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25 Together is your joint inheritance remembered and accepted by you both. Alone it is denied to both of you. Is it not clear that while you still insist on leading or on following, you think you walk alone with no one by your side? This is the road to nowhere, for the light cannot be given while you walk alone, and so you cannot see which way you go. And thus there is confusion and a sense of endless doubting as you stagger back and forward in the darkness and alone. Yet these are but appearances of what the journey is and how it must be made. For next to you is One Who holds the light before you so that every step is made in certainty and sureness of the road. A blindfold can indeed obscure your sight but cannot make the way itself grow dark. And He Who travels with you has the light.

CHAPTER 31:
THE SIMPLICITY OF SALVATION
II. THE ILLUSION OF AN ENEMY
Workbook for Students
Part II
What is Creation?
1 Creation is the sum of all God's Thoughts, in number infinite and everywhere without all limit. Only Love creates and only like Itself. There was no time when all that It created was not there. Nor will there be a time when anything that It created suffers any change. Forever and forever are God's Thoughts exactly as they were and as they are, unchanged through time and after time is done.

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Workbook for Students
Lesson 328
I choose the second place
to gain the first.
1 What seems to be the second place is first, for all things we perceive are upside down until we listen to the Voice of God. It seems that we will gain autonomy but by our striving to be separate and that our independence from the rest of God's creation is the way in which salvation is obtained. Yet all we find is sickness, suffering and loss, and death. This is not what our Father wills for us, nor is there any second to His Will. To join with His is but to find our own. And since our will is His, it is to Him that we must go to recognize our will.

2 There is no will but Yours. And I am glad that nothing I imagine contradicts what You would have me do. It is Your Will that I be wholly safe, eternally at peace. And happily I share that Will which You, my Father, gave as part of me.
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Lesson ARCHIVE
Course in Miracles
Original Edition
Text
Chapter 31
 The Simplicity of Salvation

II. The Illusion of an Enemy
par 13-25
[TEXT READING PAUSED FOR WEEKEND]
13 An ancient lesson is not overcome by the opposing of the new and old. It is not vanquished that the truth be known nor fought against to lose to truth's appeal. There is no battle which must be prepared, no time to be expended, and no plans that need be laid for bringing in the new. There is an ancient battle being waged against the truth, but truth does not respond. Who could be hurt in such a war unless he hurts himself? He has no enemy in truth. And can he be assailed by dreams?

14 Let us review again what seems to stand between you and the truth of what you are. For there are steps in its relinquishment. The first is a decision that you make. But afterwards the truth is given you. You would establish truth. And by your wish, you set two choices to be made each time you think you must decide on anything. Neither is true. Nor are they different. Yet must we see them both before you can look past them to the one alternative that is a different choice. But not in dreams you made that this might be obscured to you.

15 What you would choose between is not a choice and gives but the illusion it is free, for it will have one outcome either way. Thus is it really not a choice at all. The leader and the follower emerge as separate roles, each seeming to possess advantages you would not want to lose. So in their fusion there appears to be the hope of satisfaction and of peace. You see yourself divided into both these roles, forever split between the two. And every friend or enemy becomes a means to help you save yourself from this.

16 Perhaps you call it love. Perhaps you think that it is murder justified at last. You hate the one you gave the leader's role when you would have it, and you hate as well his not assuming it at times you want to let the follower in you arise and give away the role of leadership. And this is what you made your brother for and learned to think that this his purpose is. Unless he serves it, he has not fulfilled the function that was given him by you. And thus he merits death because he has no purpose and no usefulness to you.

17 And what of him? What does he want of you? What could he want, but what you want of him? Herein is life as easily as death, for what you choose, you choose as well for him. Two calls you make to him, as he to you. Between these two is choice because from them there is a different outcome. If he be the leader or the follower to you, it matters not, for you have chosen death. But if he calls for death or calls for life, for hate or for forgiveness and for help, is not the same in outcome. Hear the one, and you are separate from him and are lost. But hear the other, and you join with him, and in your answer is salvation found. The voice you hear in him is but your own. What does he ask you for? And listen well! For he is asking what will come to you because you see an image of yourself and hear your voice requesting what you want.

18 Before you answer, pause to think of this:

19 The answer that I give my brother is what I am asking for. And what I learn of him is what I learn about myself.

20 Then let us wait an instant and be still, forgetting everything we thought we heard; remembering how much we do not know. This brother neither leads nor follows us but walks beside us on the selfsame road. He is like us, as near or far away from what we want as we will let him be. We make no gains he does not make with us, and we fall back if he does not advance. Take not his hand in anger but in love, for in his progress do you count your own. And we go separately along the way unless you keep him safely by your side.

21 Because he is your equal in God's love, you will be saved from all appearances and answer to the Christ Who calls to you. Be still and listen. Think not ancient thoughts. Forget the dismal lessons that you learned about this Son of God who calls to you. Christ calls to all with equal tenderness, seeing no leaders and no followers and hearing but one answer to them all. Because He hears one Voice, He cannot hear a different answer from the one He gave when God appointed Him His only Son.

22 Be very still an instant. Come without all thought of what you ever learned before and put aside all images you made. The old will fall away before the new without your opposition or intent. There will be no attack upon the things you thought were precious and in need of care. There will be no assault upon your wish to hear a call that never has been made. Nothing will hurt you in this holy place to which you come to listen silently and learn the truth of what you really want. No more than this will you be asked to learn. But as you hear it, you will understand you need but come away without the thoughts you did not want and that were never true.

23 Forgive your brother all appearances, which are but ancient lessons that you taught yourself about the sinfulness in you. Hear but his call for mercy and release from all the fearful images he holds of what he is and of what you must be. He is afraid to walk with you and thinks perhaps a bit behind, a bit ahead, would be a safer place for him to be. Can you make progress if you think the same, advancing only when he would step back and falling back when he would go ahead? For so do you forget the journey's goal, which is but to decide to walk with him, so neither leads nor follows. Thus it is a way you go together, not alone. And in this choice is learning's outcome changed, for Christ has been reborn to both of you.

24 An instant spent without your old ideas of who your great companion is and what he should be asking for will be enough to let this happen. And you will perceive his purpose is the same as yours. He asks for what you want and needs the same as you. It takes perhaps a different form in him, but it is not the form you answer to. He asks and you receive, for you have come with but one purpose—that you both may learn you love each other with a brother's love. And as a brother, must his Father be the same as yours, as he is like yourself.

25 Together is your joint inheritance remembered and accepted by you both. Alone it is denied to both of you. Is it not clear that while you still insist on leading or on following, you think you walk alone with no one by your side? This is the road to nowhere, for the light cannot be given while you walk alone, and so you cannot see which way you go. And thus there is confusion and a sense of endless doubting as you stagger back and forward in the darkness and alone. Yet these are but appearances of what the journey is and how it must be made. For next to you is One Who holds the light before you so that every step is made in certainty and sureness of the road. A blindfold can indeed obscure your sight but cannot make the way itself grow dark. And He Who travels with you has the light.

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Sarah's Reflections
Lesson 328
I choose the second place
to gain the first.
Sarah's Commentary:
 
In this Lesson, we are asked to see that the ego always wants to be first in everything. This includes its wish to be above God. It demands autonomy by maintaining separation from God. I remember when my grandchildren were little, often the reason for their tears was that one didn't get to sit in the front seat, someone got a bigger piece of cake, or they felt that they were left in second place one way or the another. The ego is competitive and wants first place in everything, all the time.
 
I was listening to a lecture on Buddhism a while ago. One of the precepts of the teaching was that one should step back in any activity and let a brother go first. We were at a celebration of Buddha's birthday and given this orientation, everyone waited, not wanting to be the first to get a piece of birthday cake. Everyone wanted to let the brother go first and not be seen as violating this injunction. The Course teaching is not about behavior, but what is held in the mind. It is to recognize that to put a brother first is to gain rather than lose. His gain is our gain. We go together. "I would but teach you what is yours, so that together we can replace the shabby littleness that binds the host of God to guilt and weakness with the glad awareness of the glory that is in him." (T.15.III.9.4) (ACIM OE T.15.IV.31)
 
In the world, second place seems to be a losing position. What about me, we ask? If I don't look after myself, I will lose. This is the principle of one or the other. If I gain, someone must lose. Jesus says that we are deceived if we believe that to gain at a brother's expense is a gain at all. He teaches, God is the Cause and we are the effect, but this is not second place to God because there is only Oneness. Thus, there is no second place. In that sense, second place is first. To take second place is to recognize that God is in first place, and we can’t be separate from the only place there is. So when we choose with the Holy Spirit, we gain the first place, which is all there is.
 
Our decision for autonomy and independence have put us in competition with God. We believe that we have won our autonomy from God because we believe that we have a separate will. When we identify with our separate will, it appears that we have taken over God’s throne and kicked Him out. Now there is no God in our experience. He had to be destroyed to put ourselves in the number one position. This is what we experience in the dream. Since we feel we gained at God's expense, we now try to gain at everyone else's expense. Now we are in competition with everyone and with it comes control, manipulation and various strategies to gain power. It is a world of trying to get what we can in order to fill our sense of lack that comes with the choice for the ego and an alien will. It is a place of separation, neediness, and lack, reflected in our special relationships, whether of special love or special hate. Now we try to gain through bargaining, competition, and strife with each other. Our agenda is always about having our needs met as a priority in our lives.
 
We think we like our independent position. We think we like to make our own decisions. However, there is no such thing as making decisions alone, since we make them either with the ego or the Holy Spirit. To submit to the Holy Spirit's guidance seems challenging if we believe we will lose something through surrender. How this shows up in our experience is when we challenge those in authority and try to gain through power struggles and manipulative strategies, but what have we really gained? All that is reflected through competition is our original struggle with God. Nothing is gained except the pain of separation and powerlessness.
 
Jesus says there is a tremendous cost to us in "sickness, suffering, and loss and death," (W.328.1.3) but until we see that this is the cost that we pay when we choose the ego, we will continue to strive to have our way. Yes, we have gained our kingdom, but Jesus says it is a sorry kingdom of nothing but suffering, limitation, powerlessness, loss, sickness, and ultimately death. He tells us, "The devil deceives by lies, and builds kingdoms in which everything is in direct opposition to God." (T.3.VII.2.6) (ACIM OE T.3.IX.73) When we see what the results are in suffering, we call out for help and recognize that there must be a better way. When we accept that God is the Cause and we are the effect, then we reclaim first place, which is to claim our Christ Self. In Oneness, there is only love.
 
When we choose the second place, we choose to become dependent on God, and thus we join with God's Will. "To join with His is but to find our own." (W.328.1.5) This puts us in a position where we are no longer in competition with His Will and recognize that we gain our freedom and our happiness by seeing how wrong we have been about everything. This is the beginning of the willingness to be taught. Our own will, that we exert daily, does not even exist. In fact, the self we think we are is just a character in the dream. Indeed, Jesus says, "This is not what our Father wills for us, nor is there any second will to His." (W.328.1.4) It is only the illusion of a separate will that we believe in and identify with. The character in the dream with which we identify is just a projection of the mind. The mind is outside of the body.
 
  "It is Your Will that I be wholly safe, eternally at peace." (W.328.2.3) It is a process where we turn more and more to the Guide within. It requires that we give up the "I know" mind and recognize that we can't judge anything on our own. The mind that thinks it knows what it needs and wants and how to get it will not surrender because to surrender seems like loss. It feels like we are giving up what we value. It may feel like some kind of submission, especially to us overly-independent types who have always prided ourselves on our self-reliance. Yet Jesus assures us that the only thing we give up is our fear. The only thing we "sacrifice" is illusion, which has brought nothing but suffering.
 
Anything I try to do my way, or anytime I think I know what is in my best interests, it always brings more fear. As Jesus says, we really believe that maintaining "our independence from the rest of God's creation is the way in which salvation is obtained." (W.328.1.2) We choose to be right rather than happy. We believe that we know best what will make us happy. Yet he again reminds us that the only way we will ever experience happiness is to recognize that there is only one Will. "To join with His [Will] is but to find our own." (W.328.1.5) His Will is our own will.
 
As we confront issues and problems in our lives, it is important to keep asking, "God, what is your Will for me in this situation?" "What would you have me do or say?" "Where would you have me go?" We happily choose to follow. We commit to our brothers and join with them, recognizing our same nature.
 
A friend told me recently that he has been whining and complaining a lot about his life and his status in the world. He believed that he had not sufficiently gained the things he determined were for his salvation as he defined it---a relationship, more money, a home of his own, and a job he loves. Yet, in a moment of realization, when he stopped defining his own happiness, he saw that none of these things he thought he wanted ever brought him deep peace and joy. He thought he knew his own best interests, and so he did not turn to a higher authority and ask what would best serve him. We get so focused on defining the way things should be for our safety, security, and happiness that we fail to see the perfection in the way they are.
 
Anytime we want anything, we suffer. When we want things to be different than they are, we are expressing our inner sense of lack and loss. To recognize what does not matter, and nothing does, is the key to happiness. When we hold grievances, we demand that life be different than it is. We even have grievances about the weather when it is not warm enough, cool enough, nor humid enough. It is all about our agenda for how things must be for us to be happy. There is nothing that must happen for us to open to God's Will and His Will is only for our happiness. There is no book that must be written. There is no building that must be built. There is no place we must visit. There is nobody in our lives that must do anything for us. There is nothing that must be different than it is, and there are no demands or expectations we need to hold of anyone. There is only surrender to God's Will by turning to Him for guidance. My experience is that when I let go of my perceived needs and expectations, only then can I recognize the miracle. Indeed, it does not matter what happens, as it all becomes an amazing gift when we get out of our own way.
 
Eventually, we are all brought to our knees one way or another. If this does not happen dramatically, then it happens in small doses of an ever-increasing sense of malaise. "What is it all for?" we ask. It is not until then that we have some willingness to find another way. The Bible talks about this when the disciples leave everything to follow Jesus. Jesus tells them, the first will be last and the last, first. In other words, he is saying that to follow him and join with him may look like last place, but in fact, it is to gain the first place. "Not my will but Thine" are words of humility. Yet the irony is that His Will is our own true will. Our false will, that wants to exalt itself above God's Will, is an alien will.
 
We enter the kingdom as little children. We acknowledge that we don't know. We learn to ask in everything. How do we hear the prompts of the Holy Spirit? How do we know which voice we listening to? It takes great discernment and a willingness to question our motivations. Clearly, we have become confused about where our guidance comes from. Ask in everything and keep acknowledging that you don't know and be willing to surrender. Finally, take time in deep listening, confident that He hears and answers all your prayers, remembering that when you pray for things of the ego, you are actually asking for nothing. Today, we are asked to realize that by choosing second place, which is to choose to follow God's Will, we are actually gaining the first place. This is when we join with the power of His Will, which is our own true will. Why would we continue to fly with the wings of a sparrow when the wings of an eagle are constantly available to us?
 
"T hose who choose freedom will experience only its results. Their power is of God, and they will give it only to what God has given, to share with them. Nothing but this can touch them, for they see only this, sharing their power according to the Will of God. And thus their freedom is established and maintained. It is upheld through all temptation to imprison and to be imprisoned. It is of them who learned of freedom that you should ask what freedom is. Ask not the sparrow how the eagle soars, for those with little wings have not accepted for themselves the power to share with you. " (T.20.IV.4.1-7) (ACIM OE T.20.31)
 
" When this power has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one's own petty strength again. Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him? And who would place his faith in the shabby offerings of the ego when the gifts of God are laid before him? What is it that induces them to make the shift? " (Manual for Teachers.4.I.2.1-4) (ACIM OE M.4.4)
 
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Love and blessings, Sarah
 
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