Ask: Does Lesson 68 have it wrong?
“During our discussion (in the study group) of Lesson 68:’Love does not hold on to resentment’, you made it abundantly clear that you personally could not follow the part about seeing everyone as your friend because trying to do so made resentment even stronger. What mattered, you said, was being in Truth, so regardless how others showed up you would be at peace. And in the event that someone was so dysfunctional, you could set up a boundary and still be at peace. This made total sense to me and suited my own personality. What I can now take out of that lesson is to think how resentment disturbs my peace; how it reinforces my guilt and belief in a false god.
What hangs me up however, is that lesson 68 is quite clear when it tells us to see these others ‘as my friend’, when I know that doing so will be counterproductive. So I choose to ignore it. Is the Course wrong here? Where else does it give ‘bad’ advice? Are we free to pick and choose how to interpret it based on what feels comfortable?” – ES
A Course in Miracles is not “wrong” nor is it giving “bad” advice. This is a good example of what I mean when I say it is important to read spiritual material in context. And it is also a good example of why it is important to read spiritual material with the Holy Spirit (your awareness of Truth).
The context of ACIM is Helen Schucman’s mind and her relationships, particularly the one she had with Bill Thetford. Reading the Text and Workbook it is abundantly clear that she held onto a lot of dark thoughts about others. She was full of resentments and stories of victimhood. This seemed to be her primary issue in relationships with others. And it was the way her obstacles to peace showed up. She was being asked to be open to a new way of looking at others. Asking her to look at others as her friends rather than as her enemies probably worked well for the way her mind worked.
But it didn’t work that way for this mind. Focusing on seeing others in any way kept me in ego (the personal thought system). I tried for many, many years to apply ACIM as written and found it did not work. Finally, I said to hell with it. I was no longer going to try to “see Christ in others” or to forgive as ACIM teaches forgiveness (to see it is not real). It wasn’t working. I decided to focus on what did work for me: Communing with God daily and my companion-like relationship with the Holy Spirit. After focusing on these for a while, lo and behold, forgiveness came! Instead of seeing Christ (Truth) in others I found I could be aware of Christ’s Presence no matter how others were showing up. My awareness of Truth with me always led to my letting go of the ego and its world. It led to forgiveness.
When I was finally tired of stubbornly applying ACIM in a way that never worked for me I was open to the Holy Spirit giving me a new approach. The reason I wasn’t open earlier was because in guilt I was very rigid about ACIM. Like many students for a long time I thought doing ACIM right was the goal rather than that ACIM was simply an instrument that the Holy Spirit could use to reach me. If I’d understood that the Holy Spirit was the point I would’ve been a lot gentler with myself and brought my problems applying ACIM to the Holy Spirit much sooner.
You are always free to read ACIM however you want! There is no “right” way or “wrong” way to read it. But there are helpful and unhelpful ways to read it. You only have the choice of two teachers as you study: the ego or the Holy Spirit. I tried to apply ACIM with the ego for a very long time. The clues that I was studying with the ego were in how it wasn’t working and how my guilt increased with my sense of failure (not helpful). The ego is a rigid, judgmental teacher. The Holy Spirit is the Gentle Teacher. It will always help you find what works for you and It will never increase your guilt (helpful).
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 www.acimmentor.com.