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How to deal with the fright I feel since starting ACIM?
Question: I started reading the text of ACIM five days ago and have done the first 5 workbook lessons, and from the second day on I have felt a deep fright. I feel it is a hard discipline to follow sometimes, but my will to arrive at the Truth is the central point of my life. Until some days ago I was in a state of peace and happiness. And now this fright... How to deal with it?
Answer: Thanks for writing. The fright you feel is the fear of loss of the familiar that Awakening engenders in the ego. The familiar is the past. Sometimes this fright can seem like the fear of the unknown, though it is more accurately described as the fear of the Known. When the mind fell asleep it forgot Heaven, the Known, and became accustomed to time and space, the unknowable. So the time-space world became what it thought it "knew,” what was familiar, and the Light of Heaven became the unKnown, pushed completely out of awareness. Since the sleeping mind believes the world is real, it thinks it will lose something real if it Awakens. This is the deep-seated ego belief that something must be sacrificed to return in awareness to Heaven. The ego belief in sacrifice is what is being undone in Awakening.
Your recent time reading ACIM and doing the lessons is a symbol of your "will to arrive at the Truth." You will find that the seeming journey is going through the darkness of fear (the unconscious or unwatched mind) to the Love which is buried even deeper within. Your willingness to go on with the practice or discipline, in spite of the upsetting emotions which surface, is all that is required. The first 30 lessons of the ACIM Workbook are aimed at undoing false belief and flushing up and clearing out the debris of ego thought. It is the beginning step of a complete reversal of cause and effect, of understanding that the mind is not at the mercy of the world because the world is only unreal thoughts in the mind. It is a time of detachment from the stream of ego thoughts which make up every aspect of the time-space world. It is not unusual that you feel fright as the ego is being undone, for the ego is threatened by your desire to Awaken to Truth. Its existence seems threatened but you are not because you are not the ego.
Feelings that arise are best not denied or stuffed, for allowing them into awareness is an important aspect of their undoing or release. Once in awareness, a feeling of upset or discomfort offers the gift of an "opportunity" and can be viewed as a catalyst for calling upon the miracle, a change of mind. Feelings are indicators of which voice one is listening to at any given moment, and thus they serve an important function in the discipline of being attentive to mind. State of mind is always a decision, and it is important to remember that a decision is a conclusion based on everything that you believe. The unconscious mind represents false beliefs, and until it is undone completely there will seem to be vacillations between peace of mind and upset. This is why questioning everything you believe is a major aspect of ACIM and every authentic spiritual path. It is surely more important to question the false than it is to try to analyze or figure out the false, for the ego can only be forgiven and transcended and never really "understood."
The first question that ever seemed to be asked was "Who am I?" Christ, in certainty, Knows Identity in God and therefore has no question at all. Every question about form is thus a statement of false identity, the ego's attempt to reinforce the impossible. Yet questioning belief itself is how belief is undone. The Holy Spirit is a State of Mind Answer, yet helpful specifics and Guidance are contained within this Answer as long as the mind believes in specifics - until It remembers Its Perfect Abstraction as Light. Questioning what is believed is most helpful at this point, for this is much like the metaphor of peeling the onion of consciousness to arrive at the Core of Truth. Seek not the origin of the ego, for it has none and can never be "known." The ego is false belief, and is dispelled by withdrawing belief from it. It is impossible to release what you are unaware of, so flushing up and exposing the ego is how the ego’s undoing proceeds. That is why it is important not to stuff or project or distract away from whatever arises. By not protecting the ego it is automatically raised to the Light or brought to Truth, and darkness dissolves as it is brought to Light. This seeming process need not be uncomfortable, though it is usually experienced this way at times. You will enjoy the development of trust section in the Manual for Teachers. This will give you a snapshot or context for what you will be going through as your work with ACIM continues.
We walk together and the destination is certain. I am with you every step of the way. Thank you for your continuing devotion to Awakening. We Awaken together as One Self!
Love & Blessings, David