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A COURSE IN MIRACLES Chapter 8 The Journey Back

II: The Difference Between Imprisonment and Freedom

  1. There is a rationale for choice. Only one Teacher knows what your reality is. If learning to remove the obstacles to that knowledge is the purpose of the curriculum, you must learn it of Him. The ego does not know what it is trying to teach. It is trying to teach you what you are without knowing what you are. It is expert only in confusion.  It does not understand anything else. As a teacher, then, the ego is totally confused and totally confusing. Even if you could disregard the Holy Spirit entirely, which is impossible, you could still learn nothing from the ego, because the ego knows nothing.
  2. Is there any possible reason for choosing a teacher such as this? Does the total disregard of anything it teaches make anything but sense? Is this the teacher to whom a Son of God should turn to find himself? The ego has never given you a sensible answer to anything. Simply on the grounds of your own experience with its teaching, should not this alone disqualify it as your future teacher? Yet the ego has done more harm to your learning then this alone. Learning is joyful if it leads you along your natural path and facilitates the development of what you have. When you are taught against your nature, however, you will lose by your learning because your learning will imprison you. Your will is in your nature, and therefore cannot go against it.
  3. The ego cannot teach you anything as long as your will is free because you will not listen to it. It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God who coerces you because He shares His will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit’s lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God’s cannot be out of accord because they are one. This is the undoing of everything the ego tries to teach. It is not, then, only the direction of the curriculum that must be unconflicted, but also the content.
  4. The ego tries to teach you that you want to oppose God’s Will. This unnatural lesson cannot be learned, and the attempt to learn it is a violation of your own freedom, making you afraid of your will because it is free. The Holy Spirit opposes any imprisoning of the will of a Son of God, knowing that the will of the Son is the Father’s. The Holy Spirit leads you steadily along the path of freedom, teaching you how to disregard or look beyond everything that would hold you back.
  5. We have said that the Holy Spirit teaches you the difference between pain and joy. That is the same as saying he teaches you the difference between imprisonment and freedom. You cannot make this distinction without Him because you have taught yourself that imprisonment is freedom. Believing them to be the same, how can you tell them apart? Can you ask the part of your mind that taught you to believe they are the same, to teach you how they are different?
  6. The Holy Spirit’s teaching takes only one direction and has only one goal. His direction is freedom, and his goal is God. Yet He cannot conceive of God without you because it is not God’s Will to be without you. When you have learned that your will is God’s, you could no more will to be without Him then He could will to be without you. This is freedom and this is joy. Deny yourself this and you are denying God His Kingdom because He created you for this.
  7. When I said, all power and glory are yours because the Kingdom is His, this is what I meant: The Will of God is without limit, and all power and glory lie within it. It is boundless in strength and in love and in peace. It has no boundaries because its extension is unlimited, and it encompasses all things because It created all things. By creating all things, It made them part of Itself. You are the Will of God because that is how you were created. Because your Creator creates only like Himself, you are like Him.  You are part of Him Who is all power and glory and are therefore as unlimited as He is.
  8. To what else except all power and glory can the Holy Spirit appeal to restore God’s Kingdom?  His appeal, then, is merely to what the Kingdom is, and for its own acknowledgement of what it is.  When you acknowledge this, you bring the acknowledgement automatically to everyone, because you have acknowledged everyone.  By your recognition you awaken theirs, and through theirs yours is extended.  Awakening runs easily and gladly throughout the Kingdom, in answer to the Call for God.  This is the natural response of every Son of God to the Voice for his Creator, because It is the Voice for His creations and for His own extension.[1]

In today’s text reading, Jesus tells us that there is a rationale for choice because only one Teacher can teach us truly.  There is the ego, expert only in confusion, and understanding nothing but confusion, and there is Holy Spirit – our one Teacher who does know what our reality is.

Learning fills us with happiness when what we learn follows our natural will and supports the unfolding of what we have and are.  Under the right Teacher we blossom, we look forward to our lessons, there is no fear, no trembling, no competition, or comparison when we learn with love, peace, and joy, by love, peace, and joy, to be love, peace, and joy. When we are taught against our natural attributes of love, peace, and joy our learning imprisons us and attempts to turn us against our very natures.  Instead of blossoming and unfolding into more of what we are, we shrivel, we shrink, we grow distressed and worried and full of doubt.

When our wills are loving, peaceful, and joyful, when our wills are free to be what they really are – the ego cannot teach us a thing because what it offers in exchange is meaningless to us.  Why would we choose its spite, meanness, and poverty of spirit?  Why would we choose its addictions and obsessions and drives for power, control, and dominance which is a denial of free will?  It is not God who takes our wills away from us for God shares His love, His peace, and His joy with us as our natural attributes.  This is what we are – God’s love, peace, and joy, and Holy Spirit teaches us that our will and God’s Will cannot be out of accord because we are God’s Will.  Knowing this frees us from the lies of the ego which have held us captive in fear of God, of ourselves, of each other and of all Creation.  It is not just the direction of the curriculum that must only point to peace for one and all, but also the content of the curriculum must offer peace for one and all.  Without a totally peaceful and loving content, our wills which are one with God’s, would be imprisoned in traps of learning what could never be.  We can study war, we can strategize battle plans, we can choose alliances, we can offer judgment and condemnation – but it will teach us nothing because nobody can learn under such duress.  Distress, sorrow, pain, and suffering is simply against our God-given nature.

Imprisoning the will is not the plan of Holy Spirit because He knows that the will of the Son and the Father are one.  This is how we were created and that is just the way it is.  Imprisoning the will of a Son of God is a lesson in futility for always, in the end, the will of the Son escapes the traps of illusion, lies, and fear.  Holy Spirit, with no coercion, no shame and guilt, no threats of dire punishment – leads us steadily along the path of freedom, showing us how to disregard or look beyond all that would hold us back.  This is how we learn to love, trust, obey, and appreciate the Holy Spirit as our one Teacher.  Always kind, logical, and respectful, using things that make sense and agree with our true natures, Holy Spirit frees us from all that would bind us to striving, contending, and comparing and reminds us of our oneness with God, with one another, and with all of creation. 

Without Holy Spirit we do not know the difference between pain and joy or imprisonment and freedom.  When we believe they are the same, that we must accept the good with the bad, the mean and spiteful with the kind and merciful, the conflict with the peace – we lose our ability to distinguish between right and wrong, sanity and insanity, pain and pleasure, imprisonment and freedom.  We certainly cannot rely upon the part of our mind that taught us that we are to accept opposites and opposition to teach us how to tell them apart and thus be free to choose between one or the other. 

There is only one direction and one goal in the Holy Spirit’s curriculum:  the direction is freedom; the goal is God.  The goal is God because Holy Spirit knows that God’s Will cannot be without us, for we are God’s Will.  When we learn that lesson, when we come to understand that God would never turn His back upon us, oust us from His Kingdom, send us into the darkness, the loneliness, the despair of flesh and blood and bone and gristle, we could no more run from Him than He could run from us.  Our return to our true identity is our freedom and our joy!  If we remain confused about this issue, if we still think that God has a grudge toward us, has made us into flesh and blood to torment us and keep us captive to the flesh body withs its limitations, meanness, and constant calls for attention, if we still deny ourselves as God’s Will and cling to ego’s substitutes for love and peace and joy, we are keeping ourselves imprisoned and denying God His Kingdom because it was created for us and with us only in mind. 

Egos mock our humanity and lay our bodies low.  Egos can inflate themselves within us and puff us up to strut about thinking that we are God’s Gift in the flesh, the anointed one, the charmed, the famous, the most popular.  We can get our jollies discussing other people in a disrespectful way, collecting information about them, judging, condemning, idolizing, doing anything but truly knowing them and truly loving them.  We can form cliques, join clubs, align ourselves with doctrines and tenets of faith that exalt some and abase the rest, but this is not freedom, this is imprisonment.  For what we do to others, how we think about others, what we will for others, is always what we will for ourselves for we are one.  What you wish to happen to me, my brother, is what you wish upon yourself. 

When we accept that our will and God’s Will are one, we accept our oneness with all of creation. We are part of God and nothing can change that – ever.  He created us to be like Himself; we are an extension of God.  We are the will of God and because all power and glory lie within the Will of God, we too are boundless in strength, love, and peace.  We extend forever and all that exists is enfolded within us.  By creating all things, the Will of God made them part of God.  This should not fill us with fear, but with awe and appreciation.  His joy is our joy.  His love is our love.  His strength is our strength.  We will never find this in our humanity, we will never find this promise in the ego, there is no superman or superwoman that can withstand the love, the peace, the joy, the strength of God’s Will.

Holy Spirit appeals to us to restore God’s Kingdom – the Voice for God is within each one of us not because we are sinful, corrupt, and worthless human beings, but because we are the Will of God and the Kingdom of God itself.  Acknowledge this.  For when we acknowledge this we naturally bring everyone with us, because when I acknowledge my own Sonship I automatically acknowledge yours and we both then extend the Kingdom of God. 

Be full of courage and take a stand for freedom.  Do not be afraid for truth not only sets us free but sets free all of those who would oppose it.  Some of the people whom I least expected to understand the concepts of this Course were gladdened by its message.  They say things like, “Oh, I always knew that what they were teaching me could not be true!”  One dear atheistic friend came to see me right before she died, making a tremendous effort. She wanted to let me know that she understood it now, her Sonship, the love of God, the oneness in which He created us to share His Will with us.  The light on her face, the joy in her countenance, the absolute certainty in her freedom as she faced her impending death with no fear was a wonderful testimony to the power of truth to withstand all lies and delusions of the ego. 

Awakening, Jesus says, runs easily and gladly throughout the Kingdom when we answer the call of God in our lives.  It is only natural for us to awaken at our Father’s Voice, for we know His Voice.  It is the Voice of Love.  It is the Voice of Peace.  It is the Voice of Joy.  It is the Voice of the Brotherhood of Christ, the Kingdom of God, the Sonship of God.  It is the Voice that reminds us of what we really are and where we really belong; we recognize it because it is our own. 


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 8 The journey back. II The difference between imprisonment and freedom. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

For daily 2021 Workbook lessons visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM

About the Author

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Coming up on sixty, my love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at eckief@yahoo.com.

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