"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
A Course in Miracles

God and the Ego

VII. Experience and Perception

59 It is impossible not to believe what you see, but it is equally impossible to see what you do not believe. Perceptions are built up on the basis of experience, and experience leads to beliefs. It is not until beliefs are fixed that perceptions stabilize. In effect, then, what you believe, you do see. That is what I meant when I said, "Blessed are ye who have not seen and still believe," for those who believe in the resurrection will see it. The resurrection is the complete triumph of Christ over the ego, not by attack but by transcendence. For Christ does rise above the ego and all its works and ascends to the Father and His Kingdom.

60 Would you join in the resurrection or the crucifixion? Would you condemn your brothers or free them? Would you transcend your prison and ascend to the Father? For these questions are all the same and are answered together. There has been much confusion about what perception means because the same word is used both for awareness and for the interpretation of awareness. Yet you cannot be aware without interpretation, and what you perceive is your interpretation. This course is perfectly clear. You do not see it clearly because you are interpreting against it and therefore do not believe it. And if belief determines perception, you do not perceive what it means and therefore do not accept it.

61 Yet different experiences lead to different beliefs, [and with them, different perceptions. For perceptions are learned with beliefs,] and experience teaches. I am leading you to a new kind of experience, which you will become less and less willing to deny. Learning of Christ is easy, for to perceive with Him involves no strain at all. His perceptions are your natural awareness, and it is only distortions which you introduce that tire you. Let the Christ in you interpret for you, and do not try to limit what you see by narrow little beliefs which are unworthy of God's Son. For until Christ comes into His own, the Son of God will see himself as fatherless.

62 I am your resurrection and your life. You live in me because you live in God. And everyone lives in you , as you live in everyone. Can you, then, perceive unworthiness in a brother and not perceive it in yourself? And can you perceive it in yourself and not perceive it in God? Believe in the resurrection because it has been accomplished, and it has been accomplished in you. This is as true now as it will ever be, for the resurrection is the Will of God, which knows no time and no exceptions. But make no exceptions yourself, or you will not perceive what has been accomplished for you. For we ascend unto the Father together, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, for such is the nature of God's Son as His Father created him.

63 Do not underestimate the power of the devotion of God's Son nor the power of the god he worships over him. For he places himself at the altar of his god, whether it be the god he made or the God who created him. That is why his slavery is as complete as his freedom, for he will obey only the god he accepts. The god of the crucifixion demands that he crucify and his worshipers obey. In his name they crucify themselves , believing that the power of the Son of God is born of sacrifice and pain. The God of the resurrection demands nothing , for He does not will to take away. He does not require obedience, for obedience implies submission. He would only have you learn your own will and follow it, not in the spirit of sacrifice and submission, but in the gladness of freedom.

64 Resurrection must compel your allegiance gladly because it is the symbol of joy. Its whole compelling power lies in the fact that it represents what you want to be. The freedom to leave behind everything that hurts you and humbles you and frightens you cannot be thrust upon you, but it can be offered you through the grace of God. And you can accept it by His grace, for God is gracious to His Son, accepting him without question as His own. Who, then, is your own? The Father has given you all that is His, and He Himself is yours with them. Guard them in their resurrection, for otherwise you will not awake in God safely surrounded by what is yours forever.

65 You will not find peace until you have removed the nails from the hands of God's Son and taken the last thorn from his forehead. The love of God surrounds His Son, whom the god of the crucifixion condemns. Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you . For the undoing of the crucifixion of God's Son is the work of the redemption, in which everyone has a part of equal value. God does not judge His blameless Son. Having given Himself to him, how could it be otherwise?

66 You have nailed yourself to a cross and placed a crown of thorns upon your own head. Yet you cannot crucify God's Son, for the Will of God cannot die. His Son has been redeemed from his own crucifixion, and you cannot assign to death whom God has given eternal life. The dream of crucifixion still lies heavy on your eyes, but what you see in dreams is not reality. While you perceive the Son of God as crucified, you are asleep. And as long as you believe that you can crucify him, you are only having nightmares. You who are beginning to wake are still aware of dreams and have not yet forgotten them. The forgetting of dreams and the awareness of Christ comes with the awakening of others to share your redemption.

67 You will awaken to your own call, for the Call to awake is within you. If I live in you, you are awake. Yet you must see the works I do through you, or you will not perceive that I have done them unto you. Do not set limits on what you believe I can do through you, or you will not accept what I can do for you. For it is done already , and unless you give all that you have received, you will not know that your Redeemer liveth and that you have awakened with Him. Redemption is recognized only by sharing it.

68 God's Son is saved. Bring only this awareness to the Sonship, and you will have a part in the redemption as valuable as mine. For your part must be like mine if you learn it of me. If you believe that yours is limited, you are limiting mine . There is no order of difficulty in miracles because all of God's Sons are of equal value, and their equality is their oneness. The whole power of God is in every part of Him, and nothing contradictory to His Will is either great or small. What does not exist has no size and no measure. To God all things are possible. And to Christ it is given to be like the Father.

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 121
Forgiveness is the key to happiness

1 Here is the answer to your search for peace. Here is the key to meaning in a world which seems to make no sense. Here is the way to safety in apparent dangers which appear to threaten you at every turn and bring uncertainty to all your hopes of ever finding quietness and peace. Here are all questions answered; here the end of all uncertainty ensured at last.

2 The unforgiving mind is full of fear and offers love no room to be itself, no place where it can spread its wings in peace and soar above the turmoil of the world. The unforgiving mind is sad, without the hope of respite and release from pain. It suffers and abides in misery, peering about in darkness, seeing not, yet certain of the danger lurking there.

3 The unforgiving mind is torn with doubt, confused about itself and all it sees, afraid and angry, weak and blustering, afraid to go ahead, afraid to stay, afraid to waken or to go to sleep, afraid of every sound, yet more afraid of stillness; terrified of darkness, yet more terrified at the approach of light.

4 What can the unforgiving mind perceive but its damnation? What can it behold except the proof that all its sins are real? The unforgiving mind sees no mistakes, but only sins. It looks upon the world with sightless eyes and shrieks as it beholds its own projections rising to attack its miserable parody of life. It wants to live, yet wishes it were dead. It wants forgiveness, yet it sees no hope. It wants escape, yet can conceive of none because it sees the sinful everywhere.

5 The unforgiving mind is in despair, without the prospect of a future which can offer anything but more despair. Yet it regards its judgment of the world as irreversible and does not see it has condemned itself to this despair. It thinks it cannot change, for what it sees bears witness that its judgment is correct. It does not ask because it thinks it knows. It does not question, certain it is right.

6 Forgiveness is acquired. It is not inherent in a mind, which cannot sin. As sin was an idea you taught yourself, forgiveness must be learned by you as well, but from a Teacher other than yourself, who represents the other Self in you. Through Him you learn how to forgive the self you think you made and let it disappear. Thus you return your mind as one to Him Who is your Self and Who can never sin.

7 Each unforgiving mind presents you with an opportunity to teach your own how to forgive itself. Each one awaits release from hell through you and turns to you imploringly for Heaven here and now. It has no hope, but you become its hope. And as its hope, do you become your own. The unforgiving mind must learn through your forgiveness that it has been saved from hell. And as you teach salvation, you will learn.

8 Yet all your teaching and your learning will be not of you, but of the Teacher Who was given you to show the way to you. Today we practice learning to forgive. If you are willing, you can learn today to take the key to happiness and use it on your own behalf. We will devote ten minutes in the morning and at night another ten, to learning how to give forgiveness and receive forgiveness too.

9 The unforgiving mind does not believe that giving and receiving are the same. Yet we will try to learn today that they are one through practicing forgiving toward one whom you think of as an enemy and one whom you consider as a friend. And as you learn to see them both as one, we will extend the lesson to ourselves and see that their escape included ours.

10 Begin the longer practice periods by thinking of someone you do not like, who seems to irritate you or to cause regret in you if you should meet him; one you actively despise or merely try to overlook. It does not matter what the form your anger takes. You probably have chosen him already. He will do.

11 Now close your eyes and see him in your mind and look at him a while. Try to perceive some light in him somewhere-a little gleam which you had never noticed. Try to find some little spark of brightness shining through the ugly picture which you hold of him. Look at this picture till you see a light somewhere within it, and then try to let this light extend until it covers him and makes the picture beautiful and good.

12 Look at this changed perception for a while, and turn your mind to one you call a friend. Try to transfer the light you learned to see around your former "enemy" to him. Perceive him now as more than friend to you, for in that light his holiness shows you your savior, saved and saving, healed and whole. Then let him offer you the light you see in him and let your "enemy" and friend unite in blessing you with what you gave. Now are you one with them and they with you. Now have you been forgiven by yourself.

13 Do not forget throughout the day the role forgiveness plays in bringing happiness to every unforgiving mind, with yours among them. Every hour tell yourself:

14 Forgiveness is the key to happiness. I will awaken from the dream that I am mortal, fallible, and full of sin, and know I am the perfect Son of God.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 121
Forgiveness is the key to happiness

If we really want to heal our minds, we need to do the work required to see differently. The reason put forward here for our lack of vision is our anger. More importantly, it is how we think anger is generated by events, circumstances, and people outside of our own minds. In other words, we justify our anger by what others have done. We can't see differently if we think our justifications are correct. Have you ever tried to talk anyone out of their anger when they are determined to see that someone has caused it? When we believe that we are right about the way we see now, there is no room to learn another way. We have it all wrong. Until our angry thoughts are seen for what they are as coming from our own guilt, space is not made for vision.

What is particularly interesting about this Lesson is that it affirms that all anger is the same, whether it is a slight twinge of annoyance or full blown murderous anger. "The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury." (W.21.2.4 5) Of course, it does not seem that way to us. We may dismiss our "small" irritations as unimportant, but Jesus reminds us that there is no hierarchy of illusions. One is not bigger or smaller than another. Any emotion that blocks our peace is worthy of our attention, especially when we realize that under the slight twinge of annoyance lies intense fury.

Jesus challenges some of our beliefs about ourselves with regard to anger. Some of these beliefs are as follows: Anger is justified in certain situations. Anger is a natural impulse that arises on its own accord. We are only angry some of the time. We love someone, but get angry only at certain attributes in them. Anger is a sign of strength and protects our boundaries. Anger is dissipated when it is expressed and is, therefore, healthy. Anger is a sign that you are a bad person. If you don't express your anger, you have refrained from attacking, and anger on behalf of others is a sign of caring.

Jesus shows us that anger causes loss of peace, whether it be mild irritation or overwhelming fury. It is all the same because it always points to something external. There is no order of severity in anger, as it all comes from the same source. What is the source of this anger? We think it comes from what others do and how we perceive events and circumstances in the world. However, earlier Lessons already laid the groundwork for us saying that our minds are responsible for what we see. If we are the cause of what we see, what is in us that has brought about all this anger that we seem to have?

In order to answer that question, we have to understand the metaphysics as Jesus outlines them in the Course. Our anger comes from the decision to separate from God. When we chose to leave the state of Oneness and go into this state of separation, we entered a condition of chronic lack and loneliness. The guilt we experience as a result of this decision is overwhelming. We seek relief from this guilt by projecting responsibility onto others for our painful condition and blame them for our unhappiness. We are especially vulnerable to any kind of perceived attack, and thus, we justify our anger towards them.

We carry this deep anger at ourselves, which has brought overwhelming guilt and fear, and now, we spend our lives cruising for places to put our anger with seeming justification so we don't have to look at ourselves as the source of it. This Lesson begins the reversal process by asking us to look at our anger and recognize, no matter how big or small it seems to be, it all comes from this same source and therefore is all the same. All anger points to the deep, self-hatred we carry. It is all anger at ourselves. Recognizing the various forms of anger is a way to start to uncover all of it as part of our healing journey.

You may find you have some resistance to looking at your anger. I found that I just didn't want to go there this morning. In fact, my first thought was anger at having to look at my irritations. My next thought was anger at the way my office looks this morning. This thought then led to all the other things that are in front of me to do today, while more and more annoyance came to my awareness.

Anger can take many forms, including irritation, annoyance, depression, jealousy, comparison, anxiety, worry, fear, and any kind of distress. We are being asked to get in touch with those places in our minds where we hold thoughts of anger. These thoughts block our vision. This is about our determination to see differently by being willing to see that we chose the ego's version of events, and the ego is always wrong. This Course is taking us through the darkness to the light. We can't just dismiss our anger with positive affirmations, and we can't see differently if we are invested in being right about the way we see now.

Our anger keeps us from the truth of who we are. We don't need to do anything to create safety, abundance, love, and peace. They are already in us and already available. All we are doing when we hold onto our version of events is to keep ourselves unaware of our reality as the Son of God. These Lessons help us to uncover how we are actively keeping ourselves away from the truth of who we are. Seeing ourselves as innocent victims of what others do keeps us in the story. We don't want to take responsibility for the separation, which is why we project the responsibility for the way we feel onto others. Now we see them as the ones to blame for whatever condition we see ourselves in. Ultimately, it is because we don't want to take responsibility for our lives. Thus, if we blame our brothers, we can put our guilt onto them. We declare, "Someone else brought all this about. I am innocent!"

We justify our anger by telling ourselves that anyone would be angry in this situation, or we gather allies who support us and seemingly strengthen our version of the situation. Jesus tells us, anger is never justified, and even though we think we know why we are angry, we don't know. Just like Lesson 5 says, "I am never upset for the reason I think." And in Lesson 6, "I am upset [angry] because I see something that is not there." While anger is never justified, this does not mean that we won't feel angry. Jesus is asking us not to justify the anger. He is not telling us we should not be angry. He only wants us to look at the anger that we are feeling so it can be healed.

Today, we commit five minutes of the day, in total, for this exercise. He asks us to do this in five practice periods of one minute each, during which we search our minds for situations past, present, or anticipated that arouse anger in us.

"As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:

"I am determined to see________ (name of person) differently.
I am determined to see________ (specify the situation) differently." (W.21.4.1-3)

If you are focusing on an attribute you don't like in someone, say:

"I am determined to see________ (specify the attribute) in _________ (name the person) differently." (W.21.5.4)

 When we look at an attribute that we don't like in someone, we think we have confined our anger to that attribute. I love Don, but I get irritated when he interrupts me. I think I can safely attack that one thing in him, and therefore, I think my anger is limited. Jesus reminds us this is not the case. Remember that he said, even a small irritation covers intense fury. That is why we need to look at the seemingly small irritations as well as those that bring up rage in us. They are all the same.

Notice any resistance in doing this practice and do not strain to overcome it. Strain is of the ego, trying to overcome itself. It won't work. We have a big investment in the illusion and in our own thoughts. Our conditioned minds have sufficiently ordered the chaos of this world enough for us to feel that we can at least rule our little kingdom! We have established a monument to our independence, our uniqueness, and our specialness where we worship daily. Undoing the investment that we have in our little kingdom and in our limited self can only happen with our willingness to know ourselves as the Christ Self we are.

Love and blessings, Sarah


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