Saturday July 9, 2016 Lesson 190
A Miniature of Eternity
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 17 FORGIVENESS AND HEALING
V. PERCEPTION AND THE TWO WORLDS   
    
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.        
    
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK Part I
INTRODUCTION to LESSONS 181-200
Introduction to Lesson 181-200
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Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio

*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 190
I choose the joy of God instead of pain. 
 
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   Pain is a wrong perspective. When it is
   experienced in any form, it is
   a proof of self-deception. It is not
   a fact at all. There is no form it takes
   which will not disappear if seen aright.
   For pain proclaims God cruel. How could it
   be real in any form? It witnesses
   to God the Father's hatred of His Son,
   the sinfulness He sees in him, and His
   insane desire for revenge and death.|
  Can such projections be attested to?
   Can they be anything but wholly false?
 
   Pain is but witness to the Son's mistakes
   in what he thinks he is. It is a dream
   of fierce retaliation for a crime
   that could not be committed; for attack
   on what is wholly unassailable.
   It is a nightmare of abandonment
   by an Eternal Love Which could not leave
   the Son whom It created out of love.|
 
   Pain is a sign illusions reign in place
   of truth. It demonstrates God is denied,
   confused with fear, perceived as mad and seen
   as traitor to Himself. If God is real
   there is no pain. If pain is real there is
   no God. For vengeance is not part of love.
   And fear, denying love and using pain
   to prove that God is dead, has shown that death
   is victor over life. The body is
   the Son of God, corruptible in death,
   as mortal as the Father he has slain.
 
   Peace to such foolishness! The time has come
   to laugh at such insane ideas. There is
   no need to think of them as savage crimes
   or secret sins with weighty consequence.
   *What possible effects could come of them?*
   Who but a madman could conceive of them
   as cause of anything? Their witness pain
   is mad as they, and no more to be feared
   than the insane illusions which it shields,
   and tries to demonstrate must still be true.
 
   It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain.
   Nothing external to your mind can hurt
   or injure you in any way. There is
   no cause beyond yourself that can reach down
   and bring oppression. No-one but yourself
   affects you. There is nothing in the world
   which has the power to make you ill or sad,
   or weak or frail. But it is you who have
   the power to dominate all things you see
   by merely recognizing what you are.
   As you perceive the harmlessness in them,
   they will accept your holy will as theirs.
   And what was seen as fearful now becomes
   a source of innocence and holiness.
 
   My holy brothers, think of this a while;
   the world you see does nothing. It has no
   effects at all. It merely represents
   your thoughts. And it will change entirely
   as you elect to change your mind and choose
   the joy of God as what you really want.
   Your Self is radiant in this holy joy,
   unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable,
   forever and forever. And would you
   deny a little corner of your mind
   its own inheritance, and keep it as
   a hospital for pain, a sickly place
   where living things must come at last to die?
 
   The world may seem to cause you pain. And yet
   the world, as causeless, has no power to cause.
   As an effect, it does not make effects.
   As an illusion, it is what you will.
   Your idle wishes represent its pains.
   Your strange desires bring its evil dreams.
   Your thoughts of death envelop it in fear,
   while in your kind forgiveness does it live.
 
   Pain is the thought of evil taking form,
   and working havoc in your holy mind.
   Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid
   not to be free. In pain is God denied
   the Son He loves. In pain does fear appear
   to triumph over love and time replace
   eternity and Heaven. And the world
   becomes a cruel and a bitter place,
   where sorrow rules and little joys give way
   before the onslaught of the savage pain
   that waits to end all joy in misery.|
 
   Lay down your arms and come without defense
   into the quiet place where Heaven's peace
   holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts
   of danger and of fear. Let no attack
   enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword
   of judgment that you hold against your throat,
   and put aside the withering assaults
   with which you seek to hide your holiness.|
  #Here will you understand there is no pain.
   Here does the joy of God belong to you.
 
   This is the day when it is given you
   to realize the lesson which contains
   all of salvation's power. It is this:
   Pain is illusion; joy, reality.
   Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening.
   Pain is deception; joy alone is truth.|
   And so again we make the only choice
   that ever can be made; we choose between
   illusions and the truth, or pain or joy,
   or hell or Heaven. Let our gratitude
   unto our Teacher fill our hearts as we
   are free to choose our joy instead of pain,
   our holiness in place of sin, the peace
   of God instead of conflict, and the light
   of Heaven for the darkness of the world.
 
~ Original Handscript of ACIM July 15, 1970
 
 
          
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 190

I choose the joy of God instead of pain .

Sarah's Commentary: 
 
Now we shift from the beauty we found in the Lesson yesterday to a much darker perspective, as we look at the whole thought system of the ego and how the guilt in the mind has been projected onto the body. When we are in pain of any kind and experience sickness, we feel removed from peace and joy. At such times, it is hard to realize we are not our pain and suffering and that pain is a choice. In saying pain is our responsibility, and we can choose joy instead, the inclination is to feel guilty instead of recognizing we are responsible for our thoughts. Yet only our thoughts cause us pain. (W.190.5.1)
 
It is easier to see that only our thoughts cause us to suffer if we can look at other aspects of our lives. For example, the rejection of a friend is not what has hurt me, but my thoughts about the experience bring pain to my mind. The rudeness of the woman at the store has not taken away my peace, but only my thoughts about the situation are painful. The person who almost backed into me as I was driving in the grocery store parking lot has not hurt me, but my thoughts about that person create distress for me. In the same way, if I have some physical pain, my thoughts are the source of the pain and not anything outside of my mind.
 
When I went through a painful process with dental surgery and a bone transplant procedure and experienced the physical sensation that we call pain, I reminded myself that the sensation I was feeling did not have to cause suffering. Despite the apparent pain, I could choose peace. We can at least practice reducing the mental suffering that goes with pain. While the pain may not entirely vanish, the suffering can at least be diminished, if not eliminated, from the mind. It is not necessarily easy to apply this practice in painful situations, but it is effective, because as we hold onto thoughts of distress and feel discouraged, suffering intensifies. My experience with emotional pain is that it has been even more excruciating than any physical pain I have experienced.
 
Our thoughts can be very obsessive and keep us in hell. This is when it is especially important to do the practice of denying the ability of these thoughts to hurt us and bringing our minds to peace. When I was going through a really difficult time in my life, I held onto the words of the Course like they were a life raft. I used positive self-talk, reflecting Course Lessons. I inquired deeply as to what was really upsetting about the situation based on what I was believing and valuing. Once we start on this path, it is like swallowing a truth pill that cannot be expelled. In other words, there is no turning back. Yes, we will delay and procrastinate, but once we have experienced the power of our divinity, we can never return to the ego thought system entirely.
 
It is not easy to accept the thought that we can choose peace when we are suffering or see someone in our lives suffering with pain, illness, or frailty of any kind. In fact, the most often stated comment we hear or express is, "How could God do this to me or to them?" A loving God would not allow us to suffer. "If God is real, there is no pain. If pain is real, there is no God." (W.190.3.3-4) When we are in pain, we feel abandoned by God (W.190.2.5) and do not experience his eternal Love for us. Instead of feeling guilty when we experience pain, this Lesson asks us to see the foolishness of this thought (W.190.4.1) and to laugh at such an insane idea. (W.190.4.2) Certainly, we can all attest that when we are in pain, it is hard to choose joy in such circumstances. We become our pain. "Pain demonstrates the body must be real. It is a loud, obscuring voice whose shrieks would silence what the Holy Spirit says, and keep His words from your awareness." (T.27.VI.1.1-2) (ACIM OE T.27.VII.54) At times like this, when fear has gripped the mind, medications that mask the symptoms are suggested, even though the Course refers to such medications as magic. They are helpful temporary solutions, which help to reduce our fear and allow us to work with our thoughts. However, while we alleviate the symptoms with medications, we must recognize it is not a cure.
 
Some years ago I was at a workshop with Dr. Parkin, who is a medical intuitive trained by Carolyn Myss. For every bodily dysfunction she diagnosed, she would prescribe the source of the problem in the mind. For example, a problem in the pancreas was a lack of sweetness in one's life. A pain in the abdomen was anger held in. Back pain was holding back love. Chest problems were a lack of compassion. A sore throat may hold someone back who fears speaking the truth, and so on. Jesus addresses this when he says, "Sickness takes many forms, and so does unforgiveness. The forms of one but reproduce the forms of the other, for they are the same illusion. So closely is one translated into the other, that a careful study of the form a sickness takes will point quite clearly to the form of unforgiveness that it represents." (Psychotherapy.2.VI.5.1-3) The intent here is obviously not to feel guilty, or make someone else, who is suffering, experience more guilt. Yet if our thoughts are the source of all pain, then we have the power within us to heal those thoughts. While Jesus affirms the relationship between the symptom and the thought it represents, he goes on to say there is not much point in bothering with this analysis since it will not affect the cure. "Yet seeing this will not effect a cure. That is achieved by only one recognition; that only forgiveness heals an unforgiveness, and only an unforgiveness can possibly give rise to sickness of any kind." (P.2.VI.5.4-5)
 
Pain tells us we are something we are not. It tells us our body is our reality. "Pain is but witness to the Son's mistakes in what he thinks he is." (W.190.2.3) We have projected the guilt we feel about separating from God onto our bodies and this guilt is the source of our pain. I have found I can increasingly connect instances of getting a cold to unforgiving thoughts. Jesus tells us, "Its purpose is the same as pleasure, for they both are means to make the body real. What shares a common purpose is the same. This is the law of purpose, which unites all those who share in it within itself. Pleasure and pain are equally unreal, because their purpose cannot be achieved. Thus are they means for nothing, for they have a goal without a meaning." (T.27.VI.1.4-8) (ACIM OE T.27.VII.54) The purpose for pain and pleasure are to attempt to prove the body is real, but this purpose cannot be achieved. It is impossible to prove the body as real. The body is nothing and has no meaning except what we give it in the illusion. It is just a dream figure. The only purpose of pain and pleasure is to try to prove that, "You are here, within this body, and you can be hurt." (T.27.VI.2.2) (ACIM OE T.27.VII.55)
 
The truth about us is, "Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever." (W.190.6.5) We use pain as a protection to keep us from awareness of that truth. By focusing all our attention on our pain and suffering, it becomes our existence. "Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid not to be free." (W.190.8.2) We gladly agree to suffer to prove we are right about who we say we are as separated beings with bodily realities and that we exist. We gladly suffer to prove others are responsible for our condition and thus guilty, while we think we can maintain our innocence. We hold the mistaken belief we have to suffer and do penance, so we can receive our reward from God. We believe our suffering will be sufficient to atone for what the ego has convinced us we have done. Then we can tell God that He need not punish us, as we have already done it to ourselves.
 
The only source of pain is our belief in sin. When I am in pain, it is truly challenging to look at it as my responsibility without feeling guilty. We must learn to look at our own thoughts and take responsibility for them without judgment of ourselves. Ken Wapnick suggests we look at the movie of our lives from the theater seat with Jesus next to us, looking with us. Instead of trying to make the pain go away on our own, we can keep focusing on simply watching our thoughts and letting go of our false beliefs. In other words, we keep doing the forgiveness work so we can learn to experience the joy hidden by our pain. God is pure Love and would never bring us suffering. When we realize we are outside the dream and our identity is not a body, there is no way to experience pain. Pain is the shadow of the thought system that says we have sinned and are now guilty and should fear punishment. We project the guilt onto God and see Him punishing us. Thus, pain is a mistaken thought as a result of the guilt in the mind, which led to separation from God. Our identity as vulnerable beings, who can be hurt and destroyed, comes as a result of the separation.

My experience is that when someone is sick, they immediately judge themselves for not being sufficiently spiritually advanced. We chose the script of our lives from outside this dream. Indeed, sickness of the body may be something we have chosen for a specific purpose. It is also important to see this Lesson is not just about the pain of bodily sickness, but about reversing cause and effect. It is about recognizing, "The world you see does nothing. It has no effects at all." (W.190.6.1-2) In fact, the world is already over, and nothing we think is the cause of our "dis-ease" is true. While to us it seems the world is the cause of our pain, it has no power at all. All the power is in our minds. If our idle wishes and "strange desires" (W.190.7.6) bring these painful realities into our experience, we could choose to no longer pay this painful ransom by recognizing the truth of who we really are.

I am continually amazed at how a particular Lesson or passage from the text comes up exactly at the time when I am looking for an answer. It arrives perfectly to remind me of the truth. It is like Jesus is looking over my shoulder and talking to the specific issue that is going on for me. Right now a friend has gone through a hip replacement and is experiencing some pain. Yet clearly, she is not suffering. She is taking the medication for the pain, but is totally at peace with herself and her healing is remarkable. When we stubbornly hold onto suffering, the ego is getting juice out of it. Others will feel sorry for us, serve us, protect us, and will go out of their way for us. If we try to control anyone with our sadness, they are supposed to do something for us as a result. We believe our neediness will "make" someone care about us. Clearly there is a "prize" for the ego in this kind of victimhood. Through it, we believe we will get the attention and love we seek and experience the control we think we need in order to keep us safe.

We use these kinds of manipulations to induce guilt in others. It is a misuse of our power, but it can all be released with the help of our Source. By looking at our fearful thoughts and admitting our strategies for manipulation and control, we have an opportunity to release the blocks to the love and radiance we really are. Instead of holding on, we can choose to release and let go and find the freedom and joy that await us. Our holding on comes from feelings of worthlessness and valuelessness. Will anyone be there for me, just because!? Is that the real question or is it to ask ourselves, "Who am I extending love to, and what am I giving in this moment?" Enlightenment is not a future condition. It is to ask in every moment, how would love be now, in this very circumstance? As we give, so shall we receive. It does require trust and a leap of faith, but in it lies our freedom.

How do such transformations take place? Often they occur spontaneously, as Jon Mundy has shown us in his research on mysticism, where some come to this place through an experience of "crash and burn." But for most, long term transformation requires consistent, determined, and ongoing practice. How willing are we to commit to this? How willing are we to look at our blocks in every moment, as they come up? Our path is so often marked by personal tragedies and deep pain, but these events motivate our journey to healing. Yet we could be equally motivated by our experiences of ecstasy, which give us a glimpse of the eternal. Listen to your inner yearning for home, for freedom, for peace and for love. This is what propels you to look within. Looking for it in the distractions of the world will only take us further into pain. It is not to be found there. "Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven's peace holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. Let no attack enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness." (W.190.9.1-4)
 
Your world ". . . will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want." (W.190.6.4) Our perceptions of the world will change. When the belief in the ego is undone, we can know the Self we are as a Thought in God's Mind. We have denied this Self, and instead, we have taken a little corner of our mind and made it into our entire worldly experience, where there is pain and suffering. We have made this place our home. It is what this world is about. It is a world that seems to cause us pain. (W.190.7.1) We have chosen it, as well as our experience in it, as part of our script. Therefore, we are not a victim of anything that seems to be happening to us. The world is not the cause of our pain but only a witness of it. Our experience here is illusory and serves one purpose, which is to keep us in the dream; but if our minds are the cause, the answer to all of our suffering is within. We are therefore the ones who can take charge of our own healing and that is empowering.
 
The other view presented in this Lesson is that God is the cause of our pain. In fact, that is how we see it when we suffer. We ask God, why are you doing this to me? What did I do to deserve this? And in this dream, it all seems quite tragic. Yet Jesus says we can laugh at such insane ideas. "There is no need to think of them as savage crimes, or secret sins with weighty consequences." (W.190.4.3) We have not done anything. We have not sinned, as the ego makes us believe. There is no need for guilt. We are still innocent and can choose to remember the truth, when we recognize we have been wrong.

The Lesson introduces the idea that pain is a wrong perspective. It implies this God, who is supposed to be loving is, in fact, a cruel God. The reasoning goes like this: If God is the cause of everything real, and if pain is real, God must be the cause of it, making Him a cruel God. It is based on the belief we have sinned and now God wants revenge on us and we deserve punishment. This is not in our awareness, but it is what Jesus tells us is in the deep recesses of our minds.
 
It reflects the Garden of Eden story, where all was wonderful until we sinned and got kicked out of the garden to a life of pain and toil. Pain testifies to the apparent truth of this and makes a lie of who we are as changeless and unchanging, holy and radiant. We experience a world of pain and of death, which was not created by a God of pure love. It is all a projection from the wrong-minded thought system of sin and death. Love would not cause this to be, and it does not. Jesus tells us it is foolishness to think this comes from God. It is a wrong perspective we hold based on our belief in our sinfulness. If we are sinful, as we believe we are, we now deserve punishment. This thought system puts the whole thing in motion and thus the events of our lives deliver the punishment we think we deserve. Now pain seems to triumph over love.

Our way out of all of this is to recognize that the thought God wants revenge on us is a foolish thought. The judgment we hold against ourselves sets off this whole cycle of pain, but now we can choose to lay aside all of our thoughts of attack and defense and experience God's joy instead. Pain is illusion and joy is reality. Pain is the denial of reality, and thus, we can be grateful to be told the way we have seen it all is not the truth. "It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain." (W.190.5.1)

We understand which choice we have made, for God or the ego, by paying attention to how we are feeling. We are called to notice how we blame something outside of ourselves for how we feel, and are asked to choose to remember that no one outside of ourselves can affect us. We choose to do the healing work in our minds rather than try and fix the dream. Nothing in the world can cause anything because the world is causeless. It does not exist, so how could it cause pain? When we step outside of the dream, cause is undone. There are no separate bodies. We are One.

To illustrate the above paragraph from my own experience, currently I am feeling trapped and limited in my ability to do what I think is in my best interests because of what I perceive as the demands my mother places on me daily to address both her physical and emotional needs. She is 101 years old, frail and yet sharp mentally and quite capable of pushing my buttons. I have a long-standing pattern of martyrdom in my relationship with her, having been the one that took over the household responsibilities when I was a child. My mother chose not to function in this role because it was "too much for her."

There are days when I see her as the "cause" of my own unhappiness, and resentment comes up for me, but I see she is in my life to help me to remember that she is not the cause of my distress. My thoughts about this situation alone are the cause of my suffering. "Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way." (W.190.5.2) There is nothing external to my mind. I am the cause of my feelings of oppression. I am giving this situation an interpretation that she is responsible for how I feel. Therefore, it is up to me to relinquish my investment in being right about my interpretation. These long-standing patterns seem to carry significant karmic opportunities that go deep into the mind to be undone there.
 
Today, you are asked to "Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven's peace holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. Let no attack enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness." (W.190.9.1-4)
 
We may appear to judge others, but in the end we condemn ourselves. It is a day to remember we have been wrong about ourselves. We are called to be humble, recognizing we don't know what we are and what we think we know. Let us watch today how we actively choose against our peace and joy and want to prove we are right about our perceptions. The only reason we invest in holding onto our perspectives is to prove we are a separate identity and this dream figure is our reality.
 
Love and blessings, Sarah 
ACIM Original Edition
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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