Lesson 337
ACIM Original Edition
4 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? 
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MANUAL #4, 1-10
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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 337
My sinlessness protects me from all harm.
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   My sinlessness ensures me perfect peace,
   eternal safety, everlasting love,
   freedom forever from all thought of loss;
   complete deliverance from suffering.
   And only happiness can be my state,
   for only happiness is given me.
   What must I do to know all this is mine?
   I must accept Atonement for myself,
   and nothing more. God has already done
   all things that need be done. I need but learn
   I need do nothing of myself, for I
   can but accept my Self, my sinlessness,
   created for me, now already mine,
   to feel God's Love protecting me from harm,
   to understand my Father loves His Son;
   to know I am the Son my Father loves.
    You who created me in sinlessness
    are not mistaken about what I am.
    I was mistaken when I thought I sinned,
    but I accept Atonement for myself.
    Father, my dream is ended now. Amen.
     ~ Original Handscript of ACIM  
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
My sinlessness protects me from all harm.

Sarah's Commentary:  
When Jesus talks about accepting the Atonement, he is talking about accepting our innocence, which is accepting the Self as the Christ. To do so requires that we accept the Correction for our mistaken perceptions and be willing to accept healing, so we can know that we have never changed the Self that we are. God created us as perfect eternal beings of light and love. To accept this for ourselves, we need to be willing to look at the way we block this truth. Forgiveness is about bringing to the light the blocks we hold against the truth and how we defend ourselves. This takes willingness and great vigilance in watching our thoughts. To "Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom" (T.6.C.2.8) (ACIM OE T.6.c.85) is a "major step toward fundamental change." (T.6.C.3.1) (ACIM OE T.6.c.86)
We spend a lot of our lives looking for love, looking for happiness, and trying to find peace and contentment. Jesus says, "And only happiness can be my state, for only happiness is given to me." (W.337.1.2) Yet the reality is that we don't feel happy consistently. Why? "What must I do to know all this is mine?" (W.337.1.3) Jesus tells us in this Lesson that there is nothing to be done. "I must accept Atonement for myself, and nothing more. God has already done all things that need be done." (W.337.1.4-5) Therefore, with the help of the Holy Spirit, our job is to undo all that is not true. It is to look past appearances and to recognize that anything not of love and joy has no power to hurt us or anyone else.
In "The Greater Joining", Jesus says, "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 [free of dreams of pain]. 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 is yours. So do you and your brother both become illusions, and without identity." (T.28.IV.1.1-8) (ACIM OE T.28.V.37)
He is saying that when we acknowledge Oneness with our brother, we are both set free. We do that by recognizing that we are the same. It is not to suffer with him or join with him in his pain, but to recognize his innocence, which is to recognize our own. This means that all judgments we have about him must be given over to the Holy Spirit. We must not see ourselves as a dream figure in his story of pain, sickness, or suffering and join him there in a show of false empathy. Instead, it is about coming to know who we are and to know our brother's reality as we were created. The way we know the truth is to bring all the judgments, comparisons, and specialness to the light of truth.
We might wonder then, "Why don't I feel happy all the time if happiness is already given me, and I need do nothing? Since there is nothing to seek, but only my reality as Love to accept, how is this accomplished?" The answer is---acceptance of who we are in truth. What keeps us from the truth is our denial and defenses, our belief that we are what we have made of ourselves, and ultimately, our fear of God. We hold onto the image---the self-concept---that we have made of ourselves. We don't trust God because we have made an image of Him that equates Him with death. We hold the belief that He wants to wrest from us our will and demand sacrifice of us, but it is an image of God made by the ego and not what God is.
What must be undone before we can know ourselves as God created us? How did we get so mistaken about ourselves that we think we have become something we are not? How have we become so insecure that we experience life as suffering and turmoil? Why does it seem that we must spend our lives seeking for happiness that always seems to elude us? Jesus tells us that there is nothing to seek. What we need to see is how we actively deny, defend, and negate our happiness and actually protect ourselves from our reality as Beings of light and love. We are pure joy, but we defend against it. How we do that is by distracting ourselves, seeking things in the world we think will make us happy, making plans for our own salvation, and keeping our minds actively pursuing, judging, attacking, feeling guilty, fearful, angry, and all that keeps us defended against the love we are. Because of our fear of the Self we are, we cling to the image of ourselves that we have made.
That is why forgiveness is so central to the Course teachings. Through forgiveness we recognize the other person is as sinless as ourselves and we join---Love to Love. We see beyond the behaviors and respond to the call for love with love. We do not respond to the demands and manipulations of another as if it were something to fix or solve, but we respond to the real problem, which is a cry from our brothers to be seen and understood as innocent, as we are, despite what their behavior might look like. This is how we come to know who we are.
To accept the Atonement for ourselves is important because it is the acceptance of right-mindedness, which is a moment of sanity, even if only briefly. This leads directly and automatically to extending healing to others. "Accepting healing is the precondition for extending healing, for you must have before you can give." (Course glossary). "The only way to heal is to be healed. The miracle extends without your help, but you are needed that it can begin. Accept the miracle of healing, and it will go forth because of what it is. It is its nature to extend itself the instant it is born. And it is born the instant it is offered and received." (T.27.V.1.1-5) (ACIM OE T.27.VI.44) This is why contemplation of the Lessons and taking time for meditation practice are important to healing. We must take responsibility for all the judgments and attacks we project onto others. Only by taking responsibility for our attacks and bringing them to the light can healing take place.
The miracle is the expression of the Atonement. "The miracle does nothing. All it does is to undo. And thus it cancels out the interference to what has been done. It does not add, but merely takes away." (T.28.I.1) (ACIM OE T.In.28.I.1) While we might think of the miracle as something amazing and dramatic, all the miracle does is bring our mind back to the truth by helping us recognize that the way we see things now is not the truth. Therefore, the miracle simply restores what always was. It brings the problem to the Answer and solves the problem where it really is, which is in the mind. Our only problem is that we cling to an ancient memory of sin and guilt. The miracle clears away these old memories. It helps clear our link to the past. It does not mean we don't address problems that show up in our lives, but we must recognize that they will never be solved in the world, never to return. The only real solution is in the mind. When I am sick, the first thing I want to do is run to the medicine cabinet to find a solution; but the problem is the guilt in the mind and running to the medicine cabinet cannot solve the real problem. It does not make taking medicine wrong, but to address the real problem, we are encouraged to go to Spirit first. When we do, we become willing to go to the source of the problem that is in the mind, which is the only place real healing can happen.
The focus of this whole Course is on miracles, which is the attainment of peace, and not on what the Course calls Knowledge or a sustained experience of the mystical. We may be tempted to put all our focus on wanting such experiences. Yet Jesus clearly puts the focus on doing the work of reversing the way we currently think by reversing cause and effect. Knowledge is beyond the goal of the Course. While mystical experiences are motivating, they are not our focus. Our focus is on moving up the ladder of separation to the truth by undoing all that stands in the way.
As we come to recognize ourselves by accepting the Atonement, we recognize our purity and our invulnerability. If we think we can be harmed in any way, we have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten our identity as eternal beings, and we are dreaming that we are something else. Through forgiveness and joining with another, rather than building defenses, we let go of the dream of separation.
Today is a day to commit to healing our minds, bringing anything that stands between us and our brothers and sisters to the Holy Spirit and asking for His help so that we may know the truth.
"You Who created me in sinlessness are not mistaken about what I am. I was mistaken when I thought I sinned, but I accept Atonement for myself. Father, my dream is ended now. Amen." (W.337.2.1-3)
In our identification with the image of ourselves that we think we are, we don't understand anything because we are perceiving everything incorrectly. Now it is up to us to recognize, we have been mistaken. With the recognition, we have been wrong about everything that we think, we humbly accept this teaching and participate fully in it, so our errors can be undone. Thankfully, we have been given a foolproof process that works 100% of the time for this to be accomplished.
Love and blessings, Sarah

A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
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MANUAL #4, 1-10
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#4. What Are the Characteristics of God's Teachers?
1 The surface traits of God's teachers are not at all alike. They do not look alike to the body's eyes, they come from vastly different backgrounds, their experiences of the world vary greatly, and their superficial "personalities" are quite distinct. Nor at the beginning stages of their functioning as teachers of God have they as yet acquired the deeper characteristics that will establish them as what they are. God gives special gifts to His teachers because they have a special role in His plan for Atonement. Their specialness is, of course, only temporary---set in time as a means of leading out of time. These special gifts, born in the holy relationship toward which the teaching-learning situation is geared, become characteristic of all teachers of God who have advanced in their own learning. In this respect they are all alike.
2 All differences among the Sons of God are temporary. Nevertheless, in time it can be said that the advanced teachers of God have the following characteristics:

* Trust

3 This is the foundation on which their ability to fulfill their function rests. Perception is the result of learning. In fact, perception is learning because cause and effect are never separated. The teachers of God have trust in the world because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by a Power Which is in them but not of them. It is this Power that keeps all things safe. It is through this Power that the teachers of God look on a forgiven world.
4 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?
5 First, they must go through what might be called "a period of undoing." This need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognized. How can lack of value be perceived unless the perceiver is in a position where he must see things in a different light? He is not yet at a point at which he can make the shift entirely internally. And so the plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external circumstances. These changes are always helpful. When the teacher of God has learned that much, he goes on to the second stage.
6 Next, the teacher of God must go through a "period of sorting-out." This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it. He will find that many if not most of the things he valued before will merely hinder his ability to transfer what he has learned to new situations as they arise. Because he has valued what is really valueless, he will not generalize the lesson for fear of loss and sacrifice. It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters, and circumstances are helpful. It is only to the extent to which they are helpful that any degree of reality should be accorded them in this world of illusion. The word "value" can apply to nothing else.
7 The third stage through which the teachers of God must go can be called a "period of relinquishment." If this is interpreted as giving up the desirable, it will engender enormous conflict. Few teachers of God escape this distress entirely. There is, however, no point in sorting out the valuable from the valueless unless the next obvious step is taken. The third step is rarely if ever begun until the second is complete. Therefore, the period of overlap is apt to be one in which the teacher of God feels called upon to sacrifice his own best interests on behalf of truth. He has not realized as yet how wholly impossible such a demand would be. He can learn this only as he actually does give up the valueless. Through this he learns that where he anticipated grief, he finds a happy light-heartedness instead; where he thought something was asked of him, he finds a gift bestowed on him.
8 Now comes a "period of settling down." This is a quiet time in which the teacher of God rests a while in reasonable peace. Now he consolidates his learning. Now he begins to see the transfer value of what he has learned. Its potential is literally staggering, and the teacher of God is now at the point in his progress at which he sees in it his whole way out. "Give up what you do not want and keep what you do." How simple is the obvious! And how easy to do! The teacher of God needs this period of respite. He has not yet come as far as he thinks. Yet when he is ready to go on, he goes with mighty companions beside him. Now he rests a while and gathers them before going on. He will not go on from here alone.
9 The next stage is indeed a "period of unsettling." Now must the teacher of God understand that he did not really know what was valuable and what was valueless. All that he really learned so far was that he did not want the valueless and that he did want the valuable. Yet his own sorting-out was meaningless in teaching him the difference. The idea of sacrifice, so central to his thought system, had made it impossible for him to judge. He thought he had learned willingness, but now he sees that he does not know what the willingness is for. And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible for a long, long time. He must learn to lay all judgment aside and ask only what he really wants in every circumstance. Were not each step in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed!
10 And finally, there is a "period of achievement." It is here that learning is consolidated. Now what was seen as merely shadows before becomes solid gains, to be counted on in all "emergencies" as well as tranquil times. Indeed, the tranquility is their result---the outcome of honest learning, consistency of thought, and full transfer. This is the stage of real peace, for here is Heaven's state fully reflected. From here the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here. Who would "go" anywhere if peace of mind is already complete? And who would seek to change tranquility for something more desirable? What could be more desirable than this?
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