Lesson 255
Love Extends Forever
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3 Love is extension. To withhold the smallest gift is not to know love's purpose. Love offers everything forever. Hold back but one belief, one offering, and love is gone because you asked a substitute to take its place. And now must war, the substitute for peace, come with the one alternative that you can choose for love. Your choosing it has given it all the reality it seems to have. 
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CHAPTER 24 I-II, 1-11
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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 255
This day I choose to spend in perfect peace.
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   It does not seem to me that I can choose
   to have but peace today. And yet my God 
   assures me that His Son is like Himself.
   Let me this day have faith in Him Who says
   I am God's Son. And let the peace I choose
   be mine today bear witness to the truth
   of what He says. God's Son can have no cares,
   and must remain forever in the peace
   of Heaven. In his Name I give today
   to finding what my Father wills for me,
   accepting it as mine, and giving it
   to all my Father's Sons, along with me.
    And so, my Father, would I pass this day
    with You. Your Son has not forgotten You.
    The peace You gave him still is in his mind,
    and it is there I choose to spend today.
     ~ Original Handscript of ACIM   
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
This day I choose to spend in perfect peace.

Sarah's Commentary:  
This is a day we commit to spending in perfect peace. How can we choose peace in the midst of what appears to be disruption in our day, which puts our minds into turmoil? Precisely at times like these, I remind myself that everything that seems to happen to me I have chosen at some level. It is what I want. I am reminded, "I rule my mind, which I alone must rule." (W.236) I remind myself that whatever seems to be happening is what I have asked for. I am not a victim of the world I see. Everything can be seen as helpful to my learning when given to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation. If someone seems to be attacking me today, it can be a perfect opportunity for me to look at my own anger and recognize how it is interfering with the peace God assures me is mine because I am like Him.
We read in Chapter 21, "Responsibility for Sight," that we are responsible for what we see, the feelings we experience, the goal we would achieve, "And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked." (T.21.II.2.5) (ACIM OE T.21.III.15) In other words, our minds are the cause and the world and everything we experience is just the effect, not the other way around. Salvation is available to us through our decision to choose how we will look at the events showing up in our lives. It is a question of whether we will turn to the ego for its interpretation or look to the Holy Spirit for His help in how to see every situation in our lives. Everything that happens is a choice at some level. The script for our lives was determined by the mind before we showed up here. We are reminded that there are no accidents and nothing happens by chance.
We had a lovely encounter yesterday. While walking down the street in Vancouver, we ran into a friend from Indiana. We had no idea he was visiting here. We turned a corner and there he was. All of our encounters are so beautifully orchestrated by Holy Spirit. We were meant to meet and enjoy an amazing connection with this lovely being. We were visiting from Edmonton and he was visiting all the way from Indiana and yet, on a street corner in Vancouver, we collided into each other! And most amazing, we were just talking about him prior to seeing him. Our minds are joined. Our thoughts are not private!
When we make a decision to use every situation as another opportunity to release grievances and choose healing, we open up more and more to the peace within us. When we fully accept that we want peace above all else, we will use everything in the world that comes our way as an opportunity for healing. We can now choose to turn over the way we typically think about what is happening "out there" and ask for help to see it differently. It is at this time that we are highly motivated to get in touch with the peace within us that we continually ask for help to see everyone through the eyes of Christ.
Just because I believe what I am seeing in the world is true doesn't make it real. What is true and real is that we are all innocent, no matter what we may believe to the contrary. What is true and what we can depend on is that the Holy Spirit shows us the doorway out of every situation. Everything we experience in the world is an opportunity to change our perception through forgiveness and to experience the miracle. What is true and real is that peace does not come from external situations, but is already in our minds. If I am not experiencing peace, I am actively choosing against it.
I recently watched a movie called "The Words." The movie illustrated the idea that there are consequences for all of our decisions. The character in the movie acted without integrity, stealing a manuscript written by someone else and pretending it was his own. The manuscript he had stolen became a best seller. When he was confronted by the real author, the guilt and remorse he felt were overwhelming. He wanted to fix the problem and correct the situation, but it was impossible because the implications for the publishers were too dire. He had to live with what he had done. Rather than recognizing his innocence, which is something innate in us, he chose to live with the guilt and, as a result, he became a bitter and angry man. He crucified himself. Yet redemption was always available to him, as it is for all of us. The ego approves of us crucifying ourselves for what we have done. It considers this a holy thing to do. It tells us we must atone for our "sins" and this will take time. This is not true because we can choose peace now. There is no need for atonement. To accept Atonement for ourselves, as described in the Course, is to accept our innocence now. Innocence is simply waiting for our acceptance. We block it when we believe our guilt is too big to accept the peace within us now.
I am God's Son, with all the attributes of God. Peace is an attribute of God, and my Identity rests in Him. Only my own thoughts and beliefs about my reality, as separate from God, block peace from my awareness. As I let go of my grievances, my expectations, my plans, my guilt, my fears, and my belief that something should be different than it is, I go to that place in my mind where peace has never left because it is already in my mind. It is not something I have to go looking for. I only have to be willing to bring to light everything standing in the way of the quiet place within.
When things seem to be going wrong, the ego quickly looks for who is guilty and wants to blame others. Yes, it does seem as though someone has done something wrong because there are many mistakes made by our brothers daily. It is not what others are doing, but our interpretation of their behaviors that is what disrupts our peace. We are tempted to listen to the ego's judgmental interpretation of the situation, rather than see it as a call for love. We seem to be the victim of the situation. "Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you." (T.21.II.2.6) (ACIM OE T.21. III.16) "Listen to what the ego says, and see what it directs you see and it is sure that you will see yourself as tiny, vulnerable and afraid. You will experience depression, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of impermanence and unreality. You will believe that you are helpless prey to forces far beyond your own control and far more powerful than you. And you will think the world you made directs your destiny." (T.21.V.2.3-6) (ACIM OE T.21.VI.50)
What makes forgiveness seem hard for us? First and foremost, it is our unwillingness to take responsibility for our anger, our upsets, our frustrations, and our lack of peace. We are eager to justify those feelings. We make up stories to support what we are feeling and who is to blame.
We look for allies who will support our position. Secondly, we hold the belief that we can handle our feelings of distress by fixing things we don't like, which is solving the problem in form "out there." We try to fix problems in the world where they can never be fixed. Left to our own devices, we will always lack certainty about what to do. We fear that if we don't do it ourselves, it may be handled in a way we won't like, in which we won't have the control we crave. The ego is all about control. Yet the miracle that comes from turning all of these thoughts and fears over to the Holy Spirit blesses everyone. Despite the fact that I have experienced this time and time again, I still find myself listening to the ego much of the time even though I know it does not know anything. Every time I come to this juncture, I wonder---can I really just put all my faith and trust in God once again to lead the way?
There is such sweet release in turning to Him and just letting go. It is just a matter of a decision to do so. The decision is within my power to make and only mine. I can simply look at my lack of peace in any situation and ask for help over and over until turning to the Holy Spirit in everything becomes a habitual response. I just need to take this step in faith---the faith that I can just accept what is already mine---and "I could see peace instead of this." (W.34)
We have misplaced our faith in the illusion, making it real in our minds. We have made ourselves small and helpless victims of the world, forgetting the power we have. Truly, nothing in the world can stand in the way of our faith. The power of our faith is everything. Jesus asks us, "Why is it strange to you that faith can move mountains?"(T.21.III.3) (ACIM OE T.21.IV.31) Our misdirected faith has done something even more awesome than being able to move mountains. It has actually bound the omnipotent Son of God in chains. That is what we have done to limit the unlimited power of the Son of God. We have placed self-imposed chains on our own omnipotence, but now we can make another choice.
Yesterday, we were once again reminded of the 9/11 crisis and many other situations in the world where wars ensue, storms and earthquakes take towns, cities down like little matchstick boxes, and famine strikes. It reminds us of the vulnerability of our human condition, which indeed would be vulnerable if our reality were a body and if the powerful forces of nature and violence were real. Our fears come from the belief that we really are these vulnerable creatures, inhabiting a hostile world of other vulnerable creatures, trying to survive against great odds, and finally giving it all over to death. Jesus recognizes our perspective when he says, "It does not seem to me that I can choose to have but peace today." (W.255.1.1) He knows we always see the world and relationships impinging on us. Events in this world, as well as those in our lives, clearly do seem to make peace difficult for us.
Yet Jesus says that nothing can take away the peace our Father has already given us in our creation---not earthquakes, not storms, not attacks, and not assaults of any kind. Our reality is not that of bodies, and the world is nothing more than an illusion, which will not last. Our thoughts of lack, our feelings of unworthiness, our guilt and fear, the appearance of the world attacking us, even our bodies themselves---all of them---are illusions, mirages, and symbols representing nothing. And sin is our belief in this separated state. It is our belief that we are alone in this world, struggling for our survival and bits of happiness before death claims us.
We say we want peace, but we want to be right about the way we see ourselves and the world. We say we want peace, but we actually justify reasons for holding onto grievances. We stubbornly persist in listening to our own counsel. While the thoughts offered to us by Jesus are new and, yes, even threatening to the way we see things now, the choice we make in practicing them is our way out of this illusion and our way back to our reality as the eternal, holy Self. It is a step-by-step process and it is ultimately practical. We are not being hurled into Heaven. We go at our own pace, as quickly or slowly as our fear will allow.
In the Lessons of the Holy Spirit, Jesus teaches, "To have peace, teach peace to learn it." (T.6.V.B) (ACIM OE T.6.V.b) Today is a day to learn peace by sharing it with others through forgiveness. If we choose not to release our brothers from our projections, we are not releasing ourselves to experience the peace within us. Let us choose sanity today!

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

Specialness and Separation   
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CHAPTER 24 I-II, 1-11
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I. Introduction  
1 Forget not that the motivation for this course is the attainment and the keeping of the state of peace. Given this state the mind is quiet, and the condition in which God is remembered is attained. It is not necessary to tell Him what to do. He will not fail. Where He can enter, there He is already. And can it be He cannot enter where He wills to be? Peace will be yours because it is His Will. Can you believe a shadow can hold back the Will that holds the universe secure? God does not wait upon illusions to let Him be Himself. No more His Son. They are. And what illusion that idly seems to drift between them has the power to defeat what is Their Will?
2 To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning. No belief is neutral. Every one has the power to dictate each decision you make. For a decision is a conclusion based on everything that you believe. It is the outcome of belief and follows it as surely as does suffering follow guilt and freedom sinlessness. There is no substitute for peace. What God creates has no alternative. The truth arises from what He knows. And your decisions come from your beliefs as certainly as all creation rose in His Mind because of what He knows.

II. Specialness as a Substitute for Love  
3 Love is extension. To withhold the smallest gift is not to know love's purpose. Love offers everything forever. Hold back but one belief, one offering, and love is gone because you asked a substitute to take its place. And now must war, the substitute for peace, come with the one alternative that you can choose for love. Your choosing it has given it all the reality it seems to have.
4 Beliefs will never openly attack each other because conflicting outcomes are impossible. But an unrecognized belief is a decision to war in secret, where the results of conflict are kept unknown and never brought to reason to be considered sensible or not. And many senseless outcomes have been reached, and meaningless decisions have been made and kept hidden to become beliefs now given power to direct all subsequent decisions. Mistake you not the power of these hidden warriors to disrupt your peace. For it is at their mercy while you decide to leave it there. The secret enemies of peace, your least decision to choose attack instead of love, unrecognized and swift to challenge you to combat and to violence far more inclusive than you think, are there by your election. Do not deny their presence nor their terrible results. All that can be denied is their reality but not their outcome.
5 All that is ever cherished as a hidden belief, to be defended though unrecognized, is faith in specialness. This takes many forms but always clashes with the reality of God's creation and with the grandeur which He gave His Son. What else could justify attack? For who could hate someone whose Self is his and whom He knows? Only the special could have enemies, for they are different and not the same. And difference of any kind imposes orders of reality and a need to judge that cannot be escaped.
6 What God created cannot be attacked, for there is nothing in the universe unlike itself. But what is different calls for judgment, and this must come from someone "better," someone incapable of being like what he condemns, "above" it, sinless by comparison with it. And thus does specialness become a means and end at once. For specialness not only sets apart but serves as grounds from which attack on those who seem "beneath" the special one is "natural" and "just." The special ones feel weak and frail because of differences, for what would make them special is their enemy. Yet they protect its enmity and call it "friend." On its behalf they fight against the universe, for nothing in the world they value more.
7 Specialness is the great dictator of the wrong decisions. Here is the grand illusion of what you are and what your brother is. And here is what must make the body dear and worth preserving. Specialness must be defended. Illusions can attack it, and they do. For what your brother must become to keep your specialness is an illusion. He who is "worse" than you must be attacked so that your specialness can live on his defeat. For specialness is triumph, and its victory is his defeat and shame. How can he live with all your sins upon him? And who must be his conqueror but you?
8 Would it be possible for you to hate your brother if you were like him? Could you attack him if you realized you journey with him to a goal that is the same? Would you not help him reach it in every way you could if his attainment of it were perceived as yours? You are his enemy in specialness; his friend in a shared purpose. Specialness can never share, for it depends on goals that you alone can reach. And he must never reach them, or your goal is jeopardized. Can love have meaning where the goal is triumph? And what decision can be made for this that will not hurt you? Your brother is your friend because his Father created him like you. There is no difference. You have been given to each other that love might be extended, not cut off from one another. What you keep is lost to you. God gave you both Himself, and to remember this is now the only purpose that you share. And so it is the only one you have.
9 Could you attack each other if you chose to see no specialness of any kind between you? Look fairly at whatever makes you give each other only partial welcome or would let you think that you are better off apart. Is it not always your belief your specialness is limited by your relationship? And is not this the "enemy" that makes you both illusions to each other?
10 The fear of God and of each other comes from each unrecognized belief in specialness. For each demands the other bow to it against his will. And God Himself must honor it or suffer vengeance. Every twinge of malice or stab of hate or wish to separate arises here. For here the purpose which you share becomes obscured from both of you. You would oppose this course because it teaches you you are alike. You have no purpose that is not the same and none your Father does not share with you. For your relationship has been made clean of special goals. And would you now defeat the goal of holiness that Heaven gave it? What perspective can the special have that does not change with every seeming blow, each slight, or fancied judgment on itself?
11 Those who are special must defend illusions against the truth. For what is specialness but an attack upon the Will of God? You love your brother not while it is this you would defend against him. This is what he attacks and you protect. Here is the ground of battle which you wage against him. Here must he be your enemy and not your friend. Never can there be peace among the different. He is your friend because you are the same.
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  To GIVE and to RECEIVE are One in Truth.  Lesson 108

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