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CH 23 "THE WAR AGAINST YOURSELF"
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
IV. SALVATION WITHOUT COMPROMISE
43 Salvation is no compromise of any kind. To compromise is to accept but part of what you want---to take a little and give up the rest. Salvation gives up nothing. It is complete for everyone. Let the idea of compromise but enter, and the awareness of salvation's purpose is lost because it is not recognized. It is denied where compromise has been accepted, for compromise is the belief salvation is impossible. It would maintain you can attack a little, love a little, and know the difference. Thus it would teach a little of the same can still be different, and yet the same remain intact as one. Does this make sense? Can it be understood?
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WHAT IS SIN?
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
Sin is insanity. It is the means
by which the mind is driven mad, and seeks
to let illusions take the place of truth.
And being mad, it sees illusions where
the truth should be, and where it really is.
Sin gave the body eyes, for what is there
the sinless would behold? What need have they
of sights or sounds or touch? What would they hear
or reach to touch? What would they sense at all?
To sense is not to know. And truth can be
but filled with knowledge, and with nothing else.
The body is the instrument the mind
made in its striving to deceive itself.
Its purpose is to strive. Yet can the goal
of striving change. And now the body serves
a different aim for striving. What it seeks
for now is chosen by the aim the mind
has taken as replacement for the goal
of self-deception. Truth can be its aim
as well as lies. The senses then will seek
instead the witnesses to what is true.
Sin is the home of all illusions, which
but stand for things imagined, issuing
from thoughts which are untrue. They are the "proof"
that what has no reality is real.
Sin "proves" God's Son is evil; timelessness
must have an end; Eternal Life must die.
And God Himself has lost the Son He loves,
with but corruption to complete Himself,
His Will forever overcome by death,
love slain by hate, and peace to be no more.
A madman's dreams are frightening, and sin
appears indeed to terrify. And yet
what sin perceives is but a childish game.
The Son of God may play he has become
a body, prey to evil and to guilt,
with but a little life that ends in death.
But all the while his Father shines on him,
and loves him with an Everlasting Love
which his pretenses cannot change at all.
How long, oh Son of God, would you maintain
the game of sin? Shall we not put away
these sharp-edged children's toys? How soon will you
be ready to come home? Perhaps today?
There is no sin. Creation is unchanged.
Would you still hold return to Heaven back?
How long, oh holy Son of God, how long?
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
L e s s o n 251
I am in need of nothing but the truth.
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
I sought for many things, and found despair.
Now do I seek but one, for in that one
is all I need and only what I need.
All that I sought before I needed not,
and did not even want. My only need
I did not recognize. But now I see
that I need only truth. In that all needs
are satisfied, all cravings end, all hopes
are finally fulfilled and dreams are gone.
Now have I everything that I could need.
Now have I everything that I could want.
And now at last I find myself at peace.
And for that peace, our Father, we give thanks.
What we denied ourselves You have restored,
and only that is what we really need.
~ Original Handscript of ACIM
ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections
I am in need of nothing but the truth.
Now we come to the question, "What is Sin?" (W.PII.Q4) The simple answer is that sin is what gave birth to illusions. According to the glossary of terms from the Circle of Atonement, sin is "a real attack that causes real damage, violation, and injury and produces real moral and spiritual guilt and calls for punishment and death. To sin would be to violate reality and succeed. Sin is the proclamation that attack is real and justified." Sin keeps us believing in illusion where truth is now obscured. Thus, it is the foundation of the ego and is holy to the ego. Now it gives rise to the world. The purpose of our senses, which Jesus calls the "mechanisms of illusion," (W.PII.Q3.3.1) shows us a world external to our minds. As long as we look at reality as outside of our own minds, we are kept blind and ignorant. "To sense is not to know." (W.PII.Q4.1.8)
The senses are the purview of the ego, and the ego wants us to believe that what is brought to us through the senses is the truth. Yet what is revealed to us by our senses obscures the truth. The truth is in our minds, but as a result of our decision to believe the ego's story that we have sinned and have thus done something terribly wrong, we left our minds and now believe our identity is in the body and the world. Senses were made by the ego as "proof" that the illusion is true, real, and solid, but when we take in information about the world through our senses and process it with our brains, we can't know anything. Whatever we see outside of us, which is everything we perceive in the world, is nothing but a witness to sin and guilt in the mind. It is an outside picture of our inward condition, where our own guilt is projected onto the world. "And to this world must you adjust as long as you believe this picture is outside, and has you at its mercy." (T.20.III.5.7) (ACIM OE T.20.IV.20)
This is what we have done. We have done our best to make an adjustment to the world. It is like doing our best to adjust to an insane asylum. In my early years, I was always the "good girl" until rebellion set in later in life. Nevertheless, I always tried to adjust to the world and follow the rules with some periods of experimentation along the way. It was a relief for me to be told this world is not my home because it never felt like my home. In order to relieve our guilt, we have specific targets in the world on which we can project judgment and blame for our condition. It becomes our story of victimhood. It is how we defend ourselves from looking at the guilt buried in our own minds, but it is all imagined---made up by the ego. We bought into the ego's story that we have sinned against God by stealing our identity from Him, and now the ego tells us this "sin" calls for punishment. As long as we hold the belief that we have done something terribly wrong and therefore we are bad, we will be out of touch with the truth of our reality as the sinless Son of God, and we will anticipate punishment in the form of many problems we encounter in the world.
What we are seeing reflects our insane thoughts held in the mind and projected onto the world. Yet the Atonement Principle is our assurance that we have not sinned. We are still at home in God, simply dreaming of exile. We live in fear in the belief that we will have to face punishment coming to us for what we think we have done. No, this is not conscious, but it is apparent when we blame God for our condition. It is all a dream and has no reality. Until we come to this recognition, we will continue to wander in the world, lost and alone, distracting ourselves with the trinkets of this world and finding no lasting happiness. The core of the ego thought system is that we are now lost to God and are completely on our own. This is where all of our anxiety, our fear, and our vague sense that we have done something wrong and are doomed comes from. It is not a good feeling, but we do our best to compensate for it, as well as distract from it.
We have not turned ourselves into something evil and sinful. All we have done is forgotten who we are. Forgetting who we are has not changed the truth about the Self. Validating our false reality through our senses does not make it true, even if our senses do a good job in preserving the falsity. We defend against the truth by arrogantly insisting that we are right and that God is wrong when He assures us that we have never changed ourselves and have never sinned. As long as we still see sin in others and call for retribution, we maintain that we are right and that the blame belongs to people and events in the world. Even if we blame ourselves, there are always those we see as responsible for our condition, and thus we keep trying to buy our own innocence at the expense of "others." We hope God is watching and will punish them, rather than us, but it is a false innocence. Our true innocence is already established, and no sin that we can conceive of can change that fact.
Sin seems to have corrupted our innocence, although that could never happen. "You who have played that you are lost to hope, abandoned by your Father, left alone in terror in a fearful world made mad by sin and guilt; be happy now. That game is over. Now a quiet time has come, in which we put away the toys of guilt, and lock our quaint and childish thoughts of sin forever from the pure and holy minds of Heaven's children and the Son of God." (W.153.13.1-3)
We are being called to choose again each time we are tempted to see another as guilty. When we recognize that it is just the projection of our own guilt onto our brothers, and we see how this maintains our guilt and suffering, then we will become motivated to bring our guilt to the Holy Spirit to be healed at its source. The ego needs specific targets for its attacks. "Thus were specifics made." (W.161.3.1) Now, these specific situations and our special relationships can be used as an opportunity for healing, rather than as a focus for our guilt.
Illusions go when we start to recognize them for what they are. "The body is the instrument the mind made in its efforts to deceive itself. Its purpose is to strive." (W.PII.Q4.2.1) So what we do is use our body to strive for what we think we want. We keep the body in a state of constantly seeking the things of this world that we think will make us happy. There are many things we strive for. It can be a very long list and includes fame, fortune, status, position, power, entertainment, vacations, careers, money, material things, special relationships, sex, food, fitness, and on and on. There are also the things we worry about, plan for, expect, defend against, set goals, and decide for as outcomes we want. All of this striving keeps us from peace. While we say we want peace, the ego supports our seeking, but it ensures us that we will never find what we are looking for. This is because in the end, all we are looking for is peace and happiness in these things. We have become misguided by looking for peace and happiness where it can never be found.
"Yet can the goal of striving change. And now the body serves a different aim for striving. What it seeks for now is chosen by the aim the mind has taken as replacement for the goal of self-deception. Truth can be its aim as well as lies. The senses then will seek instead for witnesses to what is true."
(W.PII.Q4.2.3-7) It is all about purpose, so everything made to support the ego can now be used by the Holy Spirit for our release from this cycle of sin, guilt, and fear. We have a choice as to whether we send out messengers to look for sin and guilt, or messengers to seek for witnesses to the truth. "For what the messengers of love are sent to do they do, returning the glad tidings that it was done to you and your brother who stand together before the altar from which they were sent forth." (T.19.I.14.6) (ACIM OE T.I9.II.14)
Despite the many needs we think we have, our only real need is for the truth. We may be so sufficiently invested in the world that there still are desires we have and plans we make to fulfill these desires. It is not helpful to feel guilty for pursuing what we still think we want in the world. To feel guilty is just another ego trap to keep us in its bondage. Simply notice what you are striving for in the world, and be willing to ask the deeper question of purpose. What is it for? Do I really believe that when I get everything I think I want, I will be truly and deeply happy? Who is this "I" that thinks it knows where happiness lies? Who keeps putting the peace available in this moment into some future time? Our happiness waits for our readiness to accept it. It is here right now. It is simply being blocked by our beliefs, concepts, fears, and guilt.
A friend told me this story of her young son who opened up the refrigerator and said: "Mommy, I want something." After she went through a lot of options with him, like: "Is it milk you want?" or "How about some cheese?" or "Some fruit maybe?" The answer was "no" to each one until the exasperated Mom said, "Well, what is it that you want?" And he answered, "I don't know." Mom was supposed to figure it out. Isn't this the way we often are, ourselves, where there is this vague feeling of wanting something, but we don't know what it is? This kind of craving alerts us to the emptiness that only truth can fill. It is our desire for God. Whenever we go looking for food, cigarettes, or new clothes, we are really looking for God. It is the only desire we have that can truly be fulfilled. "My only need I did not recognize." (W.251.1.4)
No, we don't recognize it. We fill our lives with all the stuff we think will make us happy, only to want more and more until we give up and admit that we don't know where to find happiness. This is the first step in asking the One Who does know and the beginning of our search for truth. We have a vague recognition within that has been denied. What we really want is truth, to know again what we are, and to have the peace that comes from this knowing. When we give up wanting, we will see that we have everything.
I spent my working life trying to get recognition from my bosses. I wanted them to affirm how well I was doing. While I did get lots of validation for good work, in my mind it was never enough. When I started on this path and experienced more healing, the recognition that I had previously craved was no longer important to me. It just simply fell away. I felt a new-found freedom from the bondage of looking outside of myself for affirmation. What was interesting was that after my need for it fell away, I started to get all kinds of recognition. I received a commemorative medal from the Federal Government. I was honored with Metis status. I received recognition for my work in introducing a provincial holiday for the Premier of the Province, and most significant, I was the first woman in the Province to receive a medal for outstanding Government service from the Lieutenant Governor. While I speak of it now with some measure of pride, I had no longer sought for it, nor did it seem to have any real significance. I simply no longer needed what had once seemed so important to me. As Jesus says in our Lesson today, "All that I sought before I needed not, and did not even want."(W.251.1.3)
In finding truth, "all needs are satisfied, all cravings end, all hopes are finally fulfilled and dreams are gone." (W.251.1.6) Thus, we connect with the peace and joy, which has always been there. We have been looking for it in all the wrong places. We have been denying the very thing we think we want. The ego is deluded and keeps us focused on what we can never find when we look outside of ourselves. Its premise is, "Seek but do not find" and isn't this what we have been doing for a big part of our lives?
This Course is not about demanding that we make sacrifices by giving up things that we are still attached to. When our minds are ready, these things simply fall away. There is no sacrifice, nor loss. We no longer pursue these things because we see that we are giving up nothing of value. We are not asked to sacrifice, nor should we feel guilty about enjoying whatever we consider as pleasures in this world. It is only about purpose. When our minds are ready to let these things go, they will simply drop away. Jesus says that we should ask in everything, "What for?" (T.4.V.6) (ACIM OE T.4.VI.77) Is it for the ego or for the Holy Spirit? Anything we do in the world can be used for the purpose of awakening. When we go to the movies, we can use the experience to watch our reactions. When we go out shopping, we can still maintain vigilance, using every encounter for healing purposes. It is not about what we are doing, but the mindset with which we are doing it.
It is helpful to remember that everything we are striving for will ultimately fail us. "It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean?" (Manual for Teachers.13.2.1-2) The things we want to accomplish and the things we think will make us feel good will not give us the peace of God. Today, when you sense you are getting caught up in something trivial, take a moment to still your mind and remind yourself that you are in need of nothing but the truth.
We will continue daily with the reading of the Section, "What is Sin?", (W.PII.Q4) so I will say a little more about this question in the commentary on Lesson 252.
Love and blessings, Sarah
Chapter Twenty Three
CHAPTER 23 III 32-40
The War Against Yourself
Voice and Music by Martin Weber, CIMS SonShip Radio
III. The Laws of Chaos
32 No one
wants madness, nor does anyone cling to his madness if he sees that this is what it
is. What protects madness is the belief that it is
true. It is the function of insanity to take the
place of truth. It must be seen as truth to be believed. And if it is the truth, then must its opposite, which was the truth before, be madness now. Such a reversal, completely turned around, with madness sanity, illusions true, attack a kindness, hatred love and murder benediction, is the goal the laws of chaos serve. These are the means by which the laws of God appear to be reversed. Here do the laws of sin appear to hold love captive and let sin go free.
33 These do not
seem to be the goals of chaos, for by the great reversal, they appear to be the laws of
order. How could it not be so? Chaos is lawlessness and
has no laws. To be believed, its seeming laws must be perceived as real. Their goal of madness must be seen as sanity. And fear, with ashen lips and sightless eyes, blinded and terrible to look upon, is lifted to the throne of love, its dying conqueror, its substitute, the savior from salvation. How lovely do the laws of fear make death appear! Give thanks unto the hero on love's throne, who saved the Son of God for fear and death!
34 And yet, how can it be that laws like these can be believed? There is a strange device that makes it possible. Nor is it unfamiliar; we have seen how it appears to function many times before. In truth it does
not function, yet in dreams, where only shadows play the major roles, it seems most powerful. No law of chaos could compel belief but for the emphasis on
form and disregard of
content. No one who thinks that one of them is true
sees what it says. Some forms it takes seem to have meaning, and that is all.
35 How can some forms of murder
not mean death? Can an attack in
any form be love? What
form of condemnation is a blessing? Who makes his savior powerless and
finds salvation? Let not the form of the attack on him deceive you. You
cannot seek to harm him and be saved. Who can find safety from attack by turning on himself? How can it matter
what the form this madness takes? It is a judgment that defeats itself, condemning what it says it wants to save. Be not deceived when madness takes a form you think is lovely. What is intent on your destruction is
not your friend.
36 You would maintain and think it true that you do not believe these senseless laws nor act upon them. And when you look at what they
say, they cannot
be believed. Brothers, you
do believe them. For how else could you perceive the form they take with content such as this? Can
any form of this be tenable? Yet you believe them
for the form they take and do not
recognize the content. It never changes. Can you paint rosy lips upon a skeleton, dress it in loveliness, pet it and pamper it, and make it
live? And can you be content with an
illusion that you are living?
is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven, life is illusion. At best, it seems like life; at worst, like death. Yet both are judgments on what is not life, equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere. Outside of Heaven, only the conflict of illusions stands; senseless, impossible, and beyond all reason, and yet perceived as an eternal barrier to Heaven. Illusions
are but forms. Their content is
38 The laws of chaos govern all illusions. Their forms conflict, making it seem quite possible to value some above the others. Yet each one rests as surely on the belief the laws of chaos are the laws of order as do the others. Each one upholds these laws completely, offering a certain witness that these laws are true. The seeming gentler forms of the attack are no less certain in their witnessing or their results. Certain it is illusions will bring fear because of the beliefs that they imply, not for their form. And lack of faith in love in
any form attests to chaos as reality.
39 From the belief in sin, the faith in chaos
must follow. It is because it follows that it seems to be a logical conclusion-a valid step in ordered thought. The steps to chaos
do follow neatly from their starting point. Each is a different form in the progression of truth's reversal, leading still deeper into terror and away from truth. Think not one step is smaller than another nor that return from one is easier. The whole descent from Heaven lies in each one. And where your thinking starts, there must it end.
40 Brothers, take not one step in the descent to hell. For having taken one, you will not recognize the rest for what they are. And they
will follow. Attack in any form has placed your foot upon the twisted stairway that leads from Heaven. Yet any instant it is possible to have all this undone. How can you know whether you chose the stairs to Heaven or the way to hell? Quite easily. How do you feel? Is peace in your awareness? Are you certain which way you go? And are you sure the goal of Heaven
can be reached? If not, you walk alone. Ask, then, your Friend to join with you and
give you certainty of where you go.
CHAPTER 23 IV 41-46
Voice and Music by Martin Weber, CIMS SonShip Radio
IV. Salvation Without Compromise
41 Is it not true you do not recognize some of the forms attack can take? If it is true attack in any form will hurt you and will do so just as much as in another form which you
do recognize, then it must follow that you do not always recognize the source of pain. Attack in
any form is equally destructive. Its purpose does not change. Its sole intent is murder, and what form of murder serves to cover the massive guilt and frantic fear of punishment the murderer must feel? He may deny he is a murderer and justify his savagery with smiles as he attacks. Yet he will suffer and will look on his intent in nightmares where the smiles are gone and where the purpose rises to meet his horrified awareness and pursue him still. For no one thinks of murder and escapes the guilt the
thought entails. If the intent is death, what matter the form it takes?
42 Is death in any form, however lovely and charitable it may seem to be, a blessing and a sign the Voice for God speaks through you to your brother? The wrapping does not make the gift you give. An empty box, however beautiful and gently given, still contains nothing. And neither the receiver nor the giver is long deceived. Withhold forgiveness from your brother, and you attack him. You give him nothing and receive of him but what you gave.
43 Salvation is no compromise of any kind. To compromise is to accept but part of what you want---to take a little and give up the rest. Salvation gives up nothing. It is complete for everyone. Let the idea of compromise but enter, and the awareness of salvation's purpose is lost because it is not recognized. It is denied where compromise has been accepted, for compromise is the belief salvation is impossible. It would maintain you can attack a little, love a little, and know the
difference. Thus it would teach a little of the same can still be different, and yet the same remain intact as one. Does this make sense? Can it
44 This course is easy just because it makes no compromise. Yet it seems difficult to those who still believe that compromise is possible. They do not see that, if it is, salvation is
attack. Yet it is certain the belief that salvation is impossible cannot uphold a quiet, calm assurance it has come. Forgiveness cannot be withheld a little. Nor is it possible to attack for this and love for that and understand forgiveness. Would you not
want to recognize assault upon your peace in any form, if only thus does it become impossible that
you lose sight of it? It can be kept shining before your vision, forever clear and never out of sight if you defend it not.
45 Those who believe that peace can
be defended and that attack is justified on its behalf cannot perceive it lies within them. How could they know? Could they accept forgiveness side by side with the belief that murder takes some forms by which their peace is saved? Would they be willing to accept the fact their savage purpose is directed against themselves? No one unites with enemies nor is at one with them in purpose. And no one compromises with an enemy but hates him still for what he kept from him.
46 Mistake not truce for peace, nor compromise for the escape from conflict. To be released from conflict means that it is
over. The door is open; you have
left the battleground. You have not lingered there in cowering hope because the guns are stilled an instant and the fear that haunts the place of death is not apparent that it will not return. There
is no safety in a battleground. You can look down on it in safety from above and not be touched. But from within it, you can find
no safety. Not one tree left standing still will shelter you. Not one illusion of protection stands against the faith in murder. Here stands the body, torn between the natural desire to communicate and the unnatural intent to murder and to die. Think you the
form that murder takes can offer safety? Can guilt be
absent from a battlefield? [Do not remain in conflict, for there
is no war without attack.]
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