Lesson 217
The Second Obstacle to Peace
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59 We said that peace must first surmount the obstacle of your desire to get rid of it. Where the attraction of guilt holds sway, peace is not wanted. The second obstacle that peace must flow across, and closely related to the first, is the belief that the body is valuable for what it offers. For here is the attraction of guilt made manifest in the body and seen in it.

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Review VI
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio

   With this review, we take but one idea
   each day, and practice it as often as
   is possible. Besides the time we give
   morning and evening, which should not be less
   than fifteen minutes, and the hourly
   remembrances we make throughout the day,
   use the idea as often as you can
   between them. Each of these ideas alone
   would be sufficient for salvation, if
   it is learned truly. Each would be enough
   to give release to you and to the world
   from every form of bondage, and invite
   the memory of God to come again.
   With this in mind, we start our practicing
   in which we carefully review the thoughts
   the Holy Spirit has bestowed on us
   in our last twenty lessons. Each contains
   the whole curriculum, if understood,
   practiced, accepted and applied to all
   the seeming happenings throughout the day.
   One is enough. But for that one there must
   be no exceptions made. And so we need
   to use them all, and let them blend as one
   as each contributes to the whole we learn.
   These practice lessons, like our last review,
   are centered round a central theme with which
   we start and end each lesson. It is this:
   " I am not a body. I am free.
      For I am still as God created me."
   The day begins and ends with this. And we
   repeat it every time the hour strikes,
   or we remember, in between, we have
   a function that transcends the world we see.
   Beyond this and a repetition of
   the special thought we practice for the day,
   no form of exercise is urged, except
   a deep relinquishing of everything
   that clutters up your mind, and makes it deaf
   to reason, sanity and simple truth.
   We will attempt to get beyond all words
   and special forms of practicing for this
   review. For we attempt this time to reach
   a quickened pace along a shorter path
   to the serenity and peace of God.
   We merely close our eyes, and then forget
   all that we thought we saw and understood.
   For thus is freedom given us from all
   we did not know and failed to understand.
   There is but one exception to this lack
   of structuring. Permit no idle thought
   to go unchallenged. If you notice one,
   deny its hold and hasten to assure
   your mind that this is not what it would have.
   Then gently let the thought which you denied
   be given up in sure and quick exchange
   for the idea we practice for the day.
   When you are tempted, hasten to proclaim
   your freedom from temptation, as you say:
   " This thought I do not want. I choose instead..."
   And then repeat the idea for the day,
   and let it take the place of what you thought.
   Beyond such special applications of
   each day's idea, we will add but few
   formal expressions for specific thoughts
   to aid your practicing. Instead we give
   these times of quiet to the Teacher Who
   instructs in quiet, speaks of peace, and gives
   our thoughts whatever meaning they may have.
   To Him I offer this review for you.
   I place you in His charge, and let Him teach
   you what to do and say and think each time
   you turn to Him. He will not fail to be
   available to you each time you call
   to Him to help you. Let us offer Him
   the whole review we now begin, and let
   us also not forget to Whom it has
   been given, as we practice, day by day,
   advancing toward the goal He set for us;
   allowing Him to teach us how to go,
   and trusting Him completely for the way
   each practice period can best become
   a loving gift of freedom to the world. 
      ~ Original Handscript of ACIM September 1, 1970

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SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 217
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.
It can be but my gratitude I earn. 
Who should give thanks for my salvation but
myself? And how but through salvation can
I find the Self to Whom my thanks are due?  

I am not a body. I am free. 
For I am still as God created me .

~ Original Handscript of ACIM
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections 
ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 217 Review VI

[197] It can be but my gratitude I earn.

Sarah's Commentary:   

Jesus is talking about opening up to the love we are by healing everything in our minds standing in the way of love. Then the love in us can flow through us, and we become a vehicle for the Holy Spirit. It is a love without conditions of any kind. It is not given erratically nor based on bargaining and reciprocity, where we are happy when our needs are met and unhappy when they are not. Real love never turns to hate. Love is who we are, and therefore, it is not dependent on anything outside of us. Thus, love is freedom, which is a frightening thought to the ego, because to the ego love is all about control, bargaining, and giving to get. The core of the special relationship is all about this kind of "love. " If we do not get the gratitude and reciprocity we think we deserve for our "gifts " of giving, we get angry and bitter and withdraw our version of "love. "
Healing is about bringing the blocks to love to awareness so we can come to know the truth of who we are. This is achieved when the world is seen as a classroom for the purpose of healing. To accept the Atonement for ourselves is to basically accept the truth of who we are by giving over to the Holy Spirit all that stands in the way of the light and the love we are. Recognizing how the ego has set this all up helps us in the undoing process. The ego has convinced us that salvation comes through attack because our seeming attack on God is how the ego was established in the first place. In our special relationships, we enact this same idea of gaining at someone else's expense. We give to get. Jesus exposes the nature of this kind of giving so we can make another choice.
Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves. We have imprisoned ourselves with our attacks. It is not about forgiving perceived wrongs in someone else, but taking responsibility for our expectations of others. It is about seeing the subtle hooks in our own giving, which now must be released. When we see what the ego is up to, instead of judging ourselves, we can now look at the ego without guilt. With willingness, honesty, and courage, we look at our judgments, our anger, our worry, our sadness, our fantasies of what we think we want or need, our self-concepts, and our beliefs. As we see what was previously hidden from our awareness, we bring it all to the Holy Spirit. Our willingness is enhanced when we realize the way the ego has set all this up will never make us happy. Now we can choose to take responsibility for these unhealed parts of our mind most often triggered in our special relationships. Thus, our relationships are most helpful when used for the purpose of healing our own mind. By consistently turning to the healing power of the Holy Spirit within our own right mind, rather than listening to the voice of the ego in the wrong mind, we will awaken from this dream.
Every gift we give we give to ourselves, just as every attack we make we make on ourselves. This Lesson can be seen as a companion to the Lesson yesterday. You may remember, in Lesson 197, Jesus talked about how we demand gratitude from others for the gifts we give. If we do not receive what we want, we withdraw the gift. Yet when a blessing is truly given, not only is it immediately received, it is also received in the mind of our brother, even if it is not acknowledged immediately. Not only that, God Himself accepts the gifts we give. There is only one mind and that is the Mind of God, where we already are in truth. No matter the form of the gift, the content is love, which we can know we have in ourselves as we give it.
Anything we give when we want something in return is not a gift. As we read in this review, "Who should I give thanks for my salvation but myself? And how but through salvation can I find the Self to Whom my thanks are due?" (W.217.1.2-3) In giving we receive, and ultimately, what we receive are the gifts of joy, peace, innocence, and love. This is really what we can be grateful for because then we can know who we are as the Christ Self. As we extend love (forgiveness) to our brothers, we receive a blessing for ourselves. We are not bound by the dictates of the ego, which demands its due for the gifts it gives. Everything is about reciprocity to the ego. It wants to gain. To the ego, giving seems like a loss. When we identify with the ego, we see our interests as separate from the interests of others and in competition with them.
Anything we do in the world to "be nice" to someone is just a conditional aspect of worldly love with the ego as the guide. Having a day that feels good is just a trick of the ego to keep us believing it is the source of our happiness. If we believe there is a "good" and a "bad" way to be, we are caught in the ego world of form. Our function is to realize who we are as unlimited beings. We can experience this when we take a position where we step out of this matrix above the battleground, turn to Holy Spirit, and let ourselves be guided.
It is insulting to our identity as an ego to be told to give up control and surrender to guidance. This surrender is generally not an experience of giving everything over, but a moment-by- moment letting go. For example, if I am feeling impatient, I can choose to step aside in that moment and observe the feelings instead of acting on them. When someone calls with an invitation, I can take a moment to ask for guidance, instead of immediately reacting. When I want to voice an opinion, I can step back and be still. And when anger shows up, I can remember it is never justified, and I can ask for a miracle. This moment-by-moment surrender takes a level of mind training and discipline that we are not necessarily good at, but with practice, we will get better until the ego no longer dominates our lives to the same extent.
We read in Text Chapter 18.IV (ACIM OE T.18.IV), "The Little Willingness," the importance of our determination to be holy. Trying to make ourselves holy is counterproductive. It is not our job to atone first, clean up our own mind, or make ourselves pure. The issue is that we are the ones that want to be in control and put the ego in charge of our own healing, but Jesus reminds us purification is of God, not of ourselves. Willingness and readiness are all that are required of us. "It is not needful that I make it ready for Him, but only that I do not interfere with His plan to restore to me my own awareness of my readiness, which is eternal. I need add nothing to His plan. But to receive it, I must be willing not to substitute my own in place of it." (T.18.IV.5.11-13) (ACIM OE T.18.V.37)
The reality is that from the perspective of the ego it has no idea about how to be loving or how to be helpful. The ego is always out to get rather than to give. My responsibility is to use every event, circumstance, and situation in my life, to heal my mind, not to decide how to fix it. It is not my job to make anyone happy. It is not my job to ensure that anyone stays or goes in my life. It is not my job to change the world. It is not for me to make anyone happy by being a people pleaser. My job is only to change my mind about the world. Only in that way can I become a clear channel for His Love. Guidance comes through clearly when interferences are out of the way. We receive prompts on where to go, what to say, what to do, and to whom.
Love is the way I walk in gratitude. To know what giving really means, we need to be constantly willing to release attack thoughts. Releasing my attack thoughts opens up the door to who I am as the Christ Self. As the error in my mind is corrected, I experience the holy instant. By my trying to figure out how to be loving or good to others, I am working on the level of form and not on healing my mind. Being kind, generous, and loving in my terms are all about conditional love because I am determining how that might look in form. We need to get out of our own way. When our own self-attack is healed, everyone is blessed.
Chuck Spezzano, with Psychology of Vision, does healing work based on A Course in Miracles. He recently wrote of a healing that demonstrates the importance of giving up our self-attacking thoughts and beliefs, so everyone can receive the blessing we receive. He writes:
"He was so full of self-attack because though he, himself, was doing great at work, his son was failing at everything he tried. Only recently had his son gotten a normal, if poor paying job. His father felt like he was under-performing. His father had discovered that during the marriage with his first wife, she had been having an affair with one of his business associates. It had devastated him. When he got a divorce, it had devastated his son. While he and his wife had happily remarried different partners, his son had never fully recovered. While this man was a great success and admired by his associates, he felt like a failure inside because of his son. Because he was now happily married, it had been fairly easy for him to forgive his ex-wife after the event, but he had never forgiven himself. He was quite adamant in feeling guilt and punishing himself for it. Finally, I shared with him a principle that I learned from A Course in Miracles-attack is not discrete. You may think you are only attacking the person you are attacking but actually, you are attacking everyone. Or as I put it, attack is not a pistol that shoots the one you are aiming at, in this case, himself. Attack is a machine gun that sprays the crowd - including those you love the most. When people realize this, it is the very motivation needed for them to give up attack and replace it with blessing.
"During the Business Workshop, I demonstrated to the CEO just how much stress he was adding to himself by his self-attack. I showed him how the self-attack, because of its magnitude, was generating a vicious circle of guilt, self-attack, and stress, in his life. It was only when I showed him that because the self-attack was not discrete, he was now attacking his wife, his son, his ex-wife, all of his friends and work associates when he attacked himself that he was finally motivated to let it all go. He was also motivated to let his guilt go when I was able to show him that the guilt he carried was equal and connected to the guilt his son and ex-wife were carrying. I showed him that if he chose to bless himself he would be able to bless his ex-wife, his wife now and his son also. I set up a simple healing walk in which he at first embraced someone who represented his self-attack so he might integrate all this energy in a positive way. As he did this and was finally able to accept himself, he let out the most heart-rending cry that brought most of the participants of the Business Workshop to tears. He kept crying, 'I didn't know...I didn't know...' He had not realized that he was attacking his son when he attacked himself. He had not known that the guilt he carried kept his son and ex-wife in guilt also. He was finally willing to embrace the healing gift of blessing-desiring the best for another in place of his self-attack. He could then easily bless himself and share this gift of blessing with his son, his wife and his ex-wife. "
We see in this example how healing our minds is ours to do, and when we do it, it is a gift to everyone. Opening ourselves up to the healing of our own minds offers us an opportunity to reflect love and offer salvation to everyone and receive Heaven's thanks.
"What is Heaven but a song of gratitude and love and praise by everything created to the Source of its creation?" (T.26.IV.3.5) (ACIM OE T.26.V.27) "For He would offer you the thanks you give, since He receives your gifts in loving gratitude, and gives them back a thousand and a hundred thousand more than they were given." (W.123.6.3)
"Let our gratitude unto our Teacher fill our hearts, as we are free to choose our joy instead of pain, our holiness in place of sin, the peace of God instead of conflict, and the light of Heaven for the darkness of the world." (W.190.11.2)
"Give thanks to every part of you that you have taught how to remember you." (T.13.VII.17.8) (ACIM OE T.12.VII.76) As we willingly bring awareness to the barriers in our mind and to the remembrance of who we are, we begin to awaken to the truth of who we are as the Christ Self. For this, we can be truly grateful. This place of inner peace dissolves the littleness of the ego, and in the moment of recognition, we are overwhelmed with gratitude that what we made of ourselves is not the truth. I am overcome with tears of joy and a thankful heart. Love always trumps hate.

Love and Blessings, Sarah 
ACIM Original Edition
V. Obstacles to Peace

    b. The Second Obstacle: The Belief the Body is
        Valuable for What It Offers

59 We said that peace must first surmount the obstacle of your desire to get rid of it. Where the attraction of guilt holds sway, peace is not wanted. The second obstacle that peace must flow across, and closely related to the first, is the belief that the body is valuable for what it offers. For here is the attraction of guilt made manifest in the body and seen in it.
60 This [is] the value that you think peace would rob you of. This is what you believe that it would dispossess and leave you homeless. And it is this for which you would deny a home to peace. This "sacrifice" you feel to be too great to make, too much to ask of you.
61 Is it a sacrifice or a release? What has the body really given you that justifies your strange belief that in it lies salvation? Do you not see that this is the belief in death? Here is the focus of the perception of Atonement as murder. Here is the source of the idea that love is fear. The Holy Spirit's messengers are sent far beyond the body, calling the mind to join in holy communion and be at peace. Such is the message that I gave them for you.
62 It is only the messengers of fear that see the body, for they look for what can suffer. Is it a sacrifice to be removed from what can suffer? The Holy Spirit does not demand you sacrifice the hope of the body's pleasure; it has no hope of pleasure. But neither can it bring you fear of pain. Pain is the only "sacrifice" the Holy Spirit asks, and this He would remove.
63 Peace is extended from you only to the eternal, and it reaches out from the eternal in you. It flows across all else. The second obstacle is no more solid than the first. For you will neither to get rid of peace nor limit it. What are these obstacles which you would interpose between peace and its going forth but barriers you place between your will and its accomplishment? You want communion, not the feast of fear. You want salvation, not the pain of guilt. And you want your Father, not a little mound of clay, to be your home. In your holy relationship is your Father's Son. He has not lost communion with Him nor with himself. When you agreed to join each other, you acknowledged this is so. This has no cost, but it has release from cost.
64 You have paid very dearly for your illusions, and nothing you have paid for brought you peace. Are you not glad that Heaven cannot be sacrificed, and sacrifice cannot be asked of you? There is no obstacle which you can place before our union, for in your holy relationship, I am there already. We will surmount all obstacles together, for we stand within the gates and not outside. How easily the gates are opened from within to let peace through to bless the tired world! Can it be difficult for us to walk past barriers together when you have joined the limitless? The end of guilt is in your hands to give. Would you stop now to look for guilt in each other?
65 Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon each other as you would look on me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness, he will remember who he is and forget what never was. I ask for your forgiveness, for if you are guilty, so must I be. But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me. Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or of the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you, you see within yourself?
66 From your holy relationship truth proclaims the truth, and love looks on itself. Salvation flows from deep within the home you offered to my Father and to me. And we are there together in the quiet communion in which the Father and the Son are joined. Oh come ye faithful to the holy union of the Father and Son in you! And keep you not apart from what is offered you in gratitude for giving peace its home in Heaven. Send forth to all the world the joyous message of the end of guilt, and all the world will answer. Think of your happiness as everyone offers you witness of the end of sin and shows you that its power is gone forever. Where can guilt be, when the belief in sin is gone? And where is death, when its great advocate is heard no more?
67 Forgive me your illusions and release me from punishment for what I have not done. So will you learn the freedom that I taught by teaching freedom to each other and so releasing me. I am within your holy relationship, yet you would imprison me behind the obstacles you raise to freedom and bar my way to you. Yet it is not possible to keep away One Who is there already. And in Him it is possible that our communion, where we are joined already, will be the focus of the new perception that will bring light to all the world, contained in you.
Pleasure and Pain 
68 Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole idea of sacrifice. And to accept the peace He gave instead, without the limits which would hold its extension back and so would limit your awareness of it. For what He gives must be extended if you would have its limitless power and use it for the Son of God's release. It is not this you would be rid of, and having it you cannot limit it. If peace is homeless, so are you and so am I. And He Who is our home is homeless with us. Is this your will? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what must fail?
69 Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience, and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither pain nor joy. It is a means and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. [Only the mind can set a purpose, and only mind can see the means for its accomplishment and justify its use.] Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind to be attained. And these conditions are the home of the emotion which called them forth and therefore is compatible with them. But think you which it is that is compatible with you.
70 Here is your choice, and it is free. But all that lies in it will come with it, and what you think you are can never be apart from it. The body is the great seeming betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness, but only if you ask of it what it cannot give. Can your mistake be reasonable grounds for depression and disillusionment and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your error as the justification for your faithlessness. You have not sinned, but you have been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of your mistake will give you grounds for faith.
71 It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.
72 Is not this inevitable? Under fear's orders, the body will pursue guilt, serving its master whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of its existence. This, then, is the attraction of pain. Ruled by this perception, the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully and obeying the idea that pain is pleasure. It is this idea that underlies all of the ego's heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship which it keeps hidden and yet feeds upon. To you it teaches that the body's pleasure is happiness. Yet to itself it whispers, "It is death."
73 Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly, it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium, the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognize this, and both also recognize that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himsel f? Who would accuse, make guilty, and condemn himself? 
74 The ego's messages are always sent away from you in the belief that for your message of attack and guilt will someone other than yourself suffer. And even if you suffer, yet someone else will suffer more. The great deceiver recognizes that this is not so, but as the "enemy" of peace, it urges you to send out all your messages of hate and free yourself. And to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure and offering it to you as freedom from attack.
75 Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body's praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego's rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.
76 It is not given to the ego's disciples to realize that they have dedicated themselves to death. Freedom is offered them, but they have not accepted it, and what is offered must also be received to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father and offering His messages unto the Son. Like the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and the receiver. For what is sent through Him returns to Him, seeking itself along the way and finding what it seeks. So does the ego find the death it seeks, returning it to you.

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