Lesson 340
ACIM Original Edition

The Shift in Perception 

6 What is the single requisite for this shift in perception? It is simply this: the recognition that sickness is of the mind and has nothing to do with the body. What does this recognition "cost"? It costs the whole world we see, for the world will never again appear to rule the mind. For with this recognition is responsibility placed where it belongs---not with the world but on him who looks on the world and sees it as it is not. He looks on what he chooses to see. No more and no less. The world does nothing to him. He only thought it did. Nor does he do anything to the world because he was mistaken about what it was. Herein is the release from guilt and sickness both, for they are one. Yet to accept this release, the insignificance of the body must be an acceptable idea. 
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MANUAL #5, 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 340
I can be free of suffering today.
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    Father, I thank You for today, and for
    the freedom I am certain it will bring.
    This day is holy, for today Your Son
    will be redeemed. His suffering is done.
    For he will hear Your Voice directing him
    to find Christ's vision through forgiveness, and
    be free forever from all suffering.
    Thanks for today, my Father. I was born
    into this world but to achieve this day,
    and what it holds in joy and freedom for
    Your holy Son and for the world he made,
    which is released along with him today.
   Be glad today! Be glad! There is no room
   for anything but joy and thanks today.
   Our Father has redeemed His Son this day.
   Not one of us but will be saved today.
   Not one who will remain in fear, and none
   the Father will not gather to Himself,
   awake in Heaven in the heart of Love.
     ~ Original Handscript of ACIM
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ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections ACIM Edmonton, CA
I can be free of suffering today.

Sarah's Commentary:  
What would the day look like if we accepted freedom from suffering today? What would be present in our day, and what would be absent? Jesus speaks to us about this today, but it is no different than any other day. It is just that when we give reality to time, we put off until tomorrow what we could accept today. We think that maybe if we do enough work, the day will come when we will be free of suffering, but why not now?
In the movie, Groundhog Day, the main character relived the same day over and over again until he got the lesson; and we are doing the same thing. We relive our trials each day and will continue to do so until we learn the lesson that there is no need for suffering. We need not delay. We can welcome the Loving Presence at this very moment and experience joy and peace instead of suffering and pain. For this, we are told to be glad today. A day of gratitude can be chosen now. "Thanks for today, my Father. I was born into this world but to achieve this day, and what it holds in joy and freedom for Your holy Son and for the world he made, which is released along with him today." (W.340.1.5-6)
Until we accept the truth of what we are, we repeat the same mistake daily by believing in what we have made, believing in the separation, believing in sin and guilt, and fearing punishment in the future. What keeps us from the truth is the belief that we are unworthy of love. Yet Jesus says that this is impossible "because you are the treasure of God, and what He values is valuable." (T.8.VI.5.13) (T.8.VI.46) He goes on to say that this is because we did not make ourselves. All we have done is held onto a belief in unworthiness; but now we can make another choice, which is to release what we hold against ourselves and give it over to the Holy Spirit. We can simply side with the truth instead of our false beliefs. We can stop searching for what we already have. We are all the same, and we all want to know our innocence. To see a brother as guilty only hurts us. The light of God is shining in us now, but if we do not experience it, we are actively choosing to resist it, which is insane.
We can make another choice. All our suffering comes from the wish to be who we are not. This wish gives rise to our thoughts, which bring our experience of suffering. We develop strategies and defenses to protect ourselves from suffering. While we hold onto these defenses, strategies, thoughts, beliefs, and stories, we continue to feel like victims of external events. But there are no victims and victimizers. This Lesson helps us to realize that the cause of all suffering starts with our false beliefs that we cling to. We are now invited to look at them and allow forgiveness to shine them away.
We increasingly see that investing in our egoic thoughts only brings more pain, suffering, and guilt. The question is, why do we so persistently hold onto guilt and resist forgiving when we would be so much happier if we let it go? We resist forgiving because of our attraction to guilt and our determination to be right about the way we see others. We are still attracted to guilt because we don't associate guilt with pain. We think that projecting guilt and seeing it in others is our way out of pain. We think judging others and holding them guilty is how we maintain our own superior position of innocence. We see guilt as attractive because it maintains our separate self. Thus, as long as we see guilt as our salvation and love as our damnation, we will be unwilling to give up this false self.
We live in a split mind where on one side we want what we value, which is our own thoughts, and yet on the other side, we want peace and love offered to us through this practice. The continuing attraction to guilt, pain, death, victim, and victimizer keeps us rooted in the illusion, but this need not be. It is time to side with truth and refuse to listen to the ego. You are totally innocent now. You are the Christ. You are One with God and with every brother. Accept that as the truth. Don't wait for tomorrow. Choose peace now.
When we can see what we are doing to ourselves, our motivation increases to let hurtful thoughts go. As we see how we hurt ourselves, we become more willing to take ourselves and others off the cross. When we experience the joy and peace that come from bringing our unforgiving thoughts to the truth, we develop more trust in this process. Think of a difficult relationship you have and look at the resistance in your mind to let that person "off the hook" for what you believe they have done. This is an example of resistance to forgiving and attraction to guilt. Or think of someone you have elevated as superior to you. Your feelings of unworthiness in relation to that person are another example of this attraction to guilt. You are choosing to believe thoughts that are not true and maintain the gap with your brother.
Jesus reminds us, "Babies scream in rage if you take away a knife or scissors, although they may well harm themselves if you do not." (T.4.II.5.2) (ACIM OE T.4.III.28) They think that their pleasure is in playing with what will hurt them. We are like those babies, believing we know where our pleasure comes from, how our judgments serve us, and what will bring us happiness. Jesus reminds us that our sharp-edged toys, which we think are the source of our pleasure, actually cause us pain. He invites us to look at how we hurt ourselves with what we think we need and want.
Jesus will never coerce us to give up what we still think we want, but he clearly shows us what the cost is to us. He shows us that our way only brings unhappiness. Thus, to release judgments is to serve our own self-interests. Our efforts in this regard are on behalf of our happiness. The ego tells us that once everything falls into place, we will know peace and happiness. Spirit says to choose peace now and everything will fall into place. Choose peace in all circumstances. Everything we experience is what we have called into our lives, and it is all perfect for our awakening, regardless of how we see it. There is nothing that should be different. We just need to recognize the perfection of it all. When we accept it all without judgment, we take a giant stride in healing.
In Chapter 29, Section VII "Seek Not Outside Yourself," (T.29.VII) (ACIM OE T.29.VIII. "The Lingering Illusion" ), Jesus reminds us, we weep each time an idol falls. We invest in idols, which we substitute for God's Love. We hold onto these idols, believing they are the source of our happiness. When the idol is broken, stolen, lost, or leaves, we suffer. We suffer when we don't have it and want it, and we suffer when we have it and fear losing it. Our only true happiness comes from remembering who we are. Any other search for happiness is futile. Until we are ready to accept this, we continue to look for happiness outside of ourselves and demand things be different than they are. "For all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want insisting where it must be found. What if it is not there?" (T.29.VII.1.7-8) (ACIM OE T.29.VIII.43) Our attachment to our separate identity, to our specialness, and to special people, things, and events of this world will never bring happiness. As long as we focus on the idols, we will not recognize that the source of pain and suffering is in our own mind. It has nothing to do with how things go in the world. In fact, the purpose of this world is to keep us from the truth.
Jesus acknowledges that we are here because we still have hope that something outside of ourselves will bring happiness and peace. We wander aimlessly, searching for this "something" that we will never find, until we become "disillusioned" with our seeking, looking for happiness where it cannot be found. It is then that we become willing to choose another way. The power of choice is our own. We can take as long as we want. The question is, are we willing to look at our painful experiences and realize that they are of our own choosing? When we do, we can either ask for help to release them, or use these experiences to continue to justify suffering. What was meant to curse can now bless!
We all have this incredibly deep, prevailing desire to go home. We may experience it as a yearning for our childhood home, our desire to return to our origin, a yearning for the good old days, or a yearning for a peaceful place somewhere in the world. It is well described in the very poignant movie, Trip to Bountiful, which shows how deep and prevailing this yearning is. An elderly woman does everything in her power to return to her childhood home against the wishes of her family. The music playing in the background is, Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling, ---calling all sinners to come home. Another wonderful movie, August Rush, provides a similar theme of the pain of separation and the call to return home. When movies tug at something very deep within us by eliciting this longing, it is an indication of how much we yearn to know our Self. It is a longing for our true home in God.
Why are we here? According to this Lesson, it is only to achieve, in this day, a day free of suffering, a day of seeing with Christ's vision. Every day that we are on this earth, this can be our spiritual aspiration until we come to the realization of who we really are. When we experience difficulty in our day, there is such a temptation to feel bad. When we don't meet our own expectations for what we set for ourselves as spiritual achievement, we judge ourselves; but this is not helpful. The truth is that we need do nothing. We are already redeemed. All that is needed is to be willing to look at our judgments without judging ourselves and be willing to let them go. We do not need to fix or to try to change ourselves. All healing is done by the Holy Spirit. All we need to do is look, be watchful of our minds, and simply be willing to look at what comes up. Remind yourself that any pain and anguish you are feeling is a false belief that you hold and is not the truth about you or anyone else. Willingness is all that is called for. Perfection is a standard that the ego wants to set up for you so you can crucify yourself when you fall short. Continue to do the work, but be gentle with yourself.
Finally, we are reminded in this Lesson, it is a day of joy and gratitude. "Be glad today! Be glad! There is no room for anything but joy and thanks today." (W.340.2.1-3) With a grateful heart, let us embrace the Lesson and know with certainty that we have help along the way, and we can choose again, in every moment of distress, to be joyful in our day because our purpose is set.
"Miracles fall like drops of healing rain from Heaven on a dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die. Now they have water. Now the world is green. And everywhere the signs of life spring up, to show that what is born can never die for what has life has immortality." ( W.PII.Q13.What is a Miracle?5.1-4)
Jesus tells us, "Make this year different by making it all the same." (T.15.XI.10.11) (ACIM OE T.15.XI.112) He reminds us that every situation, person, or event that we encounter in this dream is just another opportunity for forgiveness. And we do it over and over again until we recognize that this all the world is for. It truly is like "Groundhog Day". Instead of treating every situation and event as having degrees of difficulty, realize that they all have one purpose---the healing of the mind through forgiveness. That is what today is all about, as is every day. Make every day the same.
Love and blessings, Sarah

A Course in Miracles
ACIM Original Edition
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MANUAL #5, 1-10
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#5. How is Healing Accomplished?  
1 Healing involves an understanding of what the illusion of sickness is for. Healing is impossible without this.

The Perceived Purpose of Sickness

2 Healing is accomplished the instant the sufferer no longer sees any value in pain. Who would choose suffering unless he thought it brought him something, and something of value to him? He must think it is a small price to pay for something of greater worth. For sickness is an election, a decision. It is the choice of weakness in the mistaken conviction that it is strength. When this occurs, real strength is seen as threat and health as danger. Sickness is a method, conceived in madness, for placing God's Son on his Father's throne. God is seen as outside, fierce and powerful, eager to keep all power for Himself. Only by His death can He be conquered by His Son.
3 And what, in this insane conviction, does healing stand for? It symbolizes the defeat of God's Son and the triumph of his Father over him. It represents the ultimate defiance in a direct form which the Son of God is forced to recognize. It stands for all that he would hide from himself to protect his life. If he is healed, he is responsible for his thoughts. And if he is responsible for his thoughts, he will be killed to prove to him how weak and pitiful he is. But if he chooses death himself, his weakness is his strength. Now has he given himself what God would give to him and thus entirely usurped the throne of his Creator.

The Shift in Perception

4 Healing must occur in exact proportion in which the valuelessness of sickness is recognized. One need but say, "There is no gain to me at all in this," and he is healed. But to say this one must first recognize certain facts. First, it is obvious that decisions are of the mind, not of the body. If sickness is but a faulty problem-solving approach, it is a decision. And if it is a decision, it is the mind and not the body that makes it. The resistance to recognizing this is enormous because the existence of the world as we perceive it depends on the body being the decision-maker. Terms like "instincts," "reflexes" and the like represent attempts to endow the body with non-mental motivators. Actually, such terms merely state or describe the problem. They do not answer it.
5 The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind for a purpose for which it would use the body is the basis of healing. And this is so for healing in all forms. A patient decides that this is so, and he recovers. If he decides against recovery, he will not be healed. Who is the physician? Only the mind of the patient himself. The outcome is what he decides that it is. Special agents seem to be ministering to him, yet they but give form to his own choice. He chooses them to bring tangible form to his desires. And it is this they do, and nothing else. They are not actually needed at all. The patient could merely rise up without their aid and say, "I have no use for this." There is no form of sickness that would not be cured at once.
6 What is the single requisite for this shift in perception? It is simply this: the recognition that sickness is of the mind and has nothing to do with the body. What does this recognition "cost"? It costs the whole world we see, for the world will never again appear to rule the mind. For with this recognition is responsibility placed where it belongs---not with the world but on him who looks on the world and sees it as it is not. He looks on what he chooses to see. No more and no less. The world does nothing to him. He only thought it did. Nor does he do anything to the world because he was mistaken about what it was. Herein is the release from guilt and sickness both, for they are one. Yet to accept this release, the insignificance of the body must be an acceptable idea.
7 With this idea is pain forever gone. But with this idea goes also all confusion about creation. Does not this follow of necessity? Place cause and effect in their true sequence in one respect, and the learning will generalize and transform the world. The transfer value of one true idea has no end nor limit. The final outcome of this lesson is the remembrance of God. What do guilt and sickness, pain, disaster, and all suffering mean now? Having no purpose, they are gone. And with them also go all the effects they seemed to cause. Cause and effect but replicate creation. Seen in their proper perspective, without distortion and without fear, they re-establish Heaven.

The Function of the Teacher of God

8 If the patient must change his mind in order to be healed, what does the teacher of God do? Can he change the patient's mind for him? Certainly not. For those already willing to change their mind he has no function except to rejoice with them, for they have become teachers of God with him. He has, however, a more specific function for those who do not understand what healing is. These patients do not realize they have chosen sickness. On the contrary, they believe that sickness has chosen them. Nor are they open-minded on this point. The body tells them what to do, and they obey. They have no idea how insane this concept is. If they even suspected it, they would be healed. Yet they suspect nothing. To them the separation is quite real.
9 To them God's teachers come to represent another choice which they had forgotten. The simple presence of a teacher of God is a reminder. His thoughts ask for the right to question what the patient has accepted is true. As God's messengers, His teachers are the symbols of salvation. They ask the patient for forgiveness for God's Son in his own name. They stand for the alternative. With God's Word in their minds they come in benediction, not to heal the sick but to remind them of the remedy God has already given them. It is not their hands that heal. It is not their voice that speaks the Word of God. They merely give what has been given them. Very gently they call to their brothers to turn away from death. Behold, you Son of God, what life can offer you. Would you choose sickness in place of this?
10 Not once do the advanced teachers of God consider the forms of sickness in which their brother believes. To do this is to forget that all of them have the same purpose and therefore are not really different. They seek for God's Voice in this brother who would so deceive himself as to believe God's Son can suffer. And they remind him that he has not made himself and must remain as God created him. They recognize illusions can have no effect. The truth in their minds reaches out to the truth in the minds of their brothers, so that illusions are not reinforced. They are thus brought to truth, and truth is not brought to them. So are they dispelled, not by the will of another but by the union of the One Will with itself. And this is the function of God's teachers-to see no will as separate from their own, nor theirs as separate from God's
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