Lesson 297
Your Brother is no dream
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39 Like you, your brother thinks he is a dream. Share not in his illusion of himself, for your identity depends on his reality. Think rather of him as a mind in which illusions still persist, but as a mind which brother is to you. He is not brother made by what he dreams, nor is his body, "hero" of the dream, your brother. It is his reality that is your brother, as is yours to him. Your mind and his are joined in brotherhood. His body and his dreams but seem to make a little gap, where yours have joined with his.            
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CHAPTER 28 V, 37-46
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What is the Real World
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   The real world is a symbol, like the rest
   of what perception offers. Yet it stands
   for what is opposite to what you made.
   Your world is seen through eyes of fear, and brings
   the witnesses of terror to your mind.
   The real world cannot be perceived except
   through eyes forgiveness blesses, so they see
   a world where terror is impossible,
   and witnesses to fear can not be found.
   The real world holds a counterpart for each
   unhappy thought reflected in your world;
   a sure correction for the sights of fear
   and sounds of battle which your world contains.
   The real world shows a world seen differently,
   through quiet eyes and with a mind at peace.
   Nothing but rest is here. There are no cries
   of pain and sorrow heard, for nothing here
   remains outside forgiveness. And the sights
   are gentle. Only happy sights and sounds
   can reach the mind that has forgiven itself.
   What need has such a mind for thoughts of death,
   attack and murder? What can it perceive
   surrounding it but safety, love and joy?
   What is there it would choose to be condemned,
   and what is there that it would judge against?
   The world it sees arises from a mind
   at peace within itself. No danger lurks
   in anything it sees, for it is kind
   and only kindness does it look upon.
   The real world is the symbol that the dream
   of sin and guilt is over, and God's Son
   no longer sleeps. His waking eyes perceive
   the sure reflection of his Father's Love;
   the certain promise that he is redeemed.
   The real world signifies the end of time,
   for this perception makes time purposeless.
   The Holy Spirit has no need of time
   when it has served His purpose. Now He waits
   but that one instant more for God to take
   His final step, and time has disappeared,
   taking perception with it as it goes,
   and leaving but the Truth to be Itself.
   That instant is our goal, for it contains
   the memory of God. And as we look
   upon a world forgiven, it is He
   Who calls to us and comes to take us home,
   reminding us of our Identity
   Which our forgiveness has restored to us.
    ~ Original Hand Script  
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SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 297
Forgiveness is the only gift I give.
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   Forgiveness is the only gift I give
   because it is the only gift I want,
   and everything I give I give myself.
   This is salvation's simple formula.
   And I, who would be saved, would make it mine,
   to be the way I live within a world
   that needs salvation, and that will be saved
   as I accept Atonement for myself.
    Father, how certain are Your ways; how sure
    their final outcome, and how faithfully
    is every step in my salvation set
    already, and accomplished by Your grace.
    Thanks be to You for Your eternal gifts,
    and thanks to You for my Identity.
     ~ Original Handscript of ACIM  
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
Forgiveness is the only gift I give.

Sarah's Commentary:  
Lessons 295, 296, and 297 all remind us that everything we give we give to ourself. "This is salvation's simple formula." (W.297.1.3) We accept the Atonement for ourself, which means that we are accepting the Correction so there can be healing for our false thoughts and beliefs, which is how we are forgiven. Thus, "Forgiveness is the only gift I give, because it is the only gift I want." (W.297.1.1) Forgiveness is the recognition that what someone has done has had no effect on you. Through forgiveness, the thoughts we hold that block awareness of our true identity are released. What could we want more than to know who we are, and what could we want more than the gifts that come with this knowledge? They are the gifts of peace, of joy, of abundance, of innocence, and of the love that we are.
In our present state, we carry a lot of guilt. "The certain outcome of the lesson that God's Son is guilty is the world you see. It is a world of terror and despair. Nor is there hope of happiness in it. There is no plan for safety that you can make that ever will succeed." (T.31.I.7.4-7) (ACIM OE T.31.I.7) There is not a consistent state of joy or hope in this world that comes from our false self. Yet as we learn to forgive and see only the innocent Son of God in every brother, a world of hope and happiness opens up for us. "The outcome of the lesson that God's Son is guiltless is a world in which there is no fear, and everything is lit with hope and sparkles with a gentle friendliness." (T.31.I.8.1) (ACIM OE T.31.I.8)
Forgiveness is such a misunderstood concept. "Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin." (W.PII.Q1.What Is Forgiveness?1.1) This makes no sense unless we see it in the context that this world is an illusion and so the behaviors that are seen in the dream can have no real effect. Only the interpretation we give to behavior causes us pain. "It is always an interpretation that gives rise to negative emotions, regardless of their seeming justification by what appears as facts." (Manual for Teachers.17.4.2) But now we can turn to the Holy Spirit and ask for His help to see our brothers in a new light.
We are given a process to use whenever we are not joyous. It is basically a process of forgiveness described as follows:
"I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace." (T.5.VII.6.7) (ACIM OE T.5.IX.96) This means I must have decided to see guilt in my brother that is in my own mind and blame him because I am not feeling peace and joy. "I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise." (T.5.VII.6.8) (ACIM OE T.5.IX.96) He is saying to us that we can choose to change our thoughts. "I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace. I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him." (T.5.VII.6.9-10) (ACIM OE T.5.IX.96) I can let the Holy Spirit undo my unloving perception of my brother. As I take responsibility for the projection of my guilt onto my brother and look at my mistake with the Holy Spirit, my wrong-minded perception is healed. "I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me." (T.5.VII.6.11) (ACIM OE T.5.IX.96) I ask Holy Spirit to let me see my brother through His eyes so I can see my brother's innocence and know that I too am innocent.
When we deeply and sincerely choose the Holy Spirit over the ego, we withdraw our investment in guilt by accepting its unreality. To accept the Atonement for ourself is to accept the Correction already in our own mind. The Holy Spirit is the great Corrector. The means offered is through forgiveness, which allows us to see our brothers as they truly are so we can know who we are as the Christ Self. To see our brothers as they truly are requires that we become aware of our own judgments and bring them to the Holy Spirit.
Forgiveness is such a misunderstood concept because, in the traditional definition, we seem to be forgiving someone else for something real that has happened. The Course definition of forgiveness puts the focus on our own mind and requires that we clean up our own act. It is to recognize the guilt, self-judgment, and unworthiness we hold in our own mind and have it healed there. There is no one "else" doing anything to us. All they do is to show us a mirror of what is unhealed in our own mind. We say we want to know the Self we are as love, so we can indeed be grateful to our brothers for helping us to see what is need of healing in the mind. Through their reflection, we now have access to divine transformation. When we get triggered by something someone says or does, it is actually a gift, as we are now provided with an opportunity to see what is unhealed in our own mind. No, we don't always welcome these gifts when they appear as attacks on us. Yet contrary to how the ego sees this, whatever triggers us will bring us closer to the gifts that can be revealed in us if we don't reject what is being revealed.
Recently, my partner had suggested that we spend an evening together at dinner and a movie. Meanwhile, his buddy called to say he had acquired two tickets to the football game. I saw he really wanted to go to the game in spite of his commitment to me. I knew it would be easy to make him feel guilty about the importance of keeping his commitment. Yet would I want this, knowing where he would rather choose to be? In my decision to offer him the freedom and even the blessing to be with his friend, I received the gift of happiness. There was no lingering sense of residual blame or recrimination. It felt very freeing. Yes, there were initially some twinges of resentment, but I chose to simply look at them rather than to act on them. I have had many experiences of using control through guilt in my relationships, which always results in suffering. Yes, we get what we want in behavior, but we lose the love that can only come by extending freedom. Why would we want anyone to be with us when they wish to be elsewhere? Thus, the gift I gave was also to myself. There was no loss but only gain for both.
To forgive is to undo the separate self. It is to undo specialness and all the fear that comes with it. It is about giving up comparisons we make with others, giving up making everything about us, giving up competing with our brothers, and giving up bargaining to get what we think we want and need. It requires daring to look more deeply at what is showing up in our own minds. When we listen to the ego and get triggered, we set up defenses. But when we do that, we unknowingly continue to attract precisely what we don't want. We feel justified in our defense, but the cost to us is that our guilt remains hidden and the gift of what could be seen and healed is lost. Though the opportunity is missed in the moment, Jesus reminds us, "Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn, presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought you." (T.31.VIII.3.1) (ACIM OE T.31.VIII.87)
We believe our identity is of a body, living in the world for a short time, and then we die. We experience all kinds of challenges and conflicts in the world. Try as we might, peace and happiness seem to elude us. We feel alone and separate from other bodies, also wandering in the world, looking for scraps of pleasure and ways to feel special. The world does not seem to have much purpose until we take up our special function, which is to forgive. The backdrop for our function is based on our abilities and talents that we bring to the world. When given over to the Holy Spirit for His purposes, the content of our function, regardless of what it looks like in the world, is forgiveness. The form of our function in the world varies from person to person, but the content is all the same.
We believe that we can give our guilt away and thus escape from it. In truth, when we blame another, we are only hurting ourself by accumulating more guilt, since giving and receiving are the same. The Holy Spirit reminds us that the same principle is reflected in salvation's simple formula in that forgiveness is always for ourself. It may appear that we are forgiving another, but we are forgiving and releasing only our own thoughts about them. And in that release, we are set free from the guilt in our own mind.
We have such an investment in seeing others guilty and ensuring that we hold them bound to punishment for their "crimes and misdemeanors." Yet the Holy Spirit shows us a loving God, Who sees everyone worthy of salvation, regardless of what they appear to have done. We are all innocent. We experience our innocence as we extend forgiveness to our brothers and thus come to know our own innocence. As we extend miracles, we receive miracles. The only reason we don't receive miracles is if we have decided someone else is not deserving of them.
Only our own thoughts are the source of our pain. We are not the victims. We have created our reality. That is the message of the movie, What the Bleep Do We Know, which clearly articulates how we become addicted to our emotions (the ego) that leads to our experience and reflects the beliefs we hold. We keep playing out the same scenarios in our lives over and over in various forms until we decide to choose another way. It is a loop we seem to live in where our false beliefs just keep getting reinforced over and over. The loop starts with a belief. For example, I may believe that to feel loved, others have to agree with me. When they don't, I feel betrayed. Now their betrayal affirms my belief in my unworthiness. What I have done is set up rules for my relationships. Instead of freeing my brothers to have their own thoughts and opinions, I have bound them to my rules, based on my beliefs. Thus, my grievances are all based on beliefs that I hold about myself and how others are supposed to be around me. By healing my own mind, I free my brothers and myself. I can only do that when I look at my beliefs. "But an unrecognized belief is a decision to war in secret, where the result of conflict are kept unknown and never brought to reason, to be considered sensible or not." (T.24.I.2.2) (ACIM OE T.24.II.4) In other words, we experience the effects of our hidden thoughts, but we can't change what we don't know.
Jesus tells us, "No one can be unjust to you, unless you have decided first to be unjust." (T.25.IX.7.7) (ACIM OE T.25.X.84) Any problems we have are there by our own election, challenging as that is for us to accept. The decision to be unjust means we wanted someone to lose while we benefited from their loss. "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." (T.24.I.2.6) (ACIM OE T.24.II.4) In other words, we attack a brother because that is what we want to do. Then we feel guilty and guilt demands punishment. Now we need to dream punishment into our lives in the form of problems. Because of the guilt coming from our own attacks, we think we deserve to be punished. Thus, guilt is at the core of every problem we have. As we turn our misguided thoughts over to the Holy Spirit and see that there truly is another way to see everything and everyone, we experience the miracle, which shifts our perception from guilt to innocence. Now we experience the happiness and innocence that are always there behind our misguided thoughts and perceptions.
The question is, why don't we choose it? Why do we stubbornly hold onto our perspectives, our grievances, our judgments, our anger, and our worries? Isn't it because we feel it is justified by what someone has seemingly done to us and we refuse to release our perceptions of the situation? Yet in this process, we continue to hurt ourself. What would our lives be like if we saw clearly what we do to anyone we are doing to ourself? How would our lives look if we knew in a deep and clear way that to gain at anyone's expense is to hurt ourself?
Every step we take in forgiveness is a step closer to the recognition of the truth of what we are. "Father, how certain are Your ways; how sure their final outcome, and how faithfully is every step in my salvation set already, and accomplished by Your grace." (W.297.2.1) Today, we can be grateful that salvation is available to us through the acceptance of our function of forgiveness as our way back to the Self. We have wandered from our home, but we have not been left without an Answer. We just need to do our part, which is to bring our misperceptions to the Answer and experience the miracle. Our part is only to bring awareness to our thoughts and look calmly without judging ourself.
" The world is full of miracles. They stand in shining silence next to every dream of pain and suffering, of sin and guilt. They are the dream's alternative, the choice to be the dreamer, rather than deny the active role in making up the dream." (T.28.II.12.1-3) (ACIM OE T.28.III.27)

Love and blessings, Sarah

A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Twenty Eight

The Undoing of Fear 
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CHAPTER 28 V, 37-46
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V. The Greater Joining 
37 Accepting the Atonement for yourself means not to give support to someone's dream of sickness and of death. It means that you share not his wish to separate and let him turn illusions on himself. Nor do you wish that they be turned instead on you. Thus have they no effects. And you are free of dreams of pain because you let him be. Unless you help him, you will suffer pain with him because that is your wish. And you become a figure in his dream of pain, as he in yours. So do you both become illusions and without identity. You could be anyone or anything, depending on whose evil dream you share. You can be sure of just one thing---that you are evil, for you share in dreams of fear.
38 There is a way of finding certainty right here and now. Refuse to be a part of fearful dreams whatever form they take, for you will lose identity in them. You find yourself by not accepting them as causing you and giving you effects. You stand apart from them but not apart from him who dreams them. Thus you separate the dreamer from the dream and join in one but let the other go. The dream is but illusion in the mind. And with the mind you would unite, but never with the dream. It is the dream you fear and not the mind. You see them as the same because you think that you are but a dream. And what is real and what is but illusion in yourself you do not know and cannot tell apart.
39 Like you, your brother thinks he is a dream. Share not in his illusion of himself, for your identity depends on his reality. Think rather of him as a mind in which illusions still persist, but as a mind which brother is to you. He is not brother made by what he dreams, nor is his body, "hero" of the dream, your brother. It is his reality that is your brother, as is yours to him. Your mind and his are joined in brotherhood. His body and his dreams but seem to make a little gap, where yours have joined with his.
40 And yet, between your minds there is no gap. To join his dreams is thus to meet him not because his dreams would separate from you. Therefore, release him, merely by your claim on brotherhood and not on dreams of fear. Let him acknowledge who he is by not supporting his illusions by your faith, for if you do, you will have faith in yours. With faith in yours, he will not be released, and you are kept in bondage to his dream. And dreams of fear will haunt the little gap, inhabited but by illusions which you have supported in each other's minds.
41 Be certain, if you do your part, he will do his, for he will join you where you stand. Call not to him to meet you in the gap between you, or you must believe that it is your reality as well as his. You cannot do his part, but this you do when you become a passive figure in his dream instead of dreamer of your own. Identity in dreams is meaningless because the dreamer and the dream are one. Who shares a dream must be the dream he shares because by sharing is a cause produced.
42 You share confusion and you are confused, for in the gap no stable self exists. What is the same seems different because what is the same appears to be unlike. His dreams are yours because you let them be. But if you took your own away would he be free of them and of his own as well. Your dreams are witnesses to his, and his attest the truth of yours. Yet if you see there is no truth in yours, his dreams will go, and he will understand what made the dream.
43 The Holy Spirit is in both your minds, and He is One because there is no gap that separates His Oneness from Itself. The gap between your bodies matters not, for what is joined in Him is always one. No one is sick if someone else accepts his union with him. His desire to be a sick and separated mind cannot remain without a witness or a cause. And both are gone if someone wills to be united with him. He has dreams that he was separated from his brother who, by sharing not his dream, has left the space between them vacant. And the Father comes to join His Son the Holy Spirit joined.
44 The Holy Spirit's function is to take the broken picture of the Son of God and put the pieces into place again. This holy picture, healed entirely, does He hold out to every separate piece that thinks it is a picture in itself. To each he offers his identity, which the whole picture represents, instead of just a little broken bit which he insisted was himself. And when he sees this picture, he will recognize himself. If you share not your brother's evil dream, this is the picture that the miracle will place within the little gap, left clean of all the seeds of sickness and of sin. And here the Father will receive His Son, because His Son was gracious to himself.
45 I thank you, Father, knowing you will come to close each little gap that lies between the broken pieces of Your holy Son. Your holiness, complete and perfect, lies in every one of them. And they are joined because what is in one is in them all. How holy is the smallest grain of sand when it is recognized as being part of the completed picture of God's Son! The forms the broken pieces seem to take mean nothing. For the whole is in each one. And every aspect of the Son of God is just the same as every other part.
46 Join not your brother's dreams but join with him, and where you join His Son, the Father is. Who seeks for substitutes when he perceives he has lost nothing? Who would want to have the "benefits" of sickness when he has received the simple happiness of health? What God has given cannot be a loss, and what is not of Him has no effects. What then would you perceive within the gap? The seeds of sickness come from the belief that there is joy in separation, and its giving up would be a sacrifice. But miracles are the result when you do not insist on seeing in the gap what is not there. Your willingness to let illusions go is all the Healer of God's Son requires. He will place the miracle of healing where the seeds of sickness were. And there will be no loss, but only gain.
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