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The Spiritual eye literally cannot see error and merely looks for Atonement. All the solutions which the physical eyes seek dissolve in its sight.
ACIM OE TEXT
CH 2 THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATION
Workbook for Students
Part I
Introduction
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 17
I see no neutral things.
1 This idea is another step in the direction of identifying cause and effect as it really operates. You see no neutral things because you have no neutral thoughts. It is always the thought that comes first, despite the temptation to believe that it is really the other way around. This is not the way the world thinks, but you must learn that it is the way you think. If it were not so, perception would have no cause and would itself be the cause of reality. In view of its highly variable nature, this is hardly likely.

2 In applying today's idea, say to yourself, with eyes open:

3 I see no neutral things because I have no neutral thoughts.

4 Then look about you, resting your glance on each thing that catches your eye long enough to say:

5 I do not see a neutral _____, because my thoughts about _____ are not neutral.

6 For example, you might say:

7 I do not see a neutral wall, because my thoughts about walls are not neutral.
I do not see a neutral body, because my thoughts about bodies are not neutral.

8 As usual, it is essential to make no distinction between what you believe to be animate or inanimate, pleasant or unpleasant. Regardless of what you may believe, you do not see anything which is really alive and really joyous. That is because you are unaware as yet of any thoughts which are really true and therefore really happy.

9 Three or four specific practice periods are recommended and no less than three are required for maximum benefit even if you experience resistance. However, if you do, the length of the practice period may be reduced to less than the minute or so which is otherwise recommended.
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Lesson ARCHIVE
Course in Miracles
Original Edition
TEXT
Chapter 2
The Illusion of Separation

II. The Reinterpretation
of Defenses cont'd par 36-51
36 The Atonement is the only defense which cannot be used destructively. That is because, while everyone must eventually join it, it is not a device which was generated by man. The Atonement principle was in effect long before the Atonement itself began. The principle was love, and the Atonement itself was an act of love. Acts were not necessary before the separation because the time-space belief did not exist. It was only after the separation that the defense of Atonement and the necessary conditions for its fulfillment were planned.

37 It became increasingly apparent that all of the defenses which man can choose to use constructively or destructively were not enough to save him. It was therefore decided that he needed a defense which was so splendid that he could not misuse it, although he could refuse it. His choice could not, however, turn it into a weapon of attack, which is the inherent characteristic of all other defenses. The Atonement thus becomes the only defense which is not a two-edged sword.

38 The Atonement actually began long before the crucifixion. Many Souls offered their efforts on behalf of the separated ones, but they could not withstand the strength of the attack and had to be brought back. Angels came, too, but their protection did not suffice because the separated ones were not interested in peace. They had already split their minds and were bent on further dividing rather than reintegrating. The levels they introduced into their minds turned against each other, and they established differences, divisions, cleavages, dispersions, and all the other concepts related to the increasing splits which they produced.

39 Not being in their right minds, they turned their defenses from protection to assault and acted literally insanely. It was essential to introduce a split-proof device which could be used only to heal, if it were used at all. The Atonement was built into the space-time belief in order to set a limit on the need for the belief and ultimately to make learning complete. The Atonement is the final lesson. Learning itself, like the classrooms in which it occurs, is temporary. The ability to learn has no value when change of understanding is no longer necessary. The eternally creative have nothing to learn. Only after the separation was it necessary to direct the creative forces to learning because changed behavior had become mandatory.

40 Men can learn to improve their behavior and can also learn to become better and better learners. This serves to bring them into closer and closer accord with the Sonship, but the Sonship itself is a perfect creation, and perfection is not a matter of degree. Only while there are different degrees is learning meaningful. The "evolution" of man is merely a process by which he proceeds from one degree to the next. He corrects his previous missteps by stepping forward. This represents a process which is actually incomprehensible in temporal terms because he returns as he goes forward.

41 The Atonement is the device by which he can free himself from the past as he goes ahead. It undoes his past errors, thus making it unnecessary for him to keep retracing his steps without advancing to his return. In this sense the Atonement saves time but, like the miracle which serves it, does not abolish it. As long as there is need for Atonement, there is need for time. But the Atonement as a completed plan does have a unique relationship to time. Until the Atonement is finished, its various phases will proceed in time, but the whole Atonement stands at time's end. At this point, the bridge of the return has been built.

42 The Atonement is a total commitment. You still think this is associated with loss. This is the same mistake all the separated ones make in one way or another. They cannot believe that a defense which cannot attack is the best defense. This is what is meant by "the meek shall inherit the earth." They will literally take it over because of their strength. A two-way defense is inherently weak precisely because it has two edges and can turn against the self very unexpectedly. This tendency cannot be controlled except by miracles.

43 The miracle turns the defense of Atonement to the protection of the inner self, which, as it becomes more and more secure, assumes its natural talent of protecting others. The inner self knows itself as both a brother and a Son. You know that when defenses are disrupted, there is a period of real disorientation accompanied by fear, guilt, and usually vacillations between anxiety and depression. This course is different in that defenses are not being disrupted but reinterpreted, even though you may experience it as the same thing. In the reinterpretation of defenses, only their use for attack is lost. Since this means they can be used only one way, they become much stronger and much more dependable. They no longer oppose the Atonement but greatly facilitate it.

44 The Atonement can only be accepted within you. You have perceived it largely as external thus far, and that is why your experience of it has been minimal. The reinterpretation of defenses is essential in releasing the inner light. Since the separation, man's defenses have been used almost entirely to defend himself against the Atonement and thus maintain the separation. They themselves generally see this as a need to protect the body. The many body fantasies with which men's minds are engaged arise from the distorted belief that the body can be used as a means for attaining "atonement."

45 Perceiving the body as a temple is only the first step in correcting this kind of distortion. It alters part of the misperception but not all of it. It does recognize, however, that the concept of Atonement in physical terms is not appropriate. However, the next step is to realize that a temple is not a building at all. Its real holiness lies in the inner altar around which the building is built. The inappropriate emphasis men have put on beautiful church buildings is a sign of their fear of Atonement and their unwillingness to reach the altar itself. The real beauty of the temple cannot be seen with the physical eye. The Spiritual eye, on the other hand, cannot see the building at all because it has perfect sight. It can, however, see the altar with perfect clarity.

46 For perfect effectiveness, the Atonement belongs at the center of the inner altar, where it undoes the separation and restores the wholeness of the mind. Before the separation, the mind was invulnerable to fear because fear did not exist. Both the separation and the fear are miscreations of the mind which must be undone. This is what is meant by "the restoration of the temple." It does not mean the restoration of the building but the opening of the altar to receive the Atonement. This heals the separation and places within man the one defense against all separation mind-errors which can make him perfectly invulnerable.

47 The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time. In fact, both time and matter were created for this purpose. This appears to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision. If you review the idea carefully, however, you will realize that this is not true. Everything is limited in some way by the manner of its creation. Free will can temporize and is capable of enormous procrastination. But it cannot depart entirely from its Creator, Who set the limits on its ability to miscreate by virtue of its own real purpose.

48 The misuse of will engenders a situation which in the extreme becomes altogether intolerable. Pain thresholds can be high, but they are not limitless. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a perceptual turning-point. This ultimately reawakens the Spiritual eye, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight. The alternating investment in the two types or levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict for a long time and can become very acute, but the outcome is as certain as God.

49 The Spiritual eye literally cannot see error and merely looks for Atonement. All the solutions which the physical eyes seek dissolve in its sight. The Spiritual eye, which looks within, recognizes immediately that the altar has been defiled and needs to be repaired and protected. Perfectly aware of the right defense, It passes over all others, looking past error to truth. Because of the real strength of Its vision, It pulls the will into Its service and impels the mind to concur. This reestablishes the true power of the will and makes it increasingly unable to tolerate delay. The mind then realizes with increasing certainty that delay is only a way of increasing unnecessary pain, which it need not tolerate at all. The pain threshold drops accordingly, and the mind becomes increasingly sensitive to what it would once have regarded as very minor intrusions of discomfort.

50 The Children of God are entitled to perfect comfort, which comes from a sense of perfect trust. Until they achieve this, they waste themselves and their true creative powers on useless attempts to make themselves more comfortable by inappropriate means. But the real means is already provided and does not involve any effort at all on their part. Their egocentricity usually misperceives this as personally insulting, an interpretation which obviously arises from their misperception of themselves. Egocentricity and communion cannot coexist. Even the terms are contradictory.

51 The Atonement is the only gift that is worthy of being offered to the altar of God. This is because of the inestimable value of the altar itself. It was created perfect and is entirely worthy of receiving perfection. God is lonely without His Souls, and they are lonely without Him. Men must learn to perceive the world as a means of healing the separation. The Atonement is the guarantee that they will ultimately succeed.
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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 17
I see no neutral things.
Sarah's Commentary:
 
This Lesson continues to look at the relationship between what you think (cause) and what you see (effect). The truth is that people, objects, and events outside of ourselves are not the cause of our reactions. What we see is determined by our thoughts. What we see and experience are the effects of our thoughts. We project what we are thinking and believing onto people, situations, and events in the world. Now we see our thoughts reflected there. Yet we don’t realize the cause of everything we see starts in our own minds. We think the world is the cause of how we feel, and we see ourselves as the effect. Thus, we feel like a victim of this world and helpless in the face of events, people, and circumstances acting on us.

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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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