Lesson 252
No Life Apart From Heaven
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37 There 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 never true.  
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What is Sin
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   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?
         ~ Original Hand Script  
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SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 252
The Son of God is my Identity.
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   My Self is holy beyond all the thoughts
   of holiness of which I now conceive.
   Its shimmering and perfect purity
   is far more brilliant than is any light
   that I have ever looked upon. Its love
   is limitless, with an intensity
   which holds all things within it in the calm
   of quiet certainty. Its strength comes not
   from burning impulses which move this world,
   but from the boundless Love of God Himself.
   How far beyond this world my Self must be,
   and yet how near to me and close to God.
    Father, You know my true Identity.
    Reveal It now to me who am Your Son,
    that I may waken to the truth in You,
    and know that Heaven is restored to me.
     ~ Original Handscript of ACIM  
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
The Son of God is my Identity.

Sarah's Commentary:  
Today, I will add a couple more comments on our reading in the Section, "What is Sin?" (W.PII.Q4) Jesus tells us that while we take our lives in this world seriously and all the events surrounding them, it is nevertheless all a childish game. We are playing at being "a body, prey to evil and to guilt, with but a little life that ends in death." (W.PII.Q4.4.3) He calls this a silly game played by the Son of God, Who has forgotten what he is and now identifies himself as a body. Yet what we call life on this earth is nothing but a madman's dreams. In those dreams, we are indeed frightened. When we think we are a figure in the dream, being acted on by forces outside of our control, we do experience fear. When we understand that we are the ones dreaming this dream, then it is within our power to wake up. All the time we have taken our lives and our belief in death so very seriously, we have nevertheless not had the power to change what we are as eternal beings. Currently, we find ourselves in a world of perception where we are no longer certain about anything.
"But all the while his Father shines on him, and loves him with an everlasting Love which his pretenses cannot change at all." (W.PII.Q4.4.4) We simply cannot change our reality no matter how much we believe that we have done so. God has assured us that we are still His Son, perfect in every way. It is what the Atonement Principle is all about. We can only become unaware of the love buried in our minds and pretend we are unworthy of it. We have played the game of sin for so long that we have forgotten that it is a game. Jesus says that we can laugh at such foolishness. The game of sin makes us feel like we cannot go home again, as reflected in the story of the Prodigal Son. He was afraid to return to his home, fearing his father's punishment for what he had done. Yet his father received him with great love and gave him an open-hearted welcome home.
Our senses keep us focused externally on the people and events of this world, which we often take seriously, but our eyes were meant to deceive. "Reason would tell you that the world you see through eyes that are not yours must make no sense to you. To whom would seeing such as this send back its messages? Surely not you, whose sight is wholly independent of the eyes that look upon the world." (T.22.I.2.3-5) (ACIM OE T.22.II.6) This may seem quite startling to be told that we don't need eyes to see. It makes me think about the reports of out-of-body experiences where one is above the body and observing it. Who and what does the observing? The eyeballs are still in the body, yet seeing happens. Clearly, this kind of seeing does not require the body's eyes, and the seeing Jesus talks about is seeing with the mind of Christ, which is to see with vision.
"The brain interprets to the body, of which it is a part. But what it says you cannot understand. Yet you have listened to it. And long and hard you tried to understand its messages." (T.22.I.2.9) (ACIM OE T.22.II.6) Yet we cannot understand any of it. We have come to believe that life is our experience as a body. We rely on what our senses tell us and what our brains interpret for us. Yet none of this is the truth. It keeps us from the awareness that we can ' t die! We can't figure out our lives. Oh yes, we put a lot of energy in trying to understand, but it is precisely the mind that thinks it knows that must be surrendered. If we think we know and understand anything, we won't be willing to listen to the messages that Jesus brings us. This journey does seem disorienting because what must be surrendered is the "I know mind." This leaves us in a state where the ground seems to be shifting. We can no longer hold onto anything that we thought we understood. Jesus acknowledges that the transition from our world of illusion to the real world can create considerable confusion. "In the transition there is a period of confusion, in which a sense of actual disorientation may occur." (T.16.VI.7.4) (ACIM OE T.16.VII.64) However, Jesus goes on to assure us, "The period of disorientation, which precedes the actual transition, is far shorter than the time it took to fix your mind so firmly on illusions." (T.16.VI.8.5) (ACIM OE T.16.VII.65) In other words, it took a lot longer, perhaps thousands of lifetimes, to enter the dream, but awakening can happen in a moment.
In the Lesson today, we read, "My Self is holy beyond all the thoughts of holiness of which I now conceive." (W.252.1.1) In other words, we can't even imagine our grandeur and our magnificence. Our brothers and sisters are equally magnificent beyond the masks they wear. We just aren't able to see the truth about anyone, including ourselves, because we take information in with our senses and therefore fail to see with our holy eyes, which would only see innocence. In Lesson 161, we are told that if we really could recognize the truth in anyone we have forgiven, we could "scarce refrain from kneeling at his feet." (W.161.9.3)
The words of this Lesson are extremely potent when we are receptive to them. Jesus describes who we are as shimmering, perfect purity and more brilliant than any light we have ever looked upon. "Its love is limitless, with an intensity that holds all things within it, in the calm of quiet certainty." (W252.1.3) It does seem this Self must be "far beyond this world" (W.252.1.5) and thus not readily available to us, yet the memory of who we are is very near to us because it is in our right minds. It is here that our reality is held as the Son of God. How much do we want this to be revealed to us? How strong is our desire to know the Self? How much do we want to awaken?
The burning impulses that come from our physical or emotional passions seem like strength to us because they seem to be forces that enable things to happen in the world. Yet they cannot even compare to the boundless Love of God, according to this Lesson. When we are extremely angry, very much in love, or feel strong passions and desires, we feel the power of these burning impulses. Yet they are nothing compared to the power of God's Love, which is quiet, boundless, certain, and calm. It is a different kind of power. Until we experience this power, words can only point to it.
"Father, You know my true Identity. Reveal It now to me who am Your Son, that I may waken to the truth in You, and know that Heaven is restored to me." (W.252.2.1-2) In fact, only by our own desire and readiness is the truth about ourselves revealed. We have powerful support on this journey, but we are the ones in charge of the process. The prayer simply affirms our desire to have our Identity be known to ourselves. It is revealed to us as we focus on mind-watching, taking responsibility for our thoughts, and undertaking our function of forgiveness, which lifts the veil that hides the face of Christ.
When I am anything less than loving to anyone, I can ask for His help to release my mistaken perceptions so I can know what I am as I was created. The Holy Spirit is not outside of my own mind, so His Help is always there in my mind. When I experience feelings of unworthiness, I can remind myself that these feelings are not the truth. When our experience is one that feels challenging to our peace of mind, we are reminded that when the ego weeps for what it has lost, the Spirit rejoices for what it has found. To indulge in self-pity is to stay in the story, declaring our victimhood. Every thought we have that contradicts the truth about ourselves must be observed and released if we are to know the Self. We must see the meaninglessness of these thoughts. We are worth the effort and the vigilance this takes. We have not changed who we are in truth. We are simply delusional, thinking that we are something we are not. As Jesus reminds us, "Yet nothing he can do can compare even in the slightest with the glorious surprise of remembering Who he is." (Manual for Teachers.25.1.5)
There are not two selves in conflict. We are the One Son of God and nothing else. It is not about having a higher Self and lower self because the self we identify with in this world is not real. We are with God and not at all where we locate ourselves. Our current state is delusional. It is the delusion that we are human beings living in a real world. Until we awaken from the dream, the truth will not be fully restored to our awareness. Our limited, meaningless thoughts keep us tied to this reality. Our belief in our needs, lacks, shortcomings, guilt, shame, fear, and death all keep us bound here. We have a terrible case of amnesia. Only as we are willing to bring all of our meaningless thoughts to the Truth will we know the Self we are. Thus, our dreams of guilt, hate, depression, frustration, and specialness are replaced by happy dreams, which culminate in the real world.
Today, we say this prayer with true desire and willingness to wake up to the truth of who we are. Notice how much Jesus wants our own happiness for us when he says, "How long, O Son of God, will you maintain this 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?" (W.PII.Q4.5.1-4) Why not today? Why not wake up to the happy world Jesus wants for us? What keeps us in this state of sleep, when all we need to do is forgive our brother, instead of holding Heaven back by holding onto our judgments and grievances? We keep the belief in sin real by blaming our brothers for our condition. "How long, O holy Son of God, how long?" (W.PII.Q4.5.8)

Love and blessings, Sarah 
A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Twenty Three

The War Against Yourself  
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CHAPTER 23 III 32-40
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III. The Laws of Chaos  [continued]  
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?
37 There 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 never true.
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.
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CHAPTER 23 IV 41-46 
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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 be understood?
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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