Lesson 176
Offer Empathy to Him
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6 The triumph of weakness is not what you would offer to a brother. And yet you know no triumph but this. This is not knowledge, and the form of empathy that would bring this about is so distorted that it would imprison what it would release. The unredeemed cannot redeem, yet they have a Redeemer. Attempt to teach Him not. You are the learner; He the Teacher. Do not confuse your role with His, for this will never bring peace to anyone. Offer your empathy to Him, for it is His perception and His strength that you would share. And let Him offer you His strength and His perception to be shared through you.
              ON LINE: ACIM.OE.TX.CH 16.II         AUDIO: TEXT CH 16, I-II     
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Part I Review V
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio

   Now we review again. This time we are
   ready to give more effort and more time
   to what we undertake. We recognize
   we are preparing for another phase
   of understanding. We would take this step
   completely that we may go on again
   more certain, more sincere, with faith upheld
   more surely. Our footsteps have not been
   unwavering, and doubts have made us walk
   uncertainly and slowly on the road
   this course sets forth. But now we hasten on,
   for we approach a greater certainty,
   a firmer purpose and a surer goal.
   " Steady our feet, our Father; let our doubts   
   be quiet and our holy minds be still,
   and speak to us. We have no words to give
   to You. We would but listen to Your Word
   and make it ours. Lead our practicing
   as does a father lead a little child
   along a way he does not understand.
   Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe
   because his father leads the way for him.
   "So do we bring our practicing to You.
   And if we stumble, You will raise us up.
   If we forget the way, we count upon
   Your sure remembering. We wander off,
   but You will not forget to call us back.
   Quicken our footsteps now, that we may walk
   more certainly and quickly unto You.
   And we accept the Word You offer us
   to unify our practicing as we
   review the thoughts that You have given us ."
   This is the thought which should precede the thoughts
   that we review. Each one but clarifies
   some aspect of this thought, or helps it be
   more meaningful, more personal and true,
   and more descriptive of the holy Self
   we share and now prepare to know again:
   " God is but love, and therefore so am I."
   This Self alone knows love. This Self alone
   is perfectly consistent in Its thoughts;
   knows Its Creator, understands Itself,
   is perfect in Its knowledge and Its love,
   and never changes from Its constant state
   of union with Its Father and Itself.
   And it is This that waits to meet us at
   the journey's ending. Every step we take
   brings us a little nearer. This review
   will shorten time immeasurably, if
   we keep in mind that This remains our goal,
   and as we practice it is This to which
   we are approaching. Let us raise our hearts
   from dust to life as we remember This
   is promised us, and that this course was sent
   to open up the path of light to us,
   and teach us, step by step, how to return
   to the Eternal Self we think we lost.
   I take the journey with you. For I share
   your doubts and fears a little while, that you
   may come to me who recognize the road
   by which all doubts and fears are overcome.
   We walk together. I must understand
   uncertainty and pain, although I know
   they have no meaning. Yet a Saviour must
   remain with those he teaches, seeing what
   they see, but still retaining in his mind
   the way which led him out, and now will lead
   you out with him. God's Son is crucified
   until you walk along the road with me.
   My resurrection comes again each time
   I lead a brother safely to the place
   at which the journey ends and is forgot.
   I am renewed each time a brother learns
   there is a way from misery and pain.
   I am reborn each time a brother's mind
   turns to the light in him and looks for me.
   I have forgotten no-one. Help me now
   to lead you back to where your journey was
   begun, and make another choice with me.
   Release me as you practice once again
   the thoughts I brought to you from Him Who sees
   your bitter need, and knows the answer God
   has given Him. Together we review
   these thoughts. Together we devote our time
   and effort to them. And together we
   will teach them to our brothers. God would not
   have Heaven incomplete. It waits for you,
   as I do. I am incomplete without
   your part in me. And as I am made whole,
   we go together to our ancient home,
   prepared for us before time was and kept
   unchanged by time, immaculate and safe,
   as it will be at last, when time is done.
   Let this review be then your gift to me.
   For this alone I need; that you will hear
   the words I speak, and give them to the world.
   You are my voice, my eyes, my feet, my hands,
   through which I save the world. The Self from Which
   I call to you is but your Own. To Him
   we go together. Take your brother's hand,
   for this is not a way we walk alone.
   In him I walk with you and you with me.
   Our Father wills His Son be One with Him.
   What lives but must not then be one with you?
   Let this review become a time in which
   we share a new experience for you,
   yet one as old as time and older still.
   Hallowed your name. Your glory undefiled
   forever. And your wholeness now complete,
   as God established it. You are His Son,
   completing His extension in your own.
   We practice but an ancient truth we knew
   before illusion seemed to claim the world.
   And we remind the world that it is free
   of all illusion every time we say,
   " God is but love, and therefore so am I."

   With this we start each day of our review.
   With this we start and end each period
   of practice time. And with this thought we sleep,
   to waken once again with these same words
   upon our tongue to greet another day.
   No thought that we review but we surround
   with it, and use the thoughts to hold it up
   before our minds and keep it clear in our
   remembrance throughout the day. And thus
   when we have finished this review, we will
   have recognized the words we speak are true.
   Yet are the words but aids, and to be used,
   except at the beginning and the end
   of practice periods, but to recall
   the mind, as needed, to its purpose. We
   place faith in the experience that comes
   from practice, not the means we use. We wait
   for the experience, and recognize
   that it is only here conviction lies.
   We use the words, and try and try again
   to go beyond them to their meaning, which
   is far beyond their sound. The sound grows dim
   and disappears, as we approach the Source
   of meaning. It is here that we find rest.
        ~ The Original Handscript Notes

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SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n  176 ~ Review V
[Lesson 161 and Lesson 162]  

Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio 
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
   [161] Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.   
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
   [162] I am as God created me.
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

                            ~ The Original Handscript Notes

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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
Review V  ~ Lesson 161 and Lesson 162

Sarah's Commentary:

[161] Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.
[162] I am as God created me.
In the introduction to these Review Lessons, Jesus offers to lead us on the journey he took and tells us that he is renewed each time he leads one of us to ". . . the place at which the journey ends and is forgot." (W.RV.7.1) He needs our cooperation, as he asks us to "Help me now to lead you back to where the journey was begun, to make another choice with me." (W.RV.7.5) We do that by undertaking the practice and giving it more time and effort. He encourages our willingness on behalf of our own healing. It means being vigilant in watching our minds and seeing when we have sided with the ego.
When he says we are just being led back to where the journey started, this means that nothing is irrevocable. We are being taken back to where we made the wrong choice for the ego and, with it, for sin, guilt, and fear. Now we can make another choice, which means that every wrong choice we believe we have made in our lives can be undone. It was all just a mistake, and mistakes can be corrected. It also means that we need not feel guilty about the wrong choices and decisions we have made, and there need not be regrets. Each mistaken choice can be undone with the help of the Holy Spirit until the memory of who we really are as God created us is restored to us. Forgiveness is the means for this undoing.
It is always important to remember that we have not changed ourselves. Whenever we start to beat up on ourselves , allow doubt thoughts and beliefs to enter, or our unworthiness to slip in, we can remind ourselves that these thoughts are not the truth about us. When we start our healing journey, the ego gets threatened, becomes suspicious, and ultimately vicious, warning us of the consequence of this path. We may start to question whether this program works for us and may be tempted to abandon the teaching. We need each other and our mighty companions to strengthen our weak resolve when we are tempted to wander off the path. The wonderful thing about "talking" to you as I write these commentaries is that I am really talking to myself and reinforcing the Lessons in my own mind. It is a gift I receive, as I give.
This Course is not just a personal path of salvation for me alone. To undertake this journey alone is to undertake it with the ego as a guide. We heal through our connections with each other, extending miracles so we know that we have received them, and they are always in us, waiting for our acceptance. Every time we are willing to offer a blessing instead of judgment, we feel renewed. Everything we give, we receive. We are not separate from each other, but part of the whole. When we say, "Give me your blessing, holy Son of God," (W.175 [161]) we are not asking for anything of our brother. It is our own desire that we are expressing to see the innocence in our brother so we can know it for ourselves. Our hearts open to our brothers with love, rather than judgment. In our invulnerability, we have nothing to defend, and thus we see no attack from anyone. We know our safety and our peace. We share the same light with everyone. The truth is in us all. When we recognize this sameness, we are reminded that nothing has changed from what we are, as we were created. The light in everyone is all there is to see. When we judge and attack anyone, we are choosing against our own peace and happiness.
We need not be in the presence of anyone physically to do this healing. It is important to remember that there is no world outside our own minds. Thus, as our mind is healed, so is the world, which is a projection of the mind. And since all minds are joined, and we are just One Mind, then my healing heals the world. As Jesus tells us, he is incomplete without us, and we are incomplete without our brothers because there is only one Self.
The practice we do with these Lessons, both in our meditation times and our daily lives, requires vigilance in watching our thoughts and being willing to apply the teachings throughout the day. When our day is dedicated to healing the mind, it puts God at the forefront, and the activities of the day recede into the background.
In the Course, meditation is only mentioned twice, although there were apparently a few more references in the original dictation. In the Text Chapter 18, Jesus mentions it by saying, "Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary." (T.18.VII.4.9) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.66) Certainly, the Lessons urge that we spend quiet time with God, yet meditation is not an integral part of the Course curriculum. In fact, caution is recommended not to make idols of our spiritual practice. It is not about avoiding meditation if it is helpful to our spiritual path, but meditation should be a means, not an end
In the Manual for Teachers, Section 16, "How should a teacher of God spend his day?" (M.16) there is a caution against routines. "Routines as such are dangerous, because they easily become gods in their own right, threatening the very goals for which they were set up." (M.16.2.5) Jesus is telling us not to ritualize our practice into something we do as a routine in which the form becomes more important than the content. It might make us think that, just by doing the Lessons right, we will appease God and make Him happy with our efforts. We think we are doing something to make ourselves good in the eyes of some external judge instead of our own inner motivation to wake up from this dream.
The Course is different than other paths. "Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means." (T.18.VII.5.1)(ACIM OE T.18.VIII.67) "You are not making use of the course if you insist on using means which have served others well, neglecting what was made for you." (T.18.VII.6.5) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.68) "All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose. Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of present unworthiness and inadequacy." (T.18.VII.4.10-11) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.66)
Jesus urges us to start each day right, as a way to save time, by choosing to spend time with God as soon as possible on awakening. Setting our intention for the kind of day we want is also an important part of the morning practice. "The goal is clear, but now you need specific methods for attaining it. The speed by which it can be reached depends on this one thing alone; your willingness to practice every step. Each one will help a little, every time it is attempted." (T.30.IN.1.2-4) (ACIM OE.T.31.IN.1) He goes on to say that, eventually, we will make the practice into a habit, so the remedy will always be available to us to address every egoic thought. We do this by calling on the Holy Spirit in every situation. Thus, we make no decisions by ourselves; meaning, no decisions will be made with the ego. When we set this intention in the morning, the day will be given to the Holy Spirit and our own judgments in every situation will be suspended in favor of His direction. He says that now our only problem is, "You still make up your mind, and then decide to ask what you should do." (T.30.I.3.2) (ACIM OE.T.30.II.6)
When we start the day right, we connect with the stillness of our Being. We are to "Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself." (W.189.7.1) We are being asked to empty the contents of the mind and come with wholly empty hands, meaning an empty mind, and openness to the experience. In fact, the attitude with which we approach the quiet time is important. It includes: 1) confidence because we are uniting our will with God's, 2) desire and determination, because it is our only goal and our only need to end this ancient search, 3) importance, because we are needed for the healing of the world, and 4) holiness, because of its inestimable value to us.
Michele O'Donnell, a Christian spiritual healer, says that you can watch your thoughts go by like birds in the sky, but you don't have to invite them to build a nest in your hair. It is not about having no thoughts, but about letting each thought that comes up simply go, releasing these thoughts to the Holy Spirit. No matter how obsessive and challenging the thoughts are to your peace, try to look at them dispassionately and without judging yourself for them. Look at them from above the battleground, and recognize that from this place, outside of the dream, there is nothing serious going on here in this illusory world. With the help of Jesus, we can let them go, rather than weaving them into some kind of story. Remember that the natural state of the mind is to be in a state of stillness, peace, and joy. If we are not at peace, we are doing something to stop the mind from taking its natural course.
The ego mind fears this experience in which we identify with the false self, which sees itself as a body, and sees value in private thoughts, victimhood, problems, and specialness. Ultimately, we put a value on our separate self, and with it, we value our opinions, our beliefs, and our concepts. It is our attraction to the self we made, which is our attraction to guilt.
In the center of our minds is perfection, truth, God, holiness, and the Source of all joy, of which we are not wholly aware now, but we are assured that this Source goes with us wherever we go. Even without our awareness, It is always there! The truth simply awaits our acceptance. This acceptance is of the Atonement, which is the correction for our wrong-minded thinking.
Think of your mind as a big circle. The surface of the mind is our current awareness. It is surrounded by heavy clouds, which represent our insane thoughts that block awareness of the truth of what we are. The purpose of each Lesson is to bring our awareness to the thought for the day. We start the meditation with this thought and use it to pull us back when our minds wander. It is not intended that we say the thought over and over like a mantra, but to use the thought to focus our minds, and then sink down and inward, into the quiet within. The mind is not in the brain or in the body, but outside of it. The words simply point to the truth and are used to help us focus our attention and enter the silence beyond the words. Here we wait in quiet anticipation for the experience, with the mind at rest.
The important thing is to do what works for you. Practice what is most effective for you. The Course is not about rules, and you will not find anything in the Course that speaks about having to be in a certain body position while meditating, or about using your breath, or using any kind of devices, such as needing to be in front of a statue or a lit candle. However, there is no injunction against any of that, either. If these actions are helpful to your process, all is good. This Course is not about form but only about the content of our minds.
Remember the earlier comments about how Jesus takes this journey with us. He tells us that when we visualize taking his hand and walking with us, it is no idle thought. He is really there because he is already in our minds. He is not remote, nor distant from us. He does not dismiss our uncertainty as irrelevant. He understands. He has taken this same journey. That is why he knows the way and why he is described as our elder brother. If this relationship bothers you, it is an area for healing, just like any other relationship in which you project your discomfort onto someone. If the thought of Jesus, as a symbol in the mind, does not bring comfort as your chosen friend, call on the presence of the Holy Spirit, Love, God, or whatever symbol is helpful to you.
The central thought, which begins and ends our day today, as well as each practice throughout the day, is "God is but [only] Love, and therefore so am I." (W.RV.4.3) Then, we review Lesson 161, "Give me your blessing, holy Son of God." (W.176 [161]) We recognize that the people in our lives can offer us a blessing that can transform and enlighten us. The blessing comes when we recognize they are not who they seem, as the symbol of fear and hate, but are really our saviors. Behind their appearance as a body and an ego is the Christ. This brother reflects the love of God showing up in this specific form. Jesus reminds us our minds are naturally abstract, but right now we don't understand abstraction, so we need specifics on which to focus forgiveness. All forgiveness is the release of judgments and grievances that our brothers seem to evoke in us. They are the reflection of our own unhealed thoughts.
Our next Review Lesson says, "I am as God created me." (W.176 [162]) This Lesson is literally the same as "God is but Love, and therefore so am I." (W.RV.4.3) We keep having to be reminded that no matter what we think we have done, we can't change the truth about our Being, as created by a loving Father. Our state is love. God is only love. He is nothing but love. That is His nature and His nature establishes our own. We can't change what we are, as we were created. It is a fact, and it is the Atonement Principle, which affirms that we are as God created us. We have become unaware of this truth, but we cannot change it. We think that we have changed the truth by making ourselves into something unique and special---an individual living in a body---but it is impossible to depart from the truth of who God is and who we are.
What we have come to believe about ourselves are only wild imaginings. We give them power because we believe them, but it does not make them true. We think that there are lovely, good parts to us and many parts that are vicious and hateful. Neither what we think is good nor what we think is bad is the truth. They are only concepts that we have accepted as true. The truth is beyond these self-made concepts, which are reinforced by the world and accepted by us. As Ken Wapnick says, just because billions of people hold something as true does not mean it is.
We need to support each other on this path, as it is outside of the collective thinking of the world. Thus, it can be a challenge for us because our minds have been conditioned by the beliefs held by the majority. We have bought into the cult of the ego. We drank the Kool-Aid! These conditioned thoughts are what we are releasing when we remind ourselves, "I am as God created me." (W.176 [162]) We enter our quiet time with God to experience the truth that is beyond these words. Our practice times now are a preparation for Part II of the Workbook.

Love and blessings, Sarah

Printable Document  
A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Sixteen

The Forgiveness of Illusions 

   Voice and Music by Martin Weber, CIMS SonShip Radio

I. Introduction   
1 To empathize does not mean to join in suffering, for that is what you must refuse to understand. That is the ego's interpretation of empathy and is always used to form a special relationship in which the suffering is shared. The capacity to empathize is very useful to the Holy Spirit, provided you let Him use it in His way. [His way is very different.] He does not understand suffering and would have you teach it is not understandable. When He relates through you, He does not relate through the ego to another ego. He does not join in pain, knowing that healing pain is not accomplished by delusional attempts to enter into it and lighten it by sharing the delusion.
2 The clearest proof that empathy as the ego uses it is destructive lies in the fact that it is applied only to certain types of problems and in certain people. These it selects out and joins with. And it never joins except to strengthen itself. [Having identified with what it thinks it understands, it sees itself and would increase itself by sharing what is like itself.] Make no mistake about this maneuver; the ego always empathizes to weaken, and to weaken is always to attack. You do not know what empathizing means. Yet of this you may be sure-if you will merely sit quietly by and let the Holy Spirit relate through you, you will empathize with strength and both of you will gain in strength, and not in weakness.
3 Your part is only to remember this---you do not want anything you value to come of the relationship. You will neither to hurt it nor to heal it in your own way. You do not know what healing is. All you have learned of empathy is from the past. And there is nothing from the past that you would share, for there is nothing there that you would keep. Do not use empathy to make the past real and so perpetuate it. Step gently aside and let the healing be done for you. Keep but one thought in mind and do not lose sight of it, however tempted you may be to judge any situation and to determine your response by judging it. Focus your mind only on this:
4 I am not alone, and I would not intrude
  the past upon my Guest.
  I have invited Him, and He is here.
  I need do nothing except not to interfere.

II. True Empathy   

True empathy is of Him Who knows what it is. You will learn His interpretation of it if you let Him use your capacity for strength and not for weakness. He will not desert you, but be sure that you desert not him. Humility is strength in this sense only---to recognize and accept the fact that you do not know is to recognize and accept the fact that He does know. You are not sure that He will do His part because you have never yet done yours completely. You will not know how to respond to what you do not understand. Be tempted not in this, and yield not to the ego's triumphant use of empathy for its glory.
6 The triumph of weakness is not what you would offer to a brother. And yet you know no triumph but this. This is not knowledge, and the form of empathy that would bring this about is so distorted that it would imprison what it would release. The unredeemed cannot redeem, yet they have a Redeemer. Attempt to teach Him not. You are the learner; He the Teacher. Do not confuse your role with His, for this will never bring peace to anyone. Offer your empathy to Him, for it is His perception and His strength that you would share. And let Him offer you His strength and His perception to be shared through you.
7 The meaning of love is lost in any relationship which looks to weakness and hopes to find love there. The power of love, which is its meaning, lies in the strength of God, which hovers over it and blesses it silently by enveloping it in healing wings. Let this be, and do not try to substitute your "miracle" for this. We once said that if a brother asks a foolish thing of you, to do it. But be certain that this does not mean to do a foolish thing that would hurt either him or you, for what would hurt one will hurt the other. Foolish requests are foolish for the simple reason that they conflict because they contain an element of specialness. Only the Holy Spirit recognizes foolish needs as well as real ones. And He will teach you how to meet both without losing either.
8 You will attempt to do this only in secrecy. And you will think that, by meeting the needs of one, you do not jeopardize another because you keep them separate and secret from each other. That is not the way, for it leads not to light and truth. No needs will long be left unmet if you leave them all to Him Whose function is to meet them. That is His function and not yours. He will not meet them secretly, for He would share everything you give through Him. And that is why He gives it.
9 What you give through Him is for the whole Sonship, not for part of it. Leave Him His function, for He will fulfill it if you but ask Him to enter your relationships and bless them for you.
    ~ The Original Handscript Notes

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  To GIVE and to RECEIVE are One in Truth.  Lesson 108

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