Lesson 166
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No Special Love
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
  CH 15 "THE PURPOSE OF TIME" 
VI. THE HOLY INSTANT AND SPECIAL RELATIONSHIPS
      
47 You cannot love parts of reality and understand what love means. If you would love unlike to God, Who knows no special love, how can you understand it? To believe that special relationships, with special love, can offer you salvation is the belief that separation is salvation. For it is the complete equality of the Atonement in which salvation lies. How can you decide that special aspects of the Sonship can give you more than others? The past has taught you this. Yet the holy instant teaches you it is not so.         
         
              ON LINE: ACIM.OE.TX.CH 15.VI         AUDIO: TEXT CH 15, VI   
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
DAILY LESSONS
SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n  166
I am entrusted with the gifts of God. 
<AUDIO><VIDEO>
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio 

* IAMBIC PENTAMETER

   All things are given you. God's trust in you
   is limitless. He knows His Son. He gives
   without exception, holding nothing back
   that can contribute to your happiness.
   And yet, unless your will is one with His,
   His gifts are not received. But what would make
   you think there is another will than His?
  
   Here is the paradox that underlies
   the making of the world. This world is not
   the Will of God, and so it is not real.
   Yet those who think it real must still believe
   there is another will, and one which leads
   to opposite effects from those He wills.
   Impossible, indeed; but every mind
   which looks upon the world and judges it
   as certain, solid, trustworthy and true
   believes in two creators, or in one,
   himself alone. But never in One God.
 
   The gifts of God are not acceptable
   to anyone who holds such strange beliefs.
   He must believe that to accept God's gifts,
   however evident they may become,
   however urgently he may be called
   to claim them as his own, is being pressed
   to treachery against himself. He must
   deny their presence, contradict the truth,
   and suffer to preserve the world he made.
 
   Here is the only home he thinks be knows.
   Here is the only safety he believes
   that he can find. Without the world he made
   is he an outcast, homeless and afraid.
   He does not realize that it is here
   he is afraid indeed, and homeless too;
   an outcast wandering so far from home,
   so long away, he does not realize
   he has forgotten where he came from, where
   he goes, and even who he really is.
 
   Yet in his lonely, senseless wanderings
   God's gifts go with him, all unknown to him.
   He cannot lose them. But he will not look
   on what is given him. He wanders on,
   aware of the futility he sees
   about him everywhere, perceiving how
   his little lot but dwindles as he goes
   ahead to nowhere. Still he wanders on
   in misery and poverty, alone
   though God is with him, and a treasure his
   so great that everything the world contains
   is valueless before its magnitude.
 
   He seems a sorry figure, weary, worn,
   in threadbare clothing, and with feet that bleed
   a little from the rocky road he walks.
   No-one but has identified with him,
   for everyone who comes here has pursued
   the path he follows, and has felt defeat
   and hopelessness as he is feeling them.
   Yet is he really tragic when you see
   that he is following the way he chose,
   and need but realize Who walks with him
   and open up his treasures to be free?
 
   This is your chosen self, the one you made
   as a replacement for reality.
   This is the self you savagely defend
   against all reason, every evidence,
   and all the witnesses with proof to show
   this is not you. You heed them not. You go
   on your appointed way, with eyes cast down
   lest you might catch a glimpse of truth and be
   released from self-deception and set free.
 
   You cower fearfully lest you should feel
   Christ's touch upon your shoulder, and perceive
   His gentle hand directing you to look
   upon your gifts. How could you then proclaim
   your poverty and exile? He would make
   you laugh at this perception of yourself.
   Where is self-pity then? And what becomes
   of all the tragedy you sought to make
   for him whom God intended only joy?
 
   Your ancient fear has come upon you now,
   and justice has caught up with you at last.
   Christ's hand has touched your shoulder, and you feel
   that you are not alone. You even think
   the miserable self you thought was you
   may not be your identity. Perhaps
   God's Word is truer than your own. Perhaps
   His gifts to you are real. Perhaps He has
   not wholly been outwitted by your plan
   to keep His Son in deep oblivion,
   and go the way you chose without your Self.
 
   God's Will does not oppose. It merely is.
   It was not God you have imprisoned in
   your plan to lose your Self. He does not know
   about a plan so alien to His Will.
   There was a need He did not understand,
   to which He gave an Answer. That is all.
   And you who have this Answer given you
   have need no more of anything but this.
 
   Now do we live, for now we cannot die.
   The wish for death is answered, and the sight
   which looked upon it now has been replaced
   by vision which perceives that you are not
   what you pretend to be. One walks with you
   Who gently answers all your fears with this
   one merciful reply, "It is not so."
   He points to all the gifts you have each time
   the thought of poverty oppresses you,
   and speaks of His Companionship when you
   perceive yourself as lonely and afraid.
 
   Yet He reminds you still of one thing more
   you had forgotten. For His touch on you
   has made you like Himself. The gifts you have
   are not for you alone. What He has come
   to offer you, you now must learn to give.
   This is the lesson which His giving holds,
   for He has saved you from the solitude
   you sought to make in which to hide from God.
   He has reminded you of all the gifts
   that God has given you. He speaks as well
   of what becomes your will when you accept
   these gifts and recognize they are your own.
 
   The gifts are yours, entrusted to your care
   to give to all who chose the lonely road
   you have escaped. They do not understand
   they but pursue their wishes. It is you
   who teach them now. For you have learned of Christ
   there is another way for them to walk.
   Teach them by showing them the happiness
   that comes to those who feel the touch of Christ
   and recognize God's gifts. Let sorrow not
   tempt you to be unfaithful to your trust.
 
   Your sighs will now betray the hopes of those
   who look to you for their release. Your tears
   are theirs. If you are sick you but withhold
   their healing. What you fear but teaches them
   their fears are justified. Your hand becomes
   the giver of Christ's touch; your change of mind
   becomes the proof that who accepts God's gifts
   can never suffer anything. You are
   entrusted with the world's release from pain.
  
   Betray it not. Become the living proof
   of what Christ's touch can offer everyone.
   God has entrusted all His gifts to you.
   Be witness by your happiness to how
   transformed the mind becomes which chooses to
   accept His gifts, and feel the touch of Christ.
   Such is your mission now. And God entrusts
   the giving of God's gifts to all who have
   received them. He has shared His joy with you.
   And now you go to share it with the world.
 

    ~ The Original Handscript Notes
   

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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 166
I am entrusted with the gifts of God.
 
Sarah's Commentary

This Lesson has a wonderful way of carrying the image like a story. It is a rather sad story of how we have chosen to be outcasts, far from home, homeless and afraid, but we don't remember we made this choice. We try desperately to make this faraway domicile as comfortable as possible. Like a homeless person, we make the best of our circumstances. We go nowhere, feeling very alone. Perhaps you don't identify with this picture, yet this Lesson says, "No one but has identified with him, for everyone who comes here [to this world] has pursued the path he follows, and has felt defeat and hopelessness as he is feeling them." (W.166.6.2)
 
When we are tempted to feel victimized by our situation, Jesus reminds us that we are the ones who chose it. "Yet is he really tragic, when you see that he is following the way he chose, and need but realize Who walks with him and open up his treasures to be free?" (W.166.6.3) Why would we continue to choose this when we can choose abundance and happiness instead? "All things are given you. God's trust in you is limitless. He knows His Son. He gives without exception, holding nothing back that can contribute to your happiness." (W.166.1.1-4) If we can choose God's gifts at any time we want, can we be tragic figures or are we just mistaken?
 
The irony of it all is that while we are wandering alone, miserable, sad, and seemingly without a home for safety and support, God's gifts of infinite value go with us. We are never alone, for God is always there with us. If this is our life, why are we denying His ever-present gifts? We deny these gifts because, as Jesus says, as long as we have allegiance to our will and what we have made of ourselves and the world, we will reject God's gifts. "He must deny their presence, contradict the truth, and suffer to preserve the world he made." (W.166.3.3) We are instead hanging onto our specialness, uniqueness, individuality, and the world, and we are making ourselves miserable in the process while refusing to look at what God has given us. (W.166.5.3) This treasure is ". . . so great that everything the world contains is valueless before its magnitude." (W.166.5.5) While we are refusing to accept this treasure, we continue in our sorry state. We may not like what we have made, but it is all our own making. Thus, we are committed to it and value it because we made it. But we can change our minds. We can make another decision. Our condition of seeming homelessness is simply a denial of the truth of what we have and what we are.
 
I recently visited with friends who are coming to the end of their careers and are very frightened by the prospect of what to do with their lives. They are casting about for options of how to spend their time and how to find meaning. The options seem limited to volunteering, traveling, getting future contracts for more work, or entertaining themselves with various pastimes. Their perspective is one of killing time. While there is nothing wrong with any of these activities, there is no joy in them if they simply serve as a distraction from the joy to be discovered within. These activities are all distortions of the real thing that we all look for. It is not contained in the forms of this world, but is the content of our right minds.
 
Are we devoted to seeking for happiness in the world, which is what the ego counsels, or to awakening from this dream? In other words, do we look at everything with the ego as the teacher, or do we choose the Holy Spirit to reinterpret everything for us? The question is, "What is the purpose of what we choose to do?" Jesus counsels us, "In all these diversionary tactics, however, the one question that is never asked by those who pursue them is, 'What for?'" (T.4.V.6.7) (ACIM OE T.4.VI.77) Jesus shows us the way out of this futile cycle, where the purpose for the ego is to keep us rooted in the illusory world, constantly looking for peace and happiness where it is not.
 
Why do we continue to choose to be these tragic figures instead of accepting the gifts that await us? Why not laugh at such foolishness? Is there something noble in victimhood? Is there something special about us if we can suffer what we think others can't withstand? Understand that this is not conscious, although we need to consider this question carefully. When we hold this perception of ourselves and take it seriously, we are not seeing the absurdity of it all. "He would make you laugh at this perception of yourself." (W.166.8.3) While we live a tragic story, a sad story, or a story of heartbreak, God only wants joy for us. Yet we fear His touch. (W.166.8.1) If we accept the truth about ourselves, we can no longer claim victimhood. Thus, His Presence is a great threat to us, which is why we resist it. We fear our magnitude. We still want to be authors of our own lives, rather than surrender to God. It seems, as Milton wrote, that we would rather rule in hell than serve in Heaven.
 
Can this be true about us? This Lesson tells us our misery and poverty, in a spiritual sense, are worth it if it means we can be the authors of our own lives. We indulge in our misery, believing no one can understand us, as we feel sorry for ourselves. If we could step back and laugh at the silliness of this notion, Jesus wonders, "Where is self-pity then?" (W.166.8.4) We are the dreamers of this dream, and we can choose to examine our decision to stay in misery. This is not a decision we make when we forget that the mind and not the world, is the cause of our misery. However, we savagely defend our situation when we see the cause as outside our own minds. This is how we maintain the independent, separate self. Indulging in self-pity points the responsibility for our lack of happiness outside ourselves.
 
It is difficult to accept that we are the ones choosing our own victimhood. Initially, we will probably feel attacked and get defensive at the suggestion that we are making a choice to be a victim. We get extremely defensive at the idea that the circumstances of our lives are not inflicted on us, but chosen by us. We seem to prefer to proclaim our victimhood because we are attached to our story, and thus, we fear Christ's touch because it would change everything.
 
Our stories of victimhood are designed to make others responsible for our circumstances. This is because we prefer to see ourselves as innocent, while those who perpetrated our situation, as we see it, can then be punished by God for their "crimes" against us, and we can continue to feel exonerated as their innocent victims.
 
" You cower fearfully lest you should feel Christ's touch upon your shoulder, and perceive His gentle hand directing you to look upon your gifts. How could you then proclaim your poverty in exile?" (W.166.8.1-2) How indeed? We would then have to see the insanity of our attachment to our separate will, and we could no longer hang onto the tragic story of our lives and wallow in self-pity or thoughts of revenge in defiance of the gifts God has given us. The seeming rewards of victimhood trump God's gifts, in our view. It is my will that I want to hold onto, in spite of what it is costing me. It truly is insanity.
 
The insanity of the ego shows up in obvious ways when we are ready and willing to watch our thoughts, examine our motivations, and clearly see our intentions. For every gift of God, the ego seeks to make a counterfeit form. It is a "substitute" gift, yet it is truly a trap. We trade off the gifts God offers for what the ego offers instead, and these "gifts" offer only pain. Until we see that no substitute for God's gifts could bring us what we seek, we will continue to look to the world for our happiness. It takes courage and willingness to take responsibility for our lives and everything that seems to happen to us. With it comes the realization that we have done all this to ourselves. We are the ones who chose this.
 
We resist this thought, but now Jesus asks that we look at the irony of our position where we cry about our situation, yet we have deliberately chosen it. "He would make you laugh at this perception of yourself. Where is self-pity then? And what becomes of all the tragedy you sought to make for him whom God intended only joy?" (W.166.8.3-5) What I take from this is the one thing we might do more of---laugh at the ego. We can only do this when we realize that we are not the character in the dream but, actually, we are the dreamer of the dream. It is our script that we are playing out. We have written the role that we play, as well as the one played by the characters in our script, who play the various parts in our drama.
 
"You even think the miserable self you thought was you may not be your Identity. Perhaps God's Word is truer than your own. Perhaps His gifts to you are real." (W.166.9.3-4) Just maybe, our plan for our lives is starting to fail and our foolishness is slowly, but surely, becoming more apparent to us. Just maybe, we are not who we have believed we were. Just maybe, with Christ's hand touching our shoulder, we feel not quite so alone anymore and start to believe that maybe these gifts of God are real, and His Word is truer than our own.
 
This puts us between worlds, where we start to see the possibility that we are not the poor, miserable, and homeless guy. Now your sight is being replaced by vision ". . . which perceives that you are not what you pretend to be." (W.166.11.2) We become aware that maybe our pain does not come from outside us, but as a result of our opposition to the truth of what we are. "One walks with you Who gently answers all your fears with this one merciful reply, 'It is not so'." (W.166.11.3) He is telling us that everything we think is not the truth.
 
After my husband died in 1993, I was experiencing what Jesus is talking about in this Lesson. I was feeling very alone, indulging myself in my story of victimhood, loss, and sadness. As I lay in bed, crying, feeling abandoned by love, a gentle voice within asked quietly, "How much longer do you need to cry?" It startled me because now I had a question in my mind that seemed to require an answer. The answer I gave this Voice was perhaps, "ten more minutes." Yet the absurdity of this answer made me smile, and I simply could no longer feel sorry for myself. It was a recognition that I could make a choice in that moment to believe the ego version of events or see there was perhaps another way of seeing this situation. And as the thoughts of sadness and suffering emerged, with each one I heard the response, "It is not so." I could either choose to believe my own thoughts about this situation or trust Jesus, who reminded me that my thoughts were not the truth. The grief lifted after this experience, and I never experienced it again in the same way. "For His touch on you has made you like Himself." (W.166.12.2)
 
The Holy Spirit is such a reassuring Presence that is always available to us. We no longer need to continue on this aimless wandering and this feeling of aloneness. We can call on His strength in every turmoil and every uncertainty and know that He will always answer. He assures us that we never walk alone. Ask a thousand times a day, "Who walks with me?"
 
Having been entrusted with His gifts, we are now called to extend them to our brothers so we can be the one to tap them on the shoulder, as Christ has touched us. We can show them that there is another way they can go, since we have been down those same roads and have learned they lead nowhere but to death. "For you have learned of Christ there is another way for them to walk." (W.166.13.4) Yet how do we do this? He says, "Teach them by showing them the happiness that comes to those who feel the touch of Christ, and recognize God's gifts." (W.166.13.5) In other words, we show them, by example, the choice we have made for ourselves and the peace and joy that comes with this choice.
 
"Your sighs will now betray the hopes of those who look to you for their release. Your tears are theirs ." (W.166.14.1-2) And when you change your mind, "Your hand becomes the giver of Christ's touch; your change of mind becomes the proof who accepts God's gifts can never suffer anything. You are entrusted with the world's release from pain." (W.166.14.5-6) It is all about choice.
 
Last night, I was feeling like a martyr and doing a lot of sighing about how much there was to be done as I took on a job for Don, who was struggling to meet his obligations to a volunteer organization. I let him know how difficult it was for me to help him. I quickly realized how I was exemplifying victimhood and was doing exactly what this Lesson says by showing him he had the power to make me suffer. I had to laugh at my foolishness. Watching my thoughts helped me realize the choice I was making. I could choose to either open my mind to receive God's gifts or be cast back in the self-made role of the homeless person. The decision was up to me. We all have this power within.
 
Each time we choose to forgive, we extend a blessing to those who don't yet understand that their suffering is coming from their own choice. Our choice requires that we notice the game we are playing and stay vigilant in mind watching.
 
We demonstrate another way of being in the world by not being of the world. We increasingly recognize that it is no longer the circumstances of our lives that bring us sorrow but only the interpretations we give to every situation. Jesus says that we can't, in fact, tell our advances from our retreats. (T.18.V.1.5) (ACIM OE T.18.VI.41) This reminds me of a wonderful movie called, "The Ultimate Gift." It clearly demonstrates this fact. I have seen this in my own life, where a seeming setback was necessary to show me the miracle hidden there. A friend, who was staying with us, was very frustrated one day when he was trying to arrange to rent a car. He became very angry with the bureaucracy he experienced while dealing with the car rental companies. Later in the day, he was offered a car by a friend for the duration of his time here. He did not know, at the time, that the miracle was awaiting him. It is all about trust and acceptance that everything that seems to be happening is for our good.
 
In our morning and evening practice, for a minimum of five minutes and up to thirty or more minutes, we spend time bringing our attention to our thoughts, our fears, our investments in our ego, and hearing the response from God, "It is not so." (T.14.II.5.8) (ACIM OE T.13.VII.60) Jesus pleads with us not to choose what the ego has to offer over the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He means that we have to let go of what we are holding onto so tightly. He means that we have to admit that we are wrong about the way we are seeing and interpreting everything. Jesus reminds us that the meaning we give to everything is not the truth. What we are experiencing is what we have chosen. It is our dream.
 
We remember today that our interests are not separate from those of our brothers. We are One. What I do to you, I am doing to myself. My happiness cannot be bought at your expense. We are being called to become a living demonstration of His love, seeing our interests as the same as that of every brother. Our shared reality is outside of this dream. Our reality is Oneness.
 
And today, I am thankful Christ's touch is on my shoulder, and this is not my home.
   
Love and blessings, Sarah
A Course in Miracles
TEXT
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Fifteen

The Purpose of Time

   Voice and Music by Martin Weber, CIMS SonShip Radio

VI. The Holy Instant and Special Relationships 
      
45 The holy instant is the Holy Spirit's most useful learning device for teaching you love's meaning. For its purpose is to suspend judgment entirely. Judgment always rests on the past, for past experience is the basis on which you judge. Judgment becomes impossible without the past, for without it you do not understand anything. You would make no attempt to judge because it would be quite apparent to you that you do not know what anything means. You are afraid of this because you believe that without the ego all would be chaos. Yet I assure you that without the ego all would be love.
 
46 The past is the ego's chief learning device, for it is in the past that you learned to define your own needs and acquired methods for meeting them on your own terms. We said before that to limit love to part of the Sonship is to bring guilt into your relationships and thus make them unreal. If you seek to separate out certain aspects of the totality and look to them to meet your imagined needs, you are attempting to use separation to save you. How, then, could guilt not enter? For separation is the source of guilt, and to appeal to it for salvation is to believe you are alone. To be alone is to be guilty. For to experience yourself as alone is to deny the oneness of the Father and his Son and thus to attack reality.
 
47 You cannot love parts of reality and understand what love means. If you would love unlike to God, Who knows no special love, how can you understand it? To believe that special relationships, with special love, can offer you salvation is the belief that separation is salvation. For it is the complete equality of the Atonement in which salvation lies. How can you decide that special aspects of the Sonship can give you more than others? The past has taught you this. Yet the holy instant teaches you it is not so.
 
48 Because of guilt, all special relationships have some elements of fear in them. And this is why they shift and change so frequently. They are not based on changeless love alone. And love where fear has entered cannot be depended on because it is not perfect. In His function as Interpreter of what you have made, the Holy Spirit uses special relationships, which you have chosen to support the ego, as a learning experience which points to truth. Under His teaching, every relationship becomes a lesson in love.
 
49 The Holy Spirit knows no one is special. Yet He also perceives that you have made special relationships, which He would purify and not let you destroy. However unholy the reason why you made them may be, He can translate them into holiness by removing as much fear as you will let Him. You can place any relationship under His care and be sure that it will not result in pain if you offer Him your willingness to have it serve no need but His. All the guilt in it arises from your use of it. All the love from His. Do not, then, be afraid to let go your imagined needs, which would destroy the relationship. Your only need is His.
 
50 Any relationship which you would substitute for another has not been offered to the Holy Spirit for His use. There is no substitute for love. If you would attempt to substitute one aspect of love for another, you have placed less value on one and more on the other. You have not only separated them, but you have also judged against both. Yet you had judged against yourself first, or you would never have imagined that you needed them as they were not. Unless you had seen yourself as without love, you could not have judged them so like you in lack.
 
51 The ego's use of relationships is so fragmented that it frequently goes even further-one part of one aspect suits its purposes, while it prefers different parts of another aspect. Thus does it assemble reality to its own capricious liking, offering for your seeking a picture whose likeness does not exist. For there is nothing in Heaven or earth that it resembles, and so however much you seek for its reality, you cannot find it because it is not real.
 
52 Everyone on earth has formed special relationships, and although this is not so in Heaven, the Holy Spirit knows how to bring a touch of Heaven to them here. In the holy instant no one is special, for your personal needs intrude on no one to make them different. Without the values from the past, you would see them all the same and like yourself. Nor would you see any separation between yourself and them. In the holy instant, you see in each relationship what it will be when you perceive only the present.
 
53 God knows you now. He remembers nothing, having always known you exactly as He knows you now. The holy instant parallels His knowing by bringing all perception out of the past, thus removing the frame of reference you have built by which to judge your brothers. Once this is gone, the Holy Spirit substitutes His frame of reference for it. His frame of reference is simply God. The Holy Spirit's timelessness lies only here. For in the holy instant, free of the past, you see that love is in you, and you have no need to look without and snatch it guiltily from where you thought it was.
 
54 All your relationships are blessed in the holy instant because the blessing is not limited. In the holy instant, the Sonship gains as one. And united in your blessing, it becomes one to you. The meaning of love is the meaning God gave to it. Give to it any meaning apart from His, and it is impossible to understand it. Every brother God loves as He loves you-neither less nor more. He needs them all equally, and so do you. In time you have been told to offer miracles as Christ directs and let the Holy Spirit bring to you those who are seeking you. Yet in the holy instant, you unite directly with God, and all your brothers join in Christ. Those who are joined in Christ are in no way separate. For Christ is the Self the Sonship shares, as God shares His Self with Christ.
 
55 Think you that you can judge the Self of God? God has created it beyond judgment out of His need to extend His Love. With love in you, you have no need except to extend it. In the holy instant, there is no conflict of needs, for there is only one. For the holy instant reaches to eternity and to the Mind of God. And it is only there love has meaning, and only there can it be understood.
 
56 It is impossible to use one relationship at the expense of another and not suffer guilt. And it is equally impossible to condemn part of a relationship and find peace within it. Under the Holy Spirit's teaching, all relationships are seen as total commitments, yet they do not conflict with one another in any way. Perfect faith in each one for its ability to satisfy you completely arises only from perfect faith in yourself. And this you cannot have while guilt remains. And there will be guilt as long as you accept the possibility, and cherish it, that you can make a brother what he is not because you would have him so.
 
57 You have so little faith in yourself because you are unwilling to accept the fact that perfect love is in you. And so you seek without for what you cannot find without. I offer you my perfect faith in you in place of all your doubt. But forget not that my faith must be as perfect in all your brothers as it is in you, or it would be a limited gift to you. In the holy instant, we share our faith in God's Son because we recognize together that he is wholly worthy of it, and in our appreciation of his worth, we cannot doubt his holiness. And so we love him.
   
    ~ The Original Handscript Notes

 
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