Lesson 15
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Perfect and Unshaken
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 2 "THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATION"
I. INTRODUCTION  
 
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.          
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK for STUDENTS
INTRODUCTION
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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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
DAILY LESSONS
SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 15
My thoughts are images which I have made.


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1It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them. This is how your "seeing" was made. This is the function you have given your body's eyes. It is not seeing. It is image-making. It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.
 
2This introductory idea to the process of image-making which you call seeing will not have much meaning for you. You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred. 
 
3As we go along, you may have many "light episodes." They may take many different forms, some of them quite unexpected. Do not be afraid of them. They are signs that you are opening your eyes at last. They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge. These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you. But they will prepare the way to it. 
 
4In practicing the idea for today, repeat it first to yourself, and then apply it to whatever you see around you, using its name and letting your eyes rest on it as you say: 
 
5 This _____ is an image which I have made.
  That _____ is an image which I have made.
 
6It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today's idea. It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself. The idea should be repeated quite slowly each time. 
 
7Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible. Less than a minute will do for the practice periods, if you begin to feel uneasy. Do not have more than three application periods for today's idea unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and do not exceed four.
  
 
   
      ~ Original Hand Script of ACIM   
          
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 15
  My thoughts are images which I have made .  

Sarah's Commentary:

It is interesting to talk to those of you who are now going through the Lessons for the second, third, or fourth time and getting so much more out of them. These Lessons are so challenging to the ego that undoing our investment in it is indeed a moment-by-moment process, but this does not matter since we are merely using time for its intended purpose.
 
It is not helpful to set expectations of where we think we should be. In fact, we have no way to assess our progress. Only the ego mind has expectations and requirements that it puts on us to reinforce our guilt. We are exactly where we need to be, and the current situation and the people around us at this time are perfect for our learning. How can we know that? We know it because they are in our lives right now. There are no accidents in salvation. Everything is orchestrated perfectly in our classroom. All that is asked of us is to do the Lessons as well as we are able and not to worry about their efficacy, nor about whether we are doing them exactly as prescribed. Remember that strain is not helpful and neither is ritualizing this process. We still have a huge amount of resistance. Our eyes glaze over as we read this material. We think we need to understand it all. Perhaps we argue with it, we don't accept what we are reading, or we actively resist the ideas. Jesus says in the Introduction to the Lessons that none of this will matter. All that is required of us is not to make exceptions in applying the ideas contained in the Workbook. Any number of things distract us from the practice. These are all forms of resistance, but Jesus tells us not to fight ourselves. Just notice the resistance and take the time to do what is necessary to come back to willingness.
 
This Lesson, like all of them, challenges everything we have come to believe. In this case, we are told that the images we see with our eyes show us nothing but our own thoughts. Jesus tells us that our thoughts show up as images, and because they do, it is hard to think of these images as nothing. Our eyes are made to report back to us a real and solid world. They tell us what we see is really there and true. Yet they only reflect back to us our own thoughts and beliefs. Our thoughts, which show up as images, really do seem real to us because they seem to be objective and external to us. The body's eyes affirm that these images are independent of our thoughts, but we are not really seeing. We are only ". . . replacing vision with illusions." (W.15.1.7)
 
We believe the images we make are really there, but what we are seeing are our judgments projected out from our own minds. Our eyes do not show us the truth. In Chapter 22 of the Text, we learn more about this phenomenon. Jesus tells us, "The body's eyes see only form. They cannot see beyond what they were made to see. And they were made to look on error and not see past it." (T.22.III.5.3-5) (ACIM OE T.22.IV.33) All that is happening is that our thoughts are being projected out and now we see them as images. Real seeing has nothing to do with the eyes.
 
Real seeing is about vision. Anyone who has had an out-of-body experience has witnessed that the eyes do not see. When someone leaves the body and yet reports looking down on it, the eyeballs are still with the body, so what is doing the looking? Obviously, it is not the eyes. The images we see are all perceived by our minds.
 
"These eyes, made not to see, will never see. For the idea they represent left not its maker, and it is their maker that sees through them. What was its maker's goal but not to see? For this the body's eyes are perfect means, but not for seeing. See how the body's eyes rest on externals and cannot go beyond. Watch how they stop at nothingness, unable to go beyond the form to meaning. Nothing so blinding as perception of form. For sight of form means understanding has been obscured." (T.22.III.6.1-8) (ACIM OE T.22.IV.35)
 
In other words, our eyes were really made to keep us blind to the truth. They were made to keep us invested in the world of form. They were made to see only externals. Their maker is the "you" that chose the ego and with it came the thoughts of sin, guilt, and fear. This maker is the Son of God that decided to separate from God. Now the Son separated into billions of fragments with fragmented thoughts projected out onto the world and seen as images. We think we are seeing something real and solid rather than our own projected thoughts. We focus only on how we can manipulate these images and what they can give us. Our own body and identity are also images in this imaginary world. Everything comes from within the mind, which is the only place a real choice can be made. Between the thought systems of the wrong mind that identifies with the ego and the right mind where the Holy Spirit dwells is the decision maker that can choose which teacher it will follow in each moment---the ego or the Holy Spirit.
 
When Jesus says, "You think you think them, and so you think you see them," (W.15.1.2) he is reminding us that our thoughts are nothing at all. Our mind is actually blank when we think we are thinking. Real thoughts are behind the thoughts we think we are thinking. They reflect our reality as the Christ Self we are. We are an eternal being of light and love. We are the Son of God. Instead, we have made an image of ourselves that seems to be separate and autonomous, thinking that it has its own thoughts and is a separate self. We see images of others on whom we project our judgments. We see them as sinful so that we can pretend we are the innocent ones.
 
When Jesus tells us, "This introductory idea to the process of image making that you call seeing will not have much meaning for you," (W.15.2.1) he understands just how deeply rooted we are in the world and how attached we are to our individual identities. In other words, our image of ourselves is very important to us, and we defend it at all costs, even to death.
 
Jesus talks about vision as "light episodes," which has raised questions with Course students, as it is not something most people have ever experienced. Ken Wapnick has answered the question in this way:
 
"This passage has been troubling to many students. It seems to suggest that a mark of spiritual progress is seeing edges of light around objects, such as auras. If this were the literal meaning, it would go against everything else the Course teaches. Jesus, as we know, stresses that all perception is unreal. In the text, he says that however holy visions may be, they do not last because they are based on perception."
 
He is not talking about literally seeing edges of light, but seeing with vision, which is not of the eyes. To see with vision is to understand the content behind the form, which is the content of love.
 
There may be some experiences in which there are phenomena like this, but we always come back to what is important, which is the content. It can probably best be taken as a symbol of seeing with vision when it comes through forgiveness. It is thus a symbol of more light extended from our minds. "They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge. These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you. But they will prepare the way to it." (W.15.3.5-7) In the Course, knowledge is equated with a revelatory experience and is not the goal of the Course. The goal is to experience a consistent state of peace.
 
For the practice today, we take a minute, or less if we feel uneasy, and practice three or four times, if comfortable. We repeat the idea and then look about and apply it randomly to whatever we see, while saying slowly, "This_____is an image that I have made. That_____is an image that I have made." (W.15.4.2-3) We let our eyes rest on the object, as we repeat the Lesson.
 
"It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today's idea. It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself." (W.15.4.4-5)
 
"Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible." (W.15.5.1) This is because everything we look at is the same. It is not that the thing we look at has any meaning, but the meaning is in the thought in our own minds that we project out.
 
Finally, you can repeat this Lesson whenever you are upset by some situation or event in your life by reminding yourself that your thoughts about the situation or event are images made by you. I am thinking today about visiting my mother who is in distress. My mind is making up images about her situation. I actually see it in pictures. I am the one making them up and then reacting to them as if they were real. It is a personal world of fantasies I have created out of my own mind. This is the world I live in until I choose to turn to the Holy Spirit and connect with the truth of the perfection of her script, chosen by her. Now I have peace until the next thought intrudes in my mind!
 

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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