Lesson 285
God Fills what You Leave Vacant
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32 An empty space which is not seen as filled, an unused interval of time not seen as spent and fully occupied, becomes a silent invitation to the truth to enter and to make itself at home. No preparation can be made that would enhance the invitation's real appeal. For what you leave as vacant, God will fill, and where He is, there
must the truth abide. Unweakened power with no opposite is what creation
is. For this there are no symbols. Nothing points beyond the truth, for what can stand for more than everything? Yet true undoing must be kind. And so the first replacement for your picture is another picture of another kind.
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CHAPTER 27 IV-V, 29-43
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ACIM What is the Holy Spirit
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   The Holy Spirit mediates between
   illusions and the truth. As He must bridge
   the gap between reality and dreams,
   perception leads to knowledge through the grace
   that God has given Him, to be His gift
   to everyone who turns to Him for truth.
   Across the bridge that He provides, are dreams
   all carried to the truth, to be dispelled
   before the light of knowledge. There are sights
   and sounds forever laid aside. And where
   they were perceived before, forgiveness has
   made possible perception's tranquil end.
   The goal the Holy Spirit's teaching sets
   is just this end of dreams. For sights and sounds
   must be translated from the witnesses
   of fear to those of love. And when this is
   entirely accomplished, learning has
   achieved the only goal it has in truth.
   For learning, as the Holy Spirit guides
   it to the outcome He perceives for it,
   becomes the means to go beyond itself,
   to be replaced by the Eternal Truth.
   If you but knew how much your Father yearns
   to have you recognize your sinlessness,
   you would not let His Voice appeal in vain,
   nor turn away from His replacement for
   the fearful images and dreams you made.
   The Holy Spirit understands the means
   you made, by which you would attain what is
   forever unattainable. And if
   you offer them to Him, He will employ
   the means you made for exile to restore
   your mind to where it truly is at home.
   From knowledge, where He has been placed by God,
   the Holy Spirit calls to you, to let
   forgiveness rest upon your dreams, and be
   restored to sanity and peace of mind.
   Without forgiveness will your dreams remain
   to terrify you. And the memory
   of all your Father's Love will not return
   to signify the end of dreams has come.
   Accept your Father's gift. It is a call
   from Love to Love, that It be but Itself.
   The Holy Spirit is His gift, by Which
   the quietness of Heaven is restored
   to God's beloved Son. Would you refuse
   to take the function of completing God,
   when all He wills is that you be complete.
    ~ Original Hand Script  
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SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 285
My holiness shines bright and clear today.
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    Today I wake with joy, expecting but  
   the happy things of God to come to me.
   I ask but them to come, and realize
   my invitations will be answered by
   the thoughts to which they have been sent by me.
   And I will ask for only joyous things
   the instant I accept my holiness.
   For what would be the use of pain to me,
   what purpose would my suffering fulfill,
   and how would grief and loss avail me, if
   insanity departs from me today,
   and I accept my holiness instead?
    Father, my holiness is Yours. Let me
    rejoice in it, and through forgiveness be
    restored to sanity. Your Son is still
    as You created him. My holiness
    a part of me and also part of You.
    And what can alter Holiness Itself?
     ~ Original Handscript of ACIM  
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
My holiness shines bright and clear today.

Sarah's Commentary:  
Are you feeling your holiness shining bright and clear today? Did you awaken with joy with the knowledge that you have another day of healing as a gift to you? Have you invited the happy things of God to come to you today? It is always good to start every day with what you want, what you desire, what you value, what you wish for, and what you set your goal to be for the day. When our goal is to use each day for healing and peace, every day can be a happy day, regardless of the events that come our way, because everything in our day becomes a beautiful opportunity for letting go of the blocks to love and stepping deeper into peace and joy. When our days are used in this way we can approach each day with confidence that everything is orchestrated for our highest good.
"The Rules for Decision," (T.30.I) (ACIM OE T.30.II) are helpful in setting us up for each day. They are more ideas than rules of thought, initially, but Jesus says that as we practice these ideas they become habitual rules by which we live. "We seek to make them habits now, so you will have them ready for whatever need." (T.30.IN.1.8) (ACIM OE T.31.IN.1) Thus, we focus the day on not judging what shows up nor the situations where we will be called upon to make a response. "For if you judge them, you have set the rules for how you should react to them." (T.30.I.2.5) (ACIM OE T.30.II.5) We are called instead to turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance in every situation. Our problem is that we forget to ask and make our own decisions. When our desire for truth is deeply sincere, we remember more and more in each moment that we have a Guide to turn to in every situation. We turn to this Guide rather than listening to the ego that keeps us rooted in the illusion, affirms our problems are real, and wants us to believe we have to find our own way to solve them and only cry out for help when our way gets us into difficulty.
Perhaps we woke up today with foreboding and heaviness in our hearts. We may be running scenarios of gloom and despair through our minds. The ego is obsessive in ruminating over thoughts. I find too often that I start my day thinking about what has to be accomplished and feeling stressed before I even get out of bed. The good news is that the thoughts running through our minds are thoughts we are choosing. These thoughts are actively keeping the joy and contentment away. We are doing this to ourselves so we can choose not to listen to the thoughts that forecast a joyless day. We can choose not to make decisions with the ego. When we do, we are turning to the part of the mind that does not know. We are turning to the false self, asking it how to see our day.
When that is the case, Jesus asks, "What answer that the Holy Spirit gives can reach you, when it is your specialness to which you listen, and which asks and answers?" (T.24.II.4.3) (ACIM OE T.24.III.15) In other words, we are just talking to ourselves and listening to our own judgments and perspectives coming from past experience and conditioning. In order to loosen this position, Jesus says that we can at least decide that we do not like what we feel now. He says, "This much is obvious, and paves the way for the next easy step." (T.30.I.8.3) (ACIM OE T.30.II.17) That step is the recognition that possibly we are wrong in our thinking. What this does is it opens our minds to another way of looking. All we need is "this tiny opening." (T.30.I.9.4) (ACIM OE T.30.II.20) We are called to look at why we want to hold onto our sadness. "For what would be the use of pain to me, what purpose would my suffering fulfill, and how would grief and loss avail me if insanity departs from me today, and I accept my holiness instead?" (W.285.1.4)
Many things come about during the day that tempt us to be upset. While the events of the day may trigger fear, sadness, anger, worry, specialness, or some kind of distress, they reflect back to us our own lack of self-love. It is never about anything going on in the world. The source of the feelings we experience is from within our own minds. The situations and events of the day are just bringing the unhealed aspects of our mind to our attention. They need not distress us, but indeed can be seen as helpful mirrors of what is in the mind. Yet we do not have to learn through pain. Jesus says, "The Holy Spirit needs a happy learner, in whom His mission can be happily accomplished." (T.14.II.1.1) (ACIM OE T.13.VII.54) This means we can be happy to have a day in front of us that we can use for healing. "They will be happy learners of the lesson this light brings to them, because it teaches them release from nothing and from all the works of nothing." (T.14.II.4.5) (ACIM OE T.13.VII.59)
Suffering and grief are used by the ego to keep us in the illusion by trying to prove that pain is real and what is going on in our lives is real. Yet when we choose to use every situation to heal the guilt and fear already in the mind, whatever shows up in our day is perfect for that purpose; and we can be happy to see it because we remember it is all for our healing. When our day is used for the purpose of forgiveness, what goes on in the day really does not matter. The only thing that matters is that each situation is being used to bring us closer to awakening to the holiness we are. Thus, we can wake up every morning with a clear goal---we want the joy that comes from waking from this dream. Now we see that everything that shows up is there to help us reach that goal.
When we defend against what shows up or deny responsibility, we are resisting the opportunities presented to us for forgiveness regardless of how they look in the dream. No, they may not, and probably will not, meet the ego's requirements for what makes for a happy day. If we maintain awareness of our goal of healing, everything that shows up becomes useful for that purpose. Lesson 153 says, "In my defenselessness my safety lies." When we are perfectly defenseless, we proclaim that we have nothing to defend against. We are safe, invulnerable, and have no enemies. "Defensiveness is weakness. It proclaims you have denied the Christ and come to fear His Father's anger. What can save you now from your delusion of an angry god, whose fearful image you believe you see at work in all the evils of the world? What but illusions could defend you now, when it is but illusions that you fight?" (W.153.7) We generally tend to think God is punishing us when we have troubles. We wonder why God is doing this to us. This is the god we have made that we fear, but the God of love does not bring us any of the things that we fear and defend ourselves against. God brings us no lessons, nor is He about testing us or building our character.
In our undefended state, we become willing to look at every thought and feeling that comes up. Yes, even our murderous, hateful thoughts are valuable when they are revealed, as they are not true. The trick is to observe them without judgment. The ego operates very effectively in the dark, but when these thoughts are brought to light, they show us the nothingness of the ego. It only seems to have power in the darkness. When we are willing to look at all we are hiding from ourselves and are willing to be vulnerable in the process, the ego becomes weak. We increasingly come to recognize and accept that we are not the ego, and our reality is invulnerable.
Why do we suffer? Why do we believe suffering is even good for us? Why do we believe we need hardship in our lives? Why do we make things hard for ourselves? Why do we self-sabotage? Do we hold the belief that this is somehow what we need to do in order to show how well we can endure? We choose to suffer because we have chosen separation. Separation from God is at the root of our suffering. We chose the ego thought system of sin, guilt, fear, suffering, loss, and death, and now we hold onto that thought system as a way to preserve our identity that comes with the separation. Suffering proves that separation is real and shows us that our vulnerable bodies and personalities are real, and there are events outside of ourselves that cause pain.
When we set our goal for healing, we can rejoice that not only are forgiveness and sanity restored to us, but along with the healing comes the recognition that all healing is of the mind. It is the recognition that nothing outside of ourselves is the source of our pain. The only purpose for pain is to maintain our identity as a separated being, living in the world. As long as we want to hold onto that identity, we will hold onto our belief that we can be hurt by events and people outside of ourselves.
Today, let us choose to welcome the possibility that we are wrong about everything and that what Jesus tells us is the truth. What he tells us is that we can use everything in our day, if we choose, to remember who we are. If that is how we are using time, is it not a joyful thing to know that we have another day in front of us to forgive all that stands in the way of the truth? Is it not a joyful thought to be told that we can never alter our holiness no matter what we think we have done? Is it not a joyful thought that all we have to do is ask and our invitation will be answered? We are not alone in this. We have the Holy Spirit in our minds, Who answers every call and is the bridge between what seems so real in this world and the holiness that is ours.
It reminds me of the Section in Chapter 20, "Entering the Ark," where he says, "You may wonder how you can be at peace when, while you are in time, there is so much that must be done before the way to peace is open. Perhaps this seems impossible to you. But ask yourself if it is possible that God would have a plan for your salvation that does not work? Once you accept His plan as the one function that you would fulfill, there will be nothing else the Holy Spirit will not arrange for you without your effort. He will go before you making straight your path, and leaving in your way no stones to trip on, and no obstacles to bar your way. Nothing you need will be denied you. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it. You need take thought for nothing, careless of everything except the only purpose that you would fulfill. As that was given you, so will its fulfillment be. God's guarantee will hold against all obstacles for it rests on certainty and not contingency. It rests on you. And what can be more certain than a Son of God." (T.20.IV.8) (ACIM OE T.20.V.35) This is how it looks to us when we are in the flow. We learn through inspiration rather than through pain. We are happy learners where all is well even when it does not appear that way to the ego mind.
Remember, today you are deserving of joy. You are still as God created you, and nothing can alter the truth. Only your own thoughts can hurt you, but we have a remedy, and that remedy is forgiveness. Have you perceived someone today as attacking you in any way? Do you have grievances showing up against a brother? Did someone do something to irritate or upset you? In Chapter 25, Jesus asks, "How can misperception [by a brother] be a sin? Let all your brother's errors be to you nothing except a chance for you to see the workings of the Helper [Holy Spirit] given you to see the world He made instead of yours. What then, is justified? What do you want? [Only our Love, Forgiveness, Holiness, Peace, and Joy] For these two questions are the same. And when you see them as the same, your choice is made. For it is seeing them as one that brings release from the belief there are two ways to see. This world has much to offer to your peace, and many chances to extend your own forgiveness. Such its purpose is, to those who want to see peace and forgiveness descend on them, and offer them the light." (T.25.III.7.1) (ACIM OE T.25.IV.28)
The only way to know our holiness is to use every opportunity that seems to justify our attack and instead see it as an opportunity to forgive and receive the miracle. It can all be used as a gift to open the door to the peace and happiness within. That is what this worldly classroom is for, and there is only one lesson to be learned. The lesson is to forgive. Forgiveness, in the Course, does not mean forgiving anything real. It is not about overlooking what we have made real in the mind, but it is to recognize that all attack is a call for love. It is about releasing our judgments, grievances, and interpretations of a situation. Forgiveness is to recognize that what we thought our brother has done to us has not occurred because it is all our own dream. Holiness is always in us and only obscured by our thoughts. When they are released for healing, the holy Self we are is experienced and the light in us can shine bright and clear.

Love and blessings, Sarah

A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Twenty Seven

The Body and the Dream
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CHAPTER 27 IV-V, 29-43
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IV. The Symbol of the Impossible    
29 Power cannot oppose. For opposition would weaken it, and weakened power is a contradiction in ideas. Weak strength is meaningless, and power used to weaken is employed to limit. And therefore it must be limited and weak because that is its purpose. Power is unopposed, to be itself. No weakness can intrude on it without changing it into something it is not. To weaken is to limit and impose an opposite that contradicts the concept which it attacks. And by this does it join to the idea a something it is not and make it unintelligible. Who can understand a double concept, such as "weakened-power" or as "hateful-love?"
30 You have decided that your brother is a symbol for a "hateful-love," a "weakened-power," and above all, a "living-death." And so he has no meaning to you, for he stands for what is meaningless. He represents a double thought, where half is cancelled out by the remaining half. Yet even this is quickly contradicted by the half it cancelled out, and so they both are gone. And now he stands for nothing. Symbols which but represent ideas that cannot be must stand for empty space and nothingness. Yet nothingness and empty space can not be interference. What can interfere with the awareness of reality is the belief that there is something there.
31 The picture of your brother that you see means nothing. There is nothing to attack or to deny, love, or hate, or to endow with power or to see as weak. The picture has been wholly cancelled out because it symbolized a contradiction which cancelled out the thought it represents. And thus the picture has no cause at all. Who can perceive effect without a cause? What can the causeless be but nothingness? The picture of your brother that you see is wholly absent and has never been. Let then the empty space it occupies be recognized as vacant, and the time devoted to its seeing be perceived as idly spent, a time unoccupied.
32 An empty space which is not seen as filled, an unused interval of time not seen as spent and fully occupied, becomes a silent invitation to the truth to enter and to make itself at home. No preparation can be made that would enhance the invitation's real appeal. For what you leave as vacant, God will fill, and where He is, there must the truth abide. Unweakened power with no opposite is what creation is. For this there are no symbols. Nothing points beyond the truth, for what can stand for more than everything? Yet true undoing must be kind. And so the first replacement for your picture is another picture of another kind.
33 As nothingness cannot be pictured, so there is no symbol for totality. Reality is ultimately known without a form, unpictured and unseen. Forgiveness is not yet a power known as wholly free of limits. Yet it sets no limits you have chosen to impose. Forgiveness is the means by which the truth is represented temporarily. It lets the Holy Spirit make exchange of pictures possible until the time when aids are meaningless and learning done. No learning aid has use which can extend beyond the goal of learning. When its aim has been accomplished, it is functionless. Yet in the learning interval it has a use which now you fear, but yet will love.
34 The picture of your brother given you to occupy the space so lately left unoccupied and vacant will not need defense of any kind. For you will give it overwhelming preference. Nor delay an instant in deciding that it is the only one you want. It does not stand for double concepts. Though it is but half the picture and is incomplete, within itself it is the same. The other half of what it represents remains unknown but is not cancelled out. And thus is God left free to take the final step Himself. [For this you need no pictures and no learning aids.] And what will ultimately take the place of every learning aid will merely be. Forgiveness vanishes and symbols fade, and nothing which the eyes have ever seen, or ears have heard, remains to be perceived.
35 A Power wholly limitless has come, not to destroy, but to receive Its own. There is no choice of function anywhere. The choice you fear to lose you never had. Yet only this appears to interfere with power unlimited and single thoughts, complete and happy, without opposite. You do not know the peace of power which opposes nothing. Yet no other kind can be at all. Give welcome to the Power beyond forgiveness and beyond the world of symbols and of limitations. He would merely be, and so He merely is.
V. The Quiet Answer  
36 In quietness are all things answered and is every problem quietly resolved. In conflict there can be no answer and no resolution, for its purpose is to make no resolution possible and to ensure no answer will be plain. A problem set in conflict has no answer, for it is seen in different ways. And what would be an answer from one point of view is not an answer in another light. You are in conflict. Thus it must be clear you cannot answer anything at all, for conflict has no limited effects. Yet if God gave an answer, there must be a way in which your problems are resolved, for what He wills already has been done.
37 Thus it must be that time is not involved, and every problem can be answered now. Yet it must also be that in your state of mind solution is impossible. Therefore, God must have given you a way of reaching to another state of mind in which the answer is already there. Such is the holy instant. It is here that all your problems should be brought and left. Here they belong, for here their answer is. [And where its answer is, a problem must be simple and be easily resolved.] It must be pointless to attempt to solve a problem where the answer cannot be. Yet just as surely it must be resolved if it is brought to where the answer is.
38 Attempt to solve no problems but within the holy instant's surety. For there the problem will be answered and resolved. Outside there will be no solution, for there is no answer there that could be found. Nowhere outside a single simple question is ever asked. The world can only ask a double question with many answers, none of which will do. It does not ask a question to be answered, but only to restate its point of view. All questions asked within this world are but a way of looking, not a question asked. A question asked in hate cannot be answered, because it is an answer in itself. A double question asks and answers, both attesting the same thing in different form.
39 The world asks but one question. It is this: "Of these illusions, which of them are true? Which ones establish peace and offer joy? And which can bring escape from all the pain of which this world is made?" Whatever form the question takes, its purpose is the same. It asks but to establish sin is real and answers in the form of preference. "Which sin do you prefer? That is the one which you should choose. The others are not true. What can the body get that you would want the most of all? It is your servant and your friend. But tell it what you want, and it will serve you lovingly and well." And this is not a question, for it tells you what you want and where to go for it. It leaves no room to question its beliefs, except that what it states takes question's form.
40 A pseudo-question has no answer. It dictates the answer even as it asks. Thus is all questioning within the world a form of propaganda for itself. Just as the body's witnesses are but the senses from within itself, so are the answers to the questions of the world contained within the questions. Where answers represent the questions, they add nothing new, and nothing has been learned.
41 An honest question is a learning tool which asks for something that you do not know. It does not set conditions for response, but merely asks what the response should be. But no one in a conflict state is free to ask this question, for he does not want an honest answer where the conflict ends. Only within the holy instant can an honest question honestly be asked. And from the meaning of the question does the meaningfulness of the answer come. Here is it possible to separate your wishes from the answer, so it can be given you and also be received. The answer is provided everywhere. Yet it is only here it can be heard.
42 An honest answer asks no sacrifice because it answers questions truly asked. The questions of the world but ask of whom is sacrifice demanded, asking not if sacrifice is meaningful at all. And so unless the answer tells "of whom," it will remain unrecognized, unheard, and thus the question is preserved intact because it gave the answer to itself. The holy instant is the interval in which the mind is still enough to hear an answer which is not entailed within the question asked. It offers something new and different from the question. How could it be answered if it but repeats itself?
43 Therefore, attempt to solve no problems in a world from which the answer has been barred. But bring the problem to the only place which holds the answer lovingly for you. Here are the answers which will solve your problems because they stand apart from them, and see what can be answered---what the question is. Within the world the answers merely raise another question, though they leave the first unanswered. In the holy instant, you can bring the question to the answer and receive the answer that was made for you.
*Paragraphs 22, 23, and 24 were in the handscript notes, but did not appear in the final typing of the Original Edition manuscript. This content was restored in the 2009 Revision from an earlier manuscript and numbered 21a, 21b and 21c. However, starting with the 2012 Revision, the paragraph were renumbered and  set off by brackets. Subsequently, all the following paragraphs, through the end of Chapter 27, have been renumbered. -Ed.   
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