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Whenever you are afraid, you are deceived. Your mind is not serving the Soul. This literally starves the Soul by denying its daily bread. God offers only mercy. Your words should reflect only mercy because that is what you have received, and that is what you should give.
Workbook for Students
Part I
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.

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Workbook for Students
Part I
Lesson 16
I have no neutral thoughts.
1 The idea for today is a beginning step in dispelling the belief that your thoughts have no effect. Everything you see is the result of your thoughts. There is no exception to this fact. Thoughts are not big or little, powerful or weak. They are merely true or false. Those which are true create their own likeness. Those which are false make theirs.

2 There is no more self-contradictory concept than that of "idle thoughts." What gives rise to the perception of a whole world can hardly be called idle. Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions. You can indeed multiply nothing, but you will not extend it by doing so.

3 In addition to never being idle, salvation requires that you recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war, either love or fear. A neutral result is impossible because a neutral thought is impossible. There is such a temptation to dismiss fear thoughts as unimportant, trivial, and not worth bothering about that it is essential you recognize them all as equally destructive but equally unreal. We will practice this idea in many forms before you really understand it.

4 In applying the idea for today, search your mind for a minute or so, with eyes closed, and actively seek not to overlook any "little" thought which tends to elude the search. This is quite difficult until you get used to it. You will find that it is still hard for you not to make artificial distinctions. Every thought that occurs to you, regardless of the quality which you assign to it, is a suitable subject for applying today's idea.

5 In the practice periods, first repeat the idea, and then as each one crosses your mind, hold it in awareness while you tell yourself:

6 This thought about _____ is not a neutral thought. That thought about _____ is not a neutral thought.

7 As usual, use today's idea whenever you are aware of a particular thought which arouses uneasiness. The following form is suggested for this purpose:

8 This thought about _____ is not a neutral thought, because I have no neutral thoughts.

9 Four or five practice periods are recommended if you find them relatively effortless. If strain is experienced, three will be enough. The length of the exercise period should also be reduced if there is discomfort.
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Course in Miracles
Original Edition
Chapter 2
The Illusion of Separation

II. The Reinterpretation
of Defenses par 18-35
18 When you are afraid of anything, you are acknowledging its power to hurt you. Remember that where your heart is, there is your treasure also. This means that you believe in what you value. If you are afraid, you are valuing wrongly. Human understanding will inevitably value wrongly and, by endowing all human thoughts with equal power, will inevitably destroy peace. That is why the Bible speaks of "the peace of God which passeth (human) understanding." This peace is totally incapable of being shaken by human errors of any kind. It denies the ability of anything which is not of God to affect you in any way.

19 This is the proper use of denial. It is not used to hide anything but to correct error. It brings all error into the light, and since error and darkness are the same, it corrects error automatically. True denial is a powerful protective device. You can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you. This kind of denial is not a concealment device but a correction device. The "right mind" of the mentally healthy depends on it. You can do anything I ask. I have asked you to perform miracles and have made it clear that miracles are natural, corrective, healing, and universal. There is nothing good they cannot do, but they cannot be performed in the spirit of doubt.

20 God and the Souls He created are completely dependent on each other. The creation of the Soul has already been perfectly accomplished, but the creation by Souls has not. God created Souls so He could depend on them because He created them perfectly. He gave them His peace so they could not be shaken and would be unable to be deceived. Whenever you are afraid, you are deceived. Your mind is not serving the Soul. This literally starves the Soul by denying its daily bread. God offers only mercy. Your words should reflect only mercy because that is what you have received, and that is what you should give.

21 Justice is a temporary expedient or an attempt to teach man the meaning of mercy. Its judgmental side arises only because man is capable of injustice if that is what his mind creates. You are afraid of God's Will because you have used your own will, which He created in the likeness of His own, to miscreate. What you do not realize is that the mind can miscreate only when it is not free. An imprisoned mind is not free by definition. It is possessed or held back by itself. Its will is therefore limited and is not free to assert itself. The real meaning of "are of one kind," which was mentioned before, is "are of one mind or will." When the will of the Sonship and the Father are one, their perfect accord is Heaven.

22 Denial of error is a powerful defense of truth. You will note that we have been shifting the emphasis from the negative to the positive use of denial. As we have already stated, denial is not a purely negative device; it results in positive miscreation. That is the way the mentally ill do employ it. But remember a very early thought of your own—"Never underestimate the power of denial." In the service of the "right mind," the denial of error frees the mind and reestablishes the freedom of the will. When the will is really free, it cannot miscreate because it recognizes only truth.

23 False projection arises out of false denial, not out of its proper use. My own role in the Atonement is one of true projection; I can project to you the affirmation of truth. If you project error to me or to yourself, you are interfering with the process. My use of projection, which can also be yours, is not based on faulty denial. It does involve, however, the very powerful use of the denial of errors. The miracle worker is one who accepts my kind of denial and projection, unites his own inherent abilities to deny and project with mine, and imposes them back on himself and others. This establishes the total lack of threat anywhere. Together we can then work for the real time of peace, which is eternal.

24 The improper use of defenses is quite widely recognized, but their proper use had not been sufficiently understood as yet. They can indeed create man's perception both of himself and of the world. They can distort or correct depending on what you use them for.

25 Denial should be directed only to error, and projection should be reserved only for truth. You should truly give as you have truly received. The Golden Rule can work effectively only on this basis.

26 Intellectualization is a term which stems from the mind-brain confusion. "Right-mindedness" is the device which defends the right mind and gives it control over the body. "Intellectualization" implies a split, while "right-mindedness" involves healing.

27 Withdrawal is properly employed in the service of withdrawing from the meaningless. It is not a device for escape, but for consolidation. There is only One Mind.

28 Dissociation is quite similar. You should split off or dissociate yourself from error but only in defense of integration.

29 Detachment is essentially a weaker form of dissociation.

30 Flight can be undertaken in whatever direction you choose, but note that the concept itself implies flight from something. Flight from error is perfectly appropriate.

31 Distantiation can be properly used as a way of putting distance between yourself and what you should fly from.

32 Regression is an effort to return to your own original state. It can thus be utilized to restore, rather than to go back to the less mature.

33 Sublimation should be a redirection of effort to the sublime.

34 There are many other so-called "dynamic" concepts which are profound errors due essentially to the misuse of defenses. Among them is the concept of different levels of aspiration, which actually result from level confusion. However, the main point to be understood from this section is that you can defend truth as well as error and, in fact, much better.

35 The means are easier to clarify after the value of the goal itself is firmly established. Everyone defends his own treasure. You do not have to tell him to do so because he will do it automatically. The real questions still remain. What do you treasure, and how much do you treasure it? Once you have learned to consider these two questions and to bring them into all your actions as the true criteria for behavior, I will have little difficulty in clarifying the means. You have not learned to be consistent about this as yet. I have therefore concentrated on showing you that the means are available whenever you ask. You can, however, save a lot of time if you do not extend this step unduly. The correct focus will shorten it immeasurably.
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Sarah's Reflections
Lesson 16
I have no neutral thoughts.
Sarah's Commentary:
This Lesson dispels the belief that our thoughts have no effects. We read in the Lesson yesterday that our thoughts are images we made. We also learned in Lesson 14, "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." (W.14.1.2-5) This world and everything we see in it, which God did not create, is therefore of our own making. The thoughts in our minds are projected out, and these thoughts are not neutral because they reflect the ego thought system of sin, guilt, and fear. Sin, guilt, and fear form linear time. Sin is in the past, guilt is the present, and fear is in the future.

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Love and blessings, Sarah
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Allen Watson's
Workbook Commentaries
Allen joined Robert Perry in forming the Circle of Atonement in 1993 in Sedona, Arizona where Allen led retreats and workshops and authored many books based on “A Course in Miracles.” One of his most popular books is:

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