make good decisions under these conditions? The solution is to turn to the Holy Spirit, Who was created for this very purpose. The Holy Spirit will bring me to complete integration by always choosing truth and never choosing illusion. Thus, He will prepare me for God. I need only choose not to decide for myself. I make it as simple as possible by asking in every situation what I should think. Then I watch for the desire to decide on my own what to think, and I change my mind.
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