Workbook Lesson 156, “I walk with God in perfect holiness” is a lesson in pure acceptance.
“Today’s idea but states the simple truth that makes the thought of sin impossible. It promises there is no cause for guilt and being causeless it does not exist. It follows surely from the basic thought so often mentioned in the text: ideas leave not their source. If this be true, how can you be apart from God? How could you walk the world alone and separate from your source?”
Jesus’ logic is indeed impeccable here, yet his initial premise “Ideas leave not their source”, does seem to require an existentialist leap of acceptance. Some people come to ACIM because of a visceral experience of Truth which entirely upends their entire life orientation. Most, however, find the course through other means and need to discover this Truth for themselves along the way. Their starting point therefore must be simple acceptance.
During my own periods of trial and tribulation, when the complexities of my life have seemed overwhelming, I confess I have accused Jesus of not caring about me. Worse yet, in dark states of ego-consciousness have accused him of enjoying my suffering. On one occasion I raged at him:
“You’ve locked me in a cage of death and pain and thrown away the key!”
Hours later, I was drawn to Tom Carpenter’s book, Dialogue on Awakening, and was amazed to read the following lines:
“Were it not so, then you must believe that God would have created you a prisoner. He would have created you locked in a cage of death and pain, and you know this is not so. The cage of pain and death are your miscreations merely by the perception within with which you viewed them. And your freedom lies in your decision to truly recognise yourself”.
I looked back quickly to see what the “it” was that Jesus was talking about. The “it” turned out to be my own perception, being quite out of alignment with reality. My perception of my life experience seems so real that it is compelling to assume it is real. This is ACIM’s great challenge of acceptance. All course students need to accept the foundational premise that “Ideas leave not their source”, or they will feel that they are locked in a cage of death and pain by God himself.
Rules for Decision states “This is your major problem now. You still make up your mind, and then decide to ask what you should do”. It took me a long time to understand what this meant. I always thought I’d gone to Holy Spirit with an entirely open mind, asking questions such as “Should I resign from work or stay?”, or “Should I move house and if so where?”. My lack of clear guidance always frustrated me, and I frequently felt trapped.
Eventually, after much suffering, I got it! As long as I made the problem real, the job, the house, the conflict itself, I was making up my mind in advance, and my perception was quite out of alignment with reality. As an experiment, I changed my prayer to “I perceive that I am experiencing conflict in terms of my workplace, yet I know this cannot be so in reality. How would you have me see this?” The problem still felt real enough, yet I accepted that it couldn’t be so in Truth. The results were amazing! This tiny shift in my awareness brought in very specific guidance and a deep sense of peace.
The end of Lesson 156 perfectly sums up the role of acceptance in awakening:
“Who walks with me? This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainly has ended doubting and established peace. Today let doubting cease. God speaks for you in answering your questions with these words.
‘I walk with God in perfect holiness. I light the world, I light my mind and all the minds that God created are one with me’”