Lesson 197
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 18 THE DREAM AND THE REALITY
II. SUBSTITUTION AS A DEFENSE
    
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? 
           
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 197
It can be but my gratitude I earn. 
 
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   Here is the second step we take to free
   your mind from the belief in outside force
   pitted against your own. You make attempts
   at kindness and forgiveness. Yet you turn
   them to attack again unless you find
   external gratitude and lavish thanks.
   Your gifts must be received with honor, lest
   they be withdrawn. And so you think God's gifts
   are loans at best; at worst, deceptions which
   would cheat you of defenses to make sure
   that when He strikes He will not fail to kill.
 
   How easily are God and guilt confused
   by those who know not what their thoughts can do.
   Deny your strength, and weakness must become
   salvation to you. See yourself as bound,
   and bars become your home. Nor will you leave
   the prisonhouse, nor claim your strength until
   guilt and salvation are not seen as one,
   while freedom and salvation are perceived
   as joined, with strength beside them, to be sought
   and claimed and found and fully recognized.
 
   The world must thank you when you offer it
   release from your illusions. Yet your thanks
   belong to you as well, for its release
   can only mirror yours. Your gratitude
   is all your gifts require, that they be
   the lasting offerings of a thankful heart
   released from hell forever. Is it this
   you would undo by taking back your gifts
   because they were not honored? It is you
   who honor them and give them fitting thanks,
   for it is you who have received the gifts.
 
   It does not matter if another thinks
   your gifts unworthy. In his mind there is
   a part that joins with yours in thanking you.
   It does not matter if your gifts seem lost
   and ineffectual. They are received
   where they are given. In your gratitude
   are they accepted universally,
   and thankfully acknowledged by the Heart
   of God Himself. And would you take them back,
   when He has gratefully accepted them?
 
   God blesses every gift you give to Him,
   and every gift is given Him, because
   it can be given only to yourself,
   and what belongs to God must be His Own.
   Yet you will never realize His gifts
   are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless,
   forever giving out, extending love
   and adding to your never-ending joy,
   while you forgive but to attack again.|
  
   Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think
   that what is given you has been withdrawn.
   But learn to let forgiveness take away
   the sins you think you see outside yourself,
   and you can never think the gifts of God
   are lent but for a little while, before
   He snatches them away again in death.
   For death will have no meaning for you then.|
   And with the end of this belief is fear
   forever over. Thank your Self for this,
   for He is grateful only unto God,
   and He gives thanks for you unto Himself.
 
   To everyone who lives will Christ yet come,
   for everyone must live and breathe in Him.
   His Being in His Father is secure
   because Their Will is One. Their gratitude
   to all They have created has no end,
   for gratitude remains a part of love.|
   Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God,
   for as you were created, you contain
   all things within your Self. And you are still
   as God created you. Nor can you dim
   the light of your perfection. In your heart
   the Heart of God is laid. He holds you dear
   because you are Himself. All gratitude
   belongs to you because of what you are.|
  
   Give thanks as you receive it. Be you free
   of all ingratitude to anyone
   who makes your Self complete. And from this Self
   is no-one left outside. Give thanks for all
   the countless channels that extend this Self.
   All that you do is given unto Him.
   All that you think can only be His Thoughts,
   sharing with Him the holy Thoughts of God.
   Earn now the gratitude you have denied
   yourself when you forgot the function God
   has given you. But never think that He
   has ever ceased to offer thanks to you.
 
~ Original Handscript of ACIM ~ August 12, 1970
  
 
          
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 197

It can be but my gratitude I earn .

Sarah's Commentary:   

The Lesson today clearly affirms that gratitude is only in our own minds and is not something dependent on anything outside of us. Gratitude and love go hand in hand because both reflect the Oneness of reality. Just as attack comes only from our own minds, the same is said here of gratitude. This Lesson addresses the belief we hold that anything outside of our own minds can help or hurt us.
 
Gratitude is a gift we give ourselves. If I give anything to anyone, and they do not respond as I expect they should, I may withdraw the gift unless, of course, I see that I give only to myself in which case I would not want to withdraw the gift. Our gifts become attacks if they do not respond the way we expect them to, with some form of reciprocity, whether gratitude, appreciation, attention, loyalty, or a gift in return. In effect, we are saying, "I did this for you, and I expect something in return." Clearly, this affirms that we are separate because we don't realize we are always only giving to ourselves. It is the condition of the special relationship of bargaining, where we give with the expectation or requirement of a gift in return, hopefully something better than what we have given. If I don't get what I expect from you, I hold a grievance in my mind and no longer choose to give. When we see ourselves as doing our part in being generous and do not receive appreciation, love turns to resentment and bitterness; but this is not giving and clearly not love. The conditions we have placed on the gift make it a form of manipulation. If you prove you are unworthy of my gift, I take it back. It is how we relate to God, believing He too wants something from us in return for His gifts, and ultimately, it will cost us our lives. Our misguided perception is that we must sacrifice for His love.
 
Putting any conditions on our giving is what we think a capricious God does. "And so you think God's gifts are loans at best; at worst, deceptions which would cheat you of defenses, to ensure that when He strikes He will not fail to kill." (W.197.1.5) We think God asks something of us, and if we don't give it, He will kill us. We defend against His "love," as we fear our vulnerability. We don't trust love, and in the same way as we protect ourselves from God, we set up defenses against being hurt in our relationships.
 
"How easily are God and guilt confused by those who know not what their thoughts can do. " (W.197.2.1) Jesus explains this by telling us, "A major source of the ego's off-balanced state is its lack of discrimination between the body and the Thoughts of God. Thoughts of God are unacceptable to the ego, because they clearly point to the nonexistence of the ego itself. The ego therefore either distorts them or refuses to accept them. It cannot, however, make them cease to be." (T.4.V.2.1-4) (ACIM OE T.4.VI.70) He goes on to say what we try to do is conceal our "unacceptable" body impulses and also our impulses toward the love of God, because both threaten us. Our fear of love is our fear of God, for the ego tells us that to accept His love is to lose ourselves, yet all the ego is concerned with is self-preservation.
 
Jesus assures us, "Yet you will never realize His gifts are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love and adding to your never-ending joy while you forgive but to attack again." (W.197.5.3) When we deny the strength of God in us, all we have to depend on is the weakness of the ego. (W.197.2.2)
 
Today, we focus on maintaining awareness on the attachment we have to the results of our giving. We remember when we give truly, we earn our own gratitude. Every gift we give is received. Every blessing we give our brother is received, even if it is not apparent to us. "In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you." (W.197.4.2) Your gifts are received and ". . . . acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself." (W.197.4.5) It does not matter whether others express appreciation or not, because a part of their mind is grateful, and the gift is acknowledged in the one Mind. What is given is accepted by the one Mind. The light of Christ shines in every mind, where the gift is received. The same light shines in us all. This is where our minds are joined. When we come to know our gifts are only given to the Self we are, we realize that to give and to receive are one in truth.
 
In Oneness, there is only the one Self to give and receive the gift. Whether it is the gift of forgiveness or healing or some other kind of gift, it is all the same. It is all a gift to ourselves. To be concerned with whether the gift has been received or not is to see others as separate and that is an attack. We are one Self, one with each other, and one with God. In the holy instant, for a moment, we experience sanity, and recognize, we have not changed ourselves from the glorious beings we are as God's Son.
 
The core of the gift given to our brothers, regardless of the form it comes in, is forgiveness. When the gift of forgiveness is given and thus received, we experience our own innocence. When we withdraw the gift, we reinforce the guilt in our minds. Sometimes our giving has subtle hooks attached in the form of expectations we have of how they should respond to us. Again, it is giving to get. For example, we may be nice to someone because there is something we want for ourselves. We are kind and helpful because we think we will get love and appreciation in return. This is different than just letting the love of the Holy Spirit come through us, with no concern for any kind of response. The ego can be subtle in this, denying what we are doing is giving to get. Great honesty is called for and courage to look beyond the immediate inclination that we have to deny we want something in return.
 
"Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. " (W.197.6.1) When I withdraw my gifts, clearly I believe others will do the same to me. It creates suspicion of our brothers that, like our own gifts, their gifts have strings attached as well. Sometimes, when we receive gifts from them, we wonder what they want and expect of us in return. That is why receiving can be difficult for us. God, too, is constantly giving us His gifts of love and holiness, but we have withdrawn from His gifts, substituting our own instead. Now we believe He is the one Who has withdrawn His gifts from us. I am the one who has withdrawn my love, but now I project that belief and see others withdrawing their love from me. "Do not forget, however, that to deny God will inevitably result in projection, and you will believe that others and not yourself have done this to you." (T.10.V.2.1) (ACIM OE T.9.XI.94) This is where Byron Katie's work is so valuable, where we can turn around what we are seeing in anyone and recognize it all starts in our own minds.
 
The gifts of love and forgiveness, which are the core of all of our giving, remind us who we are in truth. When our guilt is healed, fear is gone, and we experience the love of God, Who has laid His Heart in our own. (W.197.8.5) The memory of God is in our right minds. Jesus reminds us, "He holds you dear, because you are Himself." (W.197.8.6) We can only know this when we stop projecting our guilt onto God. This means we need to look at how we feel unfairly treated, which reinforces our separation from each other.
 
Today, notice when you want to withhold gratitude for people in your life, when you feel unfairly treated by anyone, when you are tempted to exclude anyone from your life, when you are inclined to hold grievances when your expectations are not met, or in any situation where your thoughts and feelings are not peaceful. They are all opportunities to see how you are withholding the joy given you by God from shining forth. Our focus is to undo the false self and remember who we are. Today, above all, we can be grateful for this teaching and for this classroom, where we have many opportunities to fulfill our function, which is to reflect God's Love through forgiveness. Every brother contains the memory of God's love. Thus, we can "Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self." (W.197.9.4) There is no one outside of our own minds. "It can be but my gratitude I earn." (W.197)
 
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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