Lesson 13
Only In Dreams
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15 All fear is ultimately reducible to the basic misperception that man has the ability to usurp the power of God. It can only be emphasized that he neither can nor has been able to do this. In this fact lies the real justification for his escape from fear. The escape is brought about by his acceptance of the Atonement, which places him in a position to realize that his own errors never really occurred. When the "deep sleep" fell upon Adam, he was in a condition to experience nightmares because he was asleep. If a light is suddenly turned on while someone is dreaming a fearful dream, he may initially interpret the light itself as a part of his own dream and be afraid of it. However, when he awakens the light is correctly perceived as the release from the dream, which is no longer accorded reality.         
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Workbook Introduction
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1 A theoretical foundation such as the text is necessary as a background to make these exercises meaningful. Yet it is the exercises which will make the goal possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of these exercises to train the mind to think along the lines which the course sets forth.
2 The exercises are very simple. They do not require more than a few minutes, and it does not matter where or when you do them. They need no preparation. They are numbered, running from 1 to 365. The training period is one year. Do not undertake more than one exercise a day.
3 The purpose of these exercises is to train the mind to a different perception of everything in the world. The workbook is divided into two sections, the first dealing with the undoing of what you see now and the second with the restoration of sight. It is recommended that each exercise be repeated several times a day, preferably in a different place each time and, if possible, in every situation in which you spend any long period of time. The purpose is to train the mind to generalize the lessons, so that you will understand that each of them is as applicable to one situation as it is to another.
4 Unless specified to the contrary, the exercise should be practiced with the eyes open, since the aim is to learn how to see. The only rule that should be followed throughout is to practice the exercises with great specificity. Each one applies to every situation in which you find yourself and to everything you see in it. Each day's exercises are planned around one central idea, the exercises themselves consisting of applying that idea to as many specifics as possible. Be sure that you do not decide that there are some things you see to which the idea for the day is inapplicable. The aim of the exercises will always be to increase the application of the idea to everything. This will not require effort. Only be sure that you make no exceptions in applying the idea.
5 Some of the ideas you will find hard to believe, and others will seem quite startling. It does not matter. You are merely asked to apply them to what you see. You are not asked to judge them, nor even to believe them. You are asked only to use them. It is their use which will give them meaning to you, and show you they are true. Remember only this-you need not believe them, you need not accept them, and you need not welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter nor decrease their efficacy. But allow yourself to make no exceptions in applying the ideas the exercises contain. Whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than this is required.
    ~ Original Hand Script of ACIM       


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SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 13
A meaningless world engenders fear.

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1Today's idea is really another form of the preceding one, except that it is more specific as to the emotion aroused. Actually, a meaningless world is impossible. Nothing without meaning exists. However, it does not follow that you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning. On the contrary, you will be particularly likely to think you do perceive it. 
2Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones. It represents a situation in which God and the ego "challenge" each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space which meaninglessness provides. The ego rushes in frantically to establish its own "ideas" there, fearful that the void may otherwise be used to demonstrate its own unreality. And on this alone it is correct. 
3It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless and accept it without fear. If you are fearful, it is certain that you will endow the world with attributes which it does not possess and crowd it with images that do not exist. To the ego, illusions are safety devices, as they must also be to you who equate yourself with the ego. 
4The exercises for today, which should be done about three or four times for not more than a minute or so at most each time, are to be practiced in a somewhat different way from the preceding ones. With eyes closed, repeat today's idea to yourself. Then open your eyes and look about you slowly, saying: 
5 I am looking at a meaningless world.  
6Repeat this statement to yourself as you look about. Then close your eyes and conclude with: 
7 A meaningless world engenders fear because  
I think I am in competition with God.
8You may find it difficult to avoid resistance in one form or another to this concluding statement. Whatever form such resistance may take, remind yourself that you are really afraid of such a thought because of the "vengeance" of the "enemy." You are not expected to believe the statement at this point and will probably try to dismiss it as preposterous. Note carefully, however, any signs of overt or covert fear which it may arouse. This is our first attempt at stating an explicit cause and effect relationship of a kind which you are very inexperienced in recognizing. Do not dwell on the concluding statement, and try not even to think of it except during the exercise periods. That will suffice at present.
      ~ Original Hand Script of ACIM   
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
  A meaningless world engenders fear .  

Sarah's Commentary:

Yesterday, the focus of the Lesson was on the upset we experience when we see the world as meaningless. Today, Jesus tells us that not only are we upset by the experience of seeing a meaningless world, but that it brings up fear in us. It terrifies us because it threatens our very existence. We feel threatened because if we are our thoughts and those thoughts mean nothing, then we are meaningless, and we don't exist. That is why we put our meaning on everything. It affirms and maintains our existence as a separate self.
We are terrified of a clean slate, because "The memory of God comes to the quiet mind." (T.23.I.1.1) (ACIM OE T.23.II.7) Our minds are constantly chewing on thoughts because we are not ready for the truth. We are still hanging onto beliefs about what we made. What we made is a separate self, a body, a personality, a self-concept, and a world. We value the concepts we hold. We value our individuality, our uniqueness, and our specialness. When Jesus says that meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety, it is because "God and the ego 'challenge' each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space meaninglessness provides." (W.13.2.3) Thus, we are in competition with God and work to establish that we are what we say we are.
Of course, God does not compete with the ego, which is why the word "challenge" is in quotes; but we compete with God as long as we identify with the ego, which we all do. Yet while we choose to challenge God, He simply is. He does not know of our challenge. It is like the sun that just keeps shining and is oblivious of the challenge.
When the Son made the decision to go off on His own, our separate existence was established. If we are to exist, then God can't exist. If in fact God were all there is, then we don't exist. It is a case of one or the other; God or me. Our existence has come at the expense of Oneness. Both God and I can't both exist. Now, I bring this mindset of competition to everything in the world. For me to gain, you must lose. I am now in competition with everyone whom I see as trying to take something from me. There can be no trust in this kind of relationship. Others are seen to hurt us, abandon us, betray us, destroy us, disappoint us, and want to gain at our expense. It is a thought system that starts in our own minds. Yet when I project what is in my own mind onto others, I now see it as if it were outside my mind. I see others doing to me what I am doing myself. Instead of loving my brother, I now fear what he will take from me or do to hurt me. Because of our sense of vulnerability, we build protection around ourselves.
In the previous Lesson, we were being convinced of the meaninglessness of everything we see. This Lesson goes further to say that meaninglessness does not actually exist. In fact, it is the same idea as in the Introduction to the Course, which says, "Nothing unreal exists." (T.IN.2.3) (ACIM OE T.IN.4) What we see, which is made by the ego, is actually unreal. It is nothing. It does not exist. It is all just a projection of our fear thoughts. We can conclude that the world of form really does not exist, which does not mean ". . . you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning." (W.13.1.4) We don't want to accept that what we see has no meaning. Again, if it is not there and yet I see it, I would have to admit I am wrong about everything.
Behind these thoughts, God's meaning exists. God's meaning is Truth. It is love, peace, and joy. As an example, today I experienced what felt to me like an attack. I saw something that was not there. I gave meaning to the communication and determined it was an attack. If I were really open to seeing God's meaning, I would see beyond the attack and only see the call for love. However, I allowed myself to believe that my interpretation and my judgment of the situation was correct. I was seeing my own projected thoughts of attack; otherwise, I would have had no reaction to the perceived attack. As Jesus reminds us, "You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own. Whatever form his sins appear to take, it but obscures the fact that you believe them to be yours, and therefore meriting a 'just' attack." (T.31.III.1.5-6) (ACIM OE T.31.III.26)
Rather than taking responsibility for my own attack thoughts, I chose to be right in my assessment of the situation and what I believed others were doing to me. I want to be right about how I see this person so I can see them as guilty, and I can see myself as the innocent victim of their attack. I am challenging God's assessment that there is only innocence. This comes from the original competition that we set up with God, telling Him He is wrong about us, and we are right about who our brother is and who we are.
Of course, we are not aware of this competition. We have buried this idea deep in our minds. We have used the world to cover our fear of God. We ". . . endow the world with attributes that it does not possess, and crowd it with images that do not exist." (W.13.3.2) This is our defense against the truth. We protect our illusions and believe they keep us safe. While I say that I want to know my eternal Self, there is fear in this thought. It is the fear that if I give God total reign over my life, I will no longer be in control. I don't trust what He will do with what I value. Through our practice of the Lessons, our fear is being released. The beliefs and values we hold keep us in a state of suffering, attack, fear, and anger, with only fleeting experiences of peace. To heal is to question everything we currently believe and value.
We keep ourselves safe by undertaking many trivial things, always filling up any empty space with many busy doings and distractions. We get preoccupied with problems that can't be solved. We spend our lives on trivial pursuits. We become spiritual seekers. We make judgments about everything and everyone we see. Why? We do this because we fear that when we withdraw our meaning, God's meaning will be revealed. Of course, this is not conscious, but it is there nevertheless. We can see the dynamic of busyness and competition with everyone in our own lives, always justifying why we need to do what we are doing.
I have a friend who is in his eighties and has spent the last forty years of his life recording the daily temperature for every day of those forty years with a note of what he did that day. We all do some version of this, filling up our time reading the news, going to movies, watching sports, memorizing insignificant data, texting messages, researching our family tree, and playing games. All this activity consumes a lot of time and may interest us somewhat, but have you asked yourself, "What is it for?" Have you considered you might just be trying to beat God to the punch by inserting your own meaning into this empty space? It does not make these activities wrong, nor are you guilty because you engage in them. It is only about purpose. Either everything is for awakening from the dream or for maintaining the illusion.
Jesus tells us that we believe there is some emptiness or lack in us that we feel we need to fill ". . . with your own ideas instead of the truth." (T.2.I.1.7) (ACIM OE T.2.I.5) Our own ideas are what keep God's truth away from us. As we rush in to put our meaning onto everything and fill every void with that meaning, we are beating God to the punch.
Our "I know" mind puts meaning on everything, rather than staying open and allowing the truth to be revealed to us. Think about what happens when you meet someone and immediately make an impression of who that person is. When we make a judgment, it is again an example of how we beat God to the punch. Thus, we don't ask what is the meaning of this brother I behold? We think we know, and we think we are right. We want to be right because it is how we maintain our personal power. We think this makes us important and special.
When you are doing these Lessons, "You may find it difficult to avoid resistance, in one form or another." (W.13.5.1) What might that resistance look like? We might feel anger. We might avoid doing the Lesson. We might "forget" the Lesson. We might get a headache, feel sick, or get sleepy; or, we may start looking for something to eat. There are any number of ways that resistance shows up. These are all fear thoughts and can be traced back to our fear of God. Clearly, this is not conscious, but it is the origin of all our fears. It is because of this fear in the mind that we give meaning to the world. We insist our meaning is correct. While we hold our views, we have temporarily defeated God. In that defeat, we are now fearful, believing we will experience His wrath. We fear it is a competition for survival. Who will prevail---God or me? While we think that our fear comes from events and situations in the world, the cause is actually held within our own minds. Thus, mind is the cause of what we experience, not events in the world.
We are asked to practice this Lesson three or four times today, for one minute or so, with eyes closed, repeating the idea, then opening our eyes and looking slowly around while affirming, "I am looking at a meaningless world." (W.13.4.4) Then, we close our eyes and say, "A meaningless world engenders fear because I think I am in competition with God." (W.13.4.7) You will not necessarily believe what you are saying, and may, in fact, resist the idea. Just note the resistance and ask for help so you could look at the ego without fear. By looking at your thoughts without any judgment or condemnation, you are realizing these thoughts are nothing. When you look at them without judgment, you are actually looking with the Holy Spirit; that is how He looks, entirely with no judgment no matter what the thoughts are. Thus, it makes it safe for us to see our hateful and murderous thoughts. Once exposed, we can put them on the inner altar for the Holy Spirit to remind us that we are innocent, no matter what we think.  

Love and blessings, Sarah  
A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Two: The Illusion of Separation
I. Introduction

1 This section deals with a fundamental misuse of knowledge, referred to in the Bible as the cause of the "fall," or separation. There are some definitions which I asked you to take from the dictionary which will be helpful here. They are somewhat unusual since they are not the first definitions which are given. Nevertheless, the fact that each of them does appear in the dictionary should be reassuring.
2 Project (verb): to extend forward or out. 
  Project (noun): a plan in the mind. 
  World: a natural grand division.
3 We will refer later to projection as related to both mental health and mental illness. We have already observed that man can create an empty shell, but he cannot create nothing at all. This emptiness provides the screen for the misuse of projection.
4 The Garden of Eden, which is described as a literal garden in the Bible, was not an actual garden at all. It was merely a mental state of complete need-lack. Even in the literal account, it is noteworthy that the pre-separation state was essentially one in which man needed nothing. The "tree of knowledge" is also an overly literal figure. These concepts need to be clarified before the real meaning of the separation, or the "detour into fear," can be fully understood.
5 To "project," as defined above, is a fundamental attribute of God which He gave to His Son. In the creation, God projected His creative ability from Himself to the Souls He created, and He also imbued them with the same loving will to create. The Soul has not only been fully created but has also been created perfect. There is no emptiness in it. Because of its likeness to its Creator, it is creative. No Child of God can lose this ability because it is inherent in what he is, but he can use it inappropriately. Whenever projection is used inappropriately, it always implies that some emptiness or lack exists and that it is in man's ability to put his own ideas there instead of truth.
6 If you consider carefully what this entails, the following will become quite apparent:
7 First, the assumption is implicit that what God created can be changed by the mind of man.
8 Second, the concept that what is perfect can be rendered imperfect or wanting is accepted.
9 Third, the belief that man can distort the creations of God, including himself, is accepted.
10 Fourth, the idea that since man can create himself, the direction of his own creation is up to him is implied.
11 These related distortions represent a picture of what actually occurred in the separation. None of this existed before, nor does it actually exist now. The world was made as "a natural grand division," or a projecting outward of God. That is why everything that He created is like Him. Projection, as undertaken by God, is very similar to the kind of inner radiance which the Children of the Father inherit from Him. It is important to note that the term "project outward" necessarily implies that the real source of projection is internal. This is as true of the Son as of the Father.
12 The world, in the original connotation of the term, included both the proper creation of man by God and the proper creation by man in his right mind. The latter required the endowment of man by God with free will because all loving creation is freely given. Nothing in these statements implies any sort of level involvement or in fact anything except one continuous line of creation in which all aspects are of the same order.
13 When the "lies of the serpent" were introduced, they were specifically called "lies" because they are not true. When man listened, all he heard was untruth. He does not have to continue to believe what is not true unless he chooses to do so. All of his miscreations can literally disappear in "the twinkling of an eye" because they are merely visual misperceptions. Man's Spiritual eye can sleep, but a sleeping eye can still see. What is seen in dreams seems to be very real. The Bible mentions that "a deep sleep fell upon Adam," and nowhere is there any reference to his waking up.
14 The history of man in the world as he sees it has not yet been marked by any genuine or comprehensive reawakening or rebirth. This is impossible as long as man projects in the spirit of miscreation. It still remains within him, however, to project as God projected His own Spirit to him. In reality, this is his only choice because his free will was given him for his own joy in creating the perfect.
15 All fear is ultimately reducible to the basic misperception that man has the ability to usurp the power of God. It can only be emphasized that he neither can nor has been able to do this. In this fact lies the real justification for his escape from fear. The escape is brought about by his acceptance of the Atonement, which places him in a position to realize that his own errors never really occurred. When the "deep sleep" fell upon Adam, he was in a condition to experience nightmares because he was asleep. If a light is suddenly turned on while someone is dreaming a fearful dream, he may initially interpret the light itself as a part of his own dream and be afraid of it. However, when he awakens the light is correctly perceived as the release from the dream, which is no longer accorded reality.
16 It is quite apparent that this release does not depend on the kind of "knowledge" which is nothing more than deceiving lies. The knowledge which illuminates rather than obscures is the knowledge which not only sets you free, but which also shows you clearly that you are free. Whatever lies you may believe are of no concern to the miracle, which can heal any of them with equal ease. It makes no distinctions among misperceptions. Its sole concern is to distinguish between truth on the one hand and all kinds of errors on the other. Some miracles may seem to be of greater magnitude than others. But remember the first point in this course-that there is no order of difficulty in miracles.
17 In reality, you are perfectly unaffected by all expressions of lack of love. These can be either from yourself and others or from yourself to others or from others to you. Peace is an attribute in you. You cannot find it outside. All mental illness is some form of external searching. Mental health is inner peace. It enables you to remain unshaken by lack of love from without and capable through your own miracles of correcting the external conditions which proceed from lack of love in others.
          ~ Original Hand Script of ACIM       

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