ACIM Workbook Daily Lesson 190, Year 2022

ACIM Daily Lesson 190. I choose the joy of God instead of pain. 

I choose the joy of God instead of pain. ACIM Lesson 190

I choose the joy of God instead of pain. 

ACIM Lesson 190

Lesson 190

I choose the joy of God instead of pain. 

1. Pain is a wrong perspective. ²When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception. ³It is not a fact at all. ⁴There is no form it takes that will not disappear if seen aright. ⁵For pain proclaims God cruel. ⁶How could it be real in any form? ⁷It witnesses to God the Father’s hatred of His Son, the sinfulness He sees in him, and His insane desire for revenge and death. 

Jesus starts off by telling us straight up that pain is not real but is just a wrong perception. If we choose to see with the Holy Spirit rather than with the ego, all pain in whatever form it takes disappears. I thought about the forms that pain takes. If my child is hurt, I hurt so that is mental pain. If my back hurts that is physical pain. If someone hurts my feelings, that is emotional pain.  

Pain Is Not a Fact

Pain is not a fact, but merely a wrong perspective. This means that I am seeing something wrong and pain will disappear if I change my perspective. In fact, Jesus emphasizes this when he says that there is no form it takes that will not disappear if seen aright. The reason we can know that pain is not real is that for it to be real, God would have to be cruel.

I bet that many people who have had extreme pain or chronic pain have thought that God must think him guilty and is punishing his Son for his sins. I knew a woman who had many physical challenges and suffered a lot of pain for most of her life. She believed that this was her plight because of some sin, if not actually on her part, then because man is inherently sinful.

She tried to appease God by offering her pain as a sacrifice to Him in hopes of a reward after death. If she is right, then God is indeed, cruel and awful. Is it more likely, she is seeing things from the wrong perspective? Could she have watched her pain disappear if she had been willing to see this differently? Jesus says that this is exactly what would have happened.

Pain Is Witness to the Son’s Mistakes

2. Can such projections be attested to? ²Can they be anything but wholly false? ³Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is. ⁴It is a dream of fierce retaliation for a crime that could not be committed; for attack on what is wholly unassailable. ⁵It is a nightmare of abandonment by an Eternal Love, which could not leave the Son whom It created out of love. 

Jesus is telling us that when we experience pain, and he is not making a difference between the forms and degrees pain can take, it is part of our dream, not reality. We are having this fierce dream because we believe we are guilty of leaving God and He has retaliated by abandoning us in return. Neither is possible. We, being the Sons of God are created unassailable and God is Eternal Love, and Love does not abandon what it creates.

Pain is a Sign Illusions Reign

3. Pain is a sign illusions reign in place of truth. ²It demonstrates God is denied, confused with fear, perceived as mad, and seen as traitor to Himself. ³If God is real, there is no pain. ⁴If pain is real, there is no God. ⁵For vengeance is not part of love. ⁶And fear, denying love and using pain to prove that God is dead, has shown that death is victor over life. ⁷The body is the Son of God, corruptible in death, as mortal as the Father he has slain. 

We are using pain to prove that God is not God and we are not His Son. The apparent existence of pain proves that God is not Love because vengeance is not part of love. It also proves that we are not eternal because only in a body can we experience pain of any sort, and so if we are in pain, we must be the body. We must be corruptible. Pain demonstrates that God is cruel and out to punish us for our sins. It demonstrates that we are abandoned by God. It proves that illusions reign in place of truth.  

That is what the world represents, a place where we can go to let illusions be the truth. Then Jesus makes an uncompromising statement. He says that ³If God is real, there is no pain. ⁴If pain is real, there is no God. Pain is our way of abandoning God, of annihilating Him. No wonder we have so much hidden guilt and so much fear of God. We think we have destroyed Him and He has risen from His ashes to take revenge. It is absurd, as Jesus tells us in the next paragraph.


4. Peace to such foolishness! ²The time has come to laugh at such insane ideas. ³There is no need to think of them as savage crimes, or secret sins with weighty consequence. ⁴Who but a madman could conceive of them as cause of anything? ⁵Their witness, pain, is mad as they, and no more to be feared than the insane illusions which it shields, and tries to demonstrate must still be true. 

The insane illusion which pain shields is the belief we have forever altered God and taken over as our own creator, making of ourselves something mortal and corruptible. And we are therefore guilty and deserving of pain and death. What does Jesus say to this premise? He tells us it is so ridiculous that we should be laughing at it, not taking it seriously.

The irony in today’s lesson for me is that I have developed chronic pain. But I don’t waste situations like that. I use them to remind myself of the truth. Pain didn’t just happen and I am not a victim of it. I also remember that I am not guilty that I did this to myself. It is all part of believing in the insane and is just confusion about who I am. 

I remind myself frequently that pain is not real. I also refuse to think about pain because that just reinforces my belief in it. If I become aware of the thought of pain and the sensation of pain, I just notice it. If I don’t think about it and wonder what it means and worry it will get worse, it goes away.

Thoughts Alone Cause Pain

5. It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. ²Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. ³There is no cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression. ⁴No one but yourself affects you. ⁵There is nothing in the world that has the power to make you ill or sad, or weak or frail. ⁶But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are. ⁷As you perceive the harmlessness in them, they will accept your holy will as theirs. ⁸And what was seen as fearful now becomes a source of innocence and holiness. 

This is the paragraph that gets right to the point. Up until now, Jesus has been leading us to understand that we are doing this to ourselves. He has been showing us that we are only punishing ourselves because we mistakenly believe we have affected Reality with our little games of separation and that we deserve to be punished.

No One but Yourself Affects You

Now he is telling us outright that the only cause of pain is our thoughts. Let me repeat that. “It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain.” Nothing outside of us can cause us pain. Not the cruel words of someone who is supposed to love us. Not the abandonment of the special love in our life. Not the loss of financial support. Not the death of a loved one. Not any illness or accident. It is only our thoughts that cause us pain. “No one but yourself affects you.”

If you are paying attention to this, it might seem like Jesus just pulled the rug out from under you when you think of it. Shoot, the very foundation on which you stand as a self-created body begins to dissolve right from under you. Pain, in which Jesus seems to include all forms of suffering even unto death, is a thought in our mind.

You Choose Pain

Germs didn’t make you sick, rather you made germs as an agent to bring about suffering in a way that allows you to feel like a helpless victim of a cruel and vengeful God. Pain is not the inevitable consequence of loss, but a state you choose for yourself because you believe you are a sinner and deserve to suffer.

There are no accidents to mangle your body. They are carefully arranged illusions to prove once again how unworthy and unloved you truly are, how abandoned by your God, and how real is the fragile and vulnerable little self you have made to replace the eternal Spirit that you were created to be.

It Is You Who Have the Power

The ego, however, looks at this as bad news and resists it. From the ego perspective, pain is a small price to pay to save me from God and to keep our little play going. It does not want me to know that I but do this to myself as Jesus keeps telling me. It wants me to believe in my victimhood so that I keep the battle going, holding onto my grievances and attacking in defense of this body image I think of as me.  

Jesus answers this ego thinking with this. ⁶But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are. ⁷As you perceive the harmlessness in them, they will accept your holy will as theirs. If that statement doesn’t affect you in a profound way, you may need to go back and read it again. Throughout the Course, Jesus gives us clues as to who we really are. When I hear them, I feel the truth vibrate through me. We are the Sons of God! We are part of God. Accept this, know this, and pain becomes impossible.

The following sentences are our way out, our very salvation, and just as we made this insane illusion, we can choose to return to reality. Here is what Jesus tells us.

The World Does Nothing

6. My holy brother, think of this awhile: The world you see does nothing. ²It has no effects at all. ³It merely represents your thoughts. ⁴And it will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want. ⁵Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever. ⁶And would you deny a little corner of your mind its own inheritance, and keep it as a hospital for pain; a sickly place where living things must come at last to die? 

Jesus tells us in the Course that everything we see with our eyes is just images that represent what we want to believe. Our thoughts cause the world, not the other way around. He tells us plainly that when our thoughts change the world changes, too. As we accept who we are, we experience the world differently. I know that this is my present experience.  

He tells us that ⁵Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever. And then encourages us not to keep a little corner of our mind as a hospital for pain where all living things come to die. It’s good news that it is only happening in a little corner of the mind and that we can stop making it happen. 

The World is Causeless

7. The world may seem to cause you pain. ²And yet the world, as causeless, has no power to cause. ³As an effect, it cannot make effects. ⁴As an illusion, it is what you wish. ⁵Your idle wishes represent its pains. ⁶Your strange desires bring it evil dreams. ⁷Your thoughts of death envelop it in fear, while in your kind forgiveness does it live. 

If I were to paint a picture of a wedding scene in which two people are experiencing a joyful moment, that picture would be the effect of my imagination. It would remain frozen in time, never to be anything but what it is. As an effect of my imagination, it cannot become a sad picture or a tragic picture. Effects don’t have their own effects; they cannot cause anything. This is what I think of when Jesus talks about the world being causeless. The world is like that picture I paint; it is what I make of it and it cannot add to itself or make itself different.

Pain Is the Thought of Evil Taking Form

8. Pain is the thought of evil taking form, and working havoc in your holy mind. ²Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid not to be free. ³In pain is God denied the Son He loves. ⁴In pain does fear appear to triumph over love, and time replace eternity and Heaven. ⁵And the world becomes a cruel and a bitter place, where sorrow rules and little joys give way before the onslaught of the savage pain that waits to end all joy in misery. 

These two paragraphs describe what is happening in our minds as we continue to deny our true Identity. He starts by saying that The world may seem to cause you pain. ²And yet the world, as causeless, has no power to cause. Think about the world as a large screen on which movies are played. If you don’t like what is happening in the movie, you don’t blame the screen nor do you run up to the screen and try to change what you see there.  

The World As a Screen

This is the way I see the world, just a screen, an effect of our desire to experience unreality. I cannot change what is on the screen, but as the projector of all I see, I can effect real change. I change my mind and the story changes. This is why Jesus goes to so much trouble to reinforce how awful the stories really are so that we will realize we don’t want to watch them anymore. Until that happens, nothing changes. 

What thoughts are so important to us that we would pay the ransom of pain in order to keep them? Often it is the belief that we need to right. I’m astounded at I used to believe that being right seemed so necessary. When I see that thought in my mind these days, I laugh it away. Another reason I have noticed is fear, The ego insists that fear keeps us safe. I refuse to believe that anymore. It is absurd. And how we treasure the idea of judgment as if judgment is power when it is really suffering.

We have a Teacher who will help us see everything differently if we only ask. We do not have to be subjugated by our wrong-minded thoughts. We do not have to suffer pain. Pain is a sign that we are sleeping. It’s time to wake up!  It’s time to remember who we are and to accept our holiness.

Lay Down Your Arms

9. Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven’s peace holds all things still at last. ²Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. ³Let no attack enter with you. ⁴Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness. 

10. Here will you understand there is no pain. ²Here does the joy of God belong to you. ³This is the day when it is given you to realize the lesson that contains all of salvation’s power. ⁴It is this: Pain is illusion; joy, reality. ⁵Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening. ⁶Pain is deception; joy alone is truth. 

We are being invited to sink into our holy mind to find God and rest there awhile allowing the split to be healed. In this quiet, still place of absolute Love, we are given the space to heal. Reading all of this and accepting responsibility for our plight, we can easily fall into guilt if we don’t do this with the Holy Spirit. We can start to feel overwhelmed with the sheer scope of the problem if we forget that it is not our job to heal ourselves. That is the function of the Holy Spirit. Our part is to show up with as much willingness to relinquish our confused beliefs as we can and to accept His gift of a healed mind.

The Only choice

11. And so again we make the only choice that ever can be made; we choose between illusions and the truth, or pain and joy, or hell and Heaven. ²Let our gratitude unto our Teacher fill our hearts, as we are free to choose our joy instead of pain, our holiness in place of sin, the peace of God instead of conflict, and the light of Heaven for the darkness of the world. 

Again, Jesus is telling us that we can make another choice right here right now. My personal experience is that I have made many different decisions over a period of time, and that is ok. I extended my suffering in doing so, but I was always doing the best I could and I am still doing that now. I have reached a level that has brought me a lot of peace and happiness and I no longer believe I am this body and that judgment and attack are ever justified.  

I keep cleaning up the mind and enjoying the benefits of doing so. I look forward to the day that I let go of the idea of a separate me and do so completely. That is why I am here and why you are here as well. We are here to let go of the belief in separation once and for all. What will it bring us? What is the outcome of a healed mind? All pain and suffering will end, we will know joy and unending peace; we will know our holiness. 


I feel like I am whispering a great secret that most of the world does not want to know, a secret for which I can be slain, when I say:

You do not have to suffer.

There have been several times when friends were suffering, and I tried to help by letting them know they could let go of the idea that caused their suffering. Each time my friends have retaliated with attack. It was as if I was attacking them when I let them know how easy it is to be free of suffering, and so they attacked back.

I suppose I was attacking them. I was attacking their attachment to suffering without realizing how much they still wanted it. It was like trying to take a worn out stuffed animal from a child before the child is ready to give it up.

You may think you don’t love suffering, but are you sure you’re right? The best way to find out is to answer this question for yourself: Do you suffer over anything ever? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then you are still clinging to that worn out toy.

Just like everyone else, I used to believe that suffering was the natural outcome of certain circumstances. Gradually I let go of that idea. The final stronghold for me was the belief that I had to suffer because of extreme physical pain. I came to see even that is not true. All suffering is caused by thought that we choose to believe, and there isn’t another cause of suffering at all.

Each time I pointed out to friends that they could let go of suffering, and they became angry with me, they always indicated that their form of suffering was special. Thiers was the special circumstance that validated suffering. This is a clue that points to a thought in the mind, a thought that this lesson is helping to uncover. The idea is that suffering is more real than God (than truth).

That belief is in your mind if you suffer. I know, because I uncovered it in my own mind. The ego clings to that idea, because that idea protects the ego thought system. It seems to confirm that the ego thought system is truth, and the teachings about truth are merely idle fantasy. The worn out toy that you cling to when you suffer is the false self.

Here are a few things that today’s lesson says about the choice to suffer:

  • “Pain is a wrong perspective.”
  • “Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is.
  • “Pain is a sign illusions reign in place of truth.”
  • “It is your thoughts alone that cause pain.”
  • “There is no cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression.”
  • “No one but yourself affects you.”
  • “The world may seem to cause you pain. And yet the world, as causeless, has no power to cause. As an effect, it cannot make effects. As an illusion, it is what you wish.”
  • “Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid not to be free.”
  • “Pain is illusion; joy is reality.”
  • “Pain is deception; joy alone is truth.”

The attachment to suffering is a deeply held attachment. This is why my friends felt attacked when I pointed out they did not have to suffer. If you’d like to be free of that attachment, here’s what you can do:

When you suffer, look to see if you can see your choice to suffer. The choice could be a very simple decision. It could be as simple as the decision, “I can not be happy with this.” Look for what you believe must be different.

As you look for your choice to suffer, you may find several little things that you can change your mind about when you see them. For example, you might be able to quickly let go of the idea that you have to suffer if it’s too hot, or if the husband is late to dinner, or if there is traffic on the highway, etcetera. Each little change of mind is important, because you are reversing the decision to cling to suffering.

Either now or eventually, you will come to the choice to suffer itself. This will appear as a belief, something that you took as absolutely true. It may feel impossible to let go of it when you see it. My recommendation is that you acknowledge it as a belief rather than a truth, and give your willingness for it to be healed. Let grace take care of the rest.

In other words, demonstrate your willingness to let go of the belief in suffering by changing your mind with the little things, and give your willingness with the apparent bigger things. This is how the attachment to suffering will be undone.

To enjoy the Pathways of Light Insights on ACIM Lesson 190 click here.

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