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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 16 THE FORGIVENESS OF ILLUSIONS
V. ILLUSION AND REALITY OF LOVE
35 Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself which you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false. Every illusion is one of fear, whatever form it takes. And the attempt to escape from one illusion into another must fail. If you seek love outside yourself, you can be certain that you perceive hatred within and are afraid of it. Yet peace will never come from the illusion of love, but only from its reality.
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK Part I
INTRODUCTION to LESSONS 181-200
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
Our next few lessons make a special point of firming up your willingness to make your weak commitment strong, your scattered goals blend into one intent. You are not asked for total dedication all the time, as yet. But you are asked to practice now in order to attain the sense of peace such unified commitment will bestow, if only intermittently. It is experiencing this which makes it sure that you will give your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth.
2 Our lessons now are geared specifically to widening horizons and direct approaches to the special blocks which keep your vision narrow and too limited to let you see the value of our goal. We are attempting now to lift these blocks, however briefly. Words alone can not convey the sense of liberation which their lifting brings. But the experience of freedom and of peace that comes as you give up your tight control of what you see speaks for itself. Your motivation will be so intensified that words become of little consequence. You will be sure of what you want and what is valueless.
3 And so we start our journey beyond words by concentrating first on what impedes our progress still. Experience of what exists beyond defensiveness remains beyond achievement while it is denied. It may be there, but you cannot accept its presence. So we now attempt to go past all defenses for a little while each day. No more than this is asked because no more than this is needed. It will be enough to guarantee the rest will come.
L e s s o n 181
I trust my brothers who are one with me.
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
Trusting your brothers is essential to
establishing and holding up your faith
in your ability to transcend doubt
and lack of sure conviction in yourself.
When you attack a brother, you proclaim
that he is limited by what you have
perceived in him. You do not look beyond
his errors. Rather, they are magnified,
becoming blocks to your awareness of
the Self that lies beyond your own mistakes
and past his seeming sins as well as yours.
Perception has a focus. It is this
that gives consistency to what you see.
Change but this focus, and what you behold
will change accordingly. Your vision now
will shift to give support to the intent
which has replaced the one you held before.
Remove your focus on your brother's sins,
and you experience the peace that comes
from faith in sinlessness. This faith receives
its only sure support from what you see
in others past their sins. For their mistakes,
if focused on, are witnesses to sins
in you. And you will not transcend their sight
and see the sinlessness that lies beyond.
Therefore, in practicing today, we first
let all such little focuses give way
to our great need to let our sinlessness
become apparent. We instruct our minds
that it is this we seek and only this
for just a little while. We do not care
about our future goals, and what we saw
an instant previous has no concern
for us within this interval of time
wherein we practice changing our intent.
We seek for innocence and nothing else.
We seek for it with no concern but now.|
A major hazard to success has been
involvement with your past and future goals.
You have been quite preoccupied with how
extremely different the goals this course
is advocating are from those you held
before. And you have also been dismayed
by the depressing and restricting thought
that even if you should succeed, you will
inevitably lose your way again.|
How can this matter? For the past is gone;
the future but imagined. These concerns
are but defenses against present change
of focus in perception. Nothing more.
We lay these pointless limitations by
a little while. We do not look to past
beliefs, and what we will believe will not
intrude upon us now. We enter in
the time of practicing with one intent;
to look upon the sinlessness within.|
We recognize that we have lost this goal
if anger blocks our way in any form.
And if a brother's sins occur to us,
our narrowed focus will restrict our sight
and turn our eyes upon our own mistakes,
which we will magnify and call "our sins".
So, for a little while, without regard
to past or future, should such blocks arise,
we will transcend them with instructions to
our minds to change their focus as we say:
It is not this that I would look upon.
I trust my brothers, who are one with me."|
And we will also use these thoughts to keep
us safe throughout the day. We do not seek
for long-range goals. As each obstruction seems
to block the vision of our sinlessness,
we seek but for surcease an instant from
the misery the focus upon sin
will bring, and uncorrected, will remain.|
Nor do we ask for fantasies. For what
we seek to look upon is really there.
And as our focus goes beyond mistakes,
we will behold a wholly sinless world.
When seeing this is all we want to see,
when this is all we seek for in the name
of true perception are the eyes of Christ
inevitably ours. And the love
He feels for us becomes our own as well.
This will become the only thing we see
reflected in the world and in ourselves.
The world which once proclaimed our sins becomes
the proof that we are sinless. And our love
for everyone we look upon attests
to our remembrance of the holy Self
Which knows no sin, and never could conceive
of anything without Its sinlessness.
We seek for this remembrance as we turn
our minds to practicing today. We look
neither ahead nor backward. We look straight
into the present. And we give our trust
to the experience we ask for now.
Our sinlessness is but the Will of God.
This instant is our willing one with His.
~ The Original Handscript Notes
ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections
I trust my brothers who are one with me
The point of these next Lessons is to continue to firm up our willingness. Jesus recognizes our commitment is not yet strong. Again, we have another opportunity in these next twenty Lessons to increase our dedication, even though "You are not asked for total dedication all the time as yet." (W.PI.IN181-200.1.2) These Lessons underscore the importance of our practice to have an experience of the truth. Jesus understands our fear, which is what makes us forget the Lesson throughout the day. There is no need to feel guilty, but Jesus urges us to firm up our dedication because he knows this is the only thing that will make us happy. We are still not convinced that following this teaching is where all our happiness lies. None of our substitutes will bring us the happiness we seek. Because we do not know our own best interests, Jesus says we do not yet completely see the value of our goal.
The goal of these next twenty Lessons is to widen our horizons, which is another way of saying to expand our limited vision. Our blocks keep our vision narrow. We still want control over our own lives, and we still want to control others. "But the experience of freedom and of peace that comes as you give up your tight control of what you see speaks for itself." (W.PI.IN181-200.2.4) This tight control is what keeps our defenses in place. Healing requires we give up this control by looking at what we are working so hard to protect in ourselves. Until we see the value in his goal and not our own, we will not relinquish our control. As long as we identify with the ego, we will try to do everything to protect our image of ourselves. Jesus does not chastise us for this, but he merely lets us know that our motivation will be intensified when we have the experience of what he speaks of.
We need words for now to muster our motivation. "And so we start our journey beyond words by concentrating first on what impedes your progress still." (W.PI.IN 181-200.3.1) Our defenses against the truth are still strong, and as long as we defend against His love, we cannot achieve the goal. This Course is about looking at how we try to protect ourselves with our defenses, so the blocks we hold against the love we are can be undone. The love is already in us. We do not have to go looking for it. We just have to take responsibility for the thoughts blocking it from our awareness. We must be aware of our fears in order to let them go. This requires we look at the fear. That is all. The Holy Spirit does the rest. "The holy instant is the result of your determination to be holy. It is the answer. The desire and the willingness to let it come precede its coming. You prepare your mind for it only to the extent of recognizing that you want it above all else. It is not necessary that you do more; indeed, it is necessary that you realize that you cannot do more. Do not attempt to give the Holy Spirit what He does not ask, or you will add the ego to Him and confuse the two." (T.18.IV.1.1-6)(ACIM OE T.18.V.32)
Our defenses keep us bound to our "stuff," our story, our way of seeing things, and our way of being. We have made an alliance with the ego, without which it would have no power at all. We have become comfortable with our story and wonder who we would be without our worries, our sickness, our sadness, our anxieties, and our specialness. Now we are asked to bring it all to awareness, so it can be released. When the blocks to love are released, we will have an experience of the peace of God. This is the experience that will motivate us to keep applying the Lessons. This is the beginning of the journey home, which is a step-by-step process. Each day, when we take steps to release our grievances, we will be taken closer and closer toward our goal. The irony is that we are already there, but we have not yet accepted it.
It is always amazing to me how well defended the ego is. I remember learning this clearly one day from a Course student and friend, who is an astute psychologist. It was a lesson that demonstrated to me how subtle the ego is. It keeps us from noticing how we are constantly defending ourselves. My friend was a visiting Course student and teacher, and translator of the Course. I took him for lunch to a restaurant where the chef, someone who usually catered to me, proposed we share his signature dish. It was much too big for me, so I proposed to my friend that we share it. He refused. Then the chef said he would happily give me half an order, to which I agreed. Shortly thereafter, I started to notice a stab of pain in my head. I confessed to my friend that I was getting a bit of a headache. He asked if I were aware of the reason this were so. When I indicated I had no idea, he said it was because I had ordered something I did not want in order to please the chef. He conjectured further that I was angry at him for refusing to share the dish.
My immediate response was complete and total denial. The more he insisted, the more I resisted. It was only later, in the quiet of my own thoughts, that I went deeper and recognized a pattern playing out in many areas of my life. It was about pleasing others (the chef), going along with something I truly did not want to do, trying to impress, not taking time to listen within to what I really wanted, and feeling rejection from my friend for seemingly not wanting to please me. We can see, if we are willing to look, that even from the seemingly insignificant, we keep ourselves defended. We all want to be right about our perspectives. Until we are truly ready to let them go and do the learning and healing, we simply continue to defend the way we see everything and make ourselves right.
"I trust my brothers, who are one with me,"
(W.181) removes our focus on our brothers' sins and asks us to release our judgments of them. Most of our lives have been about trying to get others to see us in a good light. We have developed an image, with the skills, abilities, and attitudes we hold, all to get the kind of attention and acceptance we are seeking. Yet Jesus says how we feel about ourselves is not determined by how others see us. It is only in how we see them; because, how I see you is how I see myself. If I see the love in you, the Christ in you, and the holiness in you, I see there is the same loveliness and beauty in me. If I respond to your attacks and see them as a call for love, I know the love in me. The world affirms that we need to have love in order to give it. Yet Jesus reminds us that love is already in us, and when it is extended, we know we have it. If you are not feeling good about yourself today, you might bring to mind someone who needs your support, and be grateful for them for being in your life. Extend your blessing, so that you might receive it for yourself.
Every time we see error in someone, every time we focus on their sins and all the things they have done wrong, we have judged ourselves for the same sin. Does this mean we should not see the mistakes and errors of others and become totally blind to them? We are not being asked to trust the egos of our brothers. We will see errors, but we are called to look beyond the ego and recognize the perfect innocence of our brothers, so we can know our own innocence. This is the truth about them and about ourselves. But this Self is hidden from our awareness, when we refuse to recognize the innocence in every brother, just as it is in us. We are not denying the facts of their behavior in the world. We are simply trusting in their sinless nature.
The behavior of the ego has no power. How can anything have power in a dream? Jesus reminds us to forgive our brother for what he has not done. Yes, in the dream he has made mistakes, but in reality, nothing has happened. Our brothers are our saviors simply because in them, we see the choice we have first made in our own minds, to see with the ego or with the Spirit. Jesus asks us to remove our focus on their sins, so we may experience the peace that comes from faith in sinlessness. Their mistakes, if focused on, are witnesses to our own sin. Our intent is to see the light of Christ in them, so we can know it in ourselves. This is not about not making judgments, but it is about being willing to turn them over to the Holy Spirit. Through forgiveness comes a new perception.
Jesus talks of our selective attention, which is about where we are putting our focus. He tells us our focus is what gives consistency to what we see. I can thus make a case for my point of view, line up all my "facts," and argue on behalf of a perception of someone's sins, flaws, and screw-ups. The ego relishes this process. It is why we seem to relish gossip and create stories of why we are right about the way the world has mistreated us. We occupy our time analyzing the egos of others and comparing how we measure up in turn, making ourselves special. Specialness is such a trap of the ego and is what keeps us rooted in the illusion. This is what David Hawkins calls the juice or the payoff that we get from our investment in our beliefs, concepts, values, and perceptions. Without the payoff, we would not continue this process. We even get a payoff from suffering or we would not hold onto it. We make ourselves special by focusing on the errors of others and, in turn, comparing ourselves as more superior and righteous. We like to magnify their errors and minimize our own, but Jesus says it is impossible to play that game without suffering. We will naturally apply exactly the same judgments to ourselves as to our brothers. Thus, when we see their sins, it is because we want to see our guilt in them and see ourselves as the innocent victim of their attacks. The cost to us is that it keeps our joy and peace at bay.
Jesus tells us, "Remove your focus on your brother's sins, and you experience the peace that comes from faith in sinlessness." (W.181.2.5) When we do this, we will be motivated to give more time and attention to this practice. The only way to peace and to knowing our innocence and the way to reinforce our own faith is by seeing the Christ in everyone, making no exceptions.
Our brother's ego has no more power than ours to change the truth of who he really is and who we really are. What we are trusting in, then, is his sinlessness. As Jesus says "When you correct a brother, you are telling him that he is wrong. He may be making no sense at the time, and it is certain that, if he is speaking from the ego, he will not be making sense. But your task is still to tell him he is right." (T.9.III.2.4-6)(ACIM OE T.9.I.2) What we are trusting is not that everyone will act in a loving manner, but behind the ego's antics is the love of Christ shining forth in everyone. This is what makes our brother right. When he is speaking from the ego, of course, he will always be wrong.
Today, instead of allowing the ego to cruise for guilt, "We seek for innocence and nothing else." (W.181.3.5) Obviously, our minds have a different focus. Our minds are preoccupied with past mistakes, past grievances, guilt and shame, as well as future goals and plans. Jesus says these are the blocks to seeing with vision. In the holy instant, we release our preoccupation with the past and the future. We all have a list of things that others have done to us. It is this list we are being asked to release. This is what we accuse ourselves of by making our own sinful past real. Today, we let our sinlessness become apparent by releasing our attack thoughts. "We instruct our minds that it is this we seek, and only this, for just a little while." (W.181.3.2) He clearly understands this is a process for us in each moment. "We do not care about our future goals." (W.181.3.3) He is releasing us from any long term commitment.
Clearly, people do appear to attack us, to hurt us, to betray us, and to create situations that seem dangerous to our well being. Jesus reminds us, "When a brother acts insanely, he is offering you an opportunity to bless him. His need is yours. You need the blessing you can offer him. There is no way for you to have it except by giving it. This is the law of God, and it has no exceptions. What you deny you lack, not because it is lacking, but because you have denied it in another and are therefore not aware of it in yourself. Every response you make is determined by what you think you are, and what you want to be is what you think you are. What you want to be, then, must determine every response you make." (T.7.VII.2.1-8)(ACIM OE T.7.VIII.72)
The power of our minds is immense. Our minds will take whatever we do in one case and generalize it to all cases. What this means is that how we see one person is how we will see everyone, including ourselves. When we deny a blessing to a brother, we will feel deprived of feeling blessed ourselves. When we deny one brother's reality, we blind ourselves to all reality. We really cannot think poorly of someone and confine that negative intent to that one person. Thus, attack thoughts directed at anyone will affect our perception of everyone, including ourselves. No wonder he asks us to guard our minds. Specifically, we are to instruct our minds today to ". . .seek for innocence and nothing else." (W.181.3.5) Can you imagine that with every negative thought you have you are creating karma for yourself, meaning that with each thought you have you are inviting judgment on yourself because what you give you receive. If we really believed this, would we not be highly motivated to release our attack thoughts?
When we see our brothers' guilt, we remind ourselves "It is not this that I would look upon. I trust my brothers, who are one with me." (W.181.6.4) Imagine what a gift we give to ourselves if we stay committed today to our goal by not allowing any anger, judgment, distress, or frustration of any kind, to stay in our minds. We set the intention by doing our morning practice, holding in mind nothing but our great desire to see our own sinlessness, and experience our true reality. We also set aside any concerns today about the future, not allowing our ego to discourage us by telling us that even if we do see our brother's holiness for a moment, we will just fail anyway and inevitably lose our way again. (W.181.4.3) "These concerns are but defenses against present change of focus in perception. Nothing more." (W.181.5.3-4)
We try to remember our intention hourly and use this Lesson to "keep us safe throughout the day." (W.181.7.1) And, as the evening comes, we spend time in quiet meditation, where we recognize the importance of releasing the blocks to the awareness of who we are in truth. The holy instant is an experience of timelessness, which is transformative. When we come back into the world, we bring with us a new vision, and we see that we are all the same---a reflection of the Oneness of God.
"There is a course for every teacher of God. The form of the course varies greatly. So do the particular teaching aids involved. But the content of the course never changes. Its central theme is always, 'God's Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation.' It can be taught by actions or thoughts; in words or soundlessly; in any language or in no language; in any place or time or manner." (M.1.3.1-6) "This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome." (M.1.4.1-2)
V. Illusion and Reality of Love
30 Be not afraid to look upon the special hate relationship, for freedom lies in looking at it. It would be impossible not to know the meaning of love except for this. For the special love relationship, in which the meaning of love is
lost, is undertaken solely to offset the hate but
not to let it go. Your salvation will rise clearly before your open eyes as you look on this. You cannot
limit hate. The special love relationship will not offset it but will merely drive it underground and out of sight. It is essential to bring it
into sight and to make no attempt to hide it. For it is the attempt to balance hate with love that
makes love meaningless to you. The extent of the split that lies in this you do not realize. And
until you do, the split will remain unrecognized and therefore unhealed.
31 The symbols of hate against the symbols of love play out a conflict which does not exist. For symbols stand for something
else, and the symbol of love is without meaning if love is everything. You will go through this last undoing quite unharmed and will at last emerge as yourself. This is the last step in the readiness for God. Be not unwilling now. You are too near, and you will cross the bridge in perfect safety, translated quietly from war to peace. For the illusion of love will
never satisfy, but its reality, which awaits you on the other side, will give you everything.
32 The special love relationship is an attempt to limit the destructive effects of hate by finding a haven in the storm of guilt. It makes no attempt to rise
above the storm into the sunlight. On the contrary, it emphasizes guilt
outside the haven by attempting to build barricades against it and keep within them. The special love relationship is not perceived as a value in itself, but as a place of safety from which hatred is split off and kept apart. The special love partner is acceptable only as long as he serves this purpose. Hatred can enter and indeed is welcome in
some aspects of the relationship, but it is still held together by the illusion of love. If the illusion goes, the relationship is broken or becomes unsatisfying on the grounds of disillusionment.
33 Love is
not an illusion. It is a fact. Where disillusionment is possible, there was not love but hate. For hate
is an illusion, and what can change was
never love. It is certain that those who select certain ones as partners in any aspect of living and use them for any purpose which they would not share with others, are trying to
live with guilt rather than
die of it. This is the choice they see. And love to them is only an escape from death. They seek it desperately but not in the peace in which it would gladly come quietly
to them. And when they find the fear of death is still upon them, the love relationship
loses the illusion that it is what it is not. For then the barricades against it are broken, fear rushes in, and hatred triumphs.
34 There are no triumphs of love. Only hate is concerned with the "triumph of love" at all. The illusion of love
can triumph over the illusion of hate, but always at the price of making
both illusions. As long as the illusion of hatred lasts, so long will love be an illusion to you. And then the only choice which remains possible is which illusion you prefer. There
is no conflict in the choice between truth and illusion. Seen in
these terms, no one would hesitate. But conflict enters the instant the choice seems to be one between
illusions, for this choice does not matter. Where one choice is as dangerous as the other, the decision
must be one of despair.
35 Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find
all of the barriers within yourself which you have built
against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it
is necessary to seek for what is false. Every illusion is one of fear, whatever form it takes. And the attempt to escape from one illusion into another
must fail. If you seek love outside yourself, you can be certain that you perceive hatred within and are
afraid of it. Yet peace will never come from the illusion of love, but
only from its reality.
36 Recognize this, for it is true, and truth
must be recognized if it is to be distinguished from illusion: The special love relationship is an attempt [to bring
love into separation. And, as such, it is nothing more than an attempt] to bring love into fear and make it
real in fear. In fundamental violation of love's condition, the special love relationship would accomplish the impossible. How but in illusion
could this be done? It is essential that we look very closely at exactly what it is you think you can do to solve the dilemma, which seems very real to you, but which does not exist. You have come very close to truth, and only this stands between you and the bridge that leads you into it.
37 Heaven waits silently, and your creations are holding out their hands to help you cross and welcome them. For it is
seek. You seek but for your own completion, and it is they who render you complete. The special love relationship is but a shabby substitute for what makes you whole in truth,
not in illusion. Your relationship with them is without guilt, and this enables you to look on all your brothers with gratitude because your creations were created in union
with them. Acceptance of your creations is the acceptance of the oneness of creation, without which you could never
be complete. No specialness can offer you what God has given and what you are joined with Him in giving.
38 Across the bridge is your completion, for you will be wholly in God, willing for nothing special but only to be wholly like unto Him, completing Him by
your completion. Fear not to cross to the abode of peace and perfect holiness. Only there is the completion of God and of His Son established forever. Seek not for this in the bleak world of illusion, where nothing is certain, and where everything fails to satisfy. In the Name of God, be wholly willing to abandon
all illusions. In any relationship in which you are wholly willing to accept completion, and
only this, there is God completed and His Son with Him.
39 The bridge that leads to union in yourself
must lead to knowledge, for it was built with God beside you and will lead you straight to Him, where your completion rests wholly compatible with His. Every illusion which you accept into your mind by judging it to be attainable removes your own sense of completion and thus denies the wholeness of your Father. Every fantasy, be it of love or hate, deprives you of knowledge, for fantasies are the veil behind which truth is hidden. To lift the veil which seems so dark and heavy, it is only needful to value truth beyond
all fantasy and to be entirely unwilling to settle for illusion
in place of truth.
40 Would you not go
through fear to love? For such the journey seems to be. Love calls, but hate would have you stay. Hear not the call of hate, and see no fantasies[, for your completion lies in truth and
nowhere else]. See in the call of hate and in every fantasy that rises to delay you but the call for help which rises ceaselessly from you to your Creator. Would He not answer you whose completion is His? He loves you wholly without illusion, as you must love. For love
is wholly without illusion and therefore wholly without fear. Whom God remembers
must be whole. And God has never forgotten what makes
Him whole. In your completion lies the memory of His wholeness and His gratitude to you for His completion. In His link with you lie both His inability to forget and your ability to remember. In Him are joined your willingness to love and all the love of God, Who forgot you not.
41 Your Father can no more forget the truth in you than you can fail to remember it. The Holy Spirit is the bridge to Him, made from your willingness to unite with Him and created by His joy in union with you. The journey that seemed to be endless is almost complete, for what
is endless is very near. You have almost recognized it. Turn with me firmly away from all illusions
now, and let nothing stand in the way of truth. We will take the last foolish journey
away from truth together, and then together we go straight to God in joyous answer to His call for His completion.
42 If special relationships of any kind would hinder God's completion,
can they have value to you? What would interfere with God
must interfere with you. Only in time does interference in God's completion seem to be possible. The bridge that He would carry you across lifts you from time into eternity. Waken from time and answer fearlessly the call of Him Who gave eternity to you in your creation. On this side of the bridge to timelessness you understand nothing. But as you step lightly across it, upheld
by timelessness, you are directed straight to the Heart of God. At its center, and
only there, you are safe forever because you are
complete forever. There is no veil the love of God in us together cannot lift. The way to truth is open. Follow it with me.
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