Lesson 334
ACIM Original Edition
4 Time really, then, goes backward to an instant so ancient that it is beyond all memory and past even the possibility of remembering. Yet because it is an instant that is relived again and again and still again, it seems to be now. And thus it is that pupil and teacher seem to come together in the present, finding each other as if they had not met before. The pupil comes at the right time to the right place. This is inevitable because he made the right choice in that ancient instant which he now relives. So has the teacher, too, made an inevitable choice out of an ancient past. God's Will in everything but seems to take time in the working-out. What could delay the Power of eternity?  
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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 334
Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives.
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   I will not wait another day to find
   the treasures that my Father offers me.
   Illusions must be vain, and dreams are gone
   even while they are woven out of thoughts
   that rest on false perception. Let me not
   accept such meager gifts again today.
   God's Voice is offering the peace of God
   to all who hear and choose to follow Him.
   This is my choice today. And so I go
   to find the treasures God has given me.
    I seek but the eternal. For Your Son
    can be content with nothing less than this.
    What, then, can be his solace but what You
    are offering to his bewildered mind
    and frightened heart, to give him certainty
    and bring him peace? Today I would behold
    my brother sinless. This Your Will for me,
    for thus will I behold my sinlessness.
        ~ Original Handscript of ACIM  
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives.

Sarah's Commentary:  
In an interview, Seinfeld said he had never thought he wanted to marry. Then he came to a place where he realized he had everything in the world that money could buy, which brought him to wonder, "What do I do now?" Since marriage wasn't on his agenda, there seemed nothing else in the world to have, and so life, although abundant in the material realm and in power and prestige, lost its luster. He had everything, yet he felt very alone and unfulfilled, and so he did marry and now has a wife and family and has expanded his interests to include others. I'm not saying a special relationship is the answer to this feeling of emptiness. I'm only saying that when we get what we think we want in this world, which can include the special relationship, the sense of lack and unfulfillment continues until we get on the path of awakening from this dream and claim the gifts forgiveness gives.
We think we would be happy if all our dreams were met and we got everything we wanted, yet as Seinfeld illustrated in this interview, eventually disillusionment set in. Eventually, "Illusions are all vain, and dreams are gone even while they are woven out of thoughts that rest on false perceptions." (W.334.1.2) Our false perceptions are based on what the ego tells us to pursue in the world. The ego is always about having more. There is never enough to fill the lack we feel within. The ego wants more, whether it is more power, prestige, attention, adventure, thrills, or even more distress, victimhood, or illness, hard as that is to believe. When we live in false perception, which is the world of illusion, we are never satisfied. There is a restlessness we feel, with no certainty of what will finally fulfill the sense of lack and need. Until we seek to know the eternal Self that we are, we will never be content. We will wonder what is wrong, yet have no answer. The only answer that brings certainty and peace is to know our sinlessness. It is to know who we really are. "Let me not accept such meager gifts today" of the ego. (W.334.1.3)
There will always be an emptiness within when we identify with the body and personality. This emptiness needs to be filled with something. It may be food, drugs, sex, power, fame, prestige, attention, or any number of things that we pursue in the belief that they will fulfill us. The ego is a wanting machine. I recall reading in the book, A Million Little Pieces, about James Frey's recovery from drug use. He said how he could never put enough food into himself to fill the empty void. No matter how much he ate, and he ate a lot, there was still this empty place in him, yearning for fulfillment. This place cannot be filled by anything except God. We all have this yearning for spiritual fulfillment.
This Lesson says that the treasures being offered us by our Father are eternal. The goal of this Course is peace, and peace is available to us as we release our judgments and false perceptions. Imagine how beautiful the gift of innocence is, where we feel totally clean of all negative thoughts, all grievances, all issues, all guilt, and all judgment. When we know that we are on the right path and have chosen the right teacher, we no longer wonder about the future, our goals, and our direction in life. More and more we experience ease, spaciousness, and a feeling of being in the flow. We see that everything that shows up for us has a divine purpose. It can all be used for healing, so we can come to know deep abiding peace where nothing can disturb the tranquility of our minds.
Jesus teaches that we are incapable of wanting less than the eternal. Everything else is a poor substitute. When we realize that substitutes can never satisfy us, we naturally want the authentic, real, and substantial, which are the eternal. Once we realize that we have the power to choose, we learn to discern what has eternal value and what is useless, valueless, and false and offers us the fleeting, meager "gifts" of the ego. When we see this contrast, we are motivated to respond more fully to the call within to "choose to follow Him." (W.334.1.4) How do we do that? Only by releasing expectations, issues, grievances and, in fact, all the thoughts that block awareness of who we are in truth can the gifts of God spring forth. It takes surrender and humility. We need to admit that we truly don't know what will make us happy because we have been wrong about ourselves. We are as God created us, not what we have made of ourselves. Forgiveness is the process of releasing all the false beliefs that we hold. What gives them power is only our investment in the false as true. We have the power to choose what to accept as true.
As Lesson 231 says, "What can I seek for, but Your Love?" (W.231.1.1) What we truly want is to know our own will, which is one with God's. We must come to see that we all share the same one Will. Sameness reflects the Oneness we share. If we crucify our brother in any way today, we do so based on our belief in differences and separation. This is how we reinforce specialness and false innocence---by seeing ourselves as better than those we judge. It is how we express our individuality when we believe we can hurt our brother and maintain our innocence, but all that happens is that we accumulate more guilt.
We simply can't change what we are as God created us, no matter how much we avoid, distract, pursue our own goals, or hold onto our beliefs and perspectives. As Jesus says in Chapter 29, "The changelessness of Heaven is in you, so deep within that nothing in this world but passes by, unnoticed and unseen. The still infinity of endless peace surrounds you gently in its soft embrace, so strong and quiet, tranquil in the might of its Creator, nothing can intrude upon the sacred Son of God within." (T.29.V.2.3-4) (ACIM OE T.29.VI.32)
This is such a beautiful affirmation of the truth. As we open more and more to the truth, keep surrendering our way, and keep asking for help, the obsessive voice of the ego gets more and more irrelevant. In other words, we turn away from it, choosing not to give it attention. This voice can be very loud, raucous, obsessive, and persistent. All past conditioning has convinced us that we are what we are not. We have become accustomed to this voice with its constant chatter that plays incessantly in the mind. It is like background noise. Unless we tune into it, we don't even hear it anymore. All the thoughts and beliefs of the unwatched mind get dumped into the unconscious mind and continue to run our lives. Thus, if we are not vigilant in watching our thoughts, our lives seem to be on autopilot where we react without even thinking. As Jesus says, truth comes to the silent mind, and the mind is silenced when we bring the content of egoic our thoughts to the truth.
I recently had a very difficult challenge in my life where I felt that I was being ignored and neglected by a professional whom I was depending on to address a matter of some importance. I noticed the obsessive thoughts I was holding about this situation. There were thoughts of revenge, guilt, strategies to solve the problem, fear, concern, and worry. The mind was very much in turmoil. When we identify with this constant turmoil, we ensure that truth cannot reach our awareness. Only when we bring these disturbing thoughts to the Holy Spirit can space be opened for the gentle, changeless peace to envelop us in its embrace. It is all based on what we desire---peace or our own way.
"The bridge that He would carry you across lifts you from time into eternity. Waken from time, and answer fearlessly the call of Him Who gave eternity to you in your creation. On this side of the bridge to timelessness you understand nothing. But as you step lightly across it, upheld by timelessness, you are directed straight to the Heart of God. At its center, and only there, you are safe forever, because you are complete forever. There is no veil the Love of God in us together cannot lift. The way to truth is open. Follow it with me." (T.16.IV.13.4-11) (ACIM OE T.16.V.42)
When we keep trying to find in the world of time what can only be found in the eternal, we stay in the endless loop of the ego; and what we find there are only substitutes for the real thing. Our special relationships hold us in time, but if we open to the holy instant, we begin to allow the Holy Spirit to use all relationships for the healing of our minds. Through forgiveness, we come to see our brothers as innocent, and in turn, we see ourselves the same.
Today, I am looking at all the things that are keeping me from claiming my gifts. I value the way I see things. I value my own point of view. This keeps me from asking for His guidance. I want things to go the way I set them up for myself. I want things to go according to my plan in the world. I notice an unwillingness to give up my authority over the decisions in my life. I trust my own judgment. I believe my preferences are important. I hold onto concepts and ideas of how things should be. That is why today I affirm, "I will not wait another day to find the treasures that my Father offers me." (W.334.1.1) I increasingly recognize my way will never bring me the happiness I seek. Through forgiveness, the memory of my own innocence is awakened. By undoing my perception of guilt in others, I can access my own eternal gifts.
It is important to start the day with a focus on what kind of day we want and to remind ourselves, "If I make no decisions by myself, this is the day that will be given me." (T.30.I.4.2) (ACIM OE T.30.II.8) Today can be a day in which we claim the eternal gifts of peace, innocence, and certainty. Is any argument, any disagreement, or any conflict worth giving up peace? Are judgments, grievances, or issues with anyone worth trading for His eternal gifts? Do I really want to hurt myself in this way? We recognize today that everything in our lives offers us the perfect opportunity for making new choices by being willing to replace grievances, judgments, neediness, and demands with the willingness to receive the miracle and thus perceive our brother as the same as ourselves. When we join in recognition of our Oneness, we claim the gifts forgiveness gives.
Love and blessings, Sarah

A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
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MANUAL #2, #3
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#2. Who Are Their Pupils 
1 Certain pupils have been assigned to each of God's teachers, and they will begin to look for him as soon as he has answered the Call. They were chosen for him because the form of the universal curriculum that he will teach is best for them in view of their level of understanding. His pupils have been waiting for him, for his coming is certain. Again, it is only a matter of time. Once he has chosen to fulfill his role, they are ready to fulfill theirs. Time waits on his choice but not whom he will serve. When he is ready to learn, the opportunities to teach will be provided for him.
2 In order to understand the teaching-learning plan of salvation, it is necessary to grasp the concept of time which the course sets forth. Atonement corrects illusions, not the truth. Therefore it corrects what never was. Further, the plan for this correction was established and completed simultaneously, for the Will of God is entirely apart from time. So is all reality, being of Him. The instant the idea of separation entered the mind of God's Son, in that same instant was God's Answer given. In time this happened very long ago. In reality it never happened at all.
3 The world of time is the world of illusion. What happened long ago seems to be happening now. Choices made long since appear to be open, yet to be made. What has been learned and understood and long ago passed by is looked upon as a new thought, a fresh idea, a different approach. Because your will is free, you can accept what has already happened at any time you choose, and only then will you realize that it was always there. As the course emphasizes, you are not free to choose the curriculum or even the form in which you will learn it. You are free, however, to decide when you want to learn it. And as you accept it, it is already learned.
4 Time really, then, goes backward to an instant so ancient that it is beyond all memory and past even the possibility of remembering. Yet because it is an instant that is relived again and again and still again, it seems to be now. And thus it is that pupil and teacher seem to come together in the present, finding each other as if they had not met before. The pupil comes at the right time to the right place. This is inevitable because he made the right choice in that ancient instant which he now relives. So has the teacher, too, made an inevitable choice out of an ancient past. God's Will in everything but seems to take time in the working-out. What could delay the Power of eternity?
5 When pupil and teacher come together, a teaching-learning situation begins. For the teacher is not really the one who does the teaching. God's Teacher speaks to any two who join together for learning purposes. The relationship is holy because of that purpose, and God has promised to send His Spirit into any holy relationship. In the teaching-learning situation, each one learns that giving and receiving are the same. The demarcations they have drawn between their roles, their minds, their bodies, their needs, their interests, and all the differences they thought separated them from one another fade and grow dim and disappear. Those who would learn the same course share one interest and one goal. And thus he who was the learner becomes a teacher of God Himself, for he has made the one decision that gave his teacher to him. He has seen in another person the same interests as his own.

#3. What Are the Levels of Teaching?  
1 The teachers of God have no set teaching level. Each teaching-learning situation involves a different relationship at the beginning, although the ultimate goal is always the same---to make of the relationship a holy relationship in which both can look upon the Son of God as sinless. There is no one from whom a teacher of God cannot learn, so there is no one whom he cannot teach. However, from a practical point of view, he cannot meet everyone, nor can everyone find him. Therefore, the plan includes very specific contacts to be made for each teacher of God. There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet because together they have the potential for a holy relationship. They are ready for each other.
2 The simplest level of teaching appears to be quite superficial. It consists of what seem to be very casual encounters---a chance meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult "by accident," two students who happen to walk home together. These are not chance encounters. Each of them has the potential for becoming a teaching-learning situation. Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another; perhaps the man will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment. That moment will be enough. Salvation has come.
3 It is difficult to understand that levels of teaching the universal course is a concept as meaningless in reality as is time. The illusion of one permits the illusion of the other. In time, the teacher of God seems to begin to change his mind about the world with the single decision, and then learns more and more about the new direction as he teaches it. We have covered the illusion of time already, but the illusion of levels of teaching seems to be something different. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate that these levels cannot exist is simply to say that any level of the teaching-learning situation is part of God's plan for Atonement, and His plan can have no levels, being a reflection of His Will. Salvation is always ready and always there. God's teachers work at different levels, but the result is always the same.
4 Each teaching-learning situation is maximal in the sense that each person involved will learn the most that he can from the other person at that time. In this sense, and in this sense only, we can speak of levels of teaching. Using the term in this way, the second level of teaching is a more sustained relationship in which for a time two people enter into a fairly intense teaching-learning situation and then appear to separate. As with the first level, these meetings are not accidental, nor is what appears to be the end of the relationship a real end. Again, each has learned the most he can at the time. Yet all who meet will someday meet again, for it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy. God is not mistaken in His Son.
5 The third level of teaching occurs in relationships which, once they are formed, are lifelong. These are teaching-learning situations in which each person is given a chosen learning partner who presents him with unlimited opportunities for learning. These relationships are generally few because their existence implies that those involved have reached a stage simultaneously in which the teaching-learning balance is actually perfect. This does not mean that they necessarily recognize this; in fact, they generally do not. They may even be quite hostile to each other for some time, and perhaps for life. Yet should they decide to learn it, the perfect lesson is before them and can be learned. And if they decide to learn that lesson, they become the saviors of the teachers who falter and may even seem to fail. No teacher of God can fail to find the Help he needs.
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  To GIVE and to RECEIVE are One in Truth.  Lesson 108

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