A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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Chapter 4: The Illusions of the Ego

Section I: Right Teaching and Right Learning

Read ACIM Chapter 4, Section I (page 53-56)

Why is change frightening?

Because we have joined with the ego thought system, we are in dire need of having our beliefs clarified or corrected. When we think our ideas are right, we are not open to change. Change brings up fear. Paragraph two explains why. When we believe we have separated from God, we believe we have lost God’s Love. This is frightening because fear is the absence of Love.

Since our first experience with change was the separation, we associate change with fear. So we believe that the way to find peace (avoid fear) is to not allow change. Yet this simply holds the ego and all its fear in place in our minds. To be relieved of fear, we need to undo the change that brought about the fear. We need to stop protecting the ego thought system. Jesus tells us, “If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.” (4:7)

Why are teaching and learning our greatest strengths?

Because Jesus experienced what it was like to believe in separation and let it go, he knows what we are experiencing. Like a sponsor in twelve step programs, he knows how to help us out of our addiction to the ego thought system. He knows how to lead us out it because he did it himself. Jesus tells us, “My lesson was like yours, and because I learned it I can teach it. I will never attack your ego, but I am trying to teach you how its thought system arose. When I remind you of your true creation, your ego cannot but respond with fear.” (3:4-6)

This helps us understand why we feel resistance to learning the lessons of the Course. Resistance can show up as drowsiness after reading just a few paragraphs, not wanting to pick up the book or being too busy with other things to spend time with mind healing work. This is because of the ego’s underlying fear of change.

As we become a good learner under Holy Spirit’s guidance, we are able to move past the destructive beliefs of the ego. As we move into right learning we move into right teaching because we need to teach what we are learning to strengthen these ideas in our own minds. “Teaching and learning are your greatest strengths now, because they enable you to change your mind and help others to change theirs.” (4:1) Letting our minds be changed by the Holy Spirit and be under His guidance becomes our one goal. This is what the Course calls forgiveness. Only through forgiveness is salvation from the dream possible. But in order to receive the correction from the Holy Spirit we need a little humility. We must not think that we know anything on our own. Of ourselves, we do not know how to find salvation.

The Course includes the Manual for Teachers, not because there are certain people to be designated as teachers, but because we all need to teach what we need to learn. Unless we share what we are learning, our learning will lack conviction. We need to understand how teaching works and that it is not a part time function. It is something we are doing all the time. What we teach depends upon what thought system we are aligning ourselves with, the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s.

Who establishes our worth?

If we feel inferior or superior, these thoughts are coming from the ego thought system. If we are feeling unworthy, this also is coming from the ego thought system and we will experience fear. God gave us His worth in our creation. This means our worth is His. What we are can never be lost because God created it. The ego is a delusion that does not really exist. Just because we believe in the ego, doesn’t mean we are the ego. We have chosen to dream a dream of separation, but we are not the dream. Our belief in the dream makes it seem real to us but that does not mean we have actually changed reality. Jesus tells us, “When you are afraid, be still and know that God is real, and you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. Do not let your ego dispute this, because the ego cannot know what is as far beyond its reach as you are.”(8:6-7)

Why does the ego thrive on fear?

The Course describes God as Love and nothing else. Since Love is the opposite of fear, God could not be the author of fear. God, being Love, extends only Love and because we are part of God, that is our function. When we choose a substitute for Love, we are rejecting Love, and fear is inevitable, since fear is Love’s opposite.

When we listen to the ego, we are listening to fear. The ego thrives on fear because it makes the thought system of separation, which is the ego, seem real and plausible. To continue to seem to exist, the ego needs our investment in fear.

When we choose to listen to Love instead of fear, we release ourselves from the limitations of the ego and release others as well. We leave the ego behind by seeing past the limited forms the ego has made as a substitute home for us. We see beyond the shadows to the Light that is the Love in everyone we meet. Instead of witnessing to the ego’s false perceptions, Jesus encourages us to, “Leave it behind! Do not listen to it and do not preserve it. Listen only to God, Who is as incapable of deception as is the spirit He created.” (10:3-5)

What happens when we move into the mindset of true perception?

True perception comes as we are willing to recognize the unimportance of the ego and the body, which is not our home. When we defend and try to hang on to the ego, we are defending weakness. As we are willing to lay the ego down, we move into our real source of strength. “The meek shall inherit the earth because their egos are humble, and this gives them truer perception.” (12:4)

As we move into a mindset of true perception, we recognize the shabbiness of the ego’s home and choose to listen to the Guide That leads us to our real Home. Because Jesus has identified wholly with the Love of God, we can trust him to guide us out of the ego’s thought system of fear. We go Home by choosing to no longer listen to the ego’s guidance and letting Love be our Guide instead.

This is what Jesus is offering us if we are willing to entrust our body and ego to him. He asks us to join with him to learn the lesson of the unimportance of the body and the ego. He tells us, “Let us undertake to learn this lesson together so we can be free of them together. I need devoted teachers who share my aim of healing the mind.” (13:6-7)

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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