Lesson 20
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Choice is Thought
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 2 "THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATION"
IV. FEAR AS LACK OF LOVE  
 
73 The reason I cannot control fear for you is that you are attempting to raise to the mind level the proper content of lower-order reality. I do not foster level confusion, but you can choose to correct it. You would not tolerate insane behavior on your part and would hardly advance the excuse that you could not help it. Why should you tolerate insane thinking? There is a confusion here which you would do well to look at clearly. You believe that you are responsible for what you do but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice.  
      
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK for STUDENTS
INTRODUCTION
Workbook Introduction
<AUDIO><VIDEO>  
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio    
 
1 A theoretical foundation such as the text is necessary as a background to make these exercises meaningful. Yet it is the exercises which will make the goal possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of these exercises to train the mind to think along the lines which the course sets forth.
 
2 The exercises are very simple. They do not require more than a few minutes, and it does not matter where or when you do them. They need no preparation. They are numbered, running from 1 to 365. The training period is one year. Do not undertake more than one exercise a day.
 
3 The purpose of these exercises is to train the mind to a different perception of everything in the world. The workbook is divided into two sections, the first dealing with the undoing of what you see now and the second with the restoration of sight. It is recommended that each exercise be repeated several times a day, preferably in a different place each time and, if possible, in every situation in which you spend any long period of time. The purpose is to train the mind to generalize the lessons, so that you will understand that each of them is as applicable to one situation as it is to another.
 
4 Unless specified to the contrary, the exercise should be practiced with the eyes open, since the aim is to learn how to see. The only rule that should be followed throughout is to practice the exercises with great specificity. Each one applies to every situation in which you find yourself and to everything you see in it. Each day's exercises are planned around one central idea, the exercises themselves consisting of applying that idea to as many specifics as possible. Be sure that you do not decide that there are some things you see to which the idea for the day is inapplicable. The aim of the exercises will always be to increase the application of the idea to everything. This will not require effort. Only be sure that you make no exceptions in applying the idea.
 
5 Some of the ideas you will find hard to believe, and others will seem quite startling. It does not matter. You are merely asked to apply them to what you see. You are not asked to judge them, nor even to believe them. You are asked only to use them. It is their use which will give them meaning to you, and show you they are true. Remember only this-you need not believe them, you need not accept them, and you need not welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter nor decrease their efficacy. But allow yourself to make no exceptions in applying the ideas the exercises contain. Whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than this is required.
    
    ~ Original Hand Script of ACIM       

 
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
DAILY LESSONS
SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 20
I am determined to see.


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 Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio 

1 We have been quite casual about our practice periods thus far. There has been virtually no attempt to direct the time for undertaking them, minimal effort has been required, and not even active cooperation and interest have been asked. This casual approach has been intentional and very carefully planned. We have not lost sight of the crucial importance of the reversal of your thinking. The salvation of the world depends on it. Yet you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced and if you give in to resentment and opposition. 
 
2 This is our first attempt to introduce structure. Do not misconstrue it as an effort to exert force or pressure. You want salvation. You want to be happy. You want peace. You do not have them now because your mind is totally undisciplined, and you cannot distinguish between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear. You are now learning how to tell them apart. And great indeed will be your reward. 
 
3 Your decision to see is all that vision requires. What you want is yours. Do not mistake the little effort that is asked of you for a sign that our goal is of little worth. Can the salvation of the world be a trivial purpose? And can the world be saved if you are not? God has one Son, and he is the resurrection and the life. His will is done because all power is given him in Heaven and on earth. In your determination to see is vision given you. 
 
4 The exercises for today consist in reminding yourselves throughout the day that you want to see. Today's idea also tacitly implies the recognition that you do not see now. Therefore, as you repeat the idea, you are stating that you are determined to change your present state for a better one, and one you really want. 
 
5 Repeat today's idea slowly and positively at least twice an hour today, attempting to do so every half hour. Do not be distressed if you forget to do so, but make a real effort to remember. The extra repetitions should be applied to any situation, person, or event which upsets you. You can see them differently, and you will. What you desire, you will see. Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world.

    ~ Original Hand Script of ACIM   
          
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 20
  I am determined to see.  

Sarah's Commentary:

How determined am I to see? What is my reluctance about? To see is to have vision, which means we let go of judgment. Judgment is what keeps our specialness in place. It is what keeps us feeling superior, different, and separate. It is what keeps us invested in thinking we know. I was watching the news about the captain of the cruise ship who was being vilified for leaving his passengers aboard as he made his escape. How easy these kinds of situations are for us to judge, but judgment costs us vision. It costs us our peace, our joy, and our happiness. We don't see the connection between holding onto judgment and loss of peace and happiness, but Jesus is showing us what we can't see. He is motivating us to learn what he is teaching so the pain of guilt we experience can be seen for what it is.
 
When we come to the place where we begin to recognize that something is missing in our lives, we become more willing to let go of what we think we know and open to the messages given us to practice in these Lessons. We may have achieved our dreams and goals in the world, but we may still lack fulfillment. Perhaps we came to the Course because nothing we have tried has worked. It does not matter what the reason is. What matters is that now we are willing to see where this path leads us. In other words, we are developing some trust that perhaps where Jesus is leading us is a better place than where our lives have taken us up to now. We still have a lot of resistance, though, which is why Jesus is so gentle with us. He says that he does not want to coerce or convince us. He only wants to show us how unhappy we are and show us the way that can bring us to consistent peace and joy. No, we may not yet be convinced, but we may be more willing to see what he has in store for us.
 
Some of us have been spiritual seekers for a long time and have gone through a variety of paths and teachings in seeking enlightenment. In spite of this desire for awakening, we come up against fear and resistance. This may include the times when we try to do the Lessons regularly, but we "forget." We drag our feet about doing the practice. We actively rebel against the thoughts put forward. We get sleepy or hungry when we try to do the reading. There are many ways the ego keeps us distracted. "Yet your willingness to learn of Him depends on your willingness to question everything you learned of yourself, for you who learned amiss should not be your own teacher." (T.11.VIII.3.8) (ACIM OE T.10.VIII.76) Later in this section, he says, "You may complain that this course is not sufficiently specific for you to understand and use. Yet perhaps you have not done what it specifically advocates. This is not a course in the play of ideas, but in their practical application." (T.11.VIII.5.1-3) (ACIM OE T.10.VIII.80)
 
We want to be right about our perceptions, and we still want to put the blame on others for our circumstances. We think we know what our needs and requirements are for our own happiness. There are times when we ask for guidance, but often, we rely on our own decisions. We still look outside of ourselves for the fulfillment of our needs. We say we want happiness and peace of mind, but we have defined how that should look. We try to get our needs met through our special relationships, requiring others to do our bidding. We are very defended against looking at our part and our responsibility for everything that seems to happen to us. Jesus asks us to look at how invested we are in not wanting to see. This requires that we get very honest with ourselves since these are the blocks the Course continually talks about that keep us from the love we say we want.
 
"Your decision to see is all that vision requires. What you want is yours." (W.20.3.1-2) We want other things besides our awakening. The ego is still very much at the forefront, and our minds resist structure. We do not like being told what to do, even though Jesus guides us gently in this process. He never forces us in any way and never coerces our practice. It is all up to us.
 
You will notice that in the first nineteen Lessons he has been so careful not to push us in our practice but simply to invite our participation. Now he tells us that what we really want is to spend time with God because we want to be happy. If we regard ourselves as being coerced, the resistance will show up as "resentment and opposition." (W.20.1.6) That is why the workbook approaches structure with great care and caution. "This is our first attempt to introduce structure." (W.20. 2.1) However, "Do not misconstrue it as an effort to exert force or pressure." (W.20.2.2) He reminds us that this isn't about making us do something against our will, but indeed, it is about our will to be happy. He knows that getting aligned with God's Will is the only way we could ever be happy because our true will is God's Will. Jesus knows, just as we increasingly see for ourselves, that our idea of happiness has never worked except perhaps intermittently. He says our moments of happiness are indistinguishable from pain.
 
How this looks is that we may feel great pleasure at getting a new job, new car, new relationship, coming into lots of money, going off on a wonderful trip, or any number of things the world defines as pleasure. Yet this Lesson says that we really can't distinguish between "joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear." (W.20.2.6) This certainly makes us take notice. I think I do know the difference, but in the illusion, Jesus reminds us that there is no hierarchy of differences. All illusion is about fear. All illusion is just our way of keeping ourselves from the truth. It is one big distraction the ego has set up to keep us in the dark and give us small scraps of apparent happiness. In an ever-changing, shifting pattern of events, we try desperately to manage but mostly feel at the mercy of events that are not in our control. If we really believed that through the application of this teaching we would experience total release from fear and real joy, it would certainly enhance our motivation to want to see.
 
We are being encouraged to appreciate that there is great reward in doing this mind training. All that is required is our "decision to see." (W.20.3.1) He will do the rest. The effort asked of us is really minimal, as we are just being gently encouraged to do the practice only as long as we don't experience strain. How much do you want the result? The goal is indeed awesome. It is about our salvation. It is about restoring our true power to our awareness. It is about waking up from this dream state. It is about the determination to have vision restored to us.
 
"Can the salvation of the world be a trivial purpose? And can the world be saved if you are not? God has one Son, and he is the resurrection and the life. His will is done because all power is given him in Heaven and on earth. In your determination to see is vision given you." (W.20.3.4-8) Jesus wants us to understand that while he was identified as the one Son of God, we are the same as him. We can do whatever he could do. We are the resurrection and the life. All power is given unto us. We can't even change that about ourselves. We can only be unaware that this is so. When vision is restored to us through our practice of these teachings, our awareness of this power will return to our minds. The world is not external to our minds, and therefore, all Jesus is talking about here is that the world is seen differently when our thoughts are changed about it.
 
The practice requirements now increase. We are now repeating the idea at least twice an hour, attempting to do so every half hour. At the end of the day, we can see how this went. While we are encouraged to make a real effort to remember, we are asked not to kick ourselves if we don't.
 
We can be firm with ourselves in practicing these Lessons, yet gentle. There is no benefit in crucifying ourselves. That is just another ego ploy to increase our guilt. If you forget, pick up on it again without berating yourself. Just notice that you are forgetting and that your determination is not yet strong.
 
Let's look at the practice instructions. We repeat the idea "slowly and positively," (W.20.5.1) remembering that we are determined to exchange our present state for one we really want. This is not just about saying the words but letting them really take on a powerful meaning and affirming that this will bring about our happiness. We are asked to make a real effort to remember. How do we do that? Remembering this Lesson every half hour will take commitment. Think about what will help you to remember, but whatever you do, don't make yourself guilty and upset if you miss doing the practice. Just notice your resistance and start again. "Do not be distressed if you forget to do so, but make a real effort to remember." (W.20.5.2)
 
Whenever you are tempted to get upset with any person, situation, or event in your day, you can apply this Lesson. Any judgment you make about anything or anyone can change if you are willing to look at your judgment and let it go. When any situation is seen with vision, we see only a call for love and understanding. I noticed my judgment last night when I watched the movie Atonement, where a 13-year-old girl sees something she misunderstands, tells a lie, and destroys all possibility of happiness in three lives, including her own. Her lie has devastating results, and it is easy to want to judge her and think events such as this, that lead to such devastating results, are unforgivable. This was exacerbated as she had full knowledge of what she did. We want to see guilt "out there." I am reminded that we are not responsible for the error in the mind, but we are responsible for the Correction. To accept Atonement for myself is to be willing to take responsibility for my judgments and give them over to the Holy Spirit.
 
"What you desire you will see. Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world." (W.20.5.5-6) In other words, when I judge, it is because I want to see someone guilty. The cause is in my mind. I see in the world what I choose to see because I still want to see guilt outside of my own mind.
 
Thus, we are asked to use every opportunity to watch our minds and remind ourselves today, "I am determined to see." (W.20)
 
Love and blessings, Sarah  
A Course in Miracles
TEXT
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Two: The Illusion of Separation
 
IV. Fear as Lack of Love   

72 You believe that "being afraid" is involuntary, something beyond your control. Yet I have told you several times that only constructive acts should be involuntary. We have said that Christ-control can take over everything that does not matter, while Christ-guidance can direct everything that does if you so choose. Fear cannot be Christ-controlled, but it can be self-controlled. It prevents me from controlling it. The correction is therefore a matter of your will because its presence shows that you have raised the unimportant to a higher level than it warrants. You have thus brought it under your will, where it does not belong. This means that you feel responsible for it. The level confusion here is obvious.
 
73 The reason I cannot control fear for you is that you are attempting to raise to the mind level the proper content of lower-order reality. I do not foster level confusion, but you can choose to correct it. You would not tolerate insane behavior on your part and would hardly advance the excuse that you could not help it. Why should you tolerate insane thinking? There is a confusion here which you would do well to look at clearly. You believe that you are responsible for what you do but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice.
 
74 What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate yourself from the truth by "giving" autonomy to behavior. This is controlled by me automatically as soon as you place what you think under my guidance. Whenever you are afraid, it is a sure sign that you have allowed your mind to miscreate or have not allowed me to guide it. It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome of mis-thought can result in healing. When you are fearful you have willed wrongly. This is why you feel responsible for it. You must change your mind, not your behavior, and this is a matter of will.
 
75 You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where creation is possible. The term does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work. The correction of fear is your responsibility. When you ask for release from fear, you are implying that it is not. You should ask instead for help in the conditions which have brought the fear about. These conditions always entail a separated mind willingness. At that level, you can help it. You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, thus passively condoning its miscreations. The particular result does not matter, but the fundamental error does. The correction is always the same. Before you will to do anything, ask me if your will is in accord with mine. If you are sure that it is, there will be no fear.
 
76 Fear is always a sign of strain, which arises whenever the will to do conflicts with what you do. This situation arises in two ways:
 
77 First, you can will to do conflicting things, either simultaneously or successively. This produces conflicted behavior, which is intolerable to yourself because the part of the will that wants to do something else is outraged.
 
78 Second, you can behave as you think you should but without entirely willing to do so. This produces consistent behavior but entails great strain within the self.
 
79 In both cases, the will and the behavior are out of accord, resulting in a situation in which you are doing what you do not will. This arouses a sense of coercion, which usually produces rage. The rage then invades the mind and projection in the wrong sense is likely to follow. Depression or anxiety is virtually certain.
 
80 Remember that whenever there is fear, it is because you have not made up your mind. Your will is split, and your behavior inevitably becomes erratic. Correcting at the behavioral level can shift the error from the first to the second type of strain described above but will not obliterate the fear. It is possible to reach a state in which you bring your will under my guidance without much conscious effort, but this implies habit patterns which you have not developed dependably as yet. God cannot ask more than you will. The strength to do comes from your own undivided will to do. There is no strain in doing God's Will as soon as you recognize that it is also your own.
 
81 The lesson here is quite simple but particularly apt to be overlooked. I will therefore repeat it, urging you to listen. Only your mind can produce fear. It does so whenever it is conflicted in what it wills, thus producing inevitable strain because willing and doing become discordant. This cannot be corrected by better doing, but it can be corrected by higher willing.
    
          ~ Original Hand Script of ACIM       


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