You Always Meet Yourself
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Would you recognize a holy encounter if you are merely perceiving it as a meeting with your own past? For you are meeting no one, and the sharing of salvation, which makes the encounter holy, is excluded from your sight. The Holy Spirit teaches that you always meet yourself and the encounter is holy because you are. The ego teaches that you always encounter your past, and because your dreams were not holy, the future cannot be, and the present is without meaning.
SonShip Workbook 
 L e s s o n 138
Heaven is the decision I must make.

Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio 

In this world Heaven is a choice because  
here we believe there are alternatives 
to choose between. We think that all things have 
an opposite, and what we want we choose. 
If Heaven exists there must be hell as well, 
for contradiction is the way we make 
what we perceive and what we think is real.| 
Creation knows no opposite. But here 
is opposition part of being "real." 
It is this strange perception of the truth 
that makes the choice of Heaven seem to be 
the same as the relinquishment of hell. 
It is not really thus. Yet what is true 
in God's creation cannot enter here 
unless it is reflected in some form 
the world can understand. Truth cannot come 
where it would only be perceived with fear, 
for this would be the error truth can be 
brought to illusions. Opposition makes 
the truth unwelcome, and it cannot come.| 
Choice is the obvious escape from what 
appears as opposites. Decision lets 
one of conflicting goals become the aim 
of effort and expenditure of time. 
Without decision, time is but a waste 
and effort dissipated. It is spent 
for nothing in return. And time goes by 
without results. There is no sense of gain, 
for nothing is accomplished; nothing learned. 
You need to be reminded that you think 
a thousand choices are confronting you 
when there is really only one to make. 
And even this but seems to be a choice. 
Do not confuse yourself with all the doubts 
that myriad decisions would induce. 
You make but one. And when that one is made 
you will perceive it was no choice at all, 
for truth is true and nothing else is real. 
There is no opposite to choose instead. 
There is no contradiction to the truth. 
Choosing depends on learning. But the truth 
cannot be learned, but only recognized. 
In recognition its acceptance lies, 
and as it is accepted it is known. 
But knowledge is beyond the goals we seek 
to teach within the framework of this course. 
Ours are teaching goals, to be attained 
through learning how to reach them, what they are, 
and what they offer you. Decisions are 
the outcome of your learning, for they rest 
on what you have accepted as the truth 
of what you are and what your needs must be. 
In this insanely complicated world 
Heaven appears to take the form of choice, 
rather than merely being what it is. 
Of all the choices you have tried to make 
this is the simplest, most definitive, 
the prototype of all the rest, the one 
which settles all decisions. If you could 
decide the rest, this one remains unsolved. 
But when you solve this one the others are 
resolved with it, for all decisions but 
conceal this one by taking different forms. 
Here is the final and the only choice 
in which is truth accepted or denied. 
So we begin today considering 
the choice that time was made to help us make. 
Such is its holy purpose, now transformed 
from the intent you gave it; that it be 
a means for demonstrating hell is real, 
hope changes to despair, and life itself 
must in the end be overcome by death. 
In death alone are opposites resolved, 
for ending opposition is to die. 
And thus salvation must be seen as death, 
for life is seen as conflict. To resolve 
the conflict is to end your life as well. 
These mad beliefs can gain unconscious hold 
of great intensity, and grip the mind 
with terror and anxiety so strong 
that it will not relinquish its ideas 
about its own protection. It must be 
saved from salvation, threatened to be safe, 
and magically armored against truth. 
And these decisions are made unaware, 
to keep them safely undisturbed; apart 
from question and from reason and from doubt. 
Heaven is chosen consciously. The choice 
cannot be made until alternatives 
are accurately seen and understood. 
All that is veiled in shadows must be raised 
to understanding to be judged again, 
this time with Heaven's help. And all mistakes 
in judgment which the mind had made before 
are open to correction as the truth 
dismisses them as causeless. Now are they 
without effects. They cannot be concealed 
because their nothingness is recognized. 
The conscious choice of Heaven is as sure 
as is the ending of the fear of hell, 
when it is raised from its protecting shroud 
of unawareness, and is brought to light. 
Who can decide between the clearly seen 
and the unrecognized? Yet who can fail 
to make a choice between alternatives 
when only one is seen as valuable; 
the other as a wholly worthless thing, 
a but imagined source of guilt and pain? 
Who hesitates to make a choice like this? 
And shall we hesitate to choose today? 
We make the choice for Heaven as we wake, 
and spend five minutes making sure that we 
have made the one decision that is sane. 
We recognize we make a conscious choice 
between what has existence and what has 
nothing but an appearance of the truth. 
Its pseudo-being brought to what is real, 
is flimsy and transparent in the light. 
It holds no terror now, for what was made 
enormous, vengeful, pitiless with hate, 
demands obscurity for fear to be 
invested there. Now it is seen 
as but a foolish, trivial mistake. 
Before we close our eyes in sleep tonight 
we reaffirm the choice that we have made 
each hour in between. And now we give 
the last five minutes of our waking day 
to the decision with which we awoke. 
As every hour passed, we have declared 
our choice again in a brief quiet time 
devoted to maintaining sanity. 
And finally we close the day with this, 
acknowledging we chose but what we want: 
"Heaven is a decision I must make. 
 I make it now and will not change my mind,  
 because it is the only thing I want ."
       ~ From Original Hand Script Notes 
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
Heaven is the decision I must make. 

Sarah's Commentary:
This Lesson is all about choice. The choice we make is between hell and Heaven, attack and forgiveness, body and spirit, guilt and innocence, and, ultimately, between illusion and truth. In other words, in every moment we are making this choice, but if we don't understand the nature of this decision, we won't realize what we are choosing between. "The choice cannot be made until alternatives are accurately seen and understood." (W.138.9.2) Until we clearly are able to see the insanity of the ego thought system and what purpose it serves as a defense against God's love, we won't see the alternatives available to us. The choice is made within the mind, but the ego has kept our focus on the outer world.
Prior to this teaching, we probably have not been aware of the way the ego has established its domain in our lives. Throughout the Course, Jesus has laid out the ego's plan to keep us mindless of the consequences of its plan in our lives. This has resulted in pain and suffering, which we don't always recognize because there is always some hope of happiness sometime in the future or perhaps after we die. We keep looking to some future time, always outside ourselves, for happiness where it can't be found. We won't give up the hope of something better in the future until we can clearly see how deceived we have been and see how negative consequences show up in our lives as a result of choosing ego.
The ego has no power, but we give it power when we align with it. When we recognize all our pain and suffering comes from our decision to side with the ego, we will be motivated to give it up and realize only the decision to forgive brings joy. "You make but one. And when that one is made, you will perceive it was no choice at all." (W.138.4.4-5) When the choice is made for God, the ego simply disappears. It is not really a choice because the ego brings us nothing of value. "For truth is true, and nothing else is true. There is no opposite to choose instead. There is no contradiction to the truth." (W.138.4.6-8)
Initially, the decision was made outside this dream to choose the ego thought system. When that decision was made, we conveniently forgot another choice was available to us. The ego convinced the mind that we had killed God off so now He is pursuing us. This is the God we are afraid to wake up to. This is the God of the ego that we subconsciously fear. This is the God we defend against with our plans and our sickness. The idea of separation came about because we listened to the ego, made the universe, made the body, took on a separate identity and took on a will separate from God's Will.
With these decisions, made by the mind, came guilt and fear of punishment. All of this is buried in the mind. Until we read and studied this Course, we had no idea of the unconscious program running in the mind. The guilt in the mind feels overwhelming, but the ego has come up with a clever answer. It tells us, if we project the guilt in our minds that came with the separation and make others responsible for our problems, we will not have to take responsibility for our attack on God. Yet if our guilt is in others, we will fear their attacks; and now we think we have to defend and establish protection for ourselves. This makes us feel very vulnerable. It is quite a setup that the ego keeps hidden from us. Its agenda is for us never to make another choice, as there would no longer be an ego if we were to withdraw our allegiance to it. Jesus is helping us see what the cost to us is of following the ego's dictates, so we can make the decision for Heaven, which is where our happiness lies.
While we are dedicated to listening to the ego, we are addicted to this life of conflict, meaning, there is an aspect of the struggle we actually relish. It seems exciting to us to live on the edge in this drama of our lives where we apparently have a thousand choices every day. We can relive all the decisions in our minds and weave stories of adventure, heroism, victimhood, and martyrdom. We tell stories, chapter by chapter, of who did what to whom. We give power to these events, live on fear, and gather guilt like a basketful of goodies. All that this does is maintain the ego and maintain the suffering. We invest in the world and in activities that distract us from the only choice to be made--the choice for Heaven. "Without decision, time is but a waste and effort dissipated." (W.138.3.3) The world can serve an important purpose where everything can be used for the goal of peace of mind. Every situation can provide another opportunity to choose forgiveness.
Things seem real to us in the world through their opposites: If there is life, there must be death. If there is light, there is dark. If there is bad, there is good. If there is sin, there is forgiveness, and if there is Spirit, there is a body. It is a dualistic thought system. Everything is conceived in terms of opposites, but Jesus tells us, "Creation knows no opposite." (W.138.2.1) Opposites cannot exist in Oneness, even though to us opposites do seem very real. In reality, Heaven is not a choice as there is nothing to choose between. It is all One. "Truth cannot come where it could only be perceived with fear." (W.138.2.6) In the presence of truth, our individual separate selves disappear into the Eternal Oneness. We fear the undoing of the ego, which is why we defend against the truth and still cling to our specialness. "Opposition makes the truth unwelcome, and it cannot come." (W.138.2.8) If truth showed up in the world in its pure form, it would just be another option, which is not possible. "Yet what is true in God's creation cannot enter here until it is reflected in some form the world can understand." (W.138.2.5) The nonspecific love of God is translated in the world into specifics we can understand.
In the world, contrasts are helpful for our learning and are used by the Holy Spirit to teach us the consequences of our decisions. We learn through discernment. We learn to see that when we choose with the ego, our experience is one of pain, suffering and distress. When we choose a reflected form of God's love, which is forgiveness and healing, we experience the lifting of the burden of guilt and fear; and we experience the peace that comes from forgiving someone, the joy there is in releasing guilt, and the innocence we feel when we see it in our brothers. We feel the lightness of spirit when worry leaves us and we walk in trust to follow guidance. The nonspecific love of God is now reflected in the specifics of this world. We can experience it with every choice we make for healing and forgiveness instead of holding onto thoughts of anxiety, attack, depression, fear and specialness.
I recently listened to an account from a friend whose sister was murdered. After an initial experience of anger, resentment and bitterness, the Course came into her life and she learned of the value of forgiveness. In her account, she discussed the contrast, in her own mind, of holding the grief and bitterness against the release she felt when she saw the "murderer" in her mind and chose forgiveness. She was able to see herself and her brother as innocent and felt joy and peace in her mind. Seeming catastrophic events like this, which show up in our lives, can be used to help us make this choice. When we turn them over for healing, the Holy Spirit will use anything we will give Him for our healing. When we experience the results of forgiveness and contrast the 'gifts' of the ego with those of the Holy Spirit, we will become more and more motivated to choose forgiveness.
I spent about a year in Sedona, in 2000, studying the Course. I remember a discussion about what a life of total peace would be like where there would be no stories to tell, no one to side against, and no conflict of any kind to intrude. Some viewed a peaceful life as potentially boring and flat. This is precisely what the ego would have us believe to keep us focused on the world instead of choosing against it. Our addiction to the dramas of our lives is our addiction to the ego. We actually like our stories and our thoughts and opinions. As Byron Katie asks, who would you be without your stories? We wonder the same thing.
We made this insanity in which we seem to live. "In this insanely complicated world, Heaven appears to take the form of choice, rather than merely being what it is." (W.138.6.1) We think we like this "insanely complicated world," (W.138.6.1) we made as an alternative to Heaven. We seem to like this world of opposites. We see the good as a contrast to the bad. We hold conflicting goals, which create conflict and distress for us. Yet Jesus says it gets us nothing. Why would we want to spend effort and time on what brings us nothing of value? We think of these things as accomplishments, but he says we are wasting our time and dissipating our efforts when we choose the illusion. "It is spent for nothing in return, and time goes by without results." (W.138.3.4) There is no sense of gain, for nothing is accomplished and nothing learned.
There is only one choice, because there is nothing else to choose between, even though we think there is. Jesus says we need to be constantly reminded Heaven is the only decision to be made. (W.138.4.1) When we make that decision, we will see there never was a choice. It is simply illusion to think we are choosing, because there are no real alternatives. How can there be, when there is only one reality? Yes, it does seem like we are choosing truth or illusion, Heaven or hell. This idea of choice is an illusion even though it still must be made. Why? This choice is an illusion because there is only one reality, and although we are there now, we simply don't get it yet. Until we do, we will appear to be making the choice for truth or illusion.
Jesus tells us we are the ones who made this hell, and we have the power within us to choose release from it. We have made a protective shield for our egos, and with Heaven's help, we can bring it to awareness so we can truly see there is only one choice to be made. It requires vigilant mind-watching. When we are dedicated to healing, the world becomes a wonderful classroom rather than a prison. Everything can now be used for the undoing of the deceived mind that thinks it is a body and separate from every other body. When we use time in this way, everything takes on meaning. I find everything in my day actually becomes helpful and valuable for undoing the ego. This is all about undoing the way I see things, how I interpret what is happening in my day, why certain events and situations are showing up, and how disturbances can be helpful to looking within at the choices I have made. All of it has value; nothing is good or bad. It just is. It is not necessarily easy, but there is an underlying optimism that tells us we are holding the key to our own happiness. We know the way out of suffering, and we need not worry if we choose not to learn the Lesson, as it will show up for us again. It is such a beautiful way to live life, which is not judging what should or should not be happening but seeing it all as useful to the Holy Spirit.
"Choosing depends on learning." (W.138.5.1) Truth can't be learned, as knowledge goes beyond this Course. Learning in the world is about correcting wrong perception so we can experience true perception, but it is still perception rather than the knowledge of Heaven. Jesus is teaching us what the goal is, how to reach it, and what it offers us. When we recognize and accept our deep need for this truth, our motivation increases to do this work. When we learn that when we hurt our brother we are hurting ourselves, we will choose to stop doing that. Until we recognize this, we won't understand that another choice could be made when a brother seemingly attacks us.
It is wonderful to be reminded just how simple this choice for truth really is, but it is certainly not the way it looks to us. Inside each seemingly complicated situation in the world, we still have questions: Will I choose Heaven or hell in this situation? Will I choose to love or hate? Will I choose forgiveness or attack? Will I choose the Holy Spirit or the ego? Will I choose truth or illusion? Whatever the situation we seem to be faced with, in what Jesus concedes is indeed ". . . an insanely complicated world," (W.138.6.1) there is just this one choice to be made, which is the only purpose for time. We made time for an unholy purpose, but now the Holy Spirit wants us to use it for a holy purpose by making the only choice---the choice for Heaven.
The ego has intentions for time: to demonstrates all our hopes ultimately turn to despair, life must end in death, and there is a hell. In this life of opposites where we experience all kinds of conflict as a result of opposites, it does seem to us, "In death alone are opposites resolved, for ending opposites is to die." (W.138.7.3) To the ego, salvation from the conflict of our lives is death. Jesus tells us, "These mad beliefs can gain unconscious hold of great intensity, and grip the mind with terror and anxiety so strong that it will not relinquish its ideas about its own protection." (W.138.8.1) Clearly, we see our own protection as anything that supports our individual existence and keeps us from the love we are. Thus, all of the defenses of the ego maintain our separate self. These include our specialness, judgments, anger, worries, depression, pain, pleasure, sickness and our special relationships. This is the armor we believe protects us from the truth of who we really are. The truth is a threat to us, and so we feel we need to protect ourselves against it.
When we choose Heaven, what does this mean and what exactly are we choosing? Take a situation where you are very angry with someone. The ego urges you to stay with this anger, arguing that you are justified on the basis of what this person has seemingly done to you. Yet to keep the anger is to deny Heaven; to keep the anger is to stay in hell. The choice for peace can easily be made, yet we often find stubborn resistance and a lack of willingness to make this choice. To the ego, anger is powerful, and choosing peace seems weak and appears to let the "other" off the hook. Yet the alternative is to keep ourselves bound in chains and suffer the consequences of such a choice.
Today the Lesson is not about learning the truth but about undoing the interferences to it. Our job is to find the resistance in our minds to the truth and to bring our anger, pain, plans and attacks to the truth by looking at them and being willing to be shown another way. His light is there to shine away the darkness in our minds if we let Him. We must be willing to bring what is buried in our minds into awareness. It takes great honesty and courage. We want to hate, judge, see differences, accuse, blame, react in anger, and fix external problems, all of which seems natural to us in the face of attack or when problems confront us. Instead, we are invited first to look at what we are projecting and see it all starts in our own minds. "Projection makes perception." (T.21.IN.1.1)(ACIM OE T.21.I.1) When we ask for help and become aware of the choice to be made, we will recognize one brings us stress and pain and the other release. Which will you choose today? Be vigilant in this. Vigilance is required in watching our thoughts.
Remind yourselves of the choice for Heaven with these words: "Heaven is a decision I must make. I make it now, and will not change my mind, because it is the only thing I want." (W.138.12.5-6) Start the morning with the reminder that this world is a classroom for undoing the thought system of the ego, and approach the day with the joy of learning what is in store for you today. It won't matter if the Lessons seem painful, as you can be glad they are there to support your goal of awakening. It is all for this purpose when we choose it. Turn away from the ego and instead choose the Holy Spirit as your Teacher today. Forgiveness is the means to your goal.
I love the concept of turning over our sleep to the Holy Spirit. It comes up in this Lesson when he says, "Before we close our eyes in sleep tonight, we reaffirm the choice that we have made each hour in between. And now we give the last five minutes of our waking day to the decision with which we awoke." (W.138.12.1-2) "Heaven is the decision I must make. I make it now, and will not change my mind, because it is the only thing I want." (W.138.12.5-6)
Notice any despair you are feeling about your life, or any death temptation, as an end to the conflict, and notice how these beliefs keep you from choosing Heaven. Ask for help of the Holy Spirit to stay on purpose with your choice for God. This is all about forgiveness of the thoughts of self-attack in our minds. If we truly are dedicated to make this choice for Heaven, we must use the means provided us in the Course for this purpose.
Love and blessings, Sarah
IV. Healing and Time     
23 And now the reason why you are afraid of this course should be apparent. For this is a course on love because it is about you. You have been told that your function in this world is healing, and your function in Heaven is creating. The ego teaches that your function on earth is destruction and that you have no function at all in Heaven. It would thus destroy you here and bury you here, leaving you no inheritance except the dust out of which it thinks you were made. As long as it is reasonably satisfied with you, as its reasoning goes, it offers you oblivion. When it becomes overtly savage, it offers you hell.
24 Yet neither oblivion nor hell is as unacceptable to you as Heaven. For your definition of Heaven is hell and oblivion, and the real Heaven is the greatest threat you think you could experience. For hell and oblivion are ideas which you made up, and you are bent on demonstrating their reality to establish yours. If their reality is questioned, you believe that yours is. For you believe that attack is your reality and that your destruction is the final proof that you were right.
25 Under the circumstances, would it not be more desirable to have been wrong, even apart from the fact that you were wrong? While it could perhaps be argued that death suggests there was life, no one would claim that it proves there is life. Even the past life which death might indicate could only have been futile if it must come to this and needs this to prove that it was. You question Heaven, but you do not question this. You could heal and be healed if you did question it. And even though you know not Heaven, might it not be more desirable than death? You have been as selective in your questioning as in your perception. An open mind is more honest than this.
26 The ego has a very strange notion of time, and it is with this notion that your questioning might well begin. The ego invests heavily in the past and in the end believes that the past is the only aspect of time that is meaningful. You will remember that we said its emphasis on guilt enables it to ensure its continuity by making the future like the past and thus avoiding the present. By the notion of paying for the past in the future, the past becomes the determiner of the future, making them continuous without an intervening present. For the ego uses the present only as a brief transition to the future, in which it brings the past to the future by interpreting the present in past terms.
27 Now has no meaning to the ego. The present merely reminds it of past hurts, and it reacts to the present as if it were the past. The ego cannot tolerate release from the past, and although the past is no more, the ego tries to preserve its image by responding as if it were present. Thus it dictates reactions to those you meet now from a past reference point, obscuring their present reality. In effect, if you follow the ego's dictates, you will react to your brothers as though they were someone else, and this will surely prevent you from perceiving them as they are. And you will receive messages from them out of your own past because, by making it real in the present, you are forbidding yourself to let it go. You thus deny yourself the message of release that every brother offers you now.
28 The shadowy figures from the past are precisely what you must escape. For they are not real and have no hold over you unless you bring them with you. They carry the spots of pain in your minds, directing you to attack in the present in retaliation for a past that is no more. And this decision is one of future pain. Unless you learn that past pain is delusional, you are choosing a future of illusions and losing the endless opportunities which you could find for release in the present. The ego would preserve your nightmares and prevent you from awakening and understanding that they are past.
29 Would you recognize a holy encounter if you are merely perceiving it as a meeting with your own past? For you are meeting no one, and the sharing of salvation, which makes the encounter holy, is excluded from your sight. The Holy Spirit teaches that you always meet yourself and the encounter is holy because you are. The ego teaches that you always encounter your past, and because your dreams were not holy, the future cannot be, and the present is without meaning. It is evident that the Holy Spirit's perception of time is the exact opposite of the ego's. The reason is equally clear, for they perceive the goal of time as diametrically opposed.
30 The Holy Spirit interprets time's purpose as rendering the need for it unnecessary. Thus does He regard the function of time as temporary, serving only His teaching function, which is temporary by definition. His emphasis is therefore on the only aspect of time which can extend to the infinite, for now is the closest approximation of eternity which this world offers. It is in the reality of now, without past or future, that the beginning of the appreciation of eternity lies. For only now is here, and it presents the opportunities for the holy encounters in which salvation can be found.
31 The ego, on the other hand, regards the function of time as one of extending itself in place of eternity, for like the Holy Spirit, the ego interprets the goal of time as its own. The continuity of past and future under its direction is the only purpose the ego perceives in time, and it closes over the present so that no gap in its own continuity can occur. Its continuity, then, would keep you in time, while the Holy Spirit would release you from it. It is His interpretation of the means of salvation which you must learn to accept if you would share His goal of salvation for you.
32 You too will interpret the function of time as you interpret yours. If you accept your function in the world of time as healing, you will emphasize only the aspect of time in which healing can occur. For healing cannot be accomplished in the past and must be accomplished in the present to release the future. This interpretation ties the future to the present and extends the present rather than the past. But if you interpret your function as destruction, you will lose sight of the present and hold on to the past to ensure a destructive future. And time will be as you interpret it, for of itself it is nothing.

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