Lesson 196
World Rests on One Error
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 18 THE DREAM AND THE REALITY
II. SUBSTITUTION AS A DEFENSE
    
4 You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms because it was the substitution of illusion for truth, of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship which you have ever made is part of it.
           
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 196
It can be but myself I crucify. 
 
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   When this is firmly understood and kept
   in full awareness, you will not attempt
   to harm yourself, nor make your body slave
   to vengeance. You will not attack yourself,
   and you will realize that to attack
   another is but to attack yourself.
   You will be free of the insane belief
   that to attack a brother saves yourself.
   And you will understand his safety is
   your own, and in his healing you are healed.
 
   Perhaps at first you will not understand
   how mercy, limitless and with all things
   held in its sure protection, can be found
   in the idea we practice for today.
   It may, in fact, appear to be a sign
   that punishment can never be escaped,
   because the ego, under what it sees
   as threat, is quick to cite the truth to save
   its lies. Yet must it fail to understand
   the truth it uses thus. But you can learn
   to see these foolish applications, and
   deny the meaning they appear to have.
 
   Thus do you also teach your mind that you
   are not an ego. For the ways in which
   the ego would distort the truth will not
   deceive you longer. You will not believe
   you are a body to be crucified.
   And you will see within today's idea
   the light of resurrection, looking past
   all thoughts of crucifixion and of death
   to thoughts of liberation and of life.
 
   Today's idea is one step we take
   in leading us from bondage to the state
   of perfect freedom. Let us take this step
   today, that we may quickly go the way
   salvation shows us, taking every step
   in its appointed sequence, as the mind
   relinquishes its burdens one by one.
   It is not time we need for this. It is
   but willingness. And what would seem to need
   a thousand years can easily be done
   in just one instant by the grace of God.
 
   The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make
   attacks on others and escape yourself
   has nailed you to the cross. Perhaps it seemed
   to be salvation. Yet it merely stood
   for the belief the fear of God is real.
   And what is that but hell? Who could believe
   his Father is his deadly enemy,
   separate from him, and waiting to destroy
   his life and blot him from the universe,
   without the fear of hell upon his heart?
 
   Such is the form of madness you believe,
   if you accept the fearful thought you can
   attack another and be free yourself.
   Until this form is changed, there is no hope.
   Until you see that this, at least, must be
   entirely impossible, how could
   there be escape? The fear of God is real
   to anyone who thinks this thought is true.
   And he will not perceive its foolishness,
   or even see that it is there, so that
   it would be possible to question it.
 
   To question it at all, its form must first
   be changed at least as much as will permit
   fear of retaliation to abate,
   and the responsibility returned
   to some extent to you. From there you can
   at least consider if you want to go
   along this painful path. Until this shift
   has been accomplished, you cannot perceive
   that it is but your thoughts which bring you fear,
   and your deliverance depends on you.
 
   Our next steps will be easy, if you take
   this one today. From there we go ahead
   quite rapidly. For once you understand
   it is impossible that you be hurt
   except by your own thoughts, the fear of God
   must disappear. You do not now believe
   that fear is caused without. And God, Whom you
   had thought to banish, can be welcomed back
   within the holy mind He never left.
 
   Salvation's song can certainly be heard
   in the idea we practice for today.
   If it can be but you you crucify,
   you did not hurt the world, and need not fear
   its vengeance and pursuit. Nor need you hide
   in terror from the deadly fear of God
   projection hides behind. The thing you dread
   the most is your salvation. You are strong,
   and it is strength you want. And you are free,
   and glad of freedom. You have sought to be
   both weak and bound, because you feared your strength
   and freedom. Yet salvation lies in them.
 
   There is an instant in which terror seems
   to grip your mind so wholly that escape
   appears quite hopeless. When you realize,
   once and for all that it is you you fear,
   the mind perceives itself as split. And this
   has been concealed while you believe attack
   could be directed outward, and returned
   from outside to within. It seemed to be
   an enemy outside you had to fear.
   And thus a god outside yourself became
   your mortal enemy; the source of fear.
 
   Now, for an instant, is a murderer
   perceived within you, eager for your death,
   intent on plotting punishment for you
   until that time when it can kill at last.
   Yet in this instant is the time as well
   in which salvation comes. For fear of God
   has disappeared. And you can call on Him
   to save you from illusions in His Love,
   calling Him Father and yourself His Son.
   Pray that the instant may be soon, -today!
   Step back from fear, and make advance to love.
 
   There is no Thought of God that does not go
   with you, to help you reach that instant, and
   to go beyond it quickly, surely and
   forever. When the fear of God is gone,
   there are no obstacles which still remain
   between you and the holy peace of God.
   How kind and merciful is the idea
   we practice! Give it welcome, as you should,
   for it is your release. It is indeed
   but you your mind can try to crucify.
   Yet your redemption, too, will come from you.
 
~ Original Handscript of ACIM ~ August 11, 1970
 
 
          
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 196

It can be but myself I crucify .

Sarah's Commentary:   

Jesus tells us it is impossible that anything that happens to us does not come by our own choice. The power of our own decision determines every situation in our lives, but it is important to recognize to whom Jesus is talking. He is not talking to me, Sarah, the self I think I am as the body and personality in this dream. No, he is addressing the decision making mind. It is the part of the mind that can now choose to reverse the faulty choice to side with the ego, because the ego will never undo itself. Thus, we must turn to the power available to us outside of the matrix of this world.
 
To the ego, attack is necessary for its salvation. It relies on the thought system of "one or the other"; meaning, my needs come first. It originated with the attack on God, through which we seemed to establish our separate existence. Thus, to the ego thought system, attack means gain. The ego keeps us invested in the idea we must attack in order to make it in the world. It is invested in this game of attack and tells us this is what we must do to succeed. "Perhaps it seemed to be salvation." (W.196.5.2) It seems this way to us, because it is how we think we achieve protection for ourselves, all the while maintaining we are innocent and have no other choice. To us, it seems like we must continue in this activity of crucifying others in order to gain for ourselves.
 
This is the way of the world in which we find ourselves with the end of it all being death. The ego's system of defense, used to maintain itself, is to keep us in this prison and the never-ending cycle of birth and death. It is the basis of all our fear, although we never knew where that fear originated until Jesus showed us how this was all set up. Because we bought the setup, we have the power to change our minds. He is showing us there is another way. We have a choice. There is a way out. Our initial decision for the ego, that took us into this seeming imprisonment, can be reversed.
 
We will continue to follow the dictates of the ego, until we will see that we gain nothing except more pain and suffering. When we recognize this, we will not want to attack anyone because we will see it is always an attack on ourselves. Only then will we ". . . be free of the insane belief that to attack a brother saves yourself." (W.196.1.3) The fact that our brother's safety is our own (W.196.1.4) is based on the recognition that our brother's freedom, from the prison he has made, is our own freedom because we are one. What we give we receive. This is the basis for the holy relationship, which undoes all specialness and recognizes our interests are the same.
 
We are now asked to make room for truth. How do we do this? We do this by withdrawing our investment in the belief we are victims of the world we see and by taking responsibility for our attack thoughts. The world and body were made so we would not have to take responsibility for our condition as a separate self. We don't want responsibility for what the ego tells us we have done in attacking God in order to gain our independent self. We feel guilt, though we have no idea where it came from. The guilt is intolerable, so the ego came up with a solution, which is to make others guilty for how we feel. We project the guilt in our own minds onto our brothers instead of accepting it within ourselves. Thus, the world was made to shield us from the horror of what the ego says we have done by making others responsible for how we feel. We see it as an uncaring world that has no concern for us, ". . . where we are badgered ceaselessly and pushed about without a thought or care for us or for our future." (W.195.9.3)
 
The ego tells us we have committed a horrendous sin and now deserve punishment, which the world delivers. Our attacks on our brothers are our mistaken way of getting rid of our own guilt and instead seeing it in our brothers. When we come to a place of recognition that the murderer is within us, and we, ourselves, are responsible for stealing our identity from God, Jesus says this moment can be terrible. It is a moment of realization we have been wrong in buying into the ego's myth. "There is an instant in which terror seems to grip your mind so wholly that escape appears quite hopeless." (W.196.10.1) It is the realization our fear is of ourselves! It is a realization our own minds are split. It is not my brother who is terrorizing me but myself. In this recognition, we see the enemy is never outside of us. We have feared attack from outside, where it never was. It was just an attack thought in our own minds. Mind is cause and the world is effect. Our attack thoughts are projected onto God, believing He too is outside of us and to be feared. "And thus a god outside yourself became your mortal enemy; the source of fear." (W.196.10.5) Jesus says that until this ". . . form [thought] is changed, there is no hope." (W.196.6.2) When we give up the idea that God is our enemy, nothing is there to hold the ego thought system together.
 
The final obstacle to peace is our fear of God. One way this fear comes to our awareness is when we look at events and circumstances in our lives and wonder why God is bringing these "Lessons" to us, or why He let this tragedy happen, or why He took our loved one away, or why He didn't stop this tragic situation from happening, since He is all powerful. It is a belief that somehow God is behind all of these tragic events in the world. It is as if He is getting back at us for what we have done and is now bringing all kinds of calamities to punish us. We think somehow God is behind it all, pulling all of the strings. All of the forces that seem to be working against us and keeping us in the struggle, we trace back to forces outside of us, including the most powerful force of all, God.
 
This moment of awareness is terrible, says Jesus. It is nevertheless the instant of our salvation, because we now see our responsibility for it all. (W.196.11.2) Yet it is also the realization nothing at all has happened. The ego has sold us a bill of goods. It is all a myth. There is no need for sin if nothing real has happened, and with it, all fear and guilt will go as well. It has all been made up by the ego to keep us from changing our allegiance to it, because when we do, it will be the end of the ego. That is why Jesus lays all of this out so carefully for us, so we can see the ego "dynamics" and recognize their nothingness. We come to the point where we see we have not sinned at all, but we have simply been mistaken in choosing the ego.
 
It is through our special relationships where healing our attack thoughts can happen when we commit to showing mercy to our brothers instead of attacking them. "Thus do you also teach your mind that you are not an ego." (W.196.3.1) If you are not an ego, you are also not a body, and you are not this terrible person the ego says you are, and you believe you are. You are no longer willing to listen to the ego's distortions nor be deceived by its lies. Jesus tells us, "Your mission is very simple. You are asked to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego, and I [Jesus] do not choose God's channels wrongly." (T.4.VI.6.3) (ACIM OE T.4.VII.89)
 
The ego tells us we deserve to be crucified and die. Pay attention to how you crucify yourself and you will know these words are true. Resurrection in the Course is about awakening from this dream of death, but first, we must see it is a dream. We start by seeing we are responsible for our condition and not our parents, not the education system, not our boss, nor anyone else we may want to blame. When we blame others for our condition, it moves responsibility from us to them for our belief we have sinned and deserve to be punished. Jesus is helping us to see the ego is constantly distorting the truth to keep us committed to it. The ego is keeping us entrapped in its program of attack, in the false belief that this is how to gain. Yet all we gain is more guilt and self-attack.
 
What the ego really wants is our death. It plots punishment for us until it kills us at last. It tricks us into attack on others by telling us it is how we can gain in the world. This ". . . dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on others and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross." (W.196.5.1) As we keep the attacks going, we feel more and more guilt, and with guilt comes the belief we deserve to be punished and ultimately to die. While guilt invites punishment, the ego keeps this out of our awareness by convincing us attack brings us benefits. The ego needs to keep us invested in its program to keep itself in business, because the whole Course teaching is a threat to its existence.
 
How willing are you to give up attack? To choose God's grace is to choose to give up attack and to turn to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation of any difficult situation. We can be a happy learner by seeing the benefit in every situation that shows up for us. We can be happy because it is an opportunity for healing. By giving up our need to be right in how we perceive our brother, we willingly turn to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation. He consistently reminds us of our brother's innocence and of our own.
 
It just takes an instant to undo a thousand years. "For what would seem to need a thousand years can easily be done in just one instant by the grace of God." (W.196.4.5) With our practice, "Today's idea is one step we take in leading us from bondage to the state of perfect freedom." (W.196.4.1) When we experience a transition in our journey through these Lessons, we feel the burden of guilt lifted from our lives. This Lesson takes a significant step in the direction of our healing. The Lesson that follows is another big step. First we see, "It can be but myself I crucify," (W.196) and in the Lesson tomorrow, "It can be but my gratitude I earn." (W.197) With each step, our motivation increases as light dawns on our minds. Our fear is such that we need to take these seemingly little steps in undoing the ego thought system. We need to be gentle and patient with ourselves. The grace of God is always there, but we need to be willing to choose it.
 
Because nothing really happened by our attacks, there is no need for fear. "If it can but be you, you crucify, you did not hurt the world, and need not fear its vengeance and pursuit. Nor need you hide in terror from the deadly fear of God projection hides behind." (W.196.9.2-3) The fearful God we see pursuing us is our own belief in punishment that we have projected onto Him. Behind all of this is our fear of release. We actually fear our salvation. We fear of our own strength and our own freedom. Thus, we keep ourselves bound to this ego cycle and keep ourselves small and fearful and make others responsible for our wretchedness, thinking this is how we will escape God's punishment for the separation. "Who me? This weak, ineffectual self? How could I possibly have done all this? I am innocent. It is my brothers who made me the way I am. I can't help it." It is our greatness we fear. Why? We fear our greatness because then we would have to take responsibility for it all and see that no one has done anything to us except by our own choice. It is our release that frightens us the most.
 
As we learn to acknowledge only our own thoughts can hurt us, we increasingly withdraw our projections from the world and see the problem in our own minds. The problem is no longer outside in the world. We realize the problem is not in this relationship. It is not about my body. It is not about the money or the boss. It is not in this person who seemed to hurt me. It is only in my own thoughts. We don't trust. We don't love. We feel alone, and we feel continually under threat of things in the world. We grab onto any specialness we can, believing if we can keep others from messing with our stuff, our peace, and our goals, then we could have some semblance of peace. It is putting the responsibility for our happiness and our peace on events, situations, and circumstances outside our own minds, thus making us a victim of the world we see. It is the source of all our grievances where we think, if this were different, I would be happy. This brings the inevitability of attack and defense. If you believe everyone is trying to take from you, it seems to justify your defenses and your attacks on others.
 
Sounds pretty dark, doesn't it? Well, this Lesson assures us that if we start to question what we have come to accept as true about being at the mercy of the world and take back responsibility for what we see "out there," it is a beginning step in breaking this cycle of sin, guilt, and fear. It is a step toward freedom and a way to get off of this painful path. If we are really honest with ourselves, we will admit to how painful it is. Our only escape from it all is to be vigilant in watching our thoughts and accepting them without defensiveness. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will bring our minds to their natural state of Oneness. It all depends on our willingness to take this step. We start to welcome God back, seeing that it is not Him that banished us. We banished Him by seeing Him as the enemy. The fear comes from our decision to listen to the ego. The ego convinced us we can only be free on our own, and we must keep escaping the tyranny of God. We have been wrong about everything, and when we accept that, we will make another choice.
 
When the ego strategy is exposed and we see it for what it is, it will make no sense to keep hurting ourselves. When we see the plan the ego has enacted, we are no longer bound by it. It can only operate when it is not in our awareness. We made an alliance with the ego, but as we increasingly see how it causes us pain, we will choose to withdraw from its seeming control. It has no power to control us but what we give it. When we see what is going on, we can do something about it. Until then, we have been mindlessly reacting according to the ego dictates. There is another choice! Take this step today from its bondage.
 
We have help in this process. It is the Holy Spirit in the right mind. We turn to Him for His interpretation. We lose interest in the ego's obsessive voice, telling us we must attack and defend ourselves. Be willing to see that your happiness, contentment, and peace do not come from anything in the world. It is not about any relationship changing or any situation being different than it is. There has never been anyone who can give us our happiness.
 
Will our healing take long? It is just an instant. We just need to be willing to withdraw our projections as they come up. "It is not time we need for this. It is but willingness." (W.196.4.3-4) We just need to be willing to look at our thoughts, and increasingly recognize, they are not the truth of who we are. We just need our desire, our willingness, and our heartfelt intent to do the forgiveness work. It is all about recognizing the illusory nature of this world by stepping outside the ego's dream and seeing it is all an outside picture of our inward condition. "How kind and merciful is the idea we practice! Give it welcome, as you should, for it is your release. It is indeed but you your mind can try to crucify. Yet your redemption, too, will come from you." (W.196.12.3-6)
 
Love and Blessings, Sarah 
ACIM Original Edition
I. Introduction
   
1 To substitute is to accept instead. If you would but consider exactly what this entails, you would perceive at once how much at variance this is with the goal the Holy Spirit has given you and would accomplish for you. To substitute is to choose between, renouncing one in favor of the other. For this special purpose, one is judged more valuable and the other is replaced by him. The relationship in which the substitution occurred is thus fragmented and its purpose split accordingly. To fragment is to exclude, and substitution is the strongest defense the ego has for separation.
 
2 The Holy Spirit never uses substitutes. Where the ego perceives one person as a replacement for another, the Holy Spirit sees them joined and indivisible. He does not judge between them, knowing they are one. Being united, they are one because they are the same. Substitution is clearly a process in which they are perceived as different. One would unite; the other separate. Nothing can come between what God has joined and what the Holy Spirit sees as one. But everything seems to come between the fragmented relationships the ego sponsors to destroy.
 
3 The one emotion in which substitution is impossible is love. Fear involves substitution by definition, for it is love's replacement. Fear is both a fragmented and a fragmenting emotion. It seems to take many forms, and each seems to require a different form of acting out for satisfaction. While this appears to introduce quite variable behavior, a far more serious effect lies in the fragmented perception from which the behavior stems. No one is seen complete. The body is emphasized, with special emphasis on certain parts, and used as the standard for comparison for either acceptance or rejection of suitability for acting out a special form of fear.
 
II. Substitution as a Defense

4 You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms because it was the substitution of illusion for truth, of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship which you have ever made is part of it.
 
5 You have expressed surprise at hearing how very different is reality from what you see. You do not realize the magnitude of that one error. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge. What else could come of it? Its fragmented aspects are fearful enough, as you begin to look at them. But nothing you have seen begins to show you the enormity of the original error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and to force you to further substitutions.
 
6 That was the first projection of error outward. The world arose to hide it and became the screen on which it was projected and drawn between you and the truth. For truth extends inward, where the idea of loss is meaningless and only increase is conceivable. Do you really think it strange that a world in which everything is backwards and upside-down arose from this? [ It was inevitable.] For truth brought to this could only remain within in quiet and take no part in all the mad projection by which this world was made. Call it not sin but madness, for such it was, and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it. When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error rise to frighten you, say only, "God is not fear, but love," and it will disappear.
 
7 The truth will save you. It has not left you to go out into the mad world and so depart from you. Inward is sanity; insanity is outside you. You but believe it is the other way; that truth is outside and error and guilt within. Your little senseless substitutions, touched with insanity and swirling lightly off on a mad course like feathers dancing insanely in the wind, have no substance. They fuse and merge and separate in shifting and totally meaningless patterns which need not be judged at all. To judge them individually is pointless. Their tiny differences in form are no real differences at all. None of them matters. That they have in common and nothing else. Yet what else is necessary to make them all the same?
 
8 Let them all go, dancing in the wind, dipping and turning till they disappear from sight, far, far outside you. And turn you to the stately calm within, where in holy stillness dwells the living God you never left and Who never left you. The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within. He brings all your insane projections and your wild substitutions which you have placed outside you to the truth. Thus He reverses the course of insanity and restores you to reason.
 
9 In your relationship, where He has taken charge of everything at your request, He has set the course inward to the truth you share. In the mad world outside you, nothing can be shared but only substituted, and sharing and substituting have nothing in common in reality. Within yourselves you love each other with a perfect love. Here is holy ground in which no substitution can enter and where only the truth about each other can abide. Here you are joined in God, as much together as you are with Him. The original error has not entered here, nor ever will. Here is the radiant truth to which the Holy Spirit has committed your relationship. Let Him bring it here, where you would have it be. Give Him but a little faith in each other, to help Him show you that no substitute you made for Heaven can keep you from it. In you there is no separation, and no substitute can keep you from each other. Your reality was God's creation and has no substitute.
 
10 You are so firmly joined in truth that only God is there. And He would never accept something else instead of you. He loves you both, equally and as one. And as He loves you, so you are. You are not joined together in illusions but in the Thought so holy and so perfect that illusions cannot remain to darken the holy place in which you stand together. God is with you, my brothers. Let us join in Him in peace and gratitude and accept His gift as our most holy and perfect reality, which we share in Him.
 
11 Heaven is restored to all the Sonship through your relationship, for in it lies the Sonship, whole and beautiful, safe in your love. Heaven has entered quietly, for all illusions have been gently brought unto the truth in you and love has shined upon you, blessing your relationship with truth. God and His whole creation have entered it together. How lovely and how holy is your relationship, with the truth shining upon it! Heaven beholds it and rejoices that you have let it come to you. [And God Himself is glad that your relationship is as it was created.] The universe within you stands with you, together. And Heaven looks with love on what is joined in it, along with its Creator.
 
12 Whom God has called should hear no substitutes. Their call is but an echo of the original error which shattered Heaven. And what became of peace in those who heard? Return with me to Heaven, walking together out of this world and through another to the loveliness and joy the other holds within it. Would you still further weaken and break apart what is already broken and hopeless? Is it here that you would look for happiness? Or would you not prefer to heal what has been broken and join in making whole what has been ravaged by separation and disease?
 
13 You have been called together to the most holy function that this world contains. It is the only one which has no limits and reaches out to every broken fragment of the Sonship with healing and uniting comfort. This is offered you in your holy relationship. Accept it here, and you will give as you have accepted. The peace of God is given you with the glowing purpose in which you join. The holy light that brought you together must extend, as you accepted it.
 
  
 

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