Lesson 332
ACIM Original Edition
97 And now we say "Amen." For Christ has come to dwell in the abode You set for Him before time was, in calm eternity. The journey closes, ending at the place where it began. No trace of it remains. Not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ from anyone. Thy Will is done, complete and perfectly, and all creation recognizes You and knows You as the only Source it has. Clear in Your Likeness does the Light shine forth from everything that lives and moves in You. For we have reached where all of us are One, and we are home, where You would have us be.
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CHAPTER 31 VIII, 83-97
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What is the Ego
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   The ego is idolatry; the sign
   of limited and separated self,
   born in a body, doomed to suffer and
   to end its life in death. It is the will
   that sees the Will of God as enemy,
   and takes a form in which It is denied.
   The ego is the "proof" that strength is weak
   and love is fearful, life is really death,
   and what opposes God alone is true.
   The ego is insane. In fear it stands
   beyond the Everywhere, apart from All,
   in separation from the Infinite.
   In its insanity, it thinks it has
   become a victor over God Himself,
   and in its terrible autonomy
   it "sees" the Will of God has been destroyed.
   It dreams of punishment, and trembles at
   the figures in its dreams, its "enemies"
   who seek to murder it before it can
   ensure its safety by attacking them.
   The Son of God is egoless. What can
   he know of madness and the death of God,
   when he abides in Him? What can he know
   of sorrow and of suffering, when he
   lives in eternal joy? What can he know
   of fear and punishment, of sin and guilt,
   of hatred and attack, when all there is
   surrounding him is everlasting peace,
   forever conflict-free and undisturbed,
   in deepest silence and tranquility?
   To know Reality is not to know
   the ego and its thoughts, its works, its acts,
   its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes,
   its plans for its salvation, and the cost
   belief in it entails. In suffering,
   the price for faith in it is so immense
   that crucifixion of the Son of God
   is offered daily at its darkened shrine,
   and blood must flow before the altar where
   its sickly followers prepare to die.
   Yet will one lily of forgiveness change
   the darkness into light; the altar to
   illusions to the shrine of Life Itself.
   And peace will be restored forever to
   the holy minds which God created as
   His Son, His dwelling-place, His joy, His love,
   completely His, completely one with Him.
        ~ Original Hand Script  
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SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 332
Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free.
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   The ego makes illusions. Truth undoes
   its evil dreams by shining them away.
   Truth never makes attack. It merely is.
   And by its Presence is the mind recalled
   from fantasies, awaking to the Real.
   Forgiveness bids this Presence enter in,
   and take its rightful place within the mind.
   Without forgiveness is the mind in chains,
   believing in its own futility.
   Yet with forgiveness does the light shine through
   the dream of darkness, offering it hope,
   and giving it the means to realize
   the freedom that is its inheritance.
    We would not bind the world again today.
    Fear holds it prisoner. And yet Your Love
    has given us the means to set it free.
    Father, we would release it now. For as
    we offer freedom, it is given us.
    And we would not remain as prisoners,
    while You hold out our freedom unto us.
        ~ Original Handscript of ACIM  
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free.

Sarah's Commentary:  
This Lesson follows on the heels of yesterday's discussion about conflict. From this, we can conclude that there is no conflict between the truth and illusions. This Lesson makes it perfectly clear, "Truth undoes its evil dreams by shining them away. Truth never makes attack. It merely is." (W.332.1.2-4) Truth merely awaits our invitation and imposes nothing on us. It enters in when we make space for it through forgiveness. Until we make space for truth, it merely waits patiently for our readiness. Nothing is forced on us. It is our choice. Thus, we can conclude that truth is in the stillness. "It [the miracle] merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false." (W.PII.Q13.What is a Miracle?1.3) There is no coercion, there are no demands, and there are no requirements. There is only our decision to release all that is false. "The search implies you are not whole within and fear to look upon your devastation, but prefer to seek outside yourself for what you are." (T.29.VII.4.6) (ACIM OE T.29.VIII.46)
James Twyman, in his writings, said we should not get comfortable in the world.
"What other path is there to walk but this path, the one where you have stood without moving while an entire Universe passes around you? Grow uncomfortable in your skin, for it is not your home. See what it is like to stretch free from these chains, then embrace the whole world. It is there for you now, if only you would choose to receive. Grow uncomfortable in this world, even this universe, that every world and every universe may be yours. Do not become comfortable with anything other than the truth, which does not move and does not change. You are the heart of that truth, beating constantly and without end."
What we have become comfortable with is fear. We would certainly not consciously call fear our friend, yet while we are comfortable in the world, we are held willing prisoners to fear. We look to fear to protect us. Our bodies are the embodiment of fear. Just think about it. Everything we do in the world reflects fear. We constantly protect the body and the psyche against all kinds of potential attacks, whether it be the weather, viruses, accidents, or verbal and physical assaults. We protect against our fear by locking the house, putting on a seat belt, buying life insurance, saving money for the "future," protecting our assets, exercising, eating right, joining the right groups, competing, and any number of defenses. There is nothing wrong with any of these. It is not that we should feel guilty that we build defenses against potential catastrophes, nor is there a requirement to stop doing any of these things. It is not about changing our behaviors. Rather, we are called to watch our thoughts about the situations we encounter in our lives and to recognize how much of an investment we have in our fear-driven strategies. These behaviors remind us over and over how vulnerable we are when we think our reality is the body.
The Course is not about changing behavior, but about changing our minds. We are simply being invited to look at the fear thoughts behind the behaviors and bring them to awareness. As the mind is healed, some of these behaviors will naturally fall away, but that is not what is important. What is important is what is in the mind. Clearly, it is not about exercising, buying insurance, or locking our doors, but it is about which thoughts motivate these behaviors. They are all about our vulnerability as bodies, living in the world. Certainly, there is value in taking care of the body while we still believe we are a body, as it can be put to a holy purpose. Everything can be used for the purpose of watching our thoughts and giving them over to be transformed. The goal is for the ego to die before the body does.
I have a friend who is afraid of food. She lives in fear of eating the wrong food and getting sick. There is no joy in sharing a meal with her because the discussion is all about pesticides, genetically modified food, the dangers of eating meat, the problems with dairy, and so on. There is nothing wrong with healthy eating. Her choices in food may well be the best choices to make for the well-being of her body, but what needs to be looked at is the extent of the fear in the mind. I recently had a discussion with a salesperson about buying life insurance. I noticed how much fear came up in my mind when I listened to the sales pitch. I realize buying insurance would be based entirely on my fear of leaving financial challenges for my family. I am not saying this comes up for everyone who buys insurance, but I watched my thoughts and self-judgments that I was not a good and responsible person if I did not buy into this program.
I choose to trust the future by placing it in the Hands of God. There are those in my life who are a shining example of this for me and live without fear of financial insecurity. This is not about denying that there are certain responsibilities we have in the world. We must follow our own prompts, but we don't need to participate mindlessly in the thought system of the world. We all must engage in the illusion to some extent, but we can do so while still maintaining a state of peace. It is not what we are doing, but the mindset we take into the doing.
Sometimes, when we are in this place of discomfort and a sense of displacement in the world, we get very distressed. "What is wrong with me?" we ask. "Why does everyone else seem to be so content, while I am feeling like I don't fit in and don't belong here?" You might consider that this is a more powerful place to be than "happily lost" in the illusion of your "evil dreams." (W.332.1.2) Further, there is no one on this planet who does not share in this sense of discomfort and displacement, no matter what it may look like. That sense of displacement and discomfort only changes when we join with God's Will for us.
Truth is available to any one of us at any moment we open to it, meaning that it is available when the fear that binds us to the world is released through forgiveness. It is through forgiveness that truth shines away the fantasies that keep us bound and in chains. These chains may appear to us to have some pleasant aspects to them when they serve our specialness as we see it. We are willing prisoners to our special relationships of bargaining and reciprocity, and we call this love. Yet it is a picture of fear and guilt. The thoughts in our minds that we have accepted as true are all illusory. When truth dawns on our minds, we awaken to what is real. "And by its presence is the mind recalled from fantasies, awaking to the real." (W.332.1.5)
We will never be coerced by truth. It will come only to the extent that the fear is released. We are always in control of how quickly we agree to release illusions. It is how we "realize the freedom" (W.332.1.8) that is our inheritance. How much do you want freedom from fear? The offer is always there. Freedom is continually being held out for us to receive. We free ourselves only as we bring awareness to our fear thoughts. Forgiveness is about looking at all our defenses and everything we hold dear and bringing it all to the light of truth. With forgiveness, the chains that seem to bind us are loosened.
We take our brothers with us in this process as there is just One Self. Forgiveness is what allows truth to enter in and to free us from this seemingly hopeless situation. Why does it feel hopeless? It feels hopeless because, with our investment in the ego thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, there is no way out. It is a never-ending loop---What I think, I see. What I see, I experience, and what I experience, I think. It is a dream of darkness, all based on wrong-minded thoughts. It is a world bound by fear because it is based on the thought of fear. Only through forgiveness are we freed from this loop. When our thought of fear is replaced by the thought of love, we still see the illusion, but we no longer participate in the thought system of this world. We are free of its hold on us.
We don't generally think that all fear is unforgiveness. Fear comes from the belief that we have destroyed reality, and now we fear God's punishment, which is why we have escaped into the body and the world. Forgiveness undoes the guilt and fear of this avenging God. We are now called to take responsibility for the guilt we project onto those whom we see as responsible for our condition. When we are willing to look at our guilt with honesty and courage and without judgment, we are set free by the Holy Spirit. Only when we stubbornly justify our anger do we stay in hell. Jesus says, "If he speaks not of Christ to you, you spoke not of Christ to him." (T.11.V.18.6) (ACIM OE T.10.IV.58) In other words, if I am not willing to see the Christ in him, no matter what he seems to have done, I am seeing him wrongly. It all starts with my own mind. I can tell what I conveyed by my brother's reaction to me.
The beautiful thing is that we do not have to fight against our anger and our fear. In fact, to do so would be counterproductive. We do not have to manifest anything, shout down the ego with affirmations, nor try to stay positive. We do not have to try to fix the ego for that can ' t be done. All we need to do is allow the light of truth to shine away our fears. All we need to do is bring every thought of guilt and fear to awareness and be willing to question and release it. It is not about doing anything different in the world. It is about going from mindlessness to mindfulness. We do that by bringing our projections back into the mind, which is the only place where we can choose again to have the Holy Spirit reinterpret them.
Notice when you are in a state of fear, how powerless you feel. Notice how crippling guilt is in your life. We feel small and frail in its presence. Forgiveness offers us the opportunity to see how God's power can really work in our lives. As we recognize this power more and more, we grow in confidence in what we are, as we were created by God. We are not these vulnerable, lost, and weak selves, but truly powerful beings. Freedom is being held out to us in this moment. Are we willing to be released now? Look at the situations you are facing where fear comes up for you. Allow yourself to forgive the people involved in those situations, and affirm that "as we offer freedom, it is given us." (W.332.2.5) "To give and to receive are one in truth." (W.108)
Love and blessings, Sarah

A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
Chapter Thirty One

The Simplicity of Salvation   
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CHAPTER 31 VIII, 83-97
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VIII. Choose Once Again 
83 Temptation has one lesson it would teach in all its forms wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this:
84 Choose once again if you would take your place 
    among the saviors of the world, or would 
    remain in hell and hold your brothers there.
85 For He has come, and He is asking this.
86 How do you make the choice? How easily is this explained! You always choose between your weakness and the strength of Christ in you. And what you choose is what you think is real. Simply by never using weakness to direct your actions, you have given it no power. And the light of Christ in you is given charge of everything you do. For you have brought your weakness unto Him, and He has given you His strength instead.
87 Trials are but lessons which 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 which what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, "My brother, choose again." He would not leave one source of pain unhealed nor any image left to veil the truth. [He would remove all misery from you, whom God created altars unto joy.] He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your minds from everything that hides His face from you. His holiness is yours because He is the only power that is real in you. His strength is yours because He is the Self that God created as His only Son.
88 The images you make can not prevail against what God Himself would have you be. Be never fearful of temptation then, but see it as it is; another chance to choose again and let Christ's strength prevail in every circumstance and every place you raised an image of yourself before. For what appears to hide the face of Christ is powerless before His majesty and disappears before His holy sight. The saviors of the world who see like Him are merely those who chose His strength instead of their own weakness, seen apart from Him. They will redeem the world, for they are joined in all the power of the Will of God. And what they will is only what He wills.
89 Learn then the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words:
90 I am as God created me. His Son 
   can suffer nothing. And I am His Son.
91 Thus is Christ's strength invited to prevail, replacing all your weakness with the strength that comes from God and that can never fail. And thus are miracles as natural as fear and agony appeared to be before the choice for holiness was made. For in that choice are false distinctions gone, illusory alternatives laid by, and nothing left to interfere with truth.
92 You are as God created you, and so is every living thing you look upon, regardless of the images you see. What you behold as sickness and as pain, as weakness and as suffering and loss is but temptation to perceive yourself defenseless and in hell. Yield not to this, and you will see all pain in every form wherever it occurs but disappear as mists before the sun. A miracle has come to heal God's Son and close the door upon his dreams of weakness, opening the way to his salvation and release. Choose once again what you would have him be, remembering that every choice you make establishes your own identity as you will see it and believe it is.
93 Deny me not the little gift I ask when in exchange I lay before your feet the peace of God and power to bring this peace to everyone who wanders in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. For it is given you to join with him, and through the Christ in you unveil his eyes and let him look upon the Christ in him. My brothers in salvation, do not fail to hear my voice and listen to my words. I ask for nothing but your own release. There is no place for hell within a world whose loveliness can yet be so intense and so inclusive it is but a step from there to Heaven. To your tired eyes I bring a vision of a different world, so new and clean and fresh you will forget the pain and sorrow that you saw before. Yet this a vision is which you must share with everyone you see, for otherwise you will behold it not. To give this gift is how to make it yours. And God ordained in loving kindness that it be for you.
94 Let us be glad that we can walk the world and find so many chances to perceive another situation where God's gift can once again be recognized as ours! And thus will all the vestiges of hell, the secret "sins," and hidden hates be gone. And all the loveliness which they concealed appear like lawns of Heaven to our sight to lift us high above the thorny roads we travelled on before the Christ appeared. Hear me, my brothers, hear and join with me. God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content. For you will hear, and you will choose again. And in this choice is everyone made free.
95 I thank You, Father, for these holy ones who are my brothers as they are Your Sons. My faith in them is Yours. I am as sure that they will come to me as You are sure of what they are and will forever be. They will accept the gift I offer them because You gave it me on their behalf. And as I would but do Your holy Will, so will they choose. And I give thanks for them. Salvation's song will echo through the world with every choice they make. For we are one in purpose, and the end of hell is near.
96 In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy. Give me my own, for they belong to You. And can You fail in what is but Your Will? I give You thanks for what my brothers are. And as each one elects to join with me, the song of thanks from earth to Heaven grows from tiny scattered threads of melody to one inclusive chorus from a world redeemed from hell and giving thanks to You.
97 And now we say "Amen." For Christ has come to dwell in the abode You set for Him before time was, in calm eternity. The journey closes, ending at the place where it began. No trace of it remains. Not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ from anyone. Thy Will is done, complete and perfectly, and all creation recognizes You and knows You as the only Source it has. Clear in Your Likeness does the Light shine forth from everything that lives and moves in You. For we have reached where all of us are One, and we are home, where You would have us be.
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  To GIVE and to RECEIVE are One in Truth.  Lesson 108

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