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38 The Atonement actually began long before the crucifixion. Many Souls offered their efforts on behalf of the separated ones, but they could not withstand the strength of the attack and had to be brought back. Angels came, too, but their protection did not suffice because the separated ones were not interested in peace. They had already split their minds and were bent on further dividing rather than reintegrating.
Workbook for Students
Part I
1 A theoretical foundation such as the text is necessary as a background to make these exercises meaningful. Yet it is the exercises which will make the goal possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of these exercises to train the mind to think along the lines which the course sets forth.

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Workbook for Students
Part I
Lesson 19
I am not alone in experiencing
the effects of my thoughts.
1 The idea for today is obviously the reason why your seeing does not affect you alone. You will notice that at times the ideas related to thinking precede those related to perceiving, while at other times the order is reversed. The reason is that the order does not actually matter. Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate.

2 Today we are again emphasizing the fact that minds are joined. This is rarely a wholly welcome idea at first, since it seems to carry with it an enormous sense of responsibility and may even be regarded as an "invasion of privacy." Yet it is a fact that there are no private thoughts. Despite your initial resistance to this idea, you will yet understand that it must be true if salvation is possible at all. And salvation must be possible because it is the Will of God.

3 The minute or so of mind searching which today's exercises require are to be undertaken with eyes closed. The idea is to be repeated first, and then the mind should be carefully searched for the thoughts it contains at that time. As you consider each one, name it in terms of the central person or theme it contains and, holding it in your mind as you do so, say:

4 I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about ___.

5 The requirement of as much indiscriminateness as possible in selecting subjects for the practice period should be quite familiar to you by now and will no longer be repeated each day, although it will occasionally be included as a reminder. Do not forget, however, that random selection of subjects for all practice periods remains essential throughout. Lack of order in this connection will ultimately make the recognition of lack of order in miracles meaningful to you.

6 Apart from the "as needed" application of today's idea, at least three practice periods are required, shortening the length of time involved if necessary. Do not attempt more than four.
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Course in Miracles
Original Edition
Chapter 2
The Illusion of Separation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson 19
I am not alone in experiencing
the effects of my thoughts.
Sarah's Commentary:
Yesterday, the focus of the Lesson was on seeing. Today, it is on thinking. Thinking is cause and seeing is effect. "Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate." (W.19.1.4) It all happens so quickly that it is hard to recognize thought as the cause of our seeing. We don't recognize that each thought we have produces an effect that we see in the world. Every problem, every event, every situation, and everything in this world of form starts with a thought in our minds. In fact, the whole world is a projection of the thought of separation. Essentially, the world is not separate from the mind. Nothing is really outside of the mind. It does seem like the world is outside of the mind, but Jesus reminds us that ideas do not leave their source. Another way to say this is that effects do not leave their cause, and the cause is always our own minds.

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Love and blessings, Sarah

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Allen Watson's
Workbook Commentaries
Allen joined Robert Perry in forming the Circle of Atonement in 1993 in Sedona, Arizona where Allen led retreats and workshops and authored many books based on “A Course in Miracles.” One of his most popular books is:

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