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45 The mind chose to divide itself when it willed to create both its own levels and the ability to perceive, but it could not entirely separate itself from the Soul because it is from the Soul that it derives its whole power to create. Even in miscreation will is affirming its Source or it would merely cease to be. This is impossible because it is part of the Soul which God created and which is therefore eternal.

Workbook for Students
Introduction Part I
1 A theoretical foundation such as the text is necessary as a background to make these exercises meaningful. Yet it is the exercises which will make the goal possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of these exercises to train the mind to think along the lines which the course sets forth.

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Workbook for Students
Lesson 34
I could see peace instead of this.
1 The idea for today begins to describe the conditions that prevail in the other way of seeing. Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts and then extend outward. It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.

2 Three longer practice periods are required for today's exercises. One in the morning and one in the evening are advised, with an additional one to be undertaken at any time in between which seems most conducive to readiness. All applications should be done with your eyes closed. It is your inner world to which the applications of today's idea should be made.

3 Some five minutes of mind searching are required for each of the longer practice periods. Search your mind for fear thoughts, anxiety provoking situations, "offending" personalities or events, or anything else about which you are harboring unloving thoughts. Note them all casually, repeating the idea for today slowly as you watch them arise in your mind, and let each one go, to be replaced by the next.

4 If you begin to experience difficulty in thinking of specific subjects, continue to repeat the idea to yourself in an unhurried manner, without applying it to anything in particular. Be sure, however, not to make any specific exclusions.

5 The shorter applications are to be frequent and made whenever you feel your peace of mind is threatened in any way. The purpose is to protect yourself from temptation throughout the day. If a specific form of temptation arises in your awareness, the exercise should take this form:

6 I could see peace in this situation instead of what I now see in it.

7 If the inroads on your peace of mind take the form of more generalized adverse emotions, such as depression, anxiety, or worry, use the idea in its original form. If you find you need more than one application of today's idea to help you change your mind in any specific context, try to take several minutes and devote them to repeating the idea until you feel some sense of relief. It will help you if you tell yourself specifically:

8 I can replace my feelings of depression, anxiety or worry [or my thoughts about this situation, personality, or event] with peace.

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Course in Miracles
Original Edition
Chapter 3

Retraining the Mind

VI. Conflict and the Ego
38 [The Soul knows, loves, and creates. These are its unequivocal functions.] The abilities man now possesses are only shadows of his real strengths. All of his functions are equivocal and open to question or doubt. This is because he is not certain how he will use them. He is therefore incapable of knowledge, being uncertain. He is also incapable of knowledge because he can perceive lovelessly. He cannot create surely because his perception deceives [and illusions are not pure]. Perception did not exist until the separation had introduced degrees, aspects, and intervals. The Soul has no levels, and all conflict arises from the concept of levels. [Wars arise where some regard others as if they were on a different level. All interpersonal conflicts arise from this fallacy.] Only the levels of the Trinity are capable of unity. The levels which man created by the separation cannot but conflict. This is because they are essentially meaningless to each other.

39 Freud realized this perfectly and that is why he conceived the different levels in his view of the psyche as forever irreconcilable. They were conflict-prone by definition because they wanted different things and obeyed different principles. In our picture of the psyche, there is an unconscious level which properly consists only of the miracle ability and which should be under my direction. There is also a conscious level, which perceives or is aware of impulses from both the unconscious and the superconscious. Consciousness is thus the level of perception but not of knowledge. Again, to perceive is not to know.

40 Consciousness was the first split that man introduced into himself. He became a perceiver rather than a creator in the true sense. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego. The ego is a man-made attempt to perceive himself as he wished to be rather than as he is. This is an example of the created-creator confusion we have spoken of before. Yet man can only know himself as he is because that is all he can be sure of. Everything else is open to question.

41 The ego is the questioning compartment in the post-separation psyche which man created for himself. It is capable of asking valid questions but not of perceiving valid answers because these are cognitive and cannot be perceived. The endless speculation about the meaning of mind has led to considerable confusion because the mind is confused. Only One-Mindedness is without confusion. A separated or divided mind must be confused; it is uncertain by definition. It has to be in conflict because it is out of accord with itself.

42 Intrapersonal conflict arises from the same basis as interpersonal conflict. One part of the psyche perceives another part as on a different level and does not understand it. This makes the parts strangers to each other, without recognition. This is the essence of the fear-prone condition in which attack is always possible. Man has every reason to feel afraid as he perceives himself. This is why he cannot escape from fear until he knows that he did not and could not create himself. He can never make his misperceptions valid. His creation is beyond his own error, and that is why he must eventually choose to heal the separation.

43 Right-mindedness is not to be confused with the knowing mind because it is applicable only to right perception. You can be right-minded or wrong-minded, and even this is subject to degrees, a fact which clearly demonstrates a lack of association with knowledge. The term "right-mindedness" is properly used as the correction for "wrong-mindedness," and applies to the state of mind which induces accurate perception. It is miraculous because it heals misperception, and this is indeed a miracle in view of how man perceives himself.

44 Perception always involves some misuse of will because it involves the mind in areas of uncertainty. The mind is very active because it has will-power. When it willed the separation, it willed to perceive. Until then, it willed only to know. Afterwards it willed ambiguously, and the only way out of ambiguity is clear perception. The mind returns to its proper function only when it wills to know. This places it in the Soul's service, where perception is meaningless. The superconscious is the level of the mind which wills this.

45 The mind chose to divide itself when it willed to create both its own levels and the ability to perceive, but it could not entirely separate itself from the Soul because it is from the Soul that it derives its whole power to create. Even in miscreation will is affirming its Source or it would merely cease to be. This is impossible because it is part of the Soul which God created and which is therefore eternal.

46 The ability to perceive made the body possible because you must perceive something and with something. This is why perception involves an exchange or translation, which knowledge does not need. The interpretive function of perception, actually a distorted form of creation, then permitted man to interpret the body as himself, which, though depressing, was an attempt to escape from the conflict he had induced. The superconscious, which knows, could not be reconciled with this loss of power because it is incapable of darkness. This is why it became almost inaccessible to the mind and entirely inaccessible to the body.

47 Thereafter, the superconscious was perceived as a threat because light does abolish darkness merely by establishing the fact that it is not there. The truth will always overcome error in this sense. This is not an active process of destruction at all. We have already emphasized that knowledge does not do anything. It can be perceived as an attacker, but it cannot attack. What man perceives as its attack is merely his own vague recognition of the fact that it can always be remembered, never having been destroyed.

48 God and the Souls He created remain in surety, and therefore know that no miscreation exists. Truth cannot deal with unwilling error because it does not will to be blocked out. I was a man who remembered the Soul and its knowledge, and as a man I did not attempt to counteract error with knowledge so much as to correct error from the bottom up. I demonstrated both the powerlessness of the body and the power of the mind. By uniting my will with that of my Creator, I naturally remembered the Soul and its own real purpose.

49 I cannot unite your will with God's for you, but I can erase all misperceptions from your mind if you will bring it under my guidance. Only your misperceptions stand in your own way. Without them your choice is certain. Sane perception induces sane choosing. The Atonement was an act based on true perception. I cannot choose for you, but I can help you make your own right choice. "Many are called, but few are chosen" should read, " All are called, but few choose to listen. Therefore, they do not choose right."

50 The "chosen ones" are merely those who choose right sooner. This is the real meaning of the celestial speed-up. Strong wills can do this now, and you will find rest for your Souls. God knows you only in peace, and this is your reality.
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Sarah's Reflections
Lesson 34
I could see peace instead of this.
I love how very gentle our teacher is with us. He does not coerce us but simply offers his guidance on how we can change the way we think now. He is not telling us we should see peace only that we have the option to see peace instead of the pain and suffering we experience in the world. He offers us another way of seeing rather than inducing more guilt in us when we are not at peace.
The Lesson is effective, as are all the Lessons when applied with sincerity and dedication. It is a Lesson that helps me see that it does not matter what the situation is, there is always another way I can choose to see it. This harkens back to the Lesson yesterday where we are told we can choose peace no matter what is happening around us. The fact is that peace is already in our minds and is not dependent on anything that seems to be happening. When we look at any situation or circumstance with the ego, we give outside events power to obscure the peace that is in us. Or we look to circumstances outside of us to be just right, so we will have peace. Jesus says our peace has nothing to do with outside events. Nothing outside of us can bring us peace or take it away, but we often do experience loss of peace as a result of external circumstances. When we turn away from the ego because we don’t like how we feel, the Holy Spirit shows us another way to see the situation. He reminds us that peace is always available to us. If we don’t experience it, it is because we are actually choosing to throw it away. Our part is to look at the choice we are making in the mind and turn to the miracle instead.
We are gently being guided and supported to open our minds to the power within us to choose again. Remember the comments yesterday about our rigid way of seeing things now. Convincing anyone about anything, even using this teaching to do so is a form of violence. It is attacking another's perspective. That is why the Course is big on not proselytizing our position. Our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement (the healing of our minds) for ourselves.
This is a powerful Lesson in helping us to see we can always choose peace. But we must do our part, which is to watch our thoughts. It is to bring to mind ". . . fear thoughts, anxiety-provoking situations, 'offending' personalities or events, or anything else about which we are harboring unloving thoughts. " (W.34.3.2) If we deny our attacking, unloving thoughts, the Lesson has no value. We need to get in touch with these thoughts rather than denying they are there. We tend to cover up our thoughts when we are in fear, and we become highly defensive. We have established defenses in the belief they keep us safe. "You operate from the belief you must protect yourself from what is happening because it must contain what threatens you. A sense of threat is an acknowledgement of inherent weakness; a belief that there is danger which has power to call on you to make appropriate defense." (W.135.2.1-2) Yet defenses keep us from real peace. They keep us in fear. We are working to protect the self that is not real. Now we are being asked to search our minds for fear thoughts. "Note them all casually, repeating the idea for the day slowly as you watch them arise in your mind, and let each one go, to be replaced by the next." (W.34.3.3) This is important because to look casually is to look without judgment, meaning, we are looking with the Holy Spirit. This means we are willing to see them with some degree of detachment. They are not real and have no real consequences. They are meaningless thoughts we have given meaning.
Jesus says, "It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises." (W.34.1.4) Everything we see in the world starts with our thoughts. When our thoughts are not peaceful, we see them reflected back at us in a threatening way. But the reality is that nothing outside of us can hurt us, as there is nothing outside of us. Again, the cause of any distress is a projection of the thoughts in my mind. The world is an effect of those thoughts and mirrors back to me what is in my mind. If we get anxious about our experience in the world because someone seems to be "causing" us distress, we have an opportunity to go within and ask to see it differently. Jesus reminds us that peace is a choice we can make. The peace we are seeking is already within us. All that is required is that we uncover how it is being blocked by our beliefs, concepts, and thoughts we are holding.
Our part is to bring our awareness to the thoughts and beliefs, "and let each one go, to be replaced by the next. " (W.34.3.3) Whenever we are not experiencing peace, love, and joy it is because our thoughts are blocking this experience from our awareness. We may be feeling rejected, vulnerable, not in control, manipulated, a failure, or even a success. All these experiences can generate fear in us.
Underneath all of our fears, there are beliefs we hold. For example, I am afraid I am a failure because I have a belief I should be perfect, and it is unacceptable to make mistakes. If I make a mistake, I believe I am bad. I consider striving for perfection important as I value my high standards. These beliefs and values I hold put me under a lot of stress. Jesus asks, would you rather be right (about your perceptions and beliefs) or happy? Clearly the high expectations I place on myself do not make me happy. When I do not meet my standards, the ego berates me, and the cycle continues until I am willing to see how I am keeping myself from peace. Jesus asks us to expose our fears so they can be healed. A good place to start is to look at how we feel. Whenever we are not at peace it is an indication we are holding thoughts and beliefs that are not the truth.
If you experience difficulty in having thoughts come to mind and reach a blank spot in your mind, "continue to repeat the idea [I could see peace instead of this] to yourself in an unhurried manner, without applying it to anything in particular. " (W.34.4.1) Whenever I wake up in the night and feel a strange sense of anxiety not necessarily tied to anything specific, I find this Lesson helpful. It may just be a vague generalized feeling that comes up of sadness, anxiety, worry, or expectations. As I apply this Lesson, I feel a sense of relief. These words, (I can replace my feelings of depression, sadness etc. with peace), repeated often, generally bring a sense of calm to my mind.
Identifying the feelings of distress is important because, as Jesus says, "You may wonder why it is so crucial that you look upon your hatred and realize its full extent. You may also think that it would be easy enough for the Holy Spirit to show it to you, and dispel it without the need for you to raise it to awareness yourself." (T.13.III.1.1-2) (ACIM OE T.12.III.10) We need to be vigilant in watching our thoughts. Jesus urges us, "Do not hide suffering from His sight, but bring it gladly to Him. Lay before His eternal sanity all your hurt, and let Him heal you. Do not leave any spot of pain hidden from His Light, and search your mind carefully for any thoughts you may fear to uncover.” (T.13.III.7.3-5) (ACIM OE T.12.III.17)
My experience with this practice is there are many thoughts in my mind that create the kind of experience I am having, but I am not always aware of those thoughts unless I stay very vigilant in watching my mind. This takes work and practice. It is easy to go through the day unconscious of what is going on in our minds. When our thoughts operate in the background without our awareness it is like a computer software program running our day.
We all have had experiences of how thoughts affect us. For example, when we awaken and feel content, the day seems to unfold easily and happily. If something distressing shows up, our happy mood simply accepts the distress easily and things seem to go well overall. The opposite is also true. When we are cranky, everything in the day seems to go wrong. That is why we have these Lessons to start the day happily and recognize that everything in the day offers us a perfect opportunity for healing.
We do not make the correction ourselves. We just need to be willing to have the blocks to peace removed. Peace is already in our minds. It is just obscured by our thoughts. We don't need to acquire peace. We just need to uncover the thoughts that obscure it. The hard part for us is that we tend to judge ourselves for the thoughts we uncover because we think they define us; but they are not what we are. By defending our image of who we think we are, we will not be willing to uncover thoughts we judge as hateful or even murderous.
I often get into the trap of thinking that when difficult situations come up what I need to do is change things " out there " in order to be at peace. I am learning, I can respond to any difficult situation or difficult person by bringing my mind to peace first. It is really possible to bring peace to my mind with whatever situation is upsetting me. From that perspective, if I need to take action, I can take it from a center of peace instead of fighting, overpowering, arguing, or making myself right. It is like going to war in order to win peace. It can never work. Only by doing the inner work can we ever bring about peace. I find I can't always do this in the moment, but when I withdraw from these difficult situations and spend time in reflection, I can inevitably, with willingness, have my mind returned to peace.
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Love and blessings, Sarah

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