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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 17 FORGIVENESS AND HEALING
VI. THE HEALED RELATIONSHIP
44 The holy relationship, a major step toward the perception of the real world, is learned. It is the old unholy relationship transformed and seen anew. The holy relationship is a phenomenal teaching accomplishment. In all its aspects, as it begins, develops, and becomes accomplished, it represents the reversal of the unholy relationship. Be comforted in this---the only difficult phase is the beginning. For here, the goal of the relationship is abruptly shifted to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit to use for His purposes.
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK Part I
INTRODUCTION to LESSONS 181-200
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
Our next few lessons make a special point of firming up your willingness to make your weak commitment strong, your scattered goals blend into one intent. You are not asked for total dedication all the time, as yet. But you are asked to practice now in order to attain the sense of peace such unified commitment will bestow, if only intermittently. It is experiencing this which makes it sure that you will give your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth.
2 Our lessons now are geared specifically to widening horizons and direct approaches to the special blocks which keep your vision narrow and too limited to let you see the value of our goal. We are attempting now to lift these blocks, however briefly. Words alone can not convey the sense of liberation which their lifting brings. But the experience of freedom and of peace that comes as you give up your tight control of what you see speaks for itself. Your motivation will be so intensified that words become of little consequence. You will be sure of what you want and what is valueless.
3 And so we start our journey beyond words by concentrating first on what impedes our progress still. Experience of what exists beyond defensiveness remains beyond achievement while it is denied. It may be there, but you cannot accept its presence. So we now attempt to go past all defenses for a little while each day. No more than this is asked because no more than this is needed. It will be enough to guarantee the rest will come.
L e s s o n 192
I have a function God would
have me fill.
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
It is your Father's holy Will that you
complete Himself and that your Self shall be
His sacred Son, forever pure as He,
of love created and in love preserved,
extending love, creating in Its Name,
forever one with God and with your Self.
Yet what can such a function mean within
a world of envy, hatred and attack?|
Therefore you have a function in the world
in its own terms. For who can understand
a language far beyond his simple grasp?
Forgiveness represents your function here.
It is not God's creation, for it is
the means by which untruth can be undone.
And who would pardon Heaven? Yet on earth
you need the means to let illusion go.
Creation merely waits for your return
to be acknowledged, not to be complete.|
Creation cannot even be conceived
of in the world. It has no meaning here.
Forgiveness is the closest it can come
to earth. For being Heaven-born, it has
no form at all. Yet God created One
Who has the power to translate [into] form
the wholly formless. What He makes are dreams,
but of a kind so close to waking that
the light of day already shines in them.
And eyes already opening behold
the joyful sights their offerings contain.|
Forgiveness gently looks upon all things
unknown in Heaven, sees them disappear,
and leaves the world a clean and unmarked slate
on which the Word of God can now replace
the senseless <symbols> written there before.
Forgiveness is the means x-you-x by which the fear
of death is overcome, because it holds
no fierce attraction now and guilt is gone.
Forgiveness lets the body be perceived
as what it is; a simple teaching aid
to be laid by when learning is complete,
but hardly changing him who learns at all.|
The mind without the body cannot make
mistakes. It cannot think that it will die
nor be the prey of merciless attack.
Anger becomes impossible, and where
is terror then? What fears could still assail
those who have lost the source of all attack;
the core of anguish and the seat of fear?
Only forgiveness can relieve the mind
of thinking that the body is its home.
Only forgiveness can restore the peace
that God intended for His holy Son.
Only forgiveness can persuade the Son
to look again upon his holiness.|
With anger gone, you will indeed perceive
that for Christ's vision and the gift of sight
no sacrifice was asked, and only pain
was lifted from a sick and tortured mind.
Is this unwelcome? Is it to be feared?
Or is it to be hoped for, met with thanks
and joyously accepted? We are one,
and therefore give up nothing. But we have
indeed been given everything by God.|
Yet do [we] need forgiveness to perceive
that this is so. Without its kindly light
we grope in darkness, using reason but
to justify our rage and our attack.
Our understanding is so limited
that what we think we understand is but
confusion born of error. We are lost
in mists of shifting dreams and fearful thoughts,
our eyes shut tight against the light; our minds
engaged in worshiping what is not there.|
Who can be born again in Christ but him
who has forgiven everyone he sees
or thinks of or imagines? Who could be
set free while he imprisons anyone?
A jailer is not free, for he is bound
together with his prisoner. He must
be sure that he does not escape, and so
he spends his time in keeping watch on him.
The bars [which] limit him become the world
in which [his] jailer lives, along with him.
And it is on his freedom that the way
to liberty depends for both of them.|
Therefore hold no-one prisoner. Release
instead of bind. For thus are you made free.
The way is simple. Every time you feel
a stab of anger, realize you hold
a sword above your head. And it will fall
or be averted as you [chose] to be
condemned or free. Thus does each one who seems
to tempt you to be angry represent
your Saviour from the prison-house of death.
And so you owe him thanks instead of pain.|
Be merciful today. The Son of God
deserves your mercy. It is he who asks
that you accept the way to freedom now.
Deny him not. His Father's Love for him
belongs to you. Your function here on earth
is only to forgive him, that you may
accept him back as your identity.
He is as God created him. And you
are what he is. Forgive him now his sins,
and you will see that you are one with him.
~ Original Handscript of ACIM
ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections
I have a function God would have me fill
Jesus tells us we can't even begin to understand Heaven, where our Sacred Self is as pure as God Himself,
". . . extending love, creating in its name, forever one with God and with your Self." (W.192.1.1) In this world, we don't experience this now. Our true Identity cannot be known here, but we can experience the reflection of it through forgiveness. Forgiveness reflects the love of God in this world and serves
". . . a function God would have me fill." (W.192) Jesus knows that
". . . within a world of envy, hatred and attack," (W.192.1.2) we can't understand this heavenly function of creating and extending.
"Creation cannot even be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here." (W.192.3.1-2) The best we can do is reflect it by offering forgiveness
". . . in the world in its own terms." (W.192.2.1) Forgiveness is the
". . . means by which untruth can be undone," (W.192.2.4) and thus we are called to undertake this function here. It is not needed in Heaven, where all is perfect, but it is needed where we think we are as bodies, seemingly living in the world. Undoing what is not true is the only way to restore the memory of who we are.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can awaken from this illusion and experience what the Course calls the happy dream. "What He [the Holy Spirit] makes are dreams, but of a kind so close to waking that the light of day already shines in them, and eyes already opening behold the joyful sights their offering contain." (W.192.3.6) This journey we take to the real world will be difficult at first and will entail a great deal of conflict, while we hold two mutually exclusive thought systems. Once we step on this path, we will experience the split mind more acutely. We increasingly see everything we have made is false, and this is painful for us. The split mind has made the physical world for just one purpose---to escape from the guilt in the mind and project it onto the world. As was said in Lesson 161, "Thus were specifics made." (W.161.3.1) We need bodies on which to project our hate. This applies to our body and those of others we love to hate. Now we can attack them and justify our attack and anger. We think this keeps us innocent and deserving of Heaven, while our 'evil' brothers can pay the cost for our sin. We thus think we can purchase our innocence by seeing others as guilty, but now we are called to use those specific relationships for healing. "And now it is specifics we must use in practicing." (W.161.3.2)
Jesus constantly reminds us the world of the ego is the nightmare, whereas the world we see with the Holy Spirit is the happy dream that precedes our experience of Heaven. The means by which we can experience the happy dream is through forgiveness. Forgiveness is ultimately not just about letting go of grievances but also about letting go of ". . . all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself." (W.189.7.1) Forgiveness is about letting go of anything we think is ". . . either true or false, or good or bad." (W.189.7.2) We let go of our shame and guilt, all of what we have believed about the past, and all our beliefs. That is what forgiveness entails. It is a process that facilitates our transition from the world of ego perception to the world of the happy dream. Our perspectives of the world are replaced by what the Holy Spirit would have us see. We do this by keeping no thought hidden from the light of healing. Jesus asks us not to hide anything, because only by bringing our thoughts to truth can they be healed. The energy we put into defending ourselves against the truth of who we are is enormous. How willing are you to let these unforgiving thoughts go? As long as we justify why we should feel the way we do, we hold onto our perspectives to use them to justify our feelings and our attacks on others. The only way to let them go is with willingness; nothing more, but nothing less.
I love the quote by Anthony Greenwald, a contemporary social psychologist, who says, "The ego is a self-justifying historian which seeks only that information that agrees with it, rewrites history when it needs to, and does not even see the evidence that threatens it." I can relate to this, as I see in my own life how I justify myself by telling my story of the past without revealing all the details in complete honesty. It is how the ego maintains itself. Complete honesty dismantles the ego.
Yesterday, I said something unkind to Don. It was subtle, so I did not immediately notice how my comment might be hurtful. But I felt uneasy and looked more deeply at my intention. I recognized a bigger grievance hiding under my comment. While I was willing to admit my error to myself, pride kept me from wanting to say anything to him to unveil the nature of my thoughts. It can be difficult for us to step through the barrier of pride; yet, for me, when I confessed my error, I felt I had taken another step in dismantling the ego. The ego is not me! When I am willing to look at it honestly, without justifying my perspective, it literally dissolves.
Forgiveness shifts our perception in several ways. It leaves the world clean of the senseless symbols we have given it. It ends our guilt and overcomes our fear of death. It helps us see our body only as a simple teaching aid that will be laid down when learning is complete. The body is not our home; we really are just a mind without the body. The peace of God is restored to us through forgiveness, and then we become aware of our holiness. (W.192.4.1-7) "The mind without the body cannot make mistakes." (W.192.5.1) And of course, the mistake we have made is to believe we are a body that can suffer attack and can die.
The attraction of death, covered over with the fear of death, is the basis for our denial of our identity as the Son of God. Only through forgiveness can both the attraction and fear be overcome. When guilt is undone, the fear of God's punishment is also undone. The ultimate punishment we fear is death. Our belief in death is undone when the guilt is undone, as now there is no more fear. We are now relieved of thinking we need a body and world as a place to hide from the fear of God's punishment. Forgiveness returns us from identification with the body to identification with the mind and thus restores ". . . the peace that God intended for His holy Son." (W.192.5.6) We can see why forgiveness is the core of the teaching of the Course, because this is the only way we can be persuaded to look again upon our holiness. (W.192.5.7)
When we let go of our identity as an ego, we let our anger go too. In the world of form, we are constantly in competition. It is all about the principle of one or the other. You must lose for me to gain. It is all about special relationships, where anger is a condition of this world of bodies because we are always having to compromise, letting go of what we want in order to maintain the relationship. It is an investment in being right about who we think we are as separate individuals. Now we use reason to ". . . justify our rage and our attacks." (W.192.7.2) We are invested in what is actually not there at all. Our understanding of everything is severely limited. "We are lost in mists of shifting dreams and fearful thoughts, our eyes shut tight against the light; our minds engaged in worshipping what is not there." (W.192.7.4) While we imprison others with our demands, requirements, expectations, needs, lacks, and ultimately our anger, we are not free. We are the ones hurt by the judgments, although we think they are being punished by the hate and blame we cast onto them. Only through forgiveness are we released from this bondage. "Therefore, hold no one prisoner. Release instead of bind, for thus are you made free." (W.192.9.1-2)
If we don't let people off the hook for what they have seemingly done to us, we remain with them as their jailor. We demand they stay in the jail we put them in, to do their time for what we hold they have done to us. Now we are bound with them because we have to make sure they pay for their sins against us and don't escape from the punishment we have imposed on them. Some of them we have put in that jail cell for a long, long time, and we are thus simply on the other side of the bars, holding them to the debt we feel they owe us. This then becomes our world. Can you see how there is no escape in this scenario? Can you see how we keep ourselves imprisoned and how our own minds are condemned with them? When you are angry and you keep your brother in the prison of your hate, you are not aware of how you are the one imprisoned by that hate. This is illustrated so well in a movie I saw recently called, "The Secret in Their Eyes," where a criminal court investigator is haunted by a twenty-five-year-old unresolved rape and murder case. His search for truth puts him in the center of a judicial nightmare, where the mystery unfolds in the present and keeps everyone captivated. Only through forgiveness can we release those we have bound. We have that choice and we have that power.
A few years ago, I had an accidental fall on a slippery floor in a grocery store that resulted in a broken nose, but more significant, I had many broken teeth. The dental costs were enormous. The store was unwilling to take any responsibility for the fall, so I checked with a lawyer about trying to retrieve some of the costs. The lawyer indicated that this particular grocery chain rarely settled any claims. Several of his clients had fought for years in court. Even when a client won the settlement, the grocery chain would appeal the decision. Nevertheless he urged me to proceed with the claim. I looked at the years of court activity and how it would keep me chained to my grievances against the store and decided my peace was worth more than a settlement that might come years down the road.
Every brother ". . . who seems to tempt you to be angry represents your savior from the prison house of death." (W.192.9.6) These very people who seem to cause us pain are actually there to help us see what is unhealed in us. We are called to forgive them, so we can be released from the world of the ego. These are people who not only seem to be our "enemies," but they are the people in our lives we seem to love, yet who irritate and frustrate us daily. In each situation, where these kinds of feelings are aroused, we have a choice. Will we use the situation as an opportunity to escape this prison house and free ourselves, or will we become the jailor and the jailed? We have an opportunity to be released from our own tortured minds every time we feel a stab of anger. Thus, we owe them our thanks for being in our lives. We don't need to be grateful for their behavior, only for the opportunity these situations provide us to see what is unhealed in our own minds.
We justify our anger, but it only hurts us. "Every time you feel a stab of anger, realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free." (W.192.9.4-5) Would we attack anyone if we really believed we were just attacking ourselves? It is unlikely we can currently get through a day without some anger or even mild annoyance; but
this is not a reason for guilt if we can use these situations to realize we are keeping ourselves from the peace of Heaven and don't notice the anger but release it to the light of the Holy Spirit.
We are mistaken if we think we can attack and keep ourselves safe from having that attack boomerang back to us in the same instant. When we attack anyone, we exclude ourselves from the joy and peace available all of the time. The attack can take many forms, some of which can be very subtle but equally disturbing to our peace of mind. Every judgment we hold in our minds is a judgment against ourselves and will hurt us.
Increasingly, as we do the healing work, we recognize our invulnerability. We can't be hurt because our reality is not these bodies nor personalities. The belief that we could be hurt is the belief in an image of ourselves we have made and try to protect and defend, but it is not the truth of who we are. When we embrace the truth fully, we will know our invulnerability because our reality is revealed to us. When anger is gone and pain is lifted from our sick and tortured minds (W.192.6.1) through forgiveness, we experience our innocence.
Today, we are asked to look at whom we believe owes us a debt for what we believe they have done to us. Who is it we keep on the hook for this debt and thus keep ourselves imprisoned with them? Today is our opportunity to be born again, which is simply our release from our self-made hell. Whenever you are tempted to become angry today, realize the sword is over your own head, but it can be averted anytime you choose. The power to choose is in our own minds, and as you choose to forgive your thoughts about what you think your brother has done to you, you can leave the prison house together with him. Forgive your brother for what he has not done, as what seems to be done is only in dreams. When we wake up from this illusion, we will see nothing real has happened.
We are asked to be merciful today. (W.192.10.1) Will we choose our freedom or stay in prison? It is our choice. Forgiveness is our function God would have us willingly undertake. I suspect we will each have opportunities to exercise our function today if it is like any other day in our lives. Each brother we encounter is crying out for mercy. Make a commitment to show mercy to your brothers today, so you can receive it for yourself. We are what our brother is, loved by God equally. Our brothers' interests are our own.
I find if I make a commitment in the morning and dedicate my day to peace and mercy, I see everything in my day as a classroom for learning to be peaceful and merciful. Nothing is wrong. Everything is just another opportunity to look at my mind. What I see in anyone is just a reflection of what I see in myself. Today is another opportunity to watch how often the sword is against my own throat and to investigate why I would want this.
Our only function here is to forgive, so we can know our Identity as the Christ Self. We are our brother, and we recognize our sameness as we let go of our judgments. Our judgments of our brother are only those we hold against ourselves.
Love and Blessings, Sarah
VI. The Healed Relationship
43 The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world. Like everything about salvation, the holy instant is a practical device, witnessed to by its results. The holy instant never fails. The experience of it is always felt. Yet without expression, it is not remembered. The holy relationship is a constant reminder of the experience in which the relationship became what it is. And as the unholy relationship is a continuing hymn of hate in praise of its maker, so is the holy relationship a happy song of praise to the Redeemer of relationships.
44 The holy relationship, a major step toward the perception of the real world, is learned. It is the old unholy relationship transformed and seen anew. The holy relationship is a phenomenal teaching accomplishment. In all its aspects, as it begins, develops, and becomes accomplished, it represents the reversal of the unholy relationship. Be comforted in this-the only difficult phase is the beginning. For here, the goal of the relationship is abruptly shifted to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit to use for His purposes.
45 This invitation is accepted immediately, and the Holy Spirit wastes no time in introducing the practical results of asking Him to enter. At once His goal replaces yours. This is accomplished very rapidly, but it makes the relationship seem disturbed, disjunctive, and even quite distressing. The reason is quite clear. For the relationship as it
is is out of line with its own goal, and clearly unsuited to the purpose which has been accepted for it. In its unholy condition,
your goal was all that seemed to give it meaning. Now it seems to make no sense. Many relationships have been broken off at this point, and the pursuit of the old goal reestablished in another relationship. For once the unholy relationship has accepted the goal of holiness, it can never again be what it was.
46 The temptation of the ego becomes extremely intense with this shift in goals. For the relationship has not as yet been changed sufficiently to make its former goal completely without attraction, and its structure is "threatened" by the recognition of its inappropriateness for meeting its new purpose. The conflict between the goal and the structure of the relationship is so apparent that they cannot coexist. Yet now the goal will not be changed. Set firmly in the unholy relationship, there is no course except to change the relationship to fit the goal. Until this happy solution is seen and accepted as the only way out of the conflict, the relationship seems to be severely strained.
47 It would not be kinder to shift the goal more slowly, for the contrast would be obscured and the ego given time to reinterpret each slow step according to its liking. Only a radical shift in purpose could induce a complete change of mind about what the whole relationship is
for. As this change develops and is finally accomplished, it grows increasingly beneficent and joyous. But at the beginning, the situation is experienced as very precarious. A relationship undertaken by two individuals for their unholy purposes suddenly has
holiness for its goal. As these two contemplate their relationship from the point of view of this new purpose, they are inevitably appalled. Their perception of the relationship may even become quite disorganized. And yet, the former organization of their perception no longer serves the purpose they have agreed to meet.
48 This is the time for
faith. You let this goal be set for you. That was an act of faith. Do not abandon faith, now that the rewards of faith are being introduced. If you believed the Holy Spirit was there to accept the relationship, why would you now not still believe that He is there to purify what He has taken under His guidance? Have faith in each other in what but seems to be a trying time. The goal
is set. And your relationship has sanity as its purpose. For now you find yourselves in an insane relationship, recognized as such in the light of its goal.
49 Now the ego counsels thus-substitute for this another relationship to which your former goal was quite appropriate. You can escape from your distress only by getting rid of each other. You need not part entirely if you choose not to do so. But you must exclude major areas of fantasy from each other to save your sanity. Hear not this now! Have faith in Him Who answered you. He heard. Has He not been very explicit in His answer? You are not now wholly insane. Can you deny that He has given you a most explicit statement? Now He asks for faith a little longer, even in bewilderment. For this will go, and you will see the justification for your faith emerge to bring you shining conviction. Abandon Him not now, nor each other. This relationship has been reborn as holy.
50 Accept with gladness what you do not understand, and let it be explained to you as you perceive its purpose work in it to make it holy. You will find many opportunities to blame each other for the "failure" of your relationship, for it will seem at times to have no purpose. A sense of aimlessness will come to haunt you and to remind you of all the ways you once sought for satisfaction and thought you found it. Forget not now the misery you really found, and do not now breathe life into your failing egos. For your relationship has not been disrupted. It has been
51 You are very new in the ways of salvation and think you have lost your way.
is lost, but think not this is loss. In your newness, remember that you have started again
together. And take each other's hand to walk together along a road far more familiar than you now believe. Is it not certain that you will remember a goal unchanged throughout eternity? For you have chosen but the goal of God from which your true intent was never absent.
52 Throughout the Sonship is the song of freedom heard in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship. Join in His blessing, and withhold not yours upon it. For all it needs now
is your blessing that you may see that in it rests salvation. Condemn salvation not, for it has come to you. And welcome it together, for it has come to join you together in a relationship in which all the Sonship is together blessed.
53 You undertook together to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise. Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work. And He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him. Nor does He see the mistakes at all. Have you been similarly grateful to each other? Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts and overlooked mistakes? Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes? You are now entering upon a campaign to blame each other for the discomfort of the situation in which you find yourselves. And by this lack of thanks and gratitude, you make yourselves unable to express the holy instant, and thus you lose sight of it.
54 The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time but not concealed within it. The instant remains. But where are you? To give thanks to each other is to appreciate the holy instant and thus enable its results to be accepted and shared. To attack each other is not to lose the instant but to make it powerless in its effects. You
have received the holy instant, but you have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realize that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack each other, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself and recognize what has been given and received by you.
55 You stand together in the holy presence of truth itself. Here is the goal, together with you. Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? It is just this same discrepancy between the purpose that has been accepted and the means as they stand now which seems to make you suffer, but which makes Heaven glad. If Heaven were outside you, you could not share in its gladness. Yet because it is within, the gladness, too, is yours. You
are joined in purpose, but remain still separate and divided on the means.
56 Yet the goal is fixed, firm, and unalterable, and the means will surely fall in place because the goal is sure. And you will share the gladness of the Sonship that it is so. As you begin to recognize and accept the gifts you have so freely given to each other, you will also accept the effects of the holy instant and use them to correct all your mistakes and free you from their results. And learning this, you will have also learned how to release all the Sonship and offer it in gladness and thanksgiving to Him Who gave you your release, and Who would extend it through you.
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