Lesson 338
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ACIM Original Edition
 A COURSE IN MIRACLES
   MANUAL FOR TEACHERS
#4. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD'S TEACHERS?  

* Defenselessness

 17 God's teachers have learned how to be simple. They have no dreams that need defense against the truth. They do not try to make themselves. Their joy comes from their understanding Who created them. And does what God created need defense? No one can become an advanced teacher of God until he fully understands that defenses are but the foolish guardians of mad illusions. The more grotesque the dream, the fiercer and more powerful its defenses seem to be. Yet when the teacher of God finally agrees to look past them, he finds nothing was there. Slowly at first, he lets himself be undeceived. But he learns faster as his trust increases. It is not danger that comes when defenses are laid down. It is safety. It is peace. It is joy. And it is God.
   
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MANUAL #4, 11-17
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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
DAILY LESSON
WHAT IS THE EGO?
What is the Ego
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*IAMBIC PENTAMETER*
   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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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
DAILY LESSON
SonShip Workbook
L e s s o n 338
I am affected only by my thoughts.
 
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   It needs but this to let salvation come
   to all the world. For in this single thought
   is everyone released at last from fear.
   Now he has learned that no-one frightens him,
   and nothing can endanger him. He has
   no enemies, and he is safe from all
   external things. His thoughts can frighten him,
   but since these thoughts belong to him alone
   he has the power to change them, and exchange
   each fear thought for a happy thought of love.
   He crucified himself. Yet God has planned
   that His beloved Son will be redeemed.
 
    Your plan is sure, my Father, - only Yours.
    All other plans will fail. And I will have
    thoughts that will frighten me until I learn
    that You have given me the only Thought
    Which leads me to salvation. Mine alone
    will fail and lead me nowhere. But the Thought
    You gave me promises to lead me home
    because it holds Your promise to Your Son.
 
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
LESSON 338
I am affected only by my thoughts.

  
Sarah's Commentary:  
 
I am reflecting today on all the things in my life that I think affect me. It is immensely empowering to realize that none of them have any real effect on me at all. The only reason anything outside of my mind affects me is because I am giving meaning to what has no meaning. Only my thoughts about what is happening around me affect me. Yet, although my thoughts can frighten me, I have the power to "exchange each fear thought for a happy thought of love." (W.338.1.5) My mood is established entirely by me, according to the nature of my thoughts and beliefs. While this is the truth for all of us, clearly, it is not yet our experience, but it is certainly a powerful goal worth pursuing.
 
Events come and go in our lives. We are plagued by problems, people, and situations that are difficult and can be extremely aggravating. We may feel hijacked by an unexpected conversation, an email, or a phone call that triggers a defensive emotional reaction. At such times, we seem to lose our emotional center. We may feel angry, which is the ego's idea of "self-protection." It is a defense that we turn to in the belief that it will keep us from being dominated or controlled; but whether we react outwardly or have inward conflict, it is the same. Our lesson is to come to the place where, "no one frightens him, and nothing can endanger him. He has no enemies, and he is safe from all external things." (W.338.1.3-4) No matter what the situation is, or how I might react to it, this is still the truth to be accepted. Nothing outside my mind is the cause of my grief.
 
I can choose not to give these events any power. They only affect me if I have a story around them where I see myself as victimized and justify a defensive or attacking response. Any pain these events seem to create for me is an opportunity to do self-inquiry about what purpose is served by what I tell myself about any situation. What payoff do I get from my story? When I keep the story, it serves the ego and seems to get me something I want, whether it is my idea of love, attention, sympathy, revenge, power, independence, control, cleverness, or domination. We get a secret pleasure from being victimized, which means that now we can hold the other as the guilty party while we maintain a pseudo-innocence. "And while you think that suffering and sin will bring you joy, so long will they be there for you to see." (T.25.IV.2.2) (ACIM OE T.25.V.33) In other words, we gladly suffer at their hands so they can be accused of our sin as we proclaim, "Behold me, brother, by your hand I die." (T.27.I.IV.4.6) (ACIM OE T.27.II.4) What this means is that we can point a finger at whomever we see as responsible for our suffering and pain.
 
The ego uses many strategies to deal with fear. We may try to gain in a number of ways at our brother's expense through power struggles, right-fighting, sacrificing, projecting guilt, and maximizing opportunities. Ultimately, they are all strategies to keep us from the love we are and to keep us invested in the illusion. The dream becomes all important as does our part in it. We are making it real. Bringing awareness to our motivation to hold onto our story can assist in uncovering the choices we are making that conspire against our happiness and, ultimately, against remembering who we really are.
 
The lack of peace we feel points to the thoughts we stubbornly hold onto. If we allow ourselves to connect deeply with the pain rather than avoiding, justifying, spiritualizing, or denying it, we can surrender it by looking at it with Jesus. When we look with him, we are looking without judgment because he shines his love on our illusions and shows us their unreality. All our strategies are lies that we tell ourselves to support the thoughts we hold in the mind. We see what we choose to see. "You will rejoice at what you see because you see it to rejoice." (T.25.IV.2.1) (ACIM OE T.25.V.33) This is the law of perception. It all starts in our own mind and is projected out. Our stories reflect our view of the world and our concepts about ourselves.
 
When we stop investing in our beliefs that the way we see things is the way they are, we can start to question our thoughts, our beliefs, and our values. When we experience the holy instant, then the events of our lives that we previously defined as problems and aggravations may still be there, but the suffering we experienced as a result of these events is no longer felt. To experience emotions around any situation, we have to want to play with the emotions. We have to want to hold onto our story about the situation. If there is suffering for you, you can be assured you are holding onto your story and the thoughts and beliefs it reflects. The story becomes more important than peace. It takes willingness, courage, and honesty to look at our motivation, which is always a choice that we are making of what it is we want.
 
To realize that nothing outside ourselves can threaten us is our release from suffering, and yet this is not an intellectual process but an experience. It requires a willingness to face our own self-betrayal. When we do the forgiveness work, space is opened for the truth in our right minds to come through so we can experience the connection with the love we are. As Jesus says, "Now has he learned that no one frightens him, and nothing can endanger him. He has no enemies, and he is safe from all external things." (W.338.1.3-4)
 
What wonderful freedom there is in that thought! We have spent so much of our lives protecting ourselves from perceived harm. Why? We have learned from an early age that it is dangerous to be open and vulnerable, so we put up all kinds of defenses. We have felt deceived and betrayed by our experiences in the world, starting with our parents, who turned out not to be perfect. Thus, we started to feel unsafe and became afraid to receive; but the mind wants to feel innocent and therefore dodges the pain and numbs it, avoids it, or offers elaborate justifications for it. When our seeming vulnerability has been abused, fear arises, and we try to protect ourselves and shut down our capacity to receive. We become hypervigilant in staying alert to threat and developing strategies to keep us safe, yet we have a profound yearning for innocence. Our only safety is to let go of our defenses. We are reminded that the way we have defined ourselves, as a body and personal self that needs protection, is not who we are. We are safe and always have been.
 
Our thoughts can indeed frighten us, "but since these thoughts belong to him alone, he has the power to change them and exchange each fear thought for a happy thought of love." (W.338.1.5) We only crucify ourselves, but now we see that we have the power to change our thoughts. Our problems are never external, so they can't be solved with anything external. To find peace from the pain and suffering we experience, we must see that nothing that comes to us from outside is the cause of suffering. It all comes from our own thoughts and the interpretations we give to situations we encounter. It all comes from the separation, where the decision was made to leave God and make our own way. From this thought came a sense of abandonment, which is triggered when someone leaves us and we feel crushed, or we leave before we can be abandoned to protect ourselves from potential pain. All that is happening is that we are seeing ourselves as victims of outside events. When we can see that we have not been abandoned by God, but chose to do the abandoning, and when we take responsibility for that, we can bring our sadness, loneliness, and sense of loss to the Holy Spirit. We see that it was of our own choosing, and now, we can choose again. Now, all relationships are valuable for what we can learn from them about our fears. We are no longer victims, living in fear of abandonment. Relationships provide us with a valuable classroom for looking at our thoughts.
 
"Your plan is sure, my Father,---only Yours. All other plans will fail. And I will have thoughts that will frighten me, until I learn that You have given me the only Thought that leads me to salvation. Mine alone will fail, and lead me nowhere. But the Thought You gave me promises to lead me home, because it holds Your promise to Your Son." (W.338.2.1-5)
 
The plan our Father assures us of is the plan of Atonement. By accepting healing for ourselves offered through forgiveness, we remember who we are. We have been given a way to return home. His plan is the undoing of all our mistaken thoughts by returning the problem back to the mind, which is the only place it can be undone. This is very hopeful because now it is entirely up to us. Nothing outside of us has any power to hurt us or harm us and nothing outside of us will save us. It is all up to us. It is our dream, so we can do something about it in alliance with the power of the Holy Spirit in our right minds.
 
"I am never upset for the reason I think," (W.5) reminds us that while we think events outside our own minds are the cause of our upsets, the cause is always in how we think about a situation. As Jesus reminds us, "I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I would experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve." (T.21.II.2.3-4) (ACIM OE T.21.III.15)
 
"It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident." (T.21.II.3.1-3) (ACIM OE T.21.III.17)
 
In the Workbook, Lesson 190 tells us: "It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. There is no cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression. No one but yourself affects you. There is nothing in the world that has the power to make you ill or sad or weak or frail. But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are." (W.190.5.1 -6)
 
Love and blessings, Sarah
huemmert@shaw.ca 

A Course in Miracles
MANUAL for TEACHERS 
ACIM Original Edition
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MANUAL #4, 11-17
Voice and Music by Martin Weber, CIMS SonShip Radio
 
 
#4. What Are the Characteristics of God's Teachers?

* Honesty

11 All other traits of God's teachers rest on trust. Once that has been achieved, the others cannot fail to follow. Only the trusting can afford honesty, for only they can see its value. Honesty does not apply only to what you say. The term actually means consistency. There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought; no act belies your word; and no word lacks agreement with another. Such are the truly honest. At no level are they in conflict with themselves. Therefore it is impossible for them to be in conflict with anyone or anything.
 
12 The peace of mind which the advanced teachers of God experience is largely due to their perfect honesty. It is only the wish to deceive that makes for war. No one at one with himself can even conceive of conflict. Conflict is the inevitable result of self-deception, and self-deception is dishonesty. There is no challenge to a teacher of God. Challenge implies doubt, and the trust on which God's teachers rest secure makes doubt impossible. Therefore they can only succeed. In this, as in all things, they are honest. They can only succeed because they never do their will alone. They choose for all mankind, for all the world and all things in it, for the unchanging and unchangeable beyond appearances, and for the Son of God and his Creator. How could they not succeed? They choose in perfect honesty, sure of their choice themselves.

* Tolerance

13 God's teachers do not judge. To judge is to be dishonest, for to judge is to assume a position you do not have. Judgment without self-deception is impossible. Judgment implies that you have been deceived in your brothers. How then could you not have been deceived in yourself? Judgment implies a lack of trust, and trust remains the bed-rock of the teacher of God's whole thought system. Let this be lost, and all his learning goes. Without judgment are all things equally acceptable, for who could judge otherwise? Without judgment are all men brothers, for who is there who stands apart? Judgment destroys honesty and shatters trust. No teacher of God can judge and hope to learn.

* Gentleness

14 Harm is impossible for God's teachers. They can neither harm nor be harmed. Harm is the outcome of judgment. It is the dishonest act that follows a dishonest thought. It is a verdict of guilt upon a brother and therefore on one's self. It is the end of peace and the denial of learning. It demonstrates the absence of God's curriculum and its replacement by insanity. No teacher of God but must learn-and fairly early in his training-that harmfulness completely obliterates his function from his awareness. It will make him confused, fearful, angry, and suspicious. It will make the Holy Spirit's lessons impossible to learn. Nor can God's Teacher be heard at all except by those who realize that harm can actually achieve nothing. No gain can come of it.
 
15 Therefore God's teachers are wholly gentle. They need the strength of gentleness, for it is in this that the function of salvation becomes easy. To those who would do harm, it is impossible. To those to whom harm has no meaning, it is merely natural. What choice but this has meaning to the sane? Who chooses hell when he perceives a way to Heaven? And who would choose the weakness that must come from harm in place of the unfailing, all-encompassing, and limitless strength of gentleness? The might of God's teachers lies in their gentleness, for they have understood their evil thoughts came neither from God's Son nor his Creator. Thus did they join their thoughts with Him Who is their Source. And so their will, which always was His own, is free to be itself.

* Joy

16 Joy is the inevitable result of gentleness. Gentleness means that fear is now impossible, and what could come to interfere with joy? The open hands of gentleness are always filled. The gentle have no pain. They cannot suffer. Why would they not be joyous? They are sure they are beloved and must be safe. Joy goes with gentleness as surely as grief attends attack. God's teachers trust in Him. And they are sure His Teacher goes before them, making sure no harm can come to them. They hold His gifts and follow in His way because God's Voice directs them in all things. Joy is their song of thanks. And Christ looks down on them in thanks as well. His need of them is just as great as theirs of Him. How joyous it is to share the purpose of salvation!

* Defenselessness

17 God's teachers have learned how to be simple. They have no dreams that need defense against the truth. They do not try to make themselves. Their joy comes from their understanding Who created them. And does what God created need defense? No one can become an advanced teacher of God until he fully understands that defenses are but the foolish guardians of mad illusions. The more grotesque the dream, the fiercer and more powerful its defenses seem to be. Yet when the teacher of God finally agrees to look past them, he finds nothing was there. Slowly at first, he lets himself be undeceived. But he learns faster as his trust increases. It is not danger that comes when defenses are laid down. It is safety. It is peace. It is joy. And it is God.
  
 
 
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