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81 Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing which you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain, and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die and end the dream of fear. This is temptation, nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.

Workbook for Students
Part II
What is the Ego?
1 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.

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Workbook for Students
Lesson 334
Today I claim the gifts
forgiveness gives.
1 I will not wait another day to find the treasures which 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.

2 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.
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Course in Miracles
Original Edition
Chapter 31
 The Simplicity of Salvation

VII. The Savior's Vision
par 68-82
68 Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognize. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation's task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world's concepts are the guilty "bad;" the "good" are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the "good" to pardon him the "bad." Nor does he trust the "good" in anyone, believing that the "bad" must lurk behind. This concept emphasizes treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the "bad" in you.

69 You could not recognize your "evil" thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another "crime." You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed . Your "evil" thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer did you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you gave your trust to what is good in him, you gave it to the good in you.

70 In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the "baser" part of you and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself, when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid that God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.

71 You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself which can be interchanged, but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you. For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.

72 Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him that you may not be frightened by your "evil" thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself which now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one which brings the peace of God.

73 The concept of yourself which now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world instead of as salvation's enemy?

74 The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images because you look on them as through a barrier which dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release—the sight, the vision, and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you and the universe with them.

75 Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a savior to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this One. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.

76 The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error—that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself which holds him off from you and you away from him. The sword of judgment is the weapon which you give to the illusion of yourself that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is and thus what you must be.

77 What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a savior to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial savior would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given each of you to save are everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are, all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet, the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.

78 Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the savior of the Son of God? How would you know his holiness while you see him apart from yours? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon that he may be what they expect of him. This is the savior's vision—that he see his innocence in all he looks upon and sees his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.

79 Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self which you are not. And from that wish, a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you. For vision can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see or keep yourself apart and separate.

80 The savior's vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgment made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognizing this, it merely asks, "What is the meaning of what I behold?" Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks in innocence to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.

81 Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing which you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain, and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die and end the dream of fear. This is temptation, nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.

82 Let not the world's light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the savior's vision is withheld, and what they see is death. Their savior stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, "Release My Son!" be tempted not to listen when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?

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Sarah's Reflections
Lesson 334
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.
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Love and blessings, Sarah


Allen Watson's
Workbook Commentaries
Allen joined Robert Perry in forming the Circle of Atonement in 1993 in Sedona, Arizona where Allen led retreats and workshops and authored many books based on “A Course in Miracles.” One of his most popular books is:

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