Lesson 256
Your Brother has the Key
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25 The key you threw away God gave your brother, whose holy hands would offer it to you when you were ready to accept His plan for your salvation in place of yours. How could this readiness be reached save through the sight of all your misery and the awareness that your plan has failed and will forever fail to bring you peace and joy of any kind? Through this despair you travel now, yet it is but illusion of despair. The death of specialness is not your death but your awaking into life eternal. You but emerge from an illusion of what you are to the acceptance of yourself as God created you.  
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CHAPTER 24 III, 12-25
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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 256
God is the only goal I have today.
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Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
   The way to God is through forgiveness here.
   There is no other way. If sin had not
   been cherished by the mind, what need would there
   have been to find a way to where you are?
   Who would still be uncertain? Who could be
   unsure of who he is? And who would yet
   remain asleep in heavy clouds of doubt
   about the holiness of him whom God
   created sinless? Here we can but dream.
   But we can dream we have forgiven him
   in whom all sin remains impossible,
   and it is this we choose to dream today.
   God is our goal; forgiveness is the means
   by which our minds return to Him at last.
   And so, our Father, we would come to You
   in Your appointed way. We have no goal
   except to hear Your Voice, and find the way
   Your sacred Word has pointed out to us.
     ~ Original Handscript of ACIM  
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
God is the only goal I have today.

Sarah's Commentary:  
While Jesus reminds us to make God our only goal today, which is a vertical perspective, he reminds us that we make the goal real for us through the healing of relationships here, which is a horizontal perspective. And just in case we may think the way to God is to retreat to a monastery to meditate and pray all day, the means given us in the Course are for healing through relationships. He says in this Lesson, "There is no other way." (W.256.1.2) Thus, we are urged to make this our way to Heaven through the healing of all our special relationships.
Jesus tells us that forgiveness is an illusion, but it is an illusion that ends all other illusions. In the context of the discussion on sin, it is an illusion because sin is not real and we have not sinned. We believe we have sinned because we have bought the ego's story. Sin only seems real to us because Jesus says it is "cherished by the mind." (W.256.1.3) In other words, we actually value sin and hold onto it in the mind, strange as that might sound to us. Yet we have the power to release our hold on it, and we will do so when we see the cost to us of holding onto it. When our belief in guilt and sin is released, we remember who we are and where we are. We are at home in God, where we have never left except in dreams. It is our fear of love that keeps us invested in sin and guilt.
The Course reminds us that sin is a false belief. It is based on our belief that we have messed up Creation and have done permanent damage in order to establish our individual identity. We believe God had to be killed in order for us to exist, and the ego tells us it was a horrendous crime on our part. Now we walk around feeling like we have done something terribly wrong, but we can't place our finger on what this feeling is all about. There is a sense of deep unworthiness that we try to compensate for by doing our best to be good.
We are reminded of our belief in sin whenever we blame and judge others for their indiscretions as a way to make them feel guilty. In comparison, we present our own face of innocence. Thus, we hope in the end that they are the ones to get punished by God, and we get off "scot-free." But while the ego tells us this is the way to be rid of our guilt, it does not let us see that this is precisely how we keep it. "For it is the ego's fundamental doctrine that what you do to others you have escaped. The ego wishes no one well. Yet its survival depends on your belief that you are exempt from its evil intentions. It counsels, therefore, that if you are host to it, it will enable you to direct its anger outward, thus protecting you." (T.15.VII.4.2-5) (ACIM OE T.15.VIII.68) The belief we hold is that the more anger we invest outside ourselves, the safer we will become. Attack and defense become the cycle of our lives.
What this does is bury us deeper and deeper into this insanity. But Jesus shows us the way out of this darkness by redirecting our senses to see innocence in our brothers instead of guilt. Now we can choose to send out messengers of love instead of messengers that bring back evidence of our brother's guilt. When we do see guilt in our brothers and condemn them for it, we are called instead to give our judgments over to the Holy Spirit to have them reinterpreted by Him. It requires consistent mind watching so we can see our judgments and realize that we are at a choice-point where we can choose to condemn or to forgive. Which one we choose determines our decision for Heaven or hell, peace or suffering.
Where we see our brother is where we will see ourselves. "The sword of judgment is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love." (T.31.VII.9.2) (ACIM OE T.31.VII.76) "Every time you feel a stab of anger, realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free." (W.192.9.4-5) Which one will we choose? How much longer will we choose to suffer? Salvation is in our minds, and the power of decision is our own.
We are reminded that sin is insanity. The mind actually seeks to replace the truth. Why would we ever want to do that? What would truth reveal to us that we are so afraid of? Ultimately, we are afraid to lose our specialness, our uniqueness, and our identity, and thus, we hold onto sin and guilt instead. Through forgiveness, we release the blocks in the mind until we come to the awareness that we have never separated from God. "God is our goal; forgiveness is the means by which our minds return to Him at last." (W.256.1.9) When we don't choose the means given us to heal our minds, we are not committed to our goal to be One with all beings and with God.
Forgiveness is the means by which we learn that we are not egos with separate identities. Through forgiveness, we learn that our reality is not contained in a body and there is no death. We fear to learn this since our sense of identity, individuality, specialness, and control all seem to be threatened, as we hang onto the self we think we are. The world seems very real to us because we are always looking through our senses, which bring back evidence that the world of form is, indeed, real and solid. Our eyes and ears give us the evidence of guilt in others. We see it everywhere. "Sin gave the body eyes, for what is there the sinless would behold?" (W.PII.Q4.1.4)
It is important to remain vigilant in looking at the interpretations we give everything that we perceive and to be willing to ask for help to see our brothers through the eyes of Christ. It is why it takes so much work and discipline. It seems much easier to simply go with the "evidence" offered by the ego because we like being right about our judgments of others. These judgments are based on the "evidence" gathered by our senses. Yet the ego directs those senses. Thus, the information gathered is based on the beliefs that we already hold in the mind, rather than on what is true. Therefore, we will always be wrong about how we are seeing our brothers when we use our own perceptions to guide us. It can be unsettling to acknowledge that we just don't know. It may feel like the ground is shifting under our feet, without any solid footing in this new territory that we are entering.
Jesus says, "The body is the instrument the mind made in its efforts to deceive itself. Its purpose is to strive." (W.PII.Q4.2.1-2) When we strive for things of this world, the implication is that they are real and have value. We have goals for which we strive because we still think there is something in the world that will make us happy, but we deceive ourselves. The more we see this, the more we are willing to give up these attempts at self-deception and instead use our striving for another purpose, which is to know the truth. Anything of the ego can be turned over to the Holy Spirit to be used for healing and awakening.
There is only one mind, but we have the illusion of many minds, all asleep and dreaming. Why did we set things up so miserably for ourselves? We have kept hidden from ourselves the secret goal we have, which is to be the victim of others in all of our relationships, so we never have to get in touch with the real cause of our misery. These are the secret vows we made. "Unstated and unheard in consciousness is every pledge to sickness. Yet it is a promise to another to be hurt by him, and to attack him in return." (T.28.VI.4.6-7) (ACIM OE T.28.VII.57)
We think the world, beginning with our parents and continuing with all of our other relationships, is the cause of our unhappiness. But the world and all of our relationships are only a clever diversion that we have made to keep the real source of our unhappiness hidden from ourselves. That source is our all-consuming desire for the separation to be real at any cost because we value the separate selves we think we are. The truth is that we can't separate from truth. We can only be unaware of what we are. And while we made a secret vow to maintain the gap with our brothers, we made another vow to our Father. In our creation, our Father said, "You are beloved of Me and I of you forever. Be you perfect as Myself, for you can never be apart from Me." (T.28.VI.6.4-5) (ACIM OE T.28.VII.59) What we don't remember is that we "replied, ' I will '. " (T.28.VI.6.6) (ACIM OE T.28.VII.59)
The world is the effect and not the cause of how we feel, no matter how much we may have convinced ourselves otherwise. We can change our thoughts about the world by looking within our own minds to uncover the blocks we have placed there to the awareness of love's presence. The world is just an outward picture of our inward condition. Thus, it serves a very important purpose as a classroom. The world reflects our unhealed perceptions and thus helps us to see what we need to let go of. This is not an easy process. Learning to forgive takes practice. It is challenging when what we see as the insanity of this world all seems so real. In fact, all we are seeing starts with the beliefs we hold in our own minds. Everything we see and experience in the world and all of our relationships provide us with a perfect curriculum for healing. It does not matter if it comes in a movie, nature, circumstances in our lives, or people who seemingly attack us---it is all for our healing, whatever form it takes. Whatever unloving thoughts are brought up, in whatever form they appear---uneasiness, depression, anger, fear, worry, attack, insecurity, and so on---we need to become aware of them and recognize that it is not the truth of what we are.
We are given many opportunities to forgive. The things of this world have no other purpose and no other value except this. Can I simply learn to be grateful for the curriculum of this world and allow it to be the beautiful classroom it is for my awakening? There is no other purpose for our lives. When we accept this purpose, the world becomes meaningful. "And so, our Father, would we come to You in Your appointed way." (W.256.2.1) His appointed way is through forgiveness. In fact, this is the only way to God. No matter which path we choose to take to God, there is only one theme it must encompass. "Its central theme is always, 'God's Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation'." (Manual for Teachers.1.3.5) When sin is cherished, we block God out. The only way to let go of sin is to overlook it in our brother. When we forgive our brother, we can let go of our own guilt and know that we are innocent. Let us today commit to our Lesson, "God is the only goal I have today." (W.256)
Love and blessings, Sarah 
A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Twenty Four

Specialness and Separation
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CHAPTER 24 III, 12-25
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III. The Treachery of Specialness 

12 Comparison must be an ego device, for love makes none. Specialness always makes comparisons. It is established by a lack seen in another and maintained by searching for and keeping clear in sight all lacks it can perceive. This does it seek, and this it looks upon. And always whom it thus diminishes would be your savior had you not chosen to make of him a tiny measure of your specialness instead. Against the littleness you see in him, you stand as tall and stately, clean and honest, pure and unsullied by comparison with what you see. Nor do you understand it is yourself that you diminish thus.
13 Pursuit of specialness is always at the cost of peace. Who can attack his savior and cut him down yet recognize his strong support? Who can detract from his omnipotence yet share his power? And who can use him as the gauge of littleness and be released from limits? You have a function in salvation. Its pursuit will bring you joy. But the pursuit of specialness must bring you pain. Here is a goal that would defeat salvation and thus run counter to the Will of God. To value specialness is to esteem an alien will to which illusions of yourself are dearer than the truth.
14 Specialness is the idea of sin made real. Sin is impossible even to imagine without this base. For sin arose from it out of nothingness; an evil flower with no roots at all. Here is the self-made "savior," the "creator" who creates unlike the Father and which made His Son like to itself and not like unto Him. His "special" sons are many, never one, each one in exile from himself and Him of Whom they are a part. Nor do they love the Oneness Which created them as one with Him. They chose their specialness instead of Heaven and instead of peace and wrapped it carefully in sin to keep it "safe" from truth.
15 You are not special. If you think you are and would defend your specialness against the truth of what you really are, how can you know the truth? What answer that the Holy Spirit gives can reach you when it is your specialness to which you listen and which asks and answers? Its tiny answer, soundless in the melody which pours from God to you eternally in loving praise of what you are, is all you listen to. And that vast song of honor and of love for what you are seems silent and unheard before its "mightiness." You strain your ears to hear its soundless voice, and yet the Call of God Himself is soundless to you.
16 You can defend your specialness, but never will you hear the Voice for God beside it. They speak a different language and they fall on different ears. To every special one a different message, and one with different meaning, is the truth. Yet how can truth be different to each one? The special messages the special hear convince them they are different and apart-each in his special sins and "safe" from love, which does not see his specialness at all. Christ's vision is their "enemy," for it sees not what they would look upon, and it would show them that the specialness they think they see is an illusion. What would they see instead?
17 The shining radiance of the Son of God, so like his Father that the memory of Him springs instantly to mind. And with this memory, the Son remembers his own creations, as like to him as he is to his Father. And all the world he made and all his specialness and all the sins he held in its defense against himself will vanish as his mind accepts the truth about himself as it returns to take their place. This is the only "cost" of truth: you will no longer see what never was, nor hear what makes no sound. Is it a sacrifice to give up nothing and to receive the love of God forever?
18 You who have chained your savior to your specialness and given it his place, remember this: He has not lost the power to forgive you all the sins you think you placed between him and the function of salvation given him for you. Nor will you change his function, any more than you can change the truth in him and in yourself. But be you certain that the truth is just the same in both. It gives no different messages and has one meaning. And it is one you both can understand, and one which brings release to both of you. Here stands your brother with the key to Heaven in his hand held out to you. Let not the dream of specialness remain between you. What is one is joined in truth.
19 Think of the loveliness that you will see within yourself when you have looked on him as on a friend. He is the enemy of specialness but only friend to what is real in you. Not one attack you thought you made on him has taken from him the gift that God would have him give to you. His need to give it is as great as yours to have it. Let him forgive you all your specialness and make you whole in mind and one with him. He waits for your forgiveness only that he may return it unto you. It is not God Who has condemned His Son. But only you, to save his specialness and kill his Self.
20 You have come far along the way of truth-too far to falter now. Just one step more and every vestige of the fear of God will melt away in love. Your brother's specialness and yours are enemies and bound in hate to kill each other and deny they are the same. Yet it is not illusions which have reached this final obstacle that seems to make God and His Heaven so remote that they cannot be reached. Here in this holy place does truth stand waiting to receive you both in silent blessing and in peace so real and so encompassing that nothing stands outside. Leave all illusions of yourself outside this place to which you come in hope and honesty.
21 Here is your savior from your specialness. He is in need of your acceptance of himself as part of you, as you for his. You are alike to God as God is to Himself. He is not special, for He would not keep one part of what He is unto Himself, not given to His Son but kept for Him alone. And it is this you fear, for if He is not special, then He willed His Son be like Him, and your brother is like you. Not special, but possessed of everything including you.
22 Give him but what he has, remembering God gave Himself to both of you in equal love that both might share the universe with Him Who chose that love could never be divided and kept separate from what it is and must forever be. You are your brother's; part of love was not denied to him. But can it be that you have lost because he is complete? What has been given him makes you complete, as it does him. God's love gave you to him and him to you because He gave Himself. What is the same as God is one with Him. And only specialness could make the truth of God and you as one seem anything but Heaven and the hope of peace at last in sight.
23 Specialness is the seal of treachery upon the gift of love. Whatever serves its purpose must be given to kill. No gift that bears its seal but offers treachery to giver and receiver. Not one glance from eyes it veils but looks on sight of death. Not one believer in its potency but seeks for bargains and for compromise that would establish sin love's substitute and serve it faithfully. And no relationship that holds its purpose dear but clings to murder as safety's weapon and the great defender of all illusions from the "threat" of love.
24 The hope of specialness makes it seem possible God made the body as the prison-house which keeps His Son from Him. For it demands a special place God cannot enter and a hiding-place where none is welcome but your tiny self. Nothing is sacred here but unto you and you alone, apart and separate from all your brothers, safe from all intrusions of sanity upon illusions, safe from God, and safe for conflict everlasting. Here are the gates of hell you closed upon yourself, to rule in madness and in loneliness your special kingdom, apart from God, away from truth and from salvation.
25 The key you threw away God gave your brother, whose holy hands would offer it to you when you were ready to accept His plan for your salvation in place of yours. How could this readiness be reached save through the sight of all your misery and the awareness that your plan has failed and will forever fail to bring you peace and joy of any kind? Through this despair you travel now, yet it is but illusion of despair. The death of specialness is not your death but your awaking into life eternal. You but emerge from an illusion of what you are to the acceptance of yourself as God created you.
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  To GIVE and to RECEIVE are One in Truth.  Lesson 108

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