Class #

Study Guide and Commentary
ACIM Text, Chapter 11,
Section II

The Invitation to Healing

blue text = Material from ACIM 3rd edition (FIP)
bold blue text = words emphasized in all caps in Urtext
red text = alternate or omitted material from the Urtext
light blue text = editorial comments
strikethrough blue text = Not in Urtext, in FIP edition

The previous section opened by stating that our return to God begins with our decision to bring healing to the rest of the Sonship. When we have chosen to see our brothers as whole and complete, part of the Son of God, our own healing has begun. The section then moved into a sub-theme, showing us that our malady can be measured by the degree to which we believe that we are separate from God and from one another. It pointed out that we are forever part of God, and therefore inseparable from Him. We share one life with God and one will with God.

Section II, titled "The Invitation to Healing," opens with a close restatement of the same thought that opened Section I. It moves into a more detailed exploration of the idea that healing of necessity includes much more than merely restoring our individual wholeness; it means a restoration of our unity with one another and with God. Ultimately, by the very nature of what we are and what God is, our personal healing must expand to include everyone and everything.

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1.  1If sickness is separation [10.III.2:7], the decision [will] to heal and to be healed is the first step toward recognizing what you truly want. 2Every attack is a step away from this, and every healing thought brings it closer. 3The Son of God has both Father and Son, because he is both Father and Son. 4To unite having and being is [only] to unite your will with His, for He wills you [to have] Himself. 5And you will yourself to Him because, in your perfect understanding of Him, you know there is but one Will. 6Yet when you attack any part of God and His Kingdom your understanding is not perfect, and what you really want [will] is therefore lost to you.

• Study Question •

1.     Think of one or more relationships or situations in which you feel some sort of conflict. Consider your thoughts about each such situation and, as honestly as you can, notice whether they are thoughts of attack, or thoughts that want to bring healing to all concerned. When you notice an attack thought, tell yourself, "This thought moves me away from what I really want." When you notice a healing thought, tell yourself, "This thought is a step toward what I really want."

Our reality is Oneness. To be healed is to move closer to our reality, which means healing consists of recognizing our oneness and our wholeness. To heal is to unite, to join together, and to make whole. That same oneness is also the Will of God for us (T-11.I.11.8). Therefore, to think with the Holy Spirit is to think healing thoughts (thoughts that unite and join together), while to think with the ego is to think thoughts of attack (thoughts that separate and divide).

Thoughts of healing, which move us toward oneness with each other and with God, also align us with the Will of God. Since our Will and God's are identical (as we saw in the previous section, for instance in T-11.I.7:7–9), aligning ourselves with God's Will is also aligning ourselves with our own true will, or "what [we] truly want" (1:1). So how can we connect with our own deepest desires? By filling our mind with healing thoughts. As we extend healing to those around us we will rediscover our long-stifled desire to heal and to join with all living things.

Each of us, underneath the hustle and bustle of daily life, is longing to find our authentic Self. We want to connect with a sense of inner purpose so deep and unified that it regulates the course of our lives, bringing profound satisfaction to us as we follow it. A Course in Miracles teaches that the way to develop this kind of inner integration is to make the choice to bring healing into every situation in which we find ourselves. Each time we allow healing to flow through our minds, we take another step toward total alignment with our God-given purpose (1:2).

Sentence 3 says quite clearly that "the Son of God …is both Father and Son," which seems confusing. How can we be both? I'm not sure the capitalization is accurate here; if the words were not capitalized, it would simply be saying we are both the offspring of God and beings who have our own offspring, much the same as saying we are both created and creators. Certainly the Course teaches that, and this interpretation seems to fit the sense of the context: As God's offspring, we are creators like Him and, therefore, can only be ourselves fully when we are extending love as He does.

However, the words are capitalized (and were in the Urtext). The context also speaks about having and being, and says that because our being consists of both, we also have them both (1:3–4). I think this saying is based on some conception of our unity with God that surpasses our ability to comprehend. In some sense, our being is both Creator and created. The Course tells us that only one life exists, a life we share with God (W-pI.167.Title). In a certain sense, then, there is only one Being in the universe. That Being is God and His component parts. The nearest analogy I can find in my own mind is in the human body, in which (although we do not like to think about it) thousands or millions of tiny entities co-exist with us, as part of us. There are tiny mites that live on our skin. There are bacteria that live in our digestive tract. The bacteria are symbionts, tiny beings that are essential to our digestion and therefore to our existence. Our bodies are more of a cooperative colony than a single life form. Each of us is like one of the bacteria; a seemingly separate entity, and yet one entirely dependent on God, in whom we live and move and have our being.

Whichever way we understand this passage, the clear message is that both the Father and the Son, in some sense, belong to us, because they both are us. What we are we must also have. God's Will is to give Himself to us (1:4), imparting His very Being to us, which makes our will an extension of His. Like God's, our will is a will that shares itself and gives itself; therefore, we reciprocate God's gift. We give ourselves to Him (1:5). In our right mind we understand perfectly that our will is one with God's (1:5). As the Course points out so often, however, we can deny that knowledge and act as if we did not know it, which is what we do whenever we "attack any part of God and His Kingdom" (1:6). Acting out our attack thoughts thus prevents us from finding the inner integration and wholeness that we crave.

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2.  1Healing thus becomes a lesson in understanding, and the more you practice it the better teacher and learner you become. 2If you have denied truth, what better witnesses to its reality could you have than those who have been healed by it? 3But be sure to count yourself among them, for in your willingness to join them is your healing accomplished. 4Every miracle that you accomplish speaks to you of the Fatherhood of God. 5Every healing thought that you accept, either from your brother or in your own mind, teaches you that you are God's Son. 6In every hurtful thought you hold, wherever you perceive it, lies the denial of God's Fatherhood and of your Sonship.

• Study Question •

2.     Name two benefits that come from offering healing to others.

Note the link to the preceding paragraph in the first sentence: understanding. The healing that the Course envisions is a process in which our minds increasingly come to understand our unity with the Son and with the Father (2:1). As this understanding increases, two things happen: first, we more frequently and fully offer healing to our brothers and sisters in recognition of our unity with them; second, we are healed as we begin to experience our oneness with God.

Those we heal teach us the truth that we have been denying. We offer that truth to them and they are healed by it; their healing testifies to us of the validity of what we have offered them (2:2). At this juncture it is still possible for us to miss the truth, even though we have brought healing to others. I know this from personal experience. I cannot tell you how many times I have begun to doubt my own worth, or have begun to wonder if I am presenting the truth in an effective way. Sometimes when this happens, someone—a friend, a student, a reader—will tell me in some way how much I have helped them through what I said or wrote. That is just the pattern under discussion here: I offer the truth to another, they are healed by it, and their healing witnesses to me of the value of what I have offered. And yet there have been times when, even though I see that witness to the truth reflected back to me, I hesitate to apply it to myself. I hesitate to believe I have been healed (2:3). Jesus here is urging us not to make that mistake of false humility.

I think that sometimes the inability to accept healing is really an unwillingness to be put into the same class as the people we are ministering to! What actually completes our healing is our willingness to join in equality with our brothers and sisters (2:3).

Any hurtful thought, any thought of attack—whether you see it in your own mind attacking someone else, or in someone else's mind attacking you or someone you love—is a "denial of God's Fatherhood and [a denial] of your Sonship" (2:6). If God is the Father there is only one Will, and as His Sons we are all like Him. Any perception of attack means you are choosing to believe there must be two wills. The journey back begins with the willingness to have that perception end; the willingness to give up all thoughts of attack. You must decide to heal and to be healed, instead of to attack and to be attacked. When you make that choice to recognize and cultivate wholeness everywhere, miracles happen. These loving thoughts, whether you offer them or receive them, teach you the opposite of attack thoughts; they affirm God's Fatherhood and your Sonship instead of denying them (2:4–5).

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3.  1And denial is as total as love. 2You cannot deny part of yourself, [simply] because the rest [remainder] will seem to be separate [unintegrated] and therefore without meaning. 3And being without meaning to you, you will not understand it. 4To deny meaning is [must be] to fail to understand. 5You can heal only yourself, for only God's Son needs healing. 6You need [He needs] it because you do [he does] not understand yourself [himself], and therefore know not what you do [knows not what he does]. 7Having forgotten your [his] will, you do not know what you really want [he does not know what he wants].

• Study Question •

3.     Suppose that in a grocery store you encounter a homeless person whose odor proclaims that he has not bathed for a month or so. If you make the judgment that this person is unworthy of your love because of his poor sanitary habits, what will be the result in your own mind? (See sentences 1–4.)

I know I keep saying this, but remember that the paragraph breaks and section breaks were not a part of the original dictation, and often have been arbitrarily inserted by the editors, with a resulting break in context. The word that begins this paragraph, "And," clearly indicates a close connection to what comes before. The two paragraphs could almost be one and were one in the Urtext; the line of thought between them is unbroken. Every time we welcome an attack thought in our minds, we are both denying that the person we are attacking originated in God, and we are denying that we did. We perceive that person or ourselves as different from God. Denial is total; denying any part of the Sonship, whether in ourselves or in another, entails the denial of the entire Sonship (3:1–2). If I deny my own Sonship, I deny everyone else's. If I deny anyone else's, I deny my own.

The Sonship is like a tall building with many floors. You can't remove just one floor and have the rest remain intact. Remove any part and you have destroyed the whole. So with the Sonship: Deny anyone his or her part in the Sonship and you have rendered the rest of the Sonship meaningless. What is a wholeness when one piece is gone?

The Course gives a particular spin to the word "denial" here. It says that we "deny meaning" to our brothers or to ourselves (3:4). When we judge another person as other than God's creation, and unworthy of love, don't we perceive them as having no real meaning? What gives us meaning? What supplies purpose to our lives? Isn't it our connection with God? Isn't it the fact that we have been endowed with a purpose in God's creation? If God did not create us, if what we are is the accidental or whimsical result of random ego wishes or chemical accidents, what meaning could we possibly have?

Therefore, when we harbor attack thoughts against another, or feel ourselves under attack by another's thoughts, we have lost sight of our true meaning. We no longer understand ourselves (3:4).We have lost sight of the forest and are seeing only distinct and separate trees.

That's why it's a mistake to find fault with others and then try to fix them. "You can heal only yourself," declares the Course (3:5). If healing is required, you require healing, because you are one with everyone you can see. There is only one Son of God, and all of us are part of that One Son. It is that One Son, in which you and the others you perceive are all components, that needs healing. When you see someone else as sick or in need of healing, you need healing; the fact that you see yourself as somehow separate from the one who needs healing proves that you don't understand the nature of the one Self, and that understanding, that idea of one Self, is what most needs healing (3:6).

When a friend gets sick or succumbs to the unpleasant side of their ego, I sometimes find myself thinking about how they need to be healed, or what they should do to straighten themselves out, or wondering what they did or thought wrongly that brought on their sickness. Without quite realizing it, I find myself taking a "superior" stance in regard to them. They have the problem; I am going to bring them healing. This is what is called "the healing you would undertake" in the next paragraph (4:3), which very much falls short of the healing God wants to transmit through us.

I think that what the Course is saying here is that when we take a mental stance like that we are distancing ourselves from the people we say we want to help. When that happens, healing ourselves should become our first concern. We are incapable of knowing what we should do or what we truly want to accomplish because we have split our minds and lost touch with the will we share with God (3:7).

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4.  1Healing is a sign that you want [he wants] to make whole. 2And this willingness opens your ears [his own ears] to the Voice of the Holy Spirit, Whose message is wholeness. 3He will enable you to go far beyond the healing you would undertake, for beside your small willingness to make whole He will lay His Own complete Will and make yours whole. 4What can the Son of God not accomplish with the Fatherhood of God in Him? 5And yet the invitation must come from you, for you have surely learned that whom you invite as your guest will abide with you.

• Study Question •

4.     Many of us often feel that our desire to give healing to others is conflicted, weak, and imperfect. We want to heal, but we also resent the demands on our time, our money, or our energy. According to this paragraph, how can we deal with the reality of imperfect healing motivation?

Again, read with no break between the paragraphs for a clearer sense of the context: "Having forgotten his will, he does not know what he wants. Healing is a sign that he wants to make whole."

As the Course often says, all we need is a little willingness. It does not have to be an overpowering desire. It does not have to be perfect, or without conflicting thoughts. Our desire to make ourselves and others whole opens us to hearing the Holy Spirit. "[His] message is wholeness" (4:1–2). Listening to Him, we will not fall into the trap of seeking partial, imperfect healing. We will not be focused on just ourselves, or on just our brother; we will recognize that it is the Son of God who needs healing, our shared Identity.

When we offer that little willingness to heal and be healed, the Holy Spirit magnifies it far beyond what we envision. When we think of being healed we most likely think of becoming a whole person, but our vision of wholeness is limited by our imperfect understanding. The wholeness the Holy Spirit knows and is aiming for is much greater than we imagine (4:3). It goes far beyond just patching up our egos and our bodies. It includes recognition of our oneness with one another and with God.

We may not think we can do much. We may feel inadequately motivated or inadequately skilled to impart healing. It does not matter. When the Holy Spirit joins with us, His resources and His Will are added to ours (4:3). When we hear a call for help, we need only be willing to respond, and ask for Him to join with us. That will be enough.

I think of how science has built devices that augment our strength and our reach. These devices, called "waldoes" (so-named by the science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein), serve as mechanical arms and hands, often at a distance. The operator can put a hand into a glove, and as the hand moves the glove, the remote, mechanical hand mimics the moves exactly. Such devices are often used in high radiation environments or in space. Frequently the device significantly augments the strength and power of the operator. If you saw the science fiction film "Alien" (or perhaps it was the sequel, "Aliens"), you might remember the scene where Sigourney Weaver straps on a huge mechanical exoskeleton to do battle with the monster alien; that was a waldo-like device. I like to imagine myself strapping on the strength and willpower of the Holy Spirit as I respond to His calls to healing. Sentence 4 reminds me of a similar saying from the Apostle Paul: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Phillippians 4:13, NASB).

The power is His, but the willingness must be ours (4:5). He cannot enter uninvited.

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5.  1The Holy Spirit cannot speak to an unwelcoming host, because He will not be heard. 2The Eternal Guest remains, but His Voice grows faint in alien company. 3He needs your protection, only because your care is a sign that you want Him. 4Think like Him ever so slightly, and the little spark becomes a blazing light that fills your mind so that He becomes your only Guest. 5Whenever you ask the ego to enter, you lessen His welcome. 6He will remain, but you have allied yourself against Him. 7Whatever journey you choose to take, He will go with you, waiting. 8You can safely trust His patience, for He cannot leave a part of God. 9Yet you need [you will] far more than patience.

• Study Question •

5.     How does the Holy Spirit react if you delay inviting Him to join with you in healing?

The reason we must invite the assistance of the Holy Spirit is obvious. If He offered His help when we did not want it, we would not listen (5:1). Our unwillingness to ask for His help does not drive Him off. The Holy Spirit will not leave in a huff if you invite the ego in. He does not abandon us. He is the Eternal Guest Who never leaves (5:2). When we invite Him in, He responds eagerly. When we do not, and invite the ego in His stead, He waits patiently, although His gentle Voice is drowned out by the ego's cacophony  (4:5; 5:2, 5–6). Often, because we no longer hear Him, we think He has abandoned us, but He would never do that. He is incapable of such abandonment. Jesus assures us that we can trust the Holy Spirit's patience regardless of any mistaken choices we might make (5:8). He will follow us into hell if need be, ready to lead us home the moment we are willing to listen (5:7).

How do we invite the Holy Spirit to enter? Does that mean we fall to our knees and cry out loud, "Holy Spirit, come into my life and my mind"? Well, that might be one way it happens. More likely, it begins as just a tiny shift in our thinking, coming into line with the way the Holy Spirit thinks. In short, a loving thought. The moment we offer a little spark, the Holy Spirit fans it into a flame and the flame into a roaring fire that drives the ego out forever. In our little willingness lies the salvation of the world (5:4).

Without the spark, however, even the Holy Spirit can do nothing. No spark, no fire. We must take the first step  (4:5). You have to be willing. You have to make the first move. Your willingness does not have to be strong, and need not be perfect. But you must be willing.

What we truly will is far more than the patience of the Holy Spirit (5:9). Our own will, ultimately, will drive us through and out of all our detours into the perfect fulfillment of our divine function (6:1). The editors' choice in 5:9 to change "will" to "need" was a mistake. Yes, at first the sentence seems awkward: "You will far more than patience." But clearly the context, before and after, is all about our will; "the invitation must come from you." Extending healing is a sign that we want wholeness. The thought here is that, while we can "safely trust His patience" with our detours into the ego, we will never be satisfied with incomplete enlightenment. We will far more than just getting by, just having the Holy Spirit tolerate our indiscretions. We want the whole enchilada. We want our will to be wholly joined with God's. We want full mystical union with the Divine.

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6.  1You will never rest until you know your function and fulfill it, for only in this can your will and your Father's be wholly joined. 2To have Him is to be like Him, and He has given Himself to you. 3You who have God must be as God, for His function became yours with His gift. 4Invite this knowledge back into your mind[s], and let nothing that obscures it enter. 5The Guest Whom God sent you will teach you how to do this, if you but recognize the little spark and are willing to let it grow. 6Your willingness need not be perfect, because His is. 7If you will merely offer Him a little place, He will lighten it so much that you will gladly let it be increased [extend it]. 8And by this increase [this extending], you will begin to remember creation.

• Study Question •

6.     This paragraph touches upon many elements of the process of enlightenment, or the realization of our true spiritual Identity. Which would you say is the crucial element, the one upon which all the others depend for realization?

·      our function

·      the Holy Spirit

·      being like God

·      knowledge or understanding

·      the little spark in us

·      our willingness

·      His willingness

·      remembering creation

As comforting as the patience of the Holy Spirit may be to us in our vacillation, it is not enough to bring us true rest in our hearts (5:9; 6:1). That will come to us only as we  embrace our function (6:1). Nothing else can ever satisfy the divine inner calling, where our will is one with God's. A state of imperfect willingness is inherently unrestful. Think of how distressed you feel when you complain, "I can't make up my mind!" Think how unsettling it is to not know what your purpose is! Dwelling on that, by contrast, can give you some sense of the rest and peace that will come when you do know what your function is and have made up your mind to fulfill it.

When we have accepted the function given us by God, our will joins with His and we no longer feel as though we are in opposition to God (6:1). (Having God on "the other side" is very unsettling!)

When, in sentence 3, Jesus says we "must be as God," I think he is using the words "must be" in the sense of "surely are" rather than "are obligated to be." That is, he isn't saying, "Because you have God you are obligated to be like Him." Rather, he is saying, "Because you have God, you surely are like Him." The previous sentence makes that clear (6:2). You do have Him because "He has given Himself to you"; therefore, you are like Him. You share the same function of creating (6:3). You are a healer, a giver, and a lover, just as God is.

Jesus appeals to you to take the necessary actions to prepare your mind for the knowledge of your likeness to God (6:4). You must desire it, and you must keep your mind clear of every obstacle. Take a deep breath, and tell yourself, "I am a holy being like God. I love like God. I choose to extend wholeness everywhere, just as God does. I share God's function with Him."

Look into your own loving heart in wonder. What you will see there is a miracle, the perfect expression of a loving Father. It may seem at first that not much is there. Perhaps no more than a sputtering spark, on the verge of being extinguished. Breathe on that spark! Foster it and cherish it. Let yourself love it and desire its growth. If you do, your Eternal Guest will teach you all you need to know to nourish that spark into a light that rivals the sun. You just need to be willing to begin.

Jesus reassures you once more: "Your willingness need not be perfect, because His is" (6:6). You don't have to give Him everything at once. He needs only "a little place" in which to work His miracle (6:7). I picture this elegant stranger coming to live as a guest in my house. He so transforms the room I have given to him, beautifying it and opening it up to the light, that soon I invite him to come into other parts of my home, and eventually, I turn over the whole house to his keeping! As we do that with the Holy Spirit, we will at last remember all that we forgot so very long ago (6:8).

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7.  1Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God? 2You will accept only whom you invite. 3You are free to determine who shall be your guest, and how long he shall remain with you. 4Yet this is not real freedom, for it still depends on how you see it. 5The Holy Spirit is there, although He cannot help you without your invitation. 6And the ego is nothing, whether you invite it in or not. 7Real freedom depends on welcoming reality, and of your guests only the Holy Spirit is [only He is] real. 8Know, then, Who abides with you merely by recognizing what is there already [what is already there], and do not be satisfied with imaginary comforters, for the Comforter of God is in you.

• Study Question •

7.     According to the Course, being free to choose between alternatives is not true freedom. What is real freedom?

8.     You may wish to look ahead to several other passages in Chapter 15 that utilize the same image of host and hostage: T-15.III.5; T-15.IV.9:10; and T‑15.X.5–9.

As we remarked about the chapter title, the choice is between God and the ego, or the Holy Spirit and the ego. Which one will you invite into your mind to be your guest? Invite the ego, and it becomes an invader, a terrorist who takes over the house and holds you hostage. Invite the Holy Spirit and He remains as a guest, with you as the willing host (7:1).

Each time you accept a thought of attack, you have invited the ego in and have become its hostage. Each time you welcome a thought of healing, you have invited the Holy Spirit in. The choice is up to you. You are in control of your mind; you can let it be occupied by the ego or by the Holy Spirit for as long as you like (7:3).

The ego tries to perpetuate its existence by telling us that this is freedom. It tells us that we need the freedom to choose. It says that if there were no alternative we would not be free. But "this is not real freedom, for it depends on how you see it" (7:4). Being free does not mean being free to choose the ego; it means being free from the ego. Real freedom is choosing reality; how can we find real freedom in choosing an illusion? The ego does not exist whether we choose it or not (7:6); the Holy Spirit exists and abides with us whether we choose Him or not (7:5). Real freedom comes from choosing what is real, and that means the Holy Spirit (7:7).

The only two options we have are the ego and the Holy Spirit, and one of them is imaginary (7:7). This is the only choice that matters, and it is a choice between an illusion and reality. Once the choice is finally made, we will know that there never was a choice at all. We may seek comfort in thousands of ways and places, but in the end, the only comfort we can find is from God (7:8).

Answer Key

1.     No written answer is expected.

2.     Here are five benefits of giving healing that are mentioned in this paragraph:

a.     It gives you understanding (2:1).

b.     It makes you a better teacher and better learner (2:1).

c.     It provides witnesses to the reality of truth (2:2).

d.     It speaks of God as Father  (2:4)

e.     It demonstrates you are God's Son (2:5)

3.     In denying the worth of one part of God's creation, you will be denying a part of yourself. Therefore:

a.     The rest of yourself (the part you usually identify as "me"), having lost track of its relationship to the whole, will lose meaning.

b.     Without meaning you will fail to understand yourself.

c.     You will thus have denied all of yourself, the part you saw as a dirty homeless person, and the part you identified as yourself.

4.     Our desire to heal invites the Holy Spirit, Whose Will to heal is total. His Will enhances ours and empowers it. Thus, when we feel conflicted or imperfectly willing to heal, we can pray and ask the Holy Spirit to join His Will with ours. We can ask Him to empower us with His total willingness.

5.     He will wait patiently for you. He will never give up on a Son of God.

6.     The crucial element, in my opinion, is our willingness. The Holy Spirit cannot operate if we are not willing to allow Him to do so. If we offer our willingness, He adds His own, restores our knowledge, fans the spark of God within us into a blazing light, and swiftly moves to occupy our entire mind.

7.     The freedom of reality, which comes from welcoming reality. True freedom is no longer dissipating our energies on illusions, but giving ourselves wholeheartedly to the function for which God created us.

8.     No written answer is expected.