THURSDAY July 7, 2016
A Spark of Hidden Beauty
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 17 FORGIVENESS AND HEALING
IV. SHADOWS OF THE PAST  
    
20 If all but loving thoughts has been forgotten, what remains is eternal. And the transformed past is made like the present. No longer does the past conflict with now. This continuity extends the present by increasing its reality and its value in your perception of it. In these loving thoughts is the spark of beauty hidden in the ugliness of the unholy relationship in which the hatred is remembered, yet there to come alive as the relationship is given to Him Who gives it life and beauty.     
    
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK Part I
INTRODUCTION to LESSONS 181-200
Introduction to Lesson 181-200
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*IAMBIC PENTAMETER*
WHAT IS IAMBIC PENTAMETER?

1
 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.

  
CIRCLE OF ATONEMENT ~ COMMENTARY on INTRODUCTION
          
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DAILY LESSON
L e s s o n 188
The peace of God is shining in me now. 

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   Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light  
   are merely covering their eyes. The light
   is in you now. Enlightenment is but
   a recognition, not a change at all.
   Light is not of this world, yet you who bear
   the light in you are alien here as well.
   The light came with you from your native home,
   and stays with you because it is your own.
   It is the only thing you bring with you
   from Him Who is your Source. It shines in you
   because it lit your home, and leads you back
   to where it came from and you are at home.
 
   This light can not be lost. Why wait to find
   it in the future, or believe it has
   been lost already or was never there?
   It can so easily be looked upon
   that arguments which prove it is not there
   become ridiculous. Who can deny
   the presence of what he beholds in him?
   It is not difficult to look within,
   for there all vision starts. There is no sight,
   be it of dreams or from a truer source,
   that is not but the shadow of the seen
   through inward vision. There perception starts
   and there it ends. It has no source but this.
 
   The peace of God is shining in you now,
   and from your heart extends around the world.
   It pauses to caress each living thing,
   and leaves a blessing with it which remains
   forever and forever. What it gives
   must be eternal. It removes all thoughts
   of the ephemeral and valueless.
   It brings renewal to all tired hearts
   and lights all vision as it passes by.
   All of its gifts are given everyone,
   and everyone unites in giving thanks
   to you who give and you who have received.
 
   The shining in your mind reminds the world
   of what it has forgotten. And the world
   restores the memory to you as well.
   From you salvation radiates with gifts
   beyond all measure, given and returned.
   To you, the giver of the gifts, does God
   Himself give thanks. And with His blessing does
   the light in you shine brighter, adding to
   the gifts you have to offer to the world.
 
   The peace of God can never be contained.
   Who recognizes it within himself
   must give it. And the means for giving it
   are in his understanding. He forgives
   because he recognized the truth in him.
   The peace of God is shining in you now
   and in all living things. In quietness
   is it acknowledged universally.
   For what your inward vision looks upon
   is your perception of the universe.|
 
   Sit quietly and close your eyes. The light
   within you is sufficient. It alone
   has power to give the gift of sight to you.
   Exclude the outer world, and let your thoughts
   fly to the peace within. They know the way.
   For honest thoughts, untainted by the dream
   of worldly things outside yourself, become
   the holy messengers of God Himself.|
   These thoughts you think with Him. They recognize
   their home. And they point surely to their Source,
   where God the Father and the Son are one.
 
   God's peace is shining on them, but they must
   remain with you as well, for they were born
   within your mind, as yours was born in God's.
   They lead you back to peace, from where they came
   but to remind you how you must return.|
   They heed your Father's Voice when you refuse
   to listen. And they urge you gently to
   accept His Word for what you are, instead
   of fantasies and shadows. They remind
   you that you are the co-creator of
   all things that live. For as the peace of God
   is shining in you, it must shine on them.|
 
   We practice coming nearer to the light
   in us today. We take our wandering thoughts,
   and gently bring them back to where they fall
   in line with all the thoughts we share with God.
   We will not let them stray. We let the light
   within our minds direct them to come home.
   We have betrayed them, ordering that they
   depart from us. But now we call them back,
   and wash them clean of strange desires and
   disordered wishes. We restore to them
   the holiness of their inheritance.
 
   Thus are our minds restored with them, and we
   acknowledge that the peace of God still shines
   in us and from us to all living things
   that share our life. We will forgive them all,
   absolving all the world of what we thought
   it did to us. For it is we who make
   the world as we would have it. Now we choose
   that it be innocent, devoid of sin,
   and open to salvation. And we lay
   our saving blessing on it as we say:
 
   "The peace of God is shining in me now.
    Let all things shine upon me in that peace,
    and let me bless them with the light in me."
 
           
~ Original Handscript of ACIM June 3, 1970
 
 
          
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 188

The peace of God is shining in me now .

Sarah's Commentary: 
 
The focus now is on entering the holy instant. It is to experience moments of stillness and a withdrawal from the world into the quiet center of the mind. Only in the holy instant do we have the experience of deep peace. What is needed to come to this experience is for us to look at our blocks to love reflected in all of our judgments and attitudes to others. In releasing them, we have the experience of the reflection of Heaven. It is a feeling of deep peace and a sense of being at home. It requires a willingness to take responsibility for our thoughts. It is a recognition that everything we perceive starts with our own minds.
 
The world is a projection of the guilt in our minds. When blocks to love are healed, the love in us extends from our heart to everyone. "It pauses to caress each living thing, and leaves a blessing with it that remains forever and forever. What it gives must be eternal. It removes all thoughts of the ephemeral and valueless. It brings renewal to all tired hearts, and lights all vision as it passes by. All of its gifts are given everyone, and everyone unites in giving thanks to you who give, and you who have received." (W.188.3.2-6) Now the gifts we give are returned to us ". . . beyond all measure." (W.188.4.2)
 
How we know whether we have chosen the ego or the Holy Spirit is by what we perceive outside. Jesus says, "It is not difficult to look within, for there all vision starts." (W.188.2.5) Yet the ego tells us not to look within. It says all is dark there, and God will destroy us, because of the sin in us. So we are afraid to go there. "Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look." (T.21.IV.2.3-4) (ACIM OE T.21.V.42) We now feel safer in our distractions. Yet when we are willing to look at the false beliefs we hold, we can go beyond them to the light. That light is already in us, blocked by our dark thoughts. Willingness is required to go beyond our defenses. We set up defenses against the love we are because of our fear of God. When we are willing to look with honesty and courage past our defenses, it is the beginning of vision.
 
The world is an outward picture of our inward condition. Thus, we can clearly see what we have aligned with, whether the dark thoughts of the ego or the love of the Holy Spirit. Both the problem and the solution are in our own minds. This is where all healing takes place. What we see with our eyes and take in with our ears and other senses is designed to deceive us that there is actually a world out there, acting on us. But the world is in our own minds. Everything we see starts and ends there. That is what is beautiful about this process because all power is in us. "The power of decision is your one remaining freedom as a prisoner of this world." (T.12.VII.9.1) (ACIM OE T.11.VIII.70) Nothing outside us can take our peace and joy. If we do not feel the peace and joy that are ours, it is because we have chosen the ego thought system of judgment, condemnation, and specialness.
 
We cannot release what we refuse to acknowledge in ourselves. Our beliefs, opinions, concepts, values, and thoughts are what need to be acknowledged and seen as keeping us from love. We are tempted to deny or project our guilt onto others. It is important to resist this temptation, if we are to heal what stands in the way of the love we are. "Enlightenment is but a recognition not a change at all." (W.188.1.4) It is not a light we need to seek, because we already have it. To find this light, simply look within. It is not about struggling with the ego or struggling against our obsessive thoughts. To do so is to give them reality. It is not even about trying hard, only about surrendering. It is to give up our way and follow His way.
 
"Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now." (W.188.1.1-3) To seek for a future state of enlightenment is what many of us try to do, yet this is precisely what keeps it at bay. We are in the past or future, not accepting the present moment. The moment of the holy instant, where there is an authentic knowing that floods our minds, is the moment of knowing it is all here now. Chasing the goal of enlightenment is just another ego ploy to "seek and do not find." (T.12.V.7.1) (ACIM OE T.11.VI.49) We need to give up control, as everything has already been determined. The end is certain, so what do we do now? The answer is to choose love in every moment. In every circumstance that is in front of us, we can stay aware of our thoughts and choose how we respond, whether from the ego or from the Spirit. Let your life be guided by Love in each moment. No matter what you are facing, keep asking how Love would have you respond to the situation. The Answer is within you. It requires tuning into the Voice of the Holy Spirit. The ego will tend to speak first, but it is never the truth. When we turn to the Holy Spirit, He will always offer His guidance, which is in direct opposition to the ego.
 
If the peace of God is shining in us now, there is nowhere to go to find it and nothing to seek for. It is indeed humorous to seek for the light, while covering our eyes, refusing to see it is here now. "Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes." (W.188.1.2) In other words, Jesus says, though we seek it, there is also a part of us keeping it from our awareness. How do we do that? We defend against it by holding out to find it one day in the future. "Why wait to find it in the future, or believe it has been lost already, or was never there?" (W.188.2.2) Jesus calls these ridiculous arguments. "The light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own." (W.188.1.6) There is no reason to delay our peace and joy. There is no reason to indulge in the belief that we have to atone for our sins and clean up our act in order to know Heaven. There is no need to suffer any longer. We think it is hard to find and that we need to struggle with our ego. We think this is a difficult process, but Jesus keeps assuring us that to struggle with the ego is to make it real. Recognition of the light in us is all that is needed. The light is there now. This light cannot be lost. We do not need to try hard to find where it is. We have just forgotten who we are. It is always present, yet we deny its presence.
 
Everything that seems to happen in this illusion can contribute to our journey if given over to the Holy Spirit. Every event, every circumstance, every mistake, and every situation, can be seen as an opportunity to release our self-condemnation, self-attacks, and judgments we project onto the world. None of these things are a reason for guilt. No mistake should be used for crucifying ourselves or others. It is all there for our learning. It is just another opportunity to release the self-condemnation that we project onto others. "In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, 'My brother, choose again'." (T.31.VIII.3.2) (ACIM OE T.31.VIII.87)
 
Jesus is not denying we experience difficulty, distress, or perplexity in our lives. We all have a lot of stuff that occupies our thoughts, but all of these challenges hamper our spiritual growth, if we deny and resist them. As Ken Wapnick writes in The Healing Power of Kindness pp.38-39, "Rather than feel guilty, angry or depressed about a problem--physical or psychological--we need to accept it as a classroom, telling ourselves this is the form in which we will learn what we need to learn: whatever the distress, it is our choosing. This is not because we are neurotic, psychotic or bad, but because we want to prove we are who we are not; that the separated, sinful, and guilty self is real, and our glorious Self an illusion."
 
When you feel discouraged on this journey, do not fight yourself. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is out of place. I recently heard Adyashanti say that the world is "benevolently ruthless." In other words, we all get exactly what we need for our awakening. It can be grace, even though it may look like ruthless grace. Whatever you may think you have done wrong and whatever you may feel frustrated with or sad about, do not resist it or deny it. It is in the opposition of it that we suffer. Allow yourself to accept wherever you are. Allow yourself to be defeated or discouraged. Experience the feeling instead of trying to manage or control it. It is about absolute acceptance. The truth is we are perfect, innocent, complete, and always in the Presence of God's Love, but our minds convince us otherwise. When we accept whatever the situation is in front of us and fully accept what we are feeling, we can immediately turn to the Holy Spirit and open our minds to His interpretation.
 
As long as we hold onto our judgments and grievances, and as long as we are unwilling to take responsibility for them, we cannot know the peace of God shining in us now. That is why burying, hiding, or avoiding taking responsibility for, our dark thoughts keeps them from being purified and washed clean by the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, "We have betrayed them, ordering that they depart from us. But now we call them back, and wash them clean of strange desires and disordered wishes. We restore to them the holiness of their inheritance." (W.188.9.5-7) Actually, we do not do that because the ego will never undertake to undo itself. The Holy Spirit does it when we turn our strange desires and disordered wishes over to Him, by putting them on the inner altar. This is the miracle. It is how we absolve ". . . the world from what we thought it did to us." (W.188.10.2) That is what forgiveness does. It washes away what no longer serves us.
 
"We practice coming nearer to the light in us today. We take our wandering thoughts, and gently bring them back to where they fall in line with all the thoughts we share with God. We will not let them [ our wandering thoughts] stray. We let the light within our minds direct them to come home." (W.188.9.1-4) Today, we practice watching our thoughts, by calling them to our attention, so they can be washed clean by the Holy Spirit, thus leaving room for only God's Thoughts. In the light that has never left us, we find God's peace.
 
Rather than blaming the world, "Now we choose that it be innocent, devoid of sin and open to salvation." (W.188.10.4) We lay our blessing on it today instead of cursing and blaming it for the conditions we have chosen for ourselves. We say, "The peace of God is shining in me now. Let all things shine upon me in that peace, and let me bless them with the light in me." (W.188.10.6-7)
 
Love and blessings, Sarah 
ACIM Original Edition
IV. Shadows of the Past  
  
14  To forgive is merely to remember only the  loving  thoughts you gave in the past and those that were given you. All the rest must be forgotten. Forgiveness is a selective remembering, based not on your selection. For the shadow figures you would make immortal are "enemies" of reality. Be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do. The shadow figures are the witnesses you bring with you to demonstrate he did what he did not. Because you brought them, you will hear them. And you who kept them by your own selection do not understand how they came into your minds and what their purpose is.
  
15 They represent the evil that you  think was done to you. You bring them with you only that you may return evil for evil, hoping that their witness will enable you to think guiltily of another and not harm yourself. They speak so clearly for the separation that no one not obsessed with keeping separation could hear them. They offer you the "reasons" why you should enter into unholy alliances which support the ego's goals and make your relationships the witness to its power. It is these shadow figures which would make the ego holy in your sight and teach you what you do to keep it safe is really love.
  
16 The shadow figures always speak for vengeance, and all relationships into which they enter are totally insane. Without exception, these relationships have as their purpose the exclusion of the truth about the other and of yourself. This is why you see in both what is not there and make of both the slaves of vengeance. And why whatever reminds you of your past grievances, no matter how distorted the associations by which you arrive at the remembrance may be, attracts you and seems to you to go by the name of love. And finally why all such relationships become the attempt at union through the body, for only bodies can be seen as means for vengeance. That bodies are central to all unholy relationships is evident. Your own experience has taught you this. But what you do not realize are all the reasons which go to make the relationship unholy. For unholiness seeks to reinforce itself, as holiness does, by gathering to itself what it perceives as like itself.
  
17 In the unholy relationship, it is not the body of the other with which union is attempted but the bodies of those who are not there. Even the body of the other, already a severely limited perception of him, is not the central focus as it is or in entirety. What can be used for fantasies of vengeance and what can be most readily associated with those on whom vengeance is really sought are centered on and separated off as being the only parts of value. Every step taken in the making, the maintaining, and the breaking off of the unholy relationship is a move toward further fragmentation and unreality. The shadow figures enter more and more, and the one in whom they seem to be decreases in importance.
  
18 Time is indeed unkind to the unholy relationship. For time  is cruel in the ego's hands, as it is kind when used for gentleness. The attraction of the unholy relationship begins to fade and to be questioned almost at once. Once it is formed, doubt must enter in because its purpose is impossible. The only such relationships which retain the fantasies that center on them are those which have been dreamed of but have not been made at all. Where no reality has entered, there is nothing to intrude upon the dream of happiness. Yet consider what this means-the more reality that enters into the unholy relationship, the less satisfying it becomes. And the more the fantasies can encompass, the greater the satisfaction seems to be.
  
19 The "ideal" of the unholy relationship thus becomes one in which the reality of the other does not enter at all to "spoil" the dream. And the less the other really brings to it, the "better" it becomes. Thus, the attempt at union becomes a way of excluding even the one with whom the union was sought. For it was formed to get him out of it and join with fantasies in uninterrupted "bliss." How can the Holy Spirit bring His interpretation of the body as a means of communication into relationships whose only purpose is separation from reality? What forgiveness is enables Him to do so.
  
20 If all but loving thoughts has been forgotten, what remains is eternal. And the transformed past is made like the present. No longer does the past conflict with 
now. This continuity extends the present by increasing its reality and its value in your perception of it. In these loving thoughts is the spark of beauty hidden in the ugliness of the unholy relationship in which the hatred is remembered, yet there to come alive as the relationship is given to Him Who gives it life and beauty. That is why Atonement centers on the past, which is the source of separation, and where it must be undone. For separation must be corrected where it was made. The ego seeks to "resolve" its problems, not at their source, but where they were not made. And thus it seeks to guarantee there will be no solution.
  
21 The Holy Spirit wills only to make His resolutions complete and perfect, and so He seeks and finds the source of problems where it is and there undoes it. And with each step in His undoing is the separation more and more undone and union brought closer. He is not at all confused by any "reasons" for separation. All He perceives in separation is that it must be undone. Let Him uncover the hidden spark of beauty in your relationships and show it to you. Its loveliness will so attract you that you will be unwilling ever to lose the sight of it again. And you will let it transform the relationship so you can see it more and more. For you will want it more and more and become increasingly unwilling to let it be hidden from you. And you will learn to seek for and establish conditions in which this beauty can be seen.
  
22 All this you will do gladly if you but let Him hold the spark before you to light your way and make it clear to you. God's Son is one. Whom God has joined as one, the ego cannot break apart. The spark of holiness must be safe, however hidden it may be, in every relationship. For the Creator of the one relationship has left no part of it without Himself.
  
23 This is the only part of the relationship the Holy Spirit sees because He knows that only this is true. You have made the relationship unreal and therefore unholy by seeing it where it is not and as it is not. Give the past to Him Who can change your mind about it for you. But first be sure you fully realize what you have made the past to represent and why.
  
24 In brief, the past is now your justification for entering into a continuing, unholy alliance with the ego against the present. For the present  is forgiveness. Therefore, the relationships which the unholy alliance dictates are not perceived nor felt as 
now. Yet the frame of reference to which the present is referred for meaning is an 
illusion of the past in which those elements which fit the purpose of the unholy alliance are retained and all the rest let go. And what is thus let go is all the truth the past could ever offer to the present as witnesses for its reality, while what is kept but witnesses to the reality of dreams.
  
25 It is still up to you to choose to be willing to join with truth or illusion. But remember that to choose one is to let the other go. Which one you choose, you will endow with beauty and reality because the choice depends on which you value more. The spark of beauty or the veil of ugliness, the real world or the world of guilt and fear, truth or illusion, freedom or slavery-it is all the same. For you can never choose except between God and the ego. Thought systems are but true or false, and all their attributes come simply from what they are. Only the Thoughts of God are true. And all that follows from them comes from what they are and is as true as is the holy Source from which they came.
  
26 My holy brothers, I would enter into all your relationships and step between you and your fantasies. Let  my relationship to you be real to you, and let me bring reality to your perception of your brothers. They were not created to enable you to hurt yourselves through them. They were created to create with you. This is the truth that I would interpose between you and your goal of madness. Be not separate from me, and let not the holy purpose of Atonement be lost to you in dreams of vengeance. Relationships in which such dreams are cherished have excluded me. Let me enter in the Name of God and bring you peace that you may offer peace to me.
 

 

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