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CH 21 "THE INNER PICTURE"
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
VIII. PERCEPTION AND WISHES
77 Forget not that the choice of truth or sin, power or helplessness, is the choice of whether to attack or heal. For healing comes of power and attack of helplessness. Whom you attack you cannot want to heal. And whom you would have healed must be the one you chose to be protected from attack. And what is this decision but the choice whether to see him through the body's eyes or let him be revealed to you through vision? How this decision leads to its effects is not your problem. But what you want to see must be your choice. This is a course in cause and not effect.
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK for STUDENTS
WHAT IS SALVATION
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
Salvation is a promise, made by God,
that you would find your way to Him at last.
It cannot but be kept. It guarantees
that time will have an end, and all the thoughts
that have been born in time will end as well.
God's Word is given every mind that thinks
that it has separate thoughts, and will replace
these thoughts of conflict with the Thought of peace.
The Thought of peace was given to God's Son
the instant that his mind had thought of war.
There was no need for such a Thought before,
for peace was given without opposite,
and merely was. But when the mind is split,
there is a need of healing. So the Thought
Which has the power to heal the split became
a part of every fragment of the mind
which still was one, but failed to recognize
its oneness. Now it did not know itself,
and thought its own identity was lost.
Salvation is undoing in the sense
that it does nothing, failing to support
the world of dreams and malice. Thus it lets
illusions go. By not supporting them,
it merely lets them quietly go down
to dust. And what they hid is now revealed;
an altar to the holy Name of God,
whereon His Word is written, with the gifts
of your forgiveness laid before It, and
the memory of God not far behind.
Let us come daily to this holy place,
and spend a while together. Here we share
our final dream. It is a dream in which
there is no sorrow, for it holds a hint
of all the glory given us by God.
The grass is pushing through the soil, the trees
are budding now, and birds have come to live
within their branches. Earth is being born
again in new perception. Night has gone,
and we have come together in the light.
From here we give salvation to the world,
for it is here salvation was received.
The song of our rejoicing is the call
to all the world that freedom is returned,
that time is almost over, and God's Son
has but an instant more to wait until
his Father is remembered, dreams are done,
eternity has shined away the world,
and only Heaven now exists at all.
~ Original Handscript of ACIM October 1, 1970
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
L e s s o n 240
Fear is not justified in any form.
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
Fear is deception. It attests that you
have seen yourself as you could never be,
and therefore look upon a world which is
impossible. Not one thing in that world
is true. It does not matter what the form
in which it may appear. It witnesses
but to your own illusions of yourself.
Let us not be deceived today. We are
the Son of God. There is no fear in us,
for we are each a part of Love Itself.
How foolish are our fears! Would You allow
Your Son to suffer? Give us faith today
to recognize Your Son and set him free.
Let us forgive him in Your Name, that we
may understand his holiness, and feel
the love for him that is Your own as well.
~ Original Handscript of ACIM
ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections
Fear is not justified in any form.
To us, who identify with this body and the world, fear certainly does seem to be justified. There are many dangers we have learned to protect ourselves from. We fear being hurt by others, getting sick, losing money, losing a job, aging, and dying. We are afraid of germs, of pollution, and of insects. We fear losing our material goods, our friends, those we are attached to, and ultimately, we fear death. I could go on and on, but you get the point. We have thousands of fear thoughts. Our lives here are all about fear. Fear is the content of the ego mind. In fact, all the ego is is a fear thought. It is the imposter, the false self, that seems to have invaded our pristine home. It is deception because, although we have bought into it, it is not real. And now, "It attests that you have seen yourself as you could never be, and therefore look upon a world which is impossible." (W.240.1.2)
In Lesson 153, Jesus tells us that this sense of threat we live with is much deeper than we even realize, but we cover it up with our many distractions. The ego needs to keep us from seeing how much fear is in the mind. If we were more aware of this deep level of threat, we would become more motivated to investigate its source and bring it to the light. All of our fear comes from our belief we have sinned and done something so terribly wrong that we deserve to be punished.
The core of our learning today is, "Not one thing in this world is true." (W.240.1.3) If that is so, what would there be to fear? All our fears would be seen to be foolish because if there is nothing true in this world or about this world and all the forms of this world (including our bodies) are false beliefs, then our fears are about nothing. In fact, the ego is nothing but a false belief. Now we can choose to withdraw our investment in what it speaks to us about. Whatever it has to say is not the truth, but to hear what is running in our minds, we must tune in. Otherwise, we continue to listen without awareness to what it is telling us about ourselves. Our decision not to listen to the ego is to surrender it to Spirit. We are not the victim of its control over our lives. We are not trapped in its grasp. Because we are the ones that chose it, we are now responsible for giving it up. How we experience the world depends on which voice we follow---the ego or the Holy Spirit.
The Course has been summed up by the words, "Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God." (T.IN.2.2) (ACIM OE T.IN.4) This is it in a nutshell. It is all there is for us to recognize. No more than that. Jesus tells us this in any number of ways in the Course. Yet it does take some effort for us to become sufficiently motivated and determined to no longer choose to listen to the ego's seeming dictates and no longer experience its effects on us.
The world of form is all an illusion, but it is valuable for your learning because "It witnesses but to your own illusions of yourself." (W.240.1.5) In other words, we can see our own guilt and self-attacking thoughts reflected back to us. It mirrors to us what is in the mind and is thus very helpful as a classroom for healing. Everything starts in our own minds and all effects are a result of our own thoughts. The guilt in our minds is projected onto people and situations in the world. Now the world delivers what we think we have coming to us. The punishment that seems to be delivered by the world simply reinforces the belief that we are bodies, guilty of having killed God in order to experience our individual will. We believe we have caused pain to others. We believe there is a real world that has real effects on us. It all witnesses to the thought system of the ego. Whatever is in our own minds is now reflected in everything we see in the world.
Since our experiences in this seeming reality are all witnessing to our self-attacking thoughts, we can use these experiences as learning opportunities to look at our fearful thoughts and release them to the Holy Spirit. Increasingly, we recognize "How foolish are our fears!" (W.240.2.1) We then gain faith in our true reality as the Son of God, unlimited, eternal and "each a part of Love Itself." (W.240.1.8) What can we fear if we accept this as the truth? The truth is that we are completely innocent. Nothing we think we have done has actually happened in reality. As we start to accept the truth of this for ourselves, our sense of safety and security is enhanced. When we put the truth to the test in our life experiences, we gain faith in the strength and power available to us.
When I am afraid, I don't think I am deceiving or fooling myself. I think there is something real, threatening my well-being, so my defenses go up, and I put strategies in place to protect myself. When we look deeply at our experiences here, we will become aware that we are afraid all the time. Oh, we might have moments of peace and release from fear in the holy instant, but mostly we are reminded daily of our fears. We look out at a world that we think has the power to hurt us. By valuing anything outside of ourselves, we give it power. We feel manipulated and controlled by forces seemingly outside of our own minds, and we build defenses against them and try to control the outcome. Thus, we keep reinforcing our fears. Yet Jesus reminds us that through forgiveness our fears are released because our guilt is released. He assures us that when we accept our innocence, we know nothing can harm us because we no longer identify with the body. When our minds are healed and we live in the happy dream, we are no longer controlled by anything outside the mind.
Recently, I picked up some stinging nettles out of my garden. Unfortunately for me, I was not wearing gloves. The pain felt very intense. My immediate reaction was to look to magic for relief. I checked on the internet for remedies and went through any number of options, only to experience continued discomfort. It was when the remedies had no effect that I put my mind to a higher power, rather than relying on my own attempts at solving the problem. I realized that I did not have to see this situation as a problem, nor did I need to identify with the pain. I reminded myself that I am not this body and the pain I was feeling was being projected by my mind. I inquired further and noticed I had recently made a judgment about which I felt guilty. I reminded myself that a healed mind would not be upset but simply be willing to release the mistake. I inquired why I thought this punishment was warranted for my judgment. What I uncovered when I went deeper was a feeling of unworthiness, or the "I am bad" thought. I recognized that this could not be the truth about me. I gave this thought over to the Holy Spirit. It was not the truth. With this deeper work, the pain eased considerably, and I gave it no more attention. I gave thanks for this experience, as it was an invitation to inquire more deeply into the source of the pain in the mind.
We do think our bodies and our personalities define us, but as we progress on this journey and continue to apply these Lessons to the situations in our lives, our hold on the false beliefs loosens. We no longer put our trust in the elusive, changeable, and temporary things of this world. We are not called to stop enjoying the things of this world, nor do we have to give them up. We simply stop believing they can ever bring us happiness, or that we can be threatened by anything in this world. To withdraw our beliefs is to question their reality. To go within is to ask for another way of seeing every situation that confronts us.
In the Manual for Teachers, Section 16 "How should the teacher of God spend his day?" we are reminded, "There is one thought in particular that should be remembered throughout the day. It is a thought of pure joy; a thought of peace, a thought of limitless release, limitless because all things are freed within it. You think you made a place of safety for yourself. You think you made a power that can save you from all the fearful things you see in dreams. It is not so. Your safety lies not there. What you give up is merely the illusion of protecting illusions. And it is this you fear, and only this. How foolish to be afraid of nothing! Nothing at all! Your defenses will not work, but you are not in danger. You have no need of them. Recognize this, and they will disappear. And only then will you accept your real protection." (M.16.6.1-14)
We can continue to lock our doors and take our medicine when we are sick if we are still too fearful to put our faith in God. Nor should we increase our guilt by deriding ourselves for not being further along in our healing. As a friend and teacher reminded me, "The slow way is the fast way." In other words, we may wish to be further along in our undoing process than we are, but this is not helpful because it is a self-judgment. It is better to be in acceptance of where we are, which will allow us to stop and look more deeply at the roadblocks we are setting up. It is not unlike the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady will get us to our goal, but we must be clear on our goal. What is it we want? If we want to wake up, we simply continue to use each situation that arises in which our fear comes up and bring it forward for healing. "By not supporting them, it [salvation] merely lets them quietly go down to dust." (W.PII.Q2.3.3)
When we do this kind of healing of our own minds, we give healing to the world. "The song of our rejoicing is the call to all the world that freedom is returned, that time is almost over, and God's Son has but an instant more to wait until his Father is remembered, dreams are done, eternity has shined away the world, and only Heaven now exists at all." (W.PII.Q2.5.2)
Remember to be content with your learning and not to be impatient with yourself, which is just another attack on the mind. We have guilt and fear as a result of our belief in separation from God. We have now chosen to heal the belief that we are separate from Love. The entire Course is one of making this choice over and over with each problem, with each seeming difficulty, with each fear that comes up, and with all our grievances. This choice seems to be spread over a long period of time, but time, too, is an illusion. We are already what we are seeking, but we can now use time for our benefit to remember the truth of what we already are.
To remember God is to see in each brother the innocence of the Self we are. Every attack we make reinforces our guilt and keeps us unaware of our Oneness. It is what the ego would have us do in order to keep us locked into this cycle of guilt and fear. We have been given a way out. Jesus is the way-shower. He tells us that in giving up grievances and attack thoughts, we can return to the truth of what we are, and thus fear dissipates because there is no longer any justification for it. In other words, we no longer see any basis for fear. It is simply a thought to which we have given a power it does not have.
Chapter Twenty One
Voice and Music by Martin Weber, CIMS SonShip Radio
The Inner Picture
VIII. Perception and Wishes
70 Do you not see that all your misery comes from the strange belief that you are powerless? Being helpless is the
cost of sin. Helplessness is sin's condition---the one requirement that it demands to be believed. Only the helpless
could believe in it. Enormity has no appeal save to the little. And only those who first believe that they
are little could see attraction there. Treachery to the Son of God is the defense of those who do not identify with him. And you are for him or against him; either you love him or attack him, protect his unity or see him shattered and slain by your attack.
71 No one believes the Son of God is powerless. And those who see themselves as helpless
must believe that they are not the Son of God. What can they be
except his enemy? And what can they do but envy him his power and by their envy make themselves afraid of it? These are the dark ones, silent and afraid, alone and not communicating, fearful the power of the Son of God will strike them dead and raising up their helplessness against him. They join the army of the powerless, to wage their war of vengeance, bitterness, and spite on him to make him one with them. Because they do not know that they
are one with him, they know not whom they hate. They are indeed a sorry army, each one as likely to attack his brother or turn upon himself as to remember they thought they had a common cause.
72 Frantic and loud and strong the dark ones seem to be. Yet they know not their enemy, except they
hate him. In hatred they have come together but have not joined each other. For had they done so, hatred would be impossible. The army of the powerless must be disbanded in the presence of strength. Those who are strong are
never treacherous because they have no need to dream of power and to act out their dream. How would an army act in dreams? Any way at all. It could be seen attacking anyone with anything. Dreams have no reason in them. A flower turns into a poisoned spear, a child becomes a giant, and a mouse roars like a lion. And love is turned to hate as easily. This is no army, but a madhouse. What seems to be a planned attack is bedlam.
73 The army of the powerless is weak indeed. It has no weapons, and it has no enemy. Yes, it can overrun the world and
seek an enemy. But it can never find what is not there. Yes, it can
dream it found an enemy, but this will shift even as it attacks, so that it runs at once to find another and never comes to rest in victory. And as it runs, it turns against itself, thinking it caught a glimpse of the great enemy which always eludes its murderous attack by turning into something else. How treacherous does this enemy appear, who changes so it is impossible even to recognize him!
74 Yet hate must have a target. There can be no faith in sin without an enemy. Who that believes in sin would
dare believe he has no enemy? Could he admit that no one made him powerless? Reason would surely bid him seek no longer what is not there to find. Yet first he must be willing to perceive a world where it is not. It is not necessary that he understand
how he can see it. Nor should he try. For if he focuses on what he cannot understand, he will but emphasize his helplessness and let sin tell him that his enemy must be
himself. But let him only ask himself these questions, which he must decide to have it done for him:
Do I desire a world I rule instead of one which rules me?
desire a world where I am powerful instead of helpless?
Do I desire a world in which I have no enemies and cannot sin?
76 You have already answered the first three questions but not yet the last. For this one still seems fearful and unlike the others. Yet reason would assure you they
are all the same. We said this year would emphasize the sameness of things that
are the same. This final question, which is indeed the last you need decide, still seems to hold a threat the rest have lost for you. And this imagined difference attests to your belief that truth may be the enemy you yet may find. Here, then, would seem to be the last remaining hope of finding sin and not accepting power.
77 Forget not that the choice of truth or sin, power or helplessness, is the choice of whether to attack or heal. For healing comes of power and attack of helplessness. Whom you attack you
cannot want to heal. And whom you would have healed must be the one you chose to be
protected from attack. And what is this decision but the choice whether to see him through the body's eyes or let him be revealed to you through vision?
How this decision leads to its effects is not your problem. But what you
want to see
must be your choice. This is a course in
cause and not effect.
78 Consider carefully your answer to the last question you have left unanswered still. And let your reason tell you that it must
be answered and
is answered in the other three. And then it will be clear to you that, as you look on the effects of sin in any form, all you need do is simply ask yourself,
80 This is your
one decision; this the condition for what occurs. It is irrelevant to
how it happens but not to
have control of this. And if you choose to see a world without an enemy in which you are not helpless, the means to see it
will be given you.
81 Why is the final question so important? Reason will tell you why. It is the same as are the other three except in
time. The others are decisions which can be made and then unmade and made again. But truth is constant and implies a state where vacillations are impossible. You can desire a world you rule which rules you not, and change your mind. You can desire to exchange your helplessness for power, and lose this same desire as a little glint of sin attracts you. And you can want to see a sinless world and let an "enemy" tempt you to use the body's eyes and change what you desire.
82 In content, all the questions
are the same. For each one asks if you are willing to exchange the world of sin for what the Holy Spirit sees, since it is this the world of sin denies. And therefore those who look on sin are seeing the denial of the real world. Yet the last question adds the wish for
constancy in your desire to see the real world, so the desire becomes the
only one you have. By answering the final question "yes," you add sincerity to the decisions you have already made to all the rest. For only then have you renounced the option to change your mind again. When it is this you do
not want, the rest
are wholly answered.
83 Why do you think you are unsure the others
have been answered? Could it be necessary they be asked so often, if they had? Until the last decision has been made, the answer is both "yes" and "no." For you have answered "yes" without perceiving that "yes"
must mean "not no." No one decides against his happiness, but he may do so if he does not see he does it. And if he sees his happiness as ever changing, now this, now that, and now an elusive shadow attached to nothing, he
does decide against it.
84 Elusive happiness, or happiness in changing form that shifts with time and place, is an illusion which has no meaning. Happiness
must be constant because it is attained by giving up the wish for the
inconstant. Joy cannot be perceived
except through constant vision. And constant vision can be given only those who
wish for constancy. The power of the Son of God's desire remains the proof that he is wrong who sees himself as helpless. Desire what you will, and you
will look on it and think it real. No thought but has the power to release or kill. And none can leave the thinker's mind or leave him unaffected.
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