Lesson 14
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Lies of the Serpent
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 2 "THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATION"
I. INTRODUCTION  
 
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.          
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK for STUDENTS
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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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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
DAILY LESSONS
SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 14
God did not create a meaningless world.


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1The idea for today is, of course, the reason why a meaningless world is impossible. What God did not create does not exist. And everything that does exist exists as He created it. The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist. 
 
2The exercises for today are to be practiced with eyes closed throughout. The mind searching period should be short, a minute at most. Do not have more than three practice periods with today's idea unless you find them comfortable. If you do, it will be because you really understand what they are for. 
 
3The idea for today is another step in learning to let go the thoughts which you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place. The early steps in this exchange, which can truly be called salvation, can be quite difficult and even quite painful. Some of them will lead you directly into fear. You will not be left there. You will go far beyond it. Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace. 
 
4With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind. Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its reality. God did not create it, and so it is not real. Say, for example: 

5
God did not create that war, and so it is not real.
God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real. 
God did not create that disaster [specify], and so it is not real.
 
6Suitable subjects for the application of today's idea also include anything you are afraid might happen to you or to anyone about whom you are concerned. In each case, name the "disaster" quite specifically. Do not use general terms. For example, do not say, "God did not create illness," but, "God did not create cancer," or heart attacks, or whatever may arouse fear in you. 
 
7This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking. These things are part of the world you see. Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell. It does not matter. What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His. Therefore, it has no meaning. In recognition of this fact, conclude the practice periods by repeating today's idea: 
 
8 God did not create a meaningless world.
 
9The idea for today can, of course, be applied to anything that disturbs you during the day, aside from the practice periods. Be very specific in applying it. Say: 

10
God did not create a meaningless world.
He did not create [specify the situation 
which is disturbing you], and so it is not real.
 
 
   
      ~ Original Hand Script of ACIM   
          
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 14
  God did not create a meaningless world .  

Sarah's Commentary:

Yesterday, we read in the Lesson, "Nothing without meaning exists." (W.13.1.3) Thus, a meaningless world cannot exist and is not real. The only thing that is real is the eternal, the formless, the perfect, and that which has no limits of any kind. Therefore, the world of time, space, bodies, and substances cannot be real. This world is a place of limitation, always changing and forever imperfect. Thus, God could not have created any of it. It has come about as a result of the separation and is illusory. God created only the eternal. He can create only like Himself, so He can only create changeless perfect Oneness. The world is a projection of our meaningless thoughts. It seems very real and solid to us, and so to be told it is illusory is beyond our understanding. We might accept it intellectually for now, but our experiences mostly confirm its reality. We are invested in our bodies and our identities, which is why we need the miracle to shift our minds. "Miracles reawaken the awareness that the spirit, not the body, is the altar of truth. This is the recognition that leads to the healing power of the miracle." (T.1.I.20.1-2) (ACIM OE T.1.I.20) And through this healing, the mind is restored and we are released from our ". . . false sense of isolation, deprivation and lack." (T.1.I.42) (ACIM OE T.1.I.57)
 
For me, it is a relief that I do not have to try to reconcile the death, destruction, and injustices of this world with God's Love. Think about it. If God is only love, His nature cannot bring about destruction. However, if we try to figure out God's nature from what we see as the wars and disasters in the world, we would need to reconcile a loving God with a wrathful God, which is what most religions have tried to do. We have tried to impose our own definition of Him, based on how we perceive the world. We project our own image onto God and simply make Him a larger and more powerful ego. This is the god the ego has made and reflects the third law of chaos described in Chapter 23. In that law, we tell God what He is. "For if God cannot be mistaken, He must accept His Son's belief in what he is, and hate him for it." (T.23.II.6.5) (ACIM OE T.23.III.24)
 
If God is not responsible for the pain and suffering in the world, who is? It turns out that we are. The source is the thought system of the ego. It is all a dream of our own making. It is a projection of the thought system of sin, guilt, and fear. It is an experience of duality, yet duality can't be true because Oneness is all there is. God is perfect Oneness and perfect Love. Nothing outside of that perfection exists, and that is precisely the Thought we are so defended against. Our defenses protect what we have made and give value to. Our only way back to the truth of what we are is to negate all that is not the truth and to turn away from false thoughts, refusing their counsel. They block the truth of what we are, but they need to be seen. The important thing is to look at these thoughts without judging ourselves for them. We are not responsible for the error but only for the correction. The correction happens when we willingly bring our dark thoughts to awareness and give them over to the Holy Spirit where they are healed. We can't fix ourselves, but we can surrender what no longer serves us. We can choose not to listen to the lies of the ego.
 
We can actively choose to deny the reality of anything not of God or of His making. We may think of denial as a negative thing, yet in Chapter 2, Jesus talks of the positive use of denial. He tells us that we have been using defenses against the Atonement, meaning that we have been setting up defenses against the truth by investing belief in the reality of the body and the world. He now urges us to use denial as a way of affirming that anything not of God cannot affect us. Thus, the disasters of this world or of our lives really can't have any real effect on us because they are just part of the dream of this world. Certainly, they can affect us in the dream, but we are not in the dream. The mind is outside of the dream and is not affected by what seems to be happening in the dream, similar to nighttime dreams.
 
The idea that the world is of our own making can be hard to take and can make us feel even more overwhelmed by guilt and self-hatred. Is it really possible that my murderous thoughts contribute to the violence in the world? Jesus told us in the Lesson yesterday that, "Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones." (W.13.2.1) It means that all of us live with this anxiety. It helps to be told that it is natural to feel fear and resistance as we walk this path. It is not helpful to deny how we are feeling. It is important to let all our fears and concerns come to the surface. We are so used to being nice and good people that we don't want to expose our vulnerabilities, but it is specifically through exposure of the ego that healing can happen. Jesus assures us that while this process can bring up a lot of fear, "You will not be left there. You will go far beyond it. Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace." (W.14.3.4-6) You have a Guide with you and He will lead you through the seeming terror. God's love is on the other side. There is no way around the darkness. Trying to do a spiritual bypass or developing a spiritual ego will not work.
 
In my early work with the Course, this is exactly what I tried to do. I so much wanted to be an even nicer version of my egoic self. So, I learned Course principles, did the practices, had some lovely shifts in my mind and felt I was done. I felt so much better about what I knew about Course teachings that I did not want to accept I was in denial about my true motives. While I was willing to acknowledge judgments, I was not willing to acknowledge hatred in me. I was highly defended against perceived qualities in me that were negative as this did not align with my spiritual image. The shift came for me when I realized the ego was not me. The image I worked hard to maintain was the problem. Once that was apparent to me, I was willing to look deeper and no longer judge myself for the thoughts I was trying to protect.
 
In doing this healing, it is important to look at our judgments, our grievances, our anger, our control, our worry thoughts, our shame and guilt, our specialness, and all the ways we try to protect and defend ourselves. "Some of them will lead you directly into fear. You will not be left there. You will go far beyond it. Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace." (W.14.3.3-6) We need to trust that there is a way out of this cycle of sin, guilt, and fear that we live with daily. The way out is not through affirmations and not through manifestations but by being willing to look at how our ego shows up in the world. What do I value more than love? How do I try to win at someone's expense? How do I see myself as different and better than my brother? How much do I want to justify my positions? How much do I want to hold onto past grievances? What is the payoff for me for withholding forgiveness? What does my salvation (happiness) depend on? What am I invested in that I insist on having my way? What do I need to be right about?
 
We are learning to trust this process as we are being led past the concrete world of bodies, form, time, and space. Our minds are opening to the truth of who we are as eternal beings. We are, and always have been, innocent. We come to know our innocence by letting go of the thoughts we have written on this world. "The idea for today is another step in learning to let go the thoughts that you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place." (W.14.3.1) Jesus understands this can bring up a lot of fear, but he assures us we will not be left there. We just need to transition through the fear and doubt thoughts by acknowledging them without condemning ourselves for them. This is the only way healing can happen. It is a journey through the darkness to the light.
 
We are all here doing these Lessons because we have the willingness to undertake this journey back to the Self. Yes, resistance to the ideas will come up, but don't let that stop you. Jesus is very gentle with us. He does not make demands of us, which is why he asks us to be gentle with ourselves. Notice that your ego is the tyrant. Its voice makes demands of you. Jesus is gentle with us because he knows these Lessons challenge us. Our minds have been conditioned to cover our fears and anxieties and to be strong in the face of adversity. We are reluctant to expose our hate and our murderous thoughts. We cover them over by pretending they are small irritations, slight impatience, occasional anger, and little annoyances. We justify these feelings in the face of what we think others have done to us. I told Don this morning that a broadcaster's voice irritated me as I was watching TV, but I immediately recognized the irritation was in me already. It was simply being exposed. A peaceful healed mind can't be irritated. What makes the Course challenging is that we don't want to take responsibility for our reactions, believing instead that they are triggered by outside events. We want to put the guilt for how we feel on others, when in fact, it is our own guilt projected out. If I can see that others are responsible, I can feel innocent, but this is a false innocence.
 
The Lesson today asks us to think of all the horrors of the world, name each one, and then deny its reality because God did not create it, and so it is not real. Closer to home, we are also asked to look at what we are afraid might happen to us specifically and to anyone we are concerned about and affirm that God did not create any of it. This is ". . . part of your personal hell." (W.14.6.3) Other disasters are a reflection of our "shared illusions." (W.14.6.3) This is what we all uphold as true. The wars, death, and destruction are all part of our shared illusion, while all my fears about my health, my future, and my ability to share this message become part of my personal thought system, none of which is real. Just because a billion people share in these beliefs does not make them true.
 
Your mind might be rebelling at this point with, "What do you mean 'None of this is real?'" You may be experiencing a very painful illness or a painful divorce, which certainly feels real. The news of disasters feels real. The death of someone dear to us feels real. Personally, I find it reassuring that nothing of this world is of God's creation but is of our own making, and thus, we must let the Holy Spirit give His interpretation to everything. He can bring a new perspective to what we think we are seeing and believing. I love this story, which is all about perspective, as it shows us there is always another way to see everything, and as we do, our perspective changes.
 
Here it is:
 
One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to a farm with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
 
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son,
 
"How was the trip?"
 
"It was great, Dad."
 
"Did you see how poor people live?" his father asked.
 
"Oh yeah," said the son.
 
"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" his father asked.
 
The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."
 
The boy's father was speechless.
 
Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."
 
Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? It makes one wonder what would happen if we all were able to be in a state of gratitude. Should I be grateful for the difficulties in my life? Increasingly, I find that I see them as opportunities to look at my responses and recognize that I can choose again.
 
Today, as well as practicing this Lesson as described, we are also reminded that we can use this thought anytime during the day when we feel a loss of peace or are disturbed by anything that happens in the day. I am disturbed by a huge increase in the tax assessment on my property. I can apply this Lesson today to my disturbance by reminding myself God did not create a meaningless world. He did not create this disturbing tax situation. God has nothing to do with any of it. Notice how often, when difficulties arise, we ask God how He could allow this to happen? Why would we turn to such a God for comfort? Isn't it reassuring to know that He is not responsible for anything but the Love that is always available, regardless of our perceived problems? We undertake this Lesson to help us see that the interpretations we put on this world, on ourselves, and on God as well, are wrong.  

Love and blessings, Sarah  
PAUSED FOR WEEKEND
A Course in Miracles
TEXT
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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