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The absence of perfect peace means but one thing: you think you do not will for God's Son what His Father wills for him. Every dark lesson teaches this in one form or another. And each bright lesson, with which the Holy Spirit will replace the dark ones you do not accept and hide, teaches you that you will with the Father unto His Son.

"The Test of Truth"
Workbook for Students
Lesson 163
There is no death.
The Son of God is free.
1 Death is a thought which takes on many forms, often unrecognized. It may appear as sadness, fear, anxiety, or doubt; as anger, faithlessness, and lack of trust; concern for bodies, envy, and all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you. All such thoughts are but reflections of the worshipping of death as savior and as giver of release.

2 Embodiment of fear, the host of sin, god of the guilty, and the lord of all illusions and deceptions, does the thought of death seem mighty. For it seems to hold all living things within its withered hand; all hopes and wishes in its blighting grasp. All goals perceived but in its sightless eyes. The frail, the helpless, and the sick bow down before its image, thinking it alone is real, inevitable, worthy of their trust. For it alone will surely come.

3 All things but death are seen to be unsure, too quickly lost however hard to gain, uncertain in their outcome, apt to fail the hopes they once engendered and to leave the taste of dust and ashes in their wake in place of aspirations and of dreams. But death is counted on. For it will come with certain footsteps when the time has come for its arrival. It will never fail to take all life as hostage to itself.

4 Would you bow down to idols such as this? Here is the strength and might of God Himself perceived within an idol made of dust. Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God's Will for life, the endlessness of love and Heaven's perfect, changeless constancy. Here is the Will of Father and of Son defeated finally and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God.

5 Unholy in defeat, he has become what death would have him be. His epitaph, which death itself has written, gives no name to him, for he has passed to dust. It says but this: "Here lies a witness God is dead." And this it writes again and still again, while all the while its worshippers agree, and kneeling down with foreheads to the ground, they whisper fearfully that it is so.

6 It is impossible to worship death in any form and still select a few you would not cherish and would yet avoid while still believing in the rest. For death is total. Either all things die or else they live and cannot die. No compromise is possible. For here again we see an obvious position which we must accept if we be sane; what contradicts one thought entirely can not be true unless its opposite is proven false.

7 The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty in believing it. For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished, killed, apparently, by those who did not want him to survive. Their stronger will could triumph over His, and so eternal life gave way to death. And with the Father died the Son as well.

8 Death's worshippers may be afraid. And yet can thoughts like these be fearful? If they saw that it is only this which they believed, they would be instantly released. And you will show them this today. There is no death, and we renounce it now in every form for their salvation and our own as well. God made not death. Whatever form it takes must therefore be illusion. This the stand we take today. And it is given us to look past death and see the life beyond.

9 Our Father, bless our eyes today. We are Your messengers, and we would look upon the glorious reflection of Your Love which shines in everything. We live and breathe in You alone. We are not separate from Your eternal life. There is no death, for death is not Your Will. And we abide where You have placed us, in the Life we share with You and with all living things, to be like You and part of You forever. We accept Your Thoughts as ours, and our will is one with Yours eternally. Amen.

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Course in Miracles
Original Edition
Chapter 14
 Bringing Illusions to Truth

VII. The Test of Truth
 par 58-75
58 Yet the essential thing is learning that you do not know. Knowledge is power, and all power is of God. You who have tried to keep power for yourselves have lost it. You still have the power, but you have interposed so much between it and your awareness of it that you cannot use it. Everything you have taught yourselves has made your power more and more obscure to you. You know not what it is nor where. You have made a semblance of power and a show of strength so pitiful that it must fail you. For power is not a seeming strength, and truth is beyond semblance of any kind. Yet all that stands between you and the power of God in you is but your learning of the false and your attempts to undo the true.

59 Be willing, then, for all of it to be undone, and be glad that you are not bound to it forever. For you have taught yourselves how to imprison the Son of God, a lesson so unthinkable that only the insane, in deepest sleep, could even dream of it. Can God learn how not to be God? And can His Son, given all power by Him, learn to be powerless? What have you taught yourselves that you can possibly prefer to keep in place of what you have and what you are?

60 Atonement teaches you how to escape forever from everything that you have taught yourselves in the past by showing you only what you are now. Learning has been accomplished before its effects are manifest. Learning is therefore in the past, but its influence determines the present by giving it whatever meaning it holds for you. Your learning gives the present no meaning at all. Nothing you have ever learned can help you understand the present or teach you how to undo the past. Your past is what you have taught yourselves. Let it all go. Do not attempt to understand any event or anything or anyone in its light, for the light of darkness by which you try to see can only obscure.

61 Put no confidence at all in darkness to illuminate your understanding, for if you do, you contradict the light and thereby think you see the darkness. Yet darkness cannot be seen, for it is nothing more than a condition in which seeing becomes impossible. You who have not yet brought all of the darkness you have taught yourselves unto the light in you can hardly judge the truth and value of this course. Yet God did not abandon you. And so you have another lesson sent from Him, already learned for every Child of light by Him to Whom God gave it. This lesson shines with God's glory, for in it lies His power, which He shares so gladly with His Son.

62 Learn of His happiness, which is yours. But to accomplish this, all your dark lessons must be brought willingly to truth and joyously laid down by hands open to receive, not closed to take. Every dark lesson that you bring to Him Who teaches light He will accept from you because you do not want it. And He will gladly exchange each one for the bright lesson He has learned for you. Never believe that any lesson you have learned apart from Him means anything.

63 You have one test, as sure as God, by which to recognize if what you learned is true. If you are wholly free of fear of any kind, and if all those who meet or even think of you share in your perfect peace, then you can be sure that you have learned God's lesson and not yours. Unless all this is true, there are dark lessons in your minds which hurt and hinder you and everyone around you. The absence of perfect peace means but one thing: you think you do not will for God's Son what His Father wills for him. Every dark lesson teaches this in one form or another. And each bright lesson, with which the Holy Spirit will replace the dark ones you do not accept and hide, teaches you that you will with the Father unto His Son.

64 Do not be concerned how you can learn a lesson so completely different from everything you have taught yourselves. How would you know? Your part is very simple. You need only recognize that everything you learned you do not want. Ask to be taught and do not use your experiences to confirm what you have learned. When your peace is threatened or disturbed in any way, say to yourself,

65 I do not know what anything, including this, means. And so I do not know how to respond to it. And I will not use my own past learning as the light to guide me now.

66 By this refusal to attempt to teach yourself what you do not know, the Guide Whom God has given you will speak to you. He will take His rightful place in your awareness the instant you abandon it and offer it to Him.

67 You cannot be your guide to miracles, for it is you who made them necessary. And because you did, the means on which you can depend for miracles has been provided for you. God's Son can make no needs His Father will not meet if he but turn to Him ever so little. Yet He cannot compel His Son to turn to Him and remain Himself. It is impossible that God lose His Identity, for if He did, you would lose yours. And being yours, He cannot change Himself, for your identity is changeless. The miracle acknowledges His changelessness by seeing His Son as he always was and not as he would make himself. The miracle brings the effects which only guiltlessness can bring and thus establishes the fact that guiltlessness must be.

68 How can you, so firmly bound to guilt and committed so to remain, establish for yourself your guiltlessness? That is impossible. But be sure that you are willing to acknowledge that it is impossible. It is only because you think that you can run some little part or deal with certain aspects of your lives alone that the guidance of the Holy Spirit is limited. Thus would you make Him undependable and use this fancied undependability as an excuse for keeping certain dark lessons from Him. And by so limiting the guidance that you would accept, you are unable to depend on miracles to answer all your problems for you.

69 Do you think that what the Holy Spirit would have you give He would withhold from you? You have no problems which He cannot solve by offering you a miracle. Miracles are for you. And every fear or pain or trial you have has been undone. He has brought all of them to light, having accepted them instead of you and recognized they never were. There are no dark lessons He has not already lightened for you. The lessons you would teach yourselves He has corrected already. They do not exist in His Mind at all. For the past binds Him not and therefore binds not you. He does not see time as you do. And each miracle He offers you corrects your use of time and makes it His.

70 He Who has freed you from the past would teach you are free of it. He would but have you accept His accomplishments as yours because he did them for you. And because he did, they are yours. He has made you free of what you made. You can deny Him, but you cannot call on Him in vain. He always gives what He has made in place of you. He would establish His bright teaching so firmly in your mind that no dark lessons of guilt can abide in what He has established as holy by His Presence. Thank God that He is there and works through you. And all His works are yours. He offers you a miracle with every one you let Him do through you.

71 God's Son will always be indivisible. As we are held as one in God, so do we learn as one in Him. God's Teacher is as like to His Creator as is His Son, and through His Teacher does God proclaim His Oneness and His Son's. Listen in silence, and do not raise your voice against Him. For He teaches the miracle of oneness, and before His lesson division disappears. Teach like Him here, and you will remember that you have always created like your Father. The miracle of creation has never ceased, having the holy stamp of immortality upon it. This is the Will of God for all creation, and all creation joins in willing this.

72 Those who remember always that they know nothing, but who have become willing to learn everything, will learn it. But whenever they trust themselves, they will not learn. They have destroyed their motivation for learning by thinking they already know. Think not you understand anything until you pass the test of perfect peace, for peace and understanding go together and never can be found alone. Each brings the other with it, for it is the law of God they be not separate. They are cause and effect, each to the other, so where one is absent the other cannot be.

73 Only those who see they cannot know unless the effects of understanding are with them can really learn at all. And for this, it must be peace they want and nothing else. Whenever you think you know, peace will depart from you because you have abandoned the Teacher of Peace. Whenever you fully realize that you know not, peace will return, for you will have invited Him to do so by abandoning the ego on behalf of Him. Call not upon the ego for anything. It is only this that you need do. The Holy Spirit will, of Himself, fill every mind that so makes room for Him.

74 If you want peace, you must abandon the teacher of attack. The Teacher of peace will never abandon you. You can desert Him, but He will never reciprocate, for His faith in you is His understanding. It is as firm as is His faith in His Creator, and He knows that faith in His Creator must encompass faith in His creation. In this consistency lies His holiness, which He cannot abandon, for it is not His Will to do so. With your perfection ever in His sight, He gives the gift of peace to everyone who perceives the need for peace and who would have it. Make way for peace, and it will come. For understanding is in you, and from it peace must come.

75 The power of God, from which they both arise, is yours as surely as it is His. You think you know Him not only because, alone, it is impossible to know Him. Yet see the mighty works that He will do through you, and you must be convinced you did them through Him. It is impossible to deny the Source of effects so powerful they could not be of you. Leave room for Him, and you will find yourself so filled with power that nothing will prevail against your peace. And this will be the test by which you recognize that you have understood.

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Sarah's Reflections
Lesson 163
There is no death.
The Son of God is free.
The whole teaching on death in the Course is fascinating because, as the Manual for Teachers lays out in Section 27, "Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem." (M.27.1.1) Thus, it is the final judgment of the ego against God. It says that our bodily reality is what is real, and if the body is what is real, God's reality cannot be true. Thus, death is held up as the proof that our reality as eternal beings cannot be true.
Death, according to the ego, is what God extracts from us for our sin of separation. Death provides evidence that the ego is right after all, and thus it says that we cannot possibly be the eternal spirit that Jesus tells us we are. This Lesson provides the framework for how we currently think about death and offers us a very logical process for looking at it in a new way. To begin with, we are told that death is an illusion because the ego has no power over life. God is the Creator of life, and Jesus tells us that life is all there is. "Nothing can be apart from Him and live." (W.156.2.9) We live because we can’t be apart from Him. There is only life and it never ends. We don't live many lives, but only experience many dream states as part of this one life we share with God.
The purpose of the ego is to defeat God, and death seems to be its ultimate weapon, which it uses to try to convince us that it is the only thing we can be certain about. If death is true, it would have to mean the body is real and our experience in the body is what life is.
Jesus starts out by saying, "Death is a thought that takes many forms, often unrecognized." (W.163.1.1) Certainly, when we read of the forms of death talked about here, (sadness, fear, anxiety, doubt, anger, faithlessness, lack of trust, concern for bodies, and envy), we don't think of these as death. When we think of death, we think it is about bodies that die, but Jesus says that death includes a long list of experiences that tempt us to be something we are not. The temptation, of course, is to think we are bodies experiencing a wide range of emotions. Each time we choose a thought of death, we choose a state of mind that confirms that we are something we are not.
"Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach." (T.31.VIII.1.1-3) (ACIM OE T.31.VIII.83) These forms of death seem to make sin, guilt, and fear real because they originate with the belief in our separation from God and thus our separation from the Self as created by Him.
If we are unlimited, eternal beings of peace, innocence, and joy, certainly, states of fear, anxiety, doubt, anger, envy, lack of trust, and ". . . all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you," (W.163.1.2) can't be real. When we think of these forms of death as real, death of the body seems to us to be a release from the concerns of this world. Thus, we associate peace with death and trust in its inevitability. Everything else we experience in this world seems uncertain, except for our belief in the certainty of death. It is certainly a powerful symbol of the reality of the body, but Jesus says that our reality is unlimited life, which does not start with birth nor end in death.
When we chose to listen to the ego, we chose the thought system of sin, guilt, and fear. In other words, we escaped into the body and made the world as a place to hide from what the ego has told us is our terrible deed of having left God; now we fear His retribution. None of this is true, but we have bought into the story that the ego made up. We escaped into the body and the world, where we believed we could be safe from God, and thus we maintain our independent will and our specialness as a separate, unique self. The ego has convinced us that we have stolen our lives from God, that what we are is a body, and that the ultimate end is death. It now seems to us that, because we could destroy life, we have made death real and have, therefore, become more powerful than God. He says that we are eternal, but through death, we prove Him wrong, which gives the ego power over life. If death were real, the ego thought system would have to be right. And of course, since we identify with the ego, we believe in the reality and certainty of death. Now we are asked to question this belief.
Death is very apparent in this world. We see it everywhere. It is an experience that has touched all of us. We read about the many tragedies ending in death, and we experience the loss associated with the death of loved ones. We may fear our own impending death or the death of our family members, friends, and others close to us. Thus, it shows up with certainty in the world and so, to us, it does seem very real and something we expect and rely on, "For it alone will surely come." (W.163.2.4) Everything else seems less certain to us, yet this we can all count on. "All things but death are seen to be unsure, too quickly lost however hard to gain, uncertain in their outcome, apt to fail the hopes they once engendered, and to leave the taste of dust and ashes in their wake, in place of aspirations and of dreams." (W.163.3.1)
Everything else in the world comes and goes, yet death seems to be a constant. All our relationships, dreams, and aspirations, while initially exciting and offering lots of promise, will be lost in this battle with the inevitability of death. Nothing can outlast death. No wonder we hold it in such awe or worship it, as this Lesson says, over and over again. Nothing has the power over us that death has. Nothing brings up more fear in us. Even if we believe in life after death, we still think death is real. Yet the truth is that what we really are is totally unaffected by birth or death. We are still as we were created, and nothing we have come to believe can change our reality. "There is one life, and that I share with God." (W.167)
We try to find ways to think of death that will reconcile our relationship with God with thoughts like, "It is God's Will," and we talk of the mystery of death and of God as the giver of release. In the case of suicide, we see it as an escape from the insanity of this world. And with it all, we see death as having the final power, always in control. It takes us hostage, and we are all its captives. "It will never fail to take all life as hostage to itself." (W.163.3.4) We all depend on the thought system of the ego that proves its reality to us by showing us that death is real. And each time we accept the reality of death, we think, once again, that the ego is right, and God is wrong.
Where is God? He certainly does not seem as apparent to us as does death. We see and experience death in a seemingly concrete form and as a constant experience, whereas God seems distant, illusory, and uncertain. Where is the evidence of Him? How do we know of His existence? Jesus says, in our perception, death takes the place of God, and it is to death that we bow down. "Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God's Will for life, the endlessness of love and Heaven's perfect, changeless constancy. Here is the Will of Father and of Son defeated finally, and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God." (W.163. 4.3-4) And with each death, we see the witness to God's defeat. Yet we are the ones who have given power to death because we chose to worship this "idol made of dust." (W.163.4.2) And an idol is just a substitute for God, which is what we have made of the body. It makes death seem stronger than God's Will for life. Thus, God has been declared dead because death has overcome life. To worship death is to worship the ego and see it as having defeated God.
"'Here lies a witness God is dead'" (W.163.5.3) is the epitaph we write again and again with each death we witness. And don't we all agree, as we kneel down and ". . . whisper fearfully that it is so." (W.163.5.4) We worship this god that has been made by the ego. Each one becomes a witness to the power of death that seems to overpower God and declare the imperfection of Heaven and Love; and it seems we all agree. Even though we may profess a belief in God, our deeper belief is reflected in His defeat as evidenced by our investment in the reality of the body. When we accept that life is all there is, then death, in all its forms, has to be a contradiction. What is true? Is there life or is there death? Unless life is proven not to be true, death cannot be, "For death is total." (W.163.6.2) No compromise can be possible. "Either all things die, or else they live and cannot die." (W.163.6.3) "The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty believing it." (W.163.7.1)
Thus, even though we all share this insanity because we believe in the reality of the body, the idea of a dead God does seem preposterous. The idea there is something that can actually kill God suggests that there 0nce was a God, but now His life has been put out. How could that ever be possible? "For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished; killed, apparently, by those who did not want Him to survive." (W.163.7.2) How does the all powerful and omniscient get obliterated? Is there really a will stronger than God's? Is death the defeat of God? It is our own arrogance that accepts that we are more powerful than God and have obliterated Him. And now it seems we are God. What is true? Is it life, or is it death? Clearly, it can't be both. No compromise is possible here. Where do we stand? Regardless of the answer to this question for each of us, Jesus nevertheless assures us that the myth told by the ego in the story of our seeming separation from God could not happen in truth.
The only thing that has happened is that we have become lost in the dream and thus lost awareness of the truth of who we are as eternal beings. God can't be defeated. Jesus says that even the insane have difficulty believing there is a force that can kill God. We can be released from this cult of death by giving up the false beliefs we hold about ourselves.
Jesus provides us with his clear logic to help set us free from the power of our belief in death. He asks us to question our fear of death by helping us to see that it is illusion, and no illusion can be frightening. We are eternal beings. If God did not make death, it has to all be unreal---all just an illusory belief we hold. "There is no death, and we renounce it now in every form, for their salvation and our own as well." (W.163.8.5) And when we take this stand today by choosing against the ego, we demonstrate the unreality of death. We see past death to life beyond. The Holy Spirit is our Guide to life by inviting us to bring our fearful thoughts to Him.
God did not make death, and He did not make the body; neither did He make any of the forms of death based on our belief in sin, guilt, and fear. We are not what we think we are. We are not bodies, and we cannot die. There is only life. The only reality is joy, peace, love, and unlimited Self. Today we reflect on the Oneness of His love, and we do so by recognizing that separation is an illusion and does not exist. No one is separate from us. No one's interests are separate from our own. Belief in illusion can be undone because it is belief in nothing real. "He [Jesus] , offered you a final demonstration that it is impossible to kill God's Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death." (Clarification of Terms.5.3-5) We remain as God created us.
"Death's worshippers may be afraid. And yet, can thoughts like these be fearful? If they saw that it is only this which they believe, they would be instantly released." (W.163.8.1-3) Jesus recognizes that we all have fear of dying because we think death means the end of life. Yet he asks us to question these thoughts since they are all illusory. Just because we believe these thoughts does not make them true. When we look at them in light of the logic he presents, we can question the beliefs we hold and bring them to the truth.
Every time we are tempted to see anyone as separate from us and as a body, we ask our Father to bless our eyes so that instead of seeing a body, ". . .we would look upon the glorious reflection of Your Love which shines in everything ." (W.163.9.2) This Lesson offers us our first prayer said to Our Father in the workbook. Pray the prayer today and reflect on the many ways death, and all its forms, seems to have reality for you. Recognize today that any negative emotion, any state of illness or frailty, lack of trust, anxiety, or distress of any kind is just a wish to be other than what you are. To ". . .look past death, and see the life beyond" (W.163.8.9) is not to deny that bodies die. The only thing we are asked to do is to question the interpretation we have given to death. When we look at any situation with the Holy Spirit, He gives us an interpretation of death that negates what the ego tells us. He reminds us that death is not the truth because God did not make it.
As I was writing this, a call came in that one of our mighty companions on this journey has just been moved to a hospice and is in her final days. Unbelievably, just as I hung up the phone, another friend called to report a death. I recognize I am being given an opportunity to heal my own beliefs in death in the face of the sadness I feel about the seeming impending death of my friends. Tomas Vieira had asked us constantly, as he was approaching his death, to forgive ourselves for our misperception of his condition. He said that if we saw him as sick, we were not perceiving correctly. Today, we are called to challenge our misperceptions, to look at our fears, and to bring them to the light of truth.

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Love and blessings, Sarah

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 “ A Workbook Companion: Vol I and II .”
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