Ask: Can I love and respect nature and still be serious about ACIM?

“...I have always felt a tremendous affinity to the Native American ways and their utter respect for a great Spirit and as keepers of the earth planet. So, here is the "angst" for me...I am clear that ACIM is my primary path, but the connection to the earth, animal totems, etc really speak to me. Yet, I know from the ACIM perspective, there is no world and the emphasis isn't on saving something that isn't "there". Natives saw "spirit" in everything...trees, mountains, streams, corn, buffalo. Is it compatible to have and tend the "love and respect of natural beauty" and be a serious student of ACIM?  I remember Ken W saying that frustration with inanimate things was as significant as anything else. Clearly, I'm confusing some things here...” – KL

            Your desire to love and to respect the natural world would only be incompatible with your study of A Course in Miracles if it prevented you from being aware that the Truth is in your mind, not in the world of form. As you grow in your awareness of Truth the self will still have its personality. It will still have its preferences, its interests, its likes and dislikes, etc. These are neutral, or without meaning in themselves. What changes is you stop looking to these to be your “salvation” (source of wholeness, happiness, peace).
            When one is in nature they often allow their mind to process out its thoughts and they become aware of the quiet Truth (Spirit) beyond all the thoughts. They experience peace. Sometimes they project the source of this peace onto nature. They feel that nature brought them the feeling, rather than that they felt something within that they then projected onto nature.
            Also, when you quiet your mind you slow down its processes and you can become aware of the unity, or one mind (what ACIM calls the “Son of God”), behind all forms. Ancient cultures did not have the distractions that we have today. They lived and worked in abundant quiet. So they tended to be very aware of this unity, as well as of cause and effect at the level of form. At first this unity was conceived of as many gods. Later it was conceived of as one god. But the True Being that ACIM calls “God” transcends the one mind that projects the universe of form. God is not responsible for the universe of form and has nothing to do with it. So what you have to sort out is your experience of God (True Being) within from your awareness of the unity of the universe of form.

This sorting out of Truth from illusion is really the whole process ACIM leads you into. There are many illusory experiences that have been labeled “spiritual” by the world that really have nothing to do with Truth. Confusing them keeps you in guilt so sorting out Truth and illusion is essential if you want to be at peace.

Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at
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will said…
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Eve said…
Hi Liz,

This is so wonderfully illustrated and I wish to commend you on that beautiful expression of wisdom in your response. It is very eloquently spoken.

Many Blessings in Oneness,
craigleavitt said…
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will said…
Of all the things I have struggled to understand in the Course, what Extension means and how to do it has been the most difficult. The block to this has been relentless. When I try to find out what it is and how to practice it in the text it has been very illusive. I can repeat the words of explanation that the Course gives but there is no depth of understanding there. This morning during quiet time I was reading on page 134 of Liz's Message of A Course in Miracles and this caught my eye,

"This is your one responsibility because once you do look at what the personal mind is doing you will accept correction of your perception of separation from God. You will look on your error of believing that when you look on others you are seeing something out side your mind and you will make it a holy encounter with your Self instead by extending God's Love in place of the personal mind's projections."
(P.Text 142-143)

So if I understand this correctly, when I 'step back' in my mind and watch it thinking extension is happening through the Holy Spirit. When I am with another person and I 'step back' in my mind and look at the person as well Extension is taking place. There is more depth to what is happening but I finally have my foot in the door.
ACIM Mentor said…
"Extension" and "projection" are the same mechanism only "projection" is "extension" plus denial.

Think of extending your arm. Your arm is still attached to you when you extend it. But if you were "projecting" your arm you would deny that it is still your arm reaching outward.

So when you "extend" God you are recognizing God within you and choosing to look from God within you on the world. You know that this is coming from your mind. But from the ego you "project" away your thoughts but you deny that they are your thoughts. They seem like something outside of you.

So you can "step back" away from your projections of meaning on the world and turn inward to God instead. And then from this awareness extend your awareness of God instead by choosing to look on the world from your awareness of God.
will said…
Thinking about extension I think part of my problem is I have a deep core belief in projection and belief in myself as a human. My core belief (or awareness) of being a spiritual being is still weak.
will said…
I think another difficulty with extension as well as the practice and learning of the whole Course is the confusion of mind, brain, personal mind, split mind. As the text is explaining what is going on it is switching between sources, between the brain, the mind etc. without clarification of which one it is referring to. I think half of the confusion and difficulty comes from this. Something like (B) or (M) or (PM)for brain or mind or personal mind by each reference would sure make conceptualizing the Course a lot easier. My interest right now is trying to find a way of breaking down the core principles of the Course into the simplest language possible so a person doesn't have to spend years trying to understand instead of practicing.
ACIM Mentor said…
You are mind. The brain is a part of the body. The body is an idea in your mind. The ego (personal mind in PLACIM) is a thought system in your mind about you as a body.

I came to the awareness that I am mind by attending to what was occurring in my mind in any situation that disturbed my peace. I saw how all of my experiences of peace or conflict come from my own thoughts and beliefs, not from anything outside of my mind. I wasn't seeking for the awareness that I am mind. It came organically through this practice.
will said…
So extension for you in this case "attending to what was occurring in my mind," attending means looking at what was occurring in your mind? Were you doing anything else while you were doing this like talking to the Holy Spirit or saying a prayer. I think a concern of mine and I suspect others is that they are doing all that is required, like sincerity, focus on the Holy Spirit, that kind of stuff.
ACIM Mentor said…
Think of "extending" as "growing". Extending is about growing my awareness of Truth. So I choose to let go of the ego's projection of meaning onto someone or some situation and to look at them or it with the Holy Spirit instead. The "Holy Spirit" is simply my awareness of Truth.

"Attending" means "paying attention to" or "looking at". Yes, I do this with the Holy Spirit. This means that I look at the thoughts in my mind without judging them as good or bad or right or wrong. Just notice my thoughts and how they lead to what I feel - peace or conflict. If they lead to guilt and fear I know I am thinking with the ego. If they lead to release from guilt and fear I know I am thinking with the Holy Spirit.
will said…
For the first Years I put my effort completely into 'figuring out' what the Course was saying. Without a lot of progress. Learning the Course through the ego is a rough and probably unavoidable journey in itself. I was studying the Course two to three hours a night, not every night but a lot, for years when you, Liz, wrote something about the importance of practicing the Course. I remember thinking practice?? Practice what? Is there something I'm supposed to be doing? You can't own up to this because you know everyone else in the entire world of studying the Course has already been practicing (what?). So I thought it best to lie low and try to figure it out (with the ego). I want to put in a quote from Joel Goldsmith that I ran across last night.

"Failure to heal is the result of much mis-knowledge of the truth about God, man, idea, and body, and this mis-knowledge stems primarily from orthodox religious beliefs which have not been rooted out of our thought. Few realize to what extent they are blinded by superstitious orthodoxy."
The Infinite Way, 1947

This is in no way an attack on religion as Goldsmith was very religious at one time and uses the Bible to illustrate many of his thoughts. But I was raised orthodox catholic and the amount of guilt you were taught in how to approach God was a lot.

In any case when you start to practice the Course on your own, inside your head, it gets ugly real fast. Not only is there no reinforcement on doing it right there is a constant barrage from the ego on how your screwing up. And the truth is there is no clear cut, step by step, understandable explanation out there on how to practice (in your head) and how to recognize ego attacks. It needs to be so broken down, simplified, that even words like attending have to be explained. But the pay off for people studying the Course could be immense.
ACIM Mentor said…
Some would say, Will, that ACIM or other writings do break it down, step by step. It's just you haven't found what's suited to the way your mind works. And I suspect you are plagued by doubt even when you do find the way.
Each mind is unique and that's why you must study with the Holy Spirit. It will lead the way for your mind. (Notice how the Workbook to ACIM leaves you with the Holy Spirit after a year of generic lessons).
will said…
Your right I am plagued by doubt, but that's what I am trying to address. Knowing your plagued by doubt (or anything else) may explain in words what is going on but the person in doubt is still left without simplified concrete instructions to back him up. Studying with the Holy Spirit sure doesn't mean your going to be able to hear the HS feedback, especially in the first five years. My paradigm for this is that time when all was confusion. But I think it is applicable to the student of ten years too.
will said…
In a way it is like the domino theory. If you are unable to understand the main concepts correctly, by the time you get to the place where your trying to do the Course in your head with the HS your on thin ice. I'm not so much talking about the lessons, but after a few years when you want to know how to bring illusion to truth... Consciously I don't think I got much understanding out of the lessons when I was doing them. Looking back it seems it was more about slowing the mind down in preparation for beginning studying. I'm just all for simple if possible. And yes I realize all this may just be me (but I doubt it:)
ACIM Mentor said…
Well, that's where mentoring like I do comes into play. A lot of what I do is validate my clients so they can get past doubt and move forward. We also discuss what tools and techniques work for them, what words in ACIM mean, how you recognize the Holy Spirit, etc. As I say at the top of my newsletter, Why be plagued by doubt or hard on yourself? There are people with more experience who can help you.
will said…
Your the best!
will said…
I am struggling with some of these things and have undoubtably projected that as the reality for every other person in the world...par for the Course.
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Anonymous said…
Hi! Really interesting article. The way it is explained to me is that it is perfectly OK to enjoy nature, as long as you keep aware that it is an illusion. Only when you make it real do you get into trouble, because then you will get attached to it. Thanks for your blog! Thijs Hottenhuis True Christianity Explained
Anonymous said…
With regard to the question: "Can I love and respect nature and still be serious about ACIM"
Why could one not "love and respect" anything or everything within the dream? Awareness of the dream is within the learning of ACIM. What Joy and Gratitude is "happy dreaming" Then when we forget the dream, we reach out to Holy Spirit to lead us to such awareness again:)

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