Lesson 187
Perception and the Two Worlds
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28 In this world it is impossible to create, yet it is possible to make happy. We have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships but would transform them. And by that all that is meant is that He will restore to them the function given them by God. The function you have given them is clearly not to make happy. But the holy relationship shares God's purpose, rather than aiming to make a substitute for it. Every special relationship which you have made is a substitute for God's Will and glorifies yours instead of His because of the delusion that they are different. 
    ON LINE: ACIM.OE.TX.CH 17.V         AUDIO: TEXT CH 17, V        
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Introduction 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.     

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.     

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.    

  ~ The Original Handscript Notes

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SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n  187
I bless the world because I bless myself. 
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio

   No one can give unless he has. In fact, 
   giving is proof of having. We have made
   this point before. What seems to make it hard
   to credit is not this. No-one can doubt
   that you must first possess what you would give.
   It is the second phase on which the world
   and true perception differ. Having had
   and given, then the world asserts that you
   have lost what you possessed. The truth maintains
   that giving will increase what you possess.
   How is this possible? For it is sure
   that if you give a finite thing away
   your body's eyes will not perceive it yours.
   Yet we have learned that things but represent
   the thoughts which make them. And we do not lack
   for proof that when we give ideas away,
   we strengthen them in our own minds. Perhaps
   the form in which the thought seems to appear
   is changed in giving. Yet it must return
   to him who gives. Nor can the form it takes
   be less acceptable. It must be more.
   Ideas must first belong to you, before
   you give them. If you are to save the world,
   you first accept salvation for yourself.
   But you will not believe that this is done
   until you see the miracles it brings
   to everyone you look upon. Herein
   is the idea of giving clarified
   and given meaning. Now you can perceive
   that by your giving is your store increased.
   Protect all things you value by the act
   of giving them away, and you are sure
   that you will never lose them. What you thought
   you did not have is thereby proven yours.
   Yet value not its form. For this will change
   and grow unrecognizable in time
   however much you try to keep it safe.
   No form endures. *To value form is but
   to worship death.* It is the thought behind
   the form of things that lives unchangeable.
   Give gladly. You can only gain thereby.
   The thought remains and grows in strength as it
   is reinforced by giving. Thoughts extend
   as they are shared, for they can not be lost.
   There is no giver and receiver in
   the sense the world conceives of them. There is
   a giver who retains; another who
   will give as well. And both must gain in this
   exchange, for each will have the thought in form
   most helpful to him. What he seems to lose
   is always something he will value less
   than what will surely be returned to him.
   Never forget you give but to yourself.
   Who understands what giving means must laugh
   at the idea of sacrifice. Nor can
   he fail to recognize the many forms
   that sacrifice may take. He laughs as well
   at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief,
   at poverty, starvation and at death.
   He recognizes sacrifice remains
   the one idea that stands behind them all,
   and in his gentle laughter are they healed.
   Illusion recognized must disappear.
   Accept not suffering, and you remove
   the thought of suffering. Your blessing lies
   on everyone who suffers when you choose
   to see all suffering as what it is.
   The thought of sacrifice gives rise to all
   the forms that suffering appears to take,
   and sacrifice is an idea so mad
   that sanity dismisses it at once.
   Never believe that you can sacrifice.
   There is no place for sacrifice in what
   has any value. If the thought occurs,
   its very presence proves that error has
   arisen, and correction must be made.
   Your blessing will correct it. Given first
   to you, it now is yours to give as well.
   No form of sacrifice and suffering
   can long endure before the face of one
   who has forgiven and has blessed himself.
   The lilies that your brother offers you
   are laid upon your altar, with the ones
   you offer him beside them. Who could fear
   to look upon such lovely holiness?
   The great illusion of the fear of God
   diminishes to nothingness before
   the purity that you can look on here.
   Be not afraid to look. The blessedness
   you will behold will take away all thought
   of form, and leave instead the perfect gift
   forever there, forever to increase,
   forever yours, forever given away.
   Now are we one in thought. For fear has gone.
   And here, before the altar to One God,
   One Father, One Creator and One Thought,
   we stand together as one Son of God.
   Not separate from Him Who is our Source;
   not distant from one brother who is part
   of our One Self Whose innocence has joined
   us all as one, we stand in blessedness
   and give as we received. The Name of God
   is on our lips, and as we look within
   we see the purity of Heaven shine
   in our reflection of our Father's Love.
   Now are we blessed, and now we bless the world.
   What we have looked upon we would extend,
   for we would see it everywhere. We would
   behold it shining with the grace of God
   in everyone. We would not have it be
   withheld from anything we look upon.
   And to ensure this holy sight is ours,
   we offer it to everything we see.
   For where we see it, it will be returned
   to us in form of lilies we can lay
   upon our altar, making it a home
   for Innocence Itself, Who dwells in us
   and offers us His holiness as ours.
      ~ The Original Handscript Notes
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
I bless the world because I bless myself.

Sarah's Commentary:

This whole Lesson is about giving and receiving. "Never forget you give but to yourself." (W.187.6.1) It is not hard to understand that we must first have something in order to give it. To give salvation (love, forgiveness, blessings,) we must first accept for ourselves what is already in us. Yet how do we know that we have it unless we give it away? Only by giving a gift do I know I have it to give! This Lesson is not only about extending the love that we are to the world, but it is also about giving of things in form that carry the content of love. The content behind the form is the only thing we really can give. The content is a thought. "Yet we have learned that things but represent the thoughts that make them." (W.187.2.3) What is really being given is a thought that is either ego-based, meaning it reflects the guilt in the mind, or a right-minded thought that reflects the love in the mind. If it is a thought that carries guilt and fear, I will get for myself what I am giving, meaning more guilt and fear. Yet extending a thought of love strengthens it in my own mind, and thus I have gained. Behind the form, whether it is money or material things, what is given is either love or guilt. When it is guilt, we expect something in return, which becomes a bargain because the giving has strings attached.
This Lesson puts forth the startling thought that the only way to protect anything we value is to give it away. By giving it away, we have the assurance that we will never lose it. (W.187.4.1) When we value peace and happiness, we can only keep them by giving them away. It is how we protect them and how we know they are in us. We can feel it when peace and joy are extended through us. By continuing to give, we will continue to have. (W.187.6.1) "Yet it must return to him who gives. Nor can the form it takes be less acceptable. It must be more." (W.187.2.6-8)
If we are giving just to get something back, whether it is gratitude or something material, we are bargaining, rather than extending. We actually want more than we have given. This is the underlying dynamic behind the special relationship. It is about giving as little as possible to get more than what we have given. It is about giving with the idea of getting something better for what we give. Obviously, this is not what true giving entails. Instead, what this process reflects is the ego thought system of giving to get. When we want something in return for what we are giving, it is not about giving at all, but it is about bargaining in order to get. Jesus says that we would much rather just take what we want, but we recognize this would not get us very far, so we have learned the art of bargaining instead.
It is clearly apparent that when we give love, encouragement, and blessings that are genuine and heartfelt, it gives us great joy. Anything shared is strengthened in our own minds. When I share ideas from the Course, I am reinforcing those ideas in my mind and gaining from this experience. It is not just about the form, meaning the thoughts I share, but it is about the experience of joining with my brothers and sisters that I find so precious and affirming. I also get great pleasure from giving a material gift that I think is perfect for someone. I get joy from the experience. The joy is already in me, but it becomes known to me through the expression of giving. When there are no expectations for anything in return, not even gratitude, it is true giving. In the giving, I have already received.
In fact, the gift can be given anonymously and there will be pure joy just in the giving of it. I can also see where there are expectations attached to my giving or where giving feels like a sacrifice. Here we have reflected the principle of "one or the other". This is where one wins and the other loses. Thus, through giving and receiving, we are always teaching ourselves what it is that we believe we are. We are reinforcing the beliefs that we hold about ourselves, as beings of love and light or as needy, grasping egos. Thus, we are either affirming love or fear within. Either way, we are strengthening whatever beliefs that we are holding onto at the time. If I project guilt onto someone, I feel even more guilt. I receive what I give. "Thoughts increase by being given away. The more who believe in them the stronger they become." (T.5.I.2.2-3) (ACIM OE T.5.II.8)
"What you thought you did not have is thereby proven yours. Yet value not its form. For this will change and grow unrecognizable in time, however much you try to keep it safe. No form endures. It is the thought behind the form of things that lives unchangeable." (W.187.4.2-6) In our special relationships, we value form. We value our own bodies, and we value the bodies of others. Jesus encourages us not to put our value onto form, "For this will change and grow unrecognizable in time. . . " (W.187.4.4) Form will not endure, but the content of love will endure forever. It is eternal and changeless. "The special relationship is a ritual of form, aimed at raising the form to take the place of God at the expense of content." (T.16.V.12.2) (ACIM OE T.16.VI.54) We see it in our world, where we celebrate long-term marriage as something wonderful in and of itself. In other words, the form is what we see as most important, regardless of the content.
Jesus tells us that there is no point in valuing the form, as it has no value. It is nothing. But, as long as we do value it, giving it away will feel like a sacrifice. We can readily see this when we think about the value we put on money or material possessions. Only when we see no value in form will we recognize what is real and truly has value, which is God's Love. We experience being more loving and more peaceful when we extend love and peace. Isn't that the goal we want for ourselves? We all want to be happy and have peace in our lives, but we have been misguided in where our happiness lies when we look for it in form.
Bring awareness to where in your life you are holding back on giving and where you feel like you are sacrificing when you give. Sacrifice takes many forms, including grief, poverty, pain, starvation, and death. Any time we experience pain and loss, we are in sacrifice. Nothing truly can be lost to us because we already have everything. As Jesus tells us, "To Have, Give All to All." (T.6.V.A) (ACIM OE T.6.V.a.) This is the only way we will know what we already have.
If someone whom we love has left us through separation in form (death, desertion, divorce) and we feel we have lost the relationship, then according to this Lesson, we can laugh gently at the idea of sacrifice, as we recognize that nothing real has happened. We can only experience pain when we identify with the figure in the dream whom we see as a form that we value. When we recognize that we are the dreamer of this dream, rather than the dream figure, we can see there is nothing tragic in the situation. It is a neutral event to which we have given meaning. Holding this perspective allows us to smile gently at the dream and see that there is no meaning in form. However, this is not an invitation to be unkind or dismissive to others who may be experiencing the pain of loss. When others are suffering, it is important to realize that what we see is not real, yet in the world, it does seem real and tragic, and so we are called to be kind.
"Accept not suffering, and you remove the thought of suffering. Your blessing lies on everyone who suffers, when you choose to see all suffering as what it is." (W.187.7.2-3) We can bring sanity to the suffering by not joining with our brother's dream of sickness. This is true empathy. When we look at the illusion and realize it is not real, it must disappear. If we don't get taken in by the world's dream of suffering and we stand outside of the dream, we won't experience our brother as suffering. "Your blessing lies on everyone who suffers, when you choose to see all suffering as what it is." (W.187.7.3) We do not minimize their experience; we simply do not identify with it. When we get distressed by someone's pain, we cannot be of any help. If we jump into the pit with our brother, we have tried to join with their pain and it is now incumbent on us to heal our own upset by bringing it to the Holy Spirit. As Gerald Jampolsky said, "Physician heal thyself." Our misperceptions of our brother must now be healed in our own minds; otherwise, we cannot be truly helpful. When we have been mistaken in how we see another, it is because we have forgotten who we are. When we become a demonstration of the light within us and allow it to shine through us, we extend a blessing to our brother. What we give, we receive.
When we can see the holiness, shining forth from our brothers, we recognize that "The great illusion of the fear of God diminishes to nothingness before the purity that you will look on here." (W.187.9.3) Our fear of God is based on our belief that He will punish us for our sin of separation. We project the guilt we feel for our own sin onto our brothers. When we use our relationships for the purpose of healing the guilt in our own minds by withdrawing our projections, we then see our brothers as guiltless. We accept our own innocence as well, and now our fear of punishment from God is gone. We only fear punishment when we feel guilty. When we know who we are, the separation is healed and our divine innocence is reclaimed.
When we accept the blessings that are always available to us, we are reminded that loss and sacrifice cannot be the truth. As we stand together as One Son of God, ". . . we stand in blessedness, and give as we receive. The Name of God is on our lips. And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father's Love." (W.187.10.3-5) This is stunningly beautiful and suggests to me that we can only know our beautiful, sinless perfection by seeing it in our brothers. How quickly we judge instead! Today, we can truly focus on setting our intent to bless, bless, bless, everyone we encounter in order to know we are blessed and to know it is in us to give. This can only happen when our grievances, judgments, and expectations are seen for what they are and given over for forgiveness and healing. Then blessing is a natural response where we see our interests as the same as our brother's. Thus, the relationship is transformed from specialness to holiness.
As we give, we receive. "Now are we blessed, and now we bless the world." (W.187.11.1) There is no separation, only Oneness. We are joined at the altar where our gifts of giving and receiving are held. We bring our storehouse of blessings to the world when we accept the Atonement for ourselves. When we accept the Correction in our own minds, blessings automatically extend through us. While our guilt attacks, our peace embraces everyone. Nothing is withheld, for we only give to our Self. We now see with vision, rather than with the limitations that come with identification with the false self.
In the world, we speak of being blessed when everything goes according to our wishes and desires, and we feel victimized when this is not the case. Yet accepting the Correction is to see our peace is not dependent on anything outside ourselves. The blessing is there all the time because we know it is in us. Anytime you are tempted to withhold anything from anyone, recognize that you are believing in sacrifice and loss. You can now ask for help in remembering that we all share the same interests, and in giving, we know we have.
Today, we look at where we have reluctance in giving, and what beliefs we hold about lack and loss. We ask for help in forgiving ourselves for using these situations to keep ourselves separate from the love we are. It is important to see there is no value for us to take on more guilt when we notice our reluctance to give, or when we want to get something in return. Remember, this is a classroom for undoing the ego thought system. Noticing our blocks is what allows us to bring them to the light for healing. It is not helpful to judge ourselves. Celebrate the opportunities when you see your ego in action, for this is where the healing is. It is a mistake to try to spiritualize the form rather than to look at the content of your mind.
At the quiet center of our minds is where there is only the fullness of Being and the purity of our blessedness, where they have always been. When we get in touch with this purity, we bring the blessing of God's Love to embrace everything and everyone in our day, so it can be strengthened in us.

Love and blessings, Sarah 

A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Seventeen

Forgiveness and Healing 
   Voice and Music by Martin Weber, CIMS SonShip Radio

V. Perception and the Two Worlds

27 God established His relationship with you to make you happy, and nothing you do which does not share His purpose can be real. The purpose God ascribed to anything is its only function. Because of His reason for creating His relationship with you, the function of relationships became forever "to make happy." And nothing else. To fulfill this function, you relate to your creations as God to His. For nothing God created is apart from happiness, and nothing God created but would extend happiness as its Creator did. Whatever fulfills this function not cannot be real.
28 In this world it is impossible to create, yet it is possible to make happy. We have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships but would transform them. And by that all that is meant is that He will restore to them the function given them by God. The function you have given them is clearly not to make happy. But the holy relationship shares God's purpose, rather than aiming to make a substitute for it. Every special relationship which you have made is a substitute for God's Will and glorifies yours instead of His because of the delusion that they are different.
29 You have made very real relationships even in this world which you do not recognize simply because you have raised their substitutes to such predominance that when truth calls to you, as it does constantly, you answer with a substitute. Every special relationship which you have ever undertaken has as its fundamental purpose the aim of occupying your minds so completely that you will not hear the call of truth. In a sense the special relationship was the ego's answer to the creation of the Holy Spirit, Who was God's answer to the separation. For although the ego did not understand what had been created, it was aware of threat.
30 The whole defense system which the ego evolved to protect the separation from the Holy Spirit was in response to the gift with which God blessed it and by His blessing enabled it to be healed. This blessing holds within itself the truth about everything. And the truth is that the Holy Spirit is in close relationship with you because in Him is your relationship with God restored to you. The relationship with Him has never been broken because the Holy Spirit has not been separate from anyone since the separation. And through Him have all your holy relationships been carefully preserved to serve God's purpose for you.
31 The ego is hyperalert to threat, and the part of your mind into which the ego was accepted is very anxious to preserve its reason as it sees it. It does not realize that it is totally insane. And you must realize just what this means if you would be restored to sanity. The insane protect their thought systems, but they do so insanely. And all their defenses are as insane as what they are supposed to protect. The separation has nothing in it, no part, no "reason," and no attribute that is not insane. And its "protection" is part of it, as insane as the whole. The special relationship, which is its chief defense, must therefore be insane.
32 You have but little difficulty now in realizing that the thought system which the special relationship protects is but a system of delusions. You recognize, at least in general terms, that the ego is insane. Yet the special relationship still seems to you somehow to be "different." Yet we have looked at it far closer than at many other aspects of the ego's thought system which you have been more willing to let go. While this one remains, you will not let the others go. For this one is not different. Retain this one, and you have retained the whole.
33 It is essential to realize that all defenses do what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend. What they defend is placed in them for safekeeping, and as they operate, they bring it to you. Every defense operates by giving gifts, and the gift is always a miniature of the thought system the defense protects, set in a golden frame. The frame is very elaborate, all set with jewels and deeply carved and polished. Its purpose is to be of value in itself and to divert your attention from what it encloses. But the frame without the picture you cannot have. Defenses operate to make you think you can.
34 The special relationship has the most imposing and deceptive frame of all the defenses the ego uses. Its thought system is offered here, surrounded by a frame so heavy and so elaborate that the picture is almost obliterated by its imposing structure. Into the frame are woven all sorts of fanciful and fragmented illusions of love, set with dreams of sacrifice and self-aggrandizement and interlaced with gilded threads of self-destruction. The glitter of blood shines like rubies, and the tears are faceted like diamonds and gleam in the dim light in which the offering is made.
35 Look at the picture. Do not let the frame distract you. This gift is given you for your damnation, and if you take it, you will believe that you are damned. You cannot have the frame without the picture. What you value is the frame, for there you see no conflict. Yet the frame is only the wrapping for the gift of conflict. The frame is not the gift. Be not deceived by the most superficial aspects of this thought system, for these aspects enclose the whole, complete in every aspect. Death lies in this glittering gift. Let not your gaze dwell on the hypnotic gleaming of the frame. Look at the picture, and realize that death is offered you.
36 That is why the holy instant is so important in the defense of truth. The truth itself needs no defense, but you do need defense against your own acceptance of the gift of death. When you who are truth accept an idea so dangerous to truth, you threaten truth with destruction. And your defense must now be undertaken to keep truth whole. The power of Heaven, the love of God, the tears of Christ, and the joy of His eternal Spirit are marshaled to defend you from your own attack. For you attack Them, being part of Them, and They must save you, for They love Themselves.
37 The holy instant is a miniature of Heaven, sent you from Heaven. It is a picture, too, set in a frame. Yet if you accept this gift, you will not see the frame at all because the gift can only be accepted through your willingness to focus all your attention on the picture. The holy instant is a miniature of eternity. It is a picture of timelessness, set in a frame of time. If you focus on the picture, you will realize that it was only the frame that made you think it was a picture. Without the frame, the picture is seen as what it represents. For as the whole thought system of the ego lies in its gifts, so the whole of Heaven lies in this instant, borrowed from eternity and set in time for you.
38 Two gifts are offered you. Each is complete and cannot be partially accepted. Each is a picture of all that you can have, seen very differently. You cannot compare their value by comparing a picture to a frame. It must be the pictures only that you compare, or the comparison is wholly without meaning. Remember that it is the picture that is the gift. And only on this basis are you really free to choose. Look at the pictures. Both of them. One is a tiny picture, hard to see at all beneath the heavy shadows of its enormous and disproportionate enclosure. The other is lightly framed and hung in light, lovely to look upon for what it is.
39 You who have tried so hard and are still trying to fit the better picture into the wrong frame and so combine what cannot be combined, accept this and be glad: these pictures are each framed perfectly for what they represent. One is framed to be out of focus and not seen. The other is framed for perfect clarity. The picture of darkness and of death grows less convincing as you search it out amid its wrappings. As each senseless stone which seems to shine in darkness from the frame is exposed to light, it becomes dull and lifeless and ceases to distract you from the picture. And finally you look upon the picture itself, seeing at last that, unprotected by the frame, it has no meaning.
40 The other picture is lightly framed, for time cannot contain eternity. There is no distraction here. The picture of Heaven and eternity grows more convincing as you look at it. And now by real comparison a transformation of both pictures can at last occur. And each is given its rightful place, when both are seen in relation to each other. The dark picture brought to light is not perceived as fearful, but the fact that it is just a picture is brought home at last. And what you see there, you will recognize as what it is-a picture of what you thought was real and nothing more. For beyond this picture, you will see nothing.
41 The picture of light, in clear cut and unmistakable contrast, is transformed into what lies beyond the picture. As you look on this, you realize that it is not a picture but a reality. This is no figured representation of a thought system, but the Thought Itself. What it represents is there. The frame fades gently, and God rises to your remembrance, offering you the whole of creation in exchange for your little picture, wholly without value and entirely deprived of meaning.
42 As God ascends into His rightful place and you to yours, you will experience again the meaning of relationship and know it to be true. Let us ascend in peace together to the Father by giving Him ascendance in our minds. We will gain everything by giving Him the power and the glory and keeping no illusions of where they are. They are in us through His ascendance. What He has given is His. It shines in every part of Him as in the whole. The whole reality of your relationship with Him lies in our relationship to one another. The holy instant shines alike on all relationships, for in it they are one. For here is only healing, already complete and perfect. For here is God, and where He is, only the perfect and complete can be.
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  To GIVE and to RECEIVE are One in Truth.  Lesson 108

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