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85  The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourselves. Your other life has continued without interruption and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to dissociate. The ratio of repression and dissociation varies with the individual ego-illusion, but dissociation is always involved or you would not believe that you are here. In learning to escape from the illusions you have made, your great debt to each other is something you must never forget. It is exactly the same debt that you owe to me. Whenever you react egotistically towards each other, you are throwing away the graciousness of your indebtedness and the holy perception it would produce.


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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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Lesson 48
There is nothing to fear.
1 The idea for today simply states a fact. It is not a fact to those who believe in illusions, but illusions are not facts. In truth there is nothing to fear. It is very easy to recognize this. But it is very difficult to recognize for those who want illusions to be true.

2 Today's practice periods will be very short, very simple, and very frequent. Merely repeat the idea as often as possible. You can use it with your eyes open at any time and in any situation. It is strongly recommended, however, that you take a minute or so whenever possible to close your eyes and repeat the idea slowly to yourself several times. It is particularly important that you use the idea immediately should anything disturb your peace of mind.

3 The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength. The awareness that there is nothing to fear shows that somewhere in your mind, not necessarily in a place which you recognize as yet, you have remembered God and let His strength take the place of yours. The instant you are willing to do this there is indeed nothing to fear.

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Course in Miracles
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Text
Chapter 4
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The Root of All Evil

VII. The Constant State
81 It cannot be emphasized too often that correcting perception is merely a temporary expedient. It is necessary to do so only because misperception is a block to knowledge, while accurate perception is a stepping-stone towards it. The whole value of right perception lies in the inevitable judgment which it entails that it is unnecessary. This removes the block entirely. You may ask how this is possible as long as you appear to be living in this world, and since this is a sensible question, it has a sensible answer. You must be careful, however, that you really understand the question. What is the "you" who are living in this world?

82 Immortality is a constant state. It is as true now as it ever was or ever will be because it implies no change at all. It is not a continuum nor is it understood by being compared to an opposite. Knowledge never involves comparisons. That is its essential difference from everything else the mind can grasp. "A little knowledge" is not dangerous except to the ego. Vaguely it senses threat, and being unable to realize that "a little knowledge" is a meaningless phrase since "all" and "a little" in this context are the same, the ego decides that, since "all" is impossible, the fear does not lie there. "A little," however, is a scarcity concept, and this the ego understands well. "A little," then, is perceived as the real threat.

83 The essential thing to remember is that the ego does not recognize the real source of its perceived threat, and if you associate yourself with the ego, you do not perceive the whole situation as it is. Only your allegiance to it gives the ego any power over you.

84 We have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly and must realize how much of your thinking is ego-directed. We cannot safely let it go at that, however, or you will regard yourselves as necessarily conflicted as long as you are here, or more properly, as long as you believe that you are here.

85 The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourselves. Your other life has continued without interruption and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to dissociate. The ratio of repression and dissociation varies with the individual ego-illusion, but dissociation is always involved or you would not believe that you are here. In learning to escape from the illusions you have made, your great debt to each other is something you must never forget. It is exactly the same debt that you owe to me. Whenever you react egotistically towards each other, you are throwing away the graciousness of your indebtedness and the holy perception it would produce.

86 The term "holy" can be used here because as you learn how much you are indebted to the whole Sonship, which includes me, you come as close to knowledge as perception ever can. The gap is then so small that knowledge can easily flow across it and obliterate it forever. You have very little trust in me as yet, but it will increase as you turn more and more often to me instead of your egos for guidance. The results will convince you increasingly that your choice in turning to me is the only sane one you can make. No one who has learned from experience that one choice brings peace and joy while another brings chaos and disaster needs much conditioning.

87 The ego cannot withstand the conditioning process because the process itself demonstrates that there is another way. Conditioning by rewards has always been more effective than conditioning by pain because pain is an ego-illusion and can never induce more than a temporary effect. The rewards of God, however, are immediately recognized as eternal. Since this recognition is made by you and not the ego, the recognition itself establishes that you and your ego cannot be identical. You may believe that you have already accepted the difference, but you are by no means convinced as yet. The very fact that you are preoccupied with the idea of escaping from the ego shows this.

88 You cannot escape from the ego by humbling it or controlling it or punishing it. Remember that the ego and the Soul do not know each other. The separated mind cannot maintain the separation except by dissociating. Having done this, it utilizes repression against all truly natural impulses, not because the ego is a separate thing, but because you want to believe that you are. The ego is a device for maintaining this belief, but it is still only your willingness to use the device that enables it to endure.

89 My trust in you is greater than yours in me at the moment, but it will not always be that way. Your mission is very simple. You have been chosen to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego. I repeat that I do not choose God's channels wrongly. The Holy One shares my trust and always approves my Atonement decisions because my will is never out of accord with His. I have told you before that I am in charge of the whole Atonement. This is only because I completed my part in it as a man and can now complete it through other men. My chosen receiving and sending channels cannot fail because I will lend them my strength as long as theirs is wanting.

90 I will go with you to the Holy One, and through my perception, He can bridge the little gap. Your gratitude to each other is the only gift I want. I will bring it to God for you, knowing that to know your brother is to know God. A little knowledge is an all-encompassing thing. If you are grateful to each other, you are grateful to God for what He created. Through your gratitude, you can come to know each other, and one moment of real recognition makes all men your brothers because they are all of your Father. Love does not conquer all things, but it does set all things right. Because you are all the Kingdom of God, I can lead you back to your own creations, which you do not yet know. What has been dissociated is still there.

91 As you come closer to a brother, you do approach me and, as you withdraw from him, I become distant to you. Your giant step forward was to insist on a "collaborative venture." This does not go against the true spirit of meditation; it is inherent in it. Meditation is a collaborative venture with God. It cannot be undertaken successfully by those who disengage themselves from the Sonship because they are disengaging themselves from me. God will come to you only as you will give Him to your brothers. Learn first of them, and you will be ready to hear God as you hear them. That is because the function of love is one.

92 How can you teach someone the value of something he has deliberately thrown away? He must have thrown it away because he did not value it. You can only show him how miserable he is without it and bring it near very slowly, so he can learn how his misery lessens as he approaches it. This conditions him to associate his misery with its absence and to associate the opposite of misery with its presence. It gradually becomes desirable as he changes his mind about its worth.

93 I am conditioning you to associate misery with the ego and joy with the Soul. You have conditioned yourselves the other way around. A far greater reward, however, will break through any conditioning if it is repeatedly offered whenever the old habit pattern is broken. You are still free to choose, but can you really want the rewards of the ego in the presence of the rewards of God?

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Sarah's Reflections
Lesson 48
There is nothing to fear.
The Lesson today clearly reflects why there is nothing to fear. It harkens back to the Lesson yesterday: "God is the Strength in which I trust." (W.47) "The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength." (W.48.3.1) Fear is based on guilt, and guilt demands punishment. When we see ourselves as guilty, we project the guilt and expect punishment. If we want to live without fear, we need to give up the guilt. This means we first have to become aware of it. It is also essential that we see how guilt is tied to our investment in being a unique and separate self.
 
When we chose to dream, which was the choice for separation, we had to put blocks between ourselves and God. Fear, guilt, shame, and judgment are all effective tools of separation. When we identify with the body, it becomes an example of differences with other bodies. We had to do that in order to have the experience of a separate self, living in the world. It is an experience of fear we are no longer willing to accommodate. Now, when obstacles come up, we are more willing to let them go so that we might experience more peace and joy. It is very helpful to be willing to see what is coming up and not resist it.
 
We have long invested in our independence, but it is built on very shaky ground. As Jesus put it yesterday, "What can you predict or control? What is there in you that can be counted on? What would give you the ability to be aware of all facets of any problem, and to resolve them in such a way that only good can come of it?" (W.47.1.2-4) We can't. We don't have that kind of ability, no matter how much we try to develop problem-solving abilities, no matter how many skills we learn, and no matter how much brain power we have. We can't possibly have that kind of perspective where we can know every facet of every problem. There are always nasty surprises, which bring more fear, anxiety, and depression. It all starts with the guilt in the mind. The simple fact is there is only one problem and thus only one solution. The problem is the guilt of separation, and the solution is to remember who we are. It is to remember our holiness.
 
Jesus tells us the idea for today is simply stating a fact though it is not a fact to us. This is because we still believe in illusions, meaning we believe this world is real and can hurt us. The body can be hurt, but the body is not who we are. The seeming reality of this world does give us apparent reasons for fear as long as we still believe in it and in our own separate identity. Fear shows up when something we are invested in or attached to is taken from us or something we want is not available. Yet Jesus tells us, in truth, there is nothing to fear. To get this, we do need to understand the metaphysics of the Course---that this world of illusion is not real. While we are told this, it is not until we experience our holiness that we will know the world is nothing but illusion, and there truly is nothing to fear. It is no different than waking up from a nightmare where in our awakened state we see there was nothing real happening and thus nothing to fear.
 
Our biggest fear, of course, is what might happen to our bodies. We fear their destruction. Yet the message of the crucifixion is---the body is not who we are. We are spirit and cannot be hurt or destroyed. "Nothing can hurt you unless you give it the power to do so." (T.20.IV.1.1) (ACIM OE T.20.V.28) "If you will listen to His Voice [the Holy Spirit] you will know that you cannot either hurt or be hurt, and that many need your blessing to help them hear this for themselves." (T.6.I.19.2) (ACIM OE T.6.II.16)
 
This place of total safety is in our right minds where the Holy Spirit resides. God is not an external force we have to try to reach. We just have to look at our sadness, depression, anger, guilt, fear, anxiety, and whatever thoughts are disturbing to our mind and be willing to bring them to the truth. All these are thoughts of fear in various forms. We are called to go deep into our own minds where God is, below the ". . . trivial things that churn and bubble on the surface of your mind, and reach down and below them to the Kingdom of Heaven." (W.47.7.3)
 
We are part of God's Mind. We are not a figure in the dream who seems to be living here. We are the dreamer of this dream, and we can make a choice as to whether we choose the Holy Spirit or the ego as our guide to seeing. Thus, when we no longer identify with the dream, fear is meaningless. Nothing outside of God exists. Fear is the belief we hold that there is something other than God and that it has power to overcome God. We believe we have taken His power, defeated Him, and changed ourselves. With this belief comes guilt and fear. As a result, we unconsciously invite punishment into our lives. The answer lies in forgiveness, which brings us to the end of guilt, and then we realize our innocence has always been there. There is no fear in innocence. We are still the Holy Son. What we think we did in separating from our Father never happened, so there is no basis for fear.
 
As we affirm that God is the strength in which we can trust, we are reminded who we are in truth. We are reminded that we have never usurped God's power, He is not a punishing, angry God, and we never distorted ourselves, so there is no need for guilt.
 
So much of traditional religious teaching is based on fear. It is built on the belief that Adam was put into a place of temptation, which a loving Father would never do. It is also built on the belief that Jesus was allowed to suffer and die on the cross for our sins, which he clearly refutes in the Course. In retraining our minds through the application of these teachings, we can release these deep cultural and religious "truths," which continue to perpetuate our fear. God's only reality is Love, and that is our only reality. We are created in His image. We are Love. There is no fear. It is not real.
 
We have projected fearful images onto God and are now reluctant and afraid to turn to Him. This fear is not consciously in our awareness, but it is there and needs to be examined. We do so by looking at areas of our lives that we still prefer to manage on our own, whether it is our finances, our relationships, our security, our job, our pleasures, and so on. In each area, list your fears and concerns that would arise in your mind if you were to step back and totally surrender your independent will to God. This reflects our unconscious distrust of God. We still want to be in charge of certain aspects of our lives.
 
"You, my child, are afraid of your brothers and of your Father and of yourself. But you are merely deceived in them. Ask what they are of the Teacher of reality, and hearing His answer, you too will laugh at your fears and replace them with peace. For fear lies not in reality, but in the minds of children who do not understand reality. It is only their lack of understanding that frightens them, and when they learn to perceive truly they are not afraid. And because of this they will ask for truth again when they are frightened. It is not the reality of your brothers or your Father or yourself that frightens you. You do not know what they are, and so you perceive them as ghosts and monsters and dragons. Ask what their reality is from the One Who knows it, and He will tell you what they are. For you do not understand them, and because you are deceived by what you see you need reality to dispel your fears." (T.11.VIII.14.1-10) (ACIM OE T.10.VIII.88)
 
"Would you not exchange your fears for truth, if the exchange is yours for the asking? For if God is not deceived in you, you can be deceived only in yourself. Yet you can learn the truth about yourself from the Holy Spirit, Who will teach you that, as part of God, deceit in you is impossible." (T.11.VIII.15.1-3) (ACIM OE T.10.VIII.90)
 
Practice instructions today are for short, simple, and frequent practice periods with eyes open whenever you can remind yourself of the Lesson, and a minute or so whenever possible with eyes closed, repeating the idea slowly. Use the idea immediately if anything should disturb your peace. What we are doing in these practice periods is bringing any thoughts that come up during the day of anger, depression, sadness, or any other thought that depicts fear. As soon as we notice a fearful thought, just as quickly we can bring it to the light. To keep a fear thought is to choose the ego over the Holy Spirit. We can make another choice. It is a matter of turning from the false to the truth within.
 
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Love and blessings, Sarah
 
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