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

God and the Ego

VIII. The Problem and the Answer

69 The world as you perceive it cannot have been created by the Father, for the world is not as you see it. God created only the eternal, and everything you see is perishable. Therefore, there must be another world which you do not see. The Bible speaks of a new Heaven and a new earth, yet this cannot be literally true, for the eternal are not re -created. To perceive anew is merely to perceive again , implying that before, or in the interval, you were not perceiving at all . What, then, is the world that awaits your perception when you see it?

70 Every loving thought that the Son of God ever had is eternal. Those which his mind perceived in this world are the world's only reality. They are still perceptions because he still believes that he is separate. Yet they are eternal because they are loving. And being loving, they are like the Father and therefore cannot die. The real world can actually be perceived . All that is necessary is a willingness to perceive nothing else . For if you perceive both good and evil, you are accepting both the false and the true and making no distinction between them .

71 The ego sees some good but never only good. That is why its perceptions are so variable. It does not reject goodness entirely, for that you could not accept, but it always adds something that is not real to the real, thus confusing illusion and reality . For perceptions cannot be partly true. If you believe in truth and illusion, you cannot tell which is true. To establish your personal autonomy, you tried to create unlike your Father, believing what you made to be capable of being unlike Him. Yet everything in what you have made that is true is like Him. Only this is the real world, and perceiving only this will lead you to the real Heaven because it will make you capable of understanding it.

72 The perception of goodness is not knowledge, but the denial of the opposite of goodness enables you to perceive a condition in which opposites do not exist. And this is the condition of knowledge. Without this awareness, you have not met its conditions, and until you do you will not know that it is yours already. You have made many ideas which you have placed between yourselves and your Creator, and these beliefs are the world as you perceive it. Truth is not absent here, but it is obscure. You do not know the difference between what you have made and what God created, and so you do not know the difference between what you have made and what you have created.

73 To believe that you can perceive the real world is to believe that you can know yourself. You can know God because it is His Will to be known. The real world is all that the Holy Spirit has saved for you out of what you have made, and to perceive only this is salvation because it is the recognition that reality is only what is true.

74 This is a very simple course. Perhaps you do not feel that a course which, in the end, teaches nothing more than that only reality is true is necessary. But do you believe it? When you have perceived the real world, you will recognize that you did not believe it. Yet the swiftness with which your new and only real perception will be translated into knowledge will leave you only an instant to realize that this judgment is true.

75 And then everything you made will be forgotten, the good and the bad, the false and the true. For as Heaven and earth become one, even the real world will vanish from your sight. The end of the world is not its destruction, but its translation into Heaven. The re-interpretation of the world is the transfer of all perception to knowledge. The Bible tells you to become as little children. Little children recognize that they do not understand what they perceive, and so they ask what it means. Do not make the mistake of believing that you understand what you perceive, for its meaning is lost to you. Yet the Holy Spirit has saved its meaning for you, and if you will let Him interpret it for you, He will restore what you have thrown away. As long as you think you know its meaning, you will see no need to ask it of Him.

76 You do not know the meaning of anything you perceive. Not one thought you hold is wholly true . The recognition of this is your firm beginning. You are not misguided; you have accepted no guide at all. Instruction in perception is your great need, for you understand nothing. Recognize this but do not accept it, for understanding is your inheritance. Perceptions are learned, and you are not without a Teacher. Yet your willingness to learn of Him depends on your willingness to question everything you have learned of yourself, for you who have learned amiss should not be your own teachers.

77 No one can withhold truth except from himself. Yet God will not refuse the answer He gave you. Ask, then, for what is yours but which you did not make, and do not defend yourself against truth. You made the problem which God has answered. Ask yourselves, therefore, but one simple question—

78 Do I want the problem, or do I want the answer?

79 Decide for the answer and you will have it, for you will see it as it is, and it is yours already.

80 You complain that this course is not sufficiently specific for you to understand it and use it. Yet it has been very specific, and you have not done what it specifically advocates. This is not a course in the play of ideas, but in their practical application . Nothing could be more specific than to be told very clearly that if you ask you will receive. The Holy Spirit will answer every specific problem as long as you believe that problems are specific. His answer is both many and one, as long as you believe that the one is many. Realize that you are afraid of His specificity for fear of what you think it will demand of you. Yet only by asking will you learn that nothing that is of God demands anything of you. God gives ; He does not take.

81 You are refusing to ask because you believe that asking is taking , and you do not perceive it as sharing. The Holy Spirit will give you only what is yours and will take nothing in return. For what is yours is everything, and you share it with God. This is its reality. Would the Holy Spirit, Who wills only to restore , be capable of misinterpreting the question you must ask to learn His answer?

82 You have heard the answer, but you have misunderstood the question . You have believed that to ask for guidance of the Holy Spirit is to ask for deprivation . Little Children of God, you do not understand your Father. You believe in a world that takes, because you believe that you can get by taking. And by that perception, you have lost sight of the real world. You are afraid of the world as you see it, but the real world is still yours for the asking. Do not deny it to yourself, for it can only free you. Nothing of God will enslave His Son, whom He created free and whose freedom is protected by His Being.

83 Blessed are you who will ask the truth of God without fear, for only thus can you learn that His answer is the release from fear. Beautiful Child of God, you are asking only for what I promised you. Do you believe I would deceive you? The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. Believe that the truth is in me, for I know that it is in you . God's Sons have nothing which they do not share. Ask for truth of any Son of God, and you have asked it of me. No one of us but has the answer in him, to give to anyone who asks it of him. Ask anything of God's Son and His Father will answer you, for Christ is not deceived in His Father, and His Father is not deceived in Him.

84 Do not, then, be deceived in your brother and see only his loving thoughts as his reality, for by denying that his mind is split, you will heal yours . Accept him as his Father accepts him and heal him unto Christ, for Christ is his healing and yours. Christ is the Son of God, who is in no way separate from His Father, whose every thought is as loving as the Thought of His Father by which He was created. Be not deceived in God's Son, for thereby you must be deceived in yourself. And being deceived in yourself, you are deceived in your Father in Whom no deceit is possible.

85 In the real world there is no sickness, for there is no separation and no division. Only loving thoughts are recognized, and because no one is without your help, the Help of God goes with you everywhere. As you become willing to accept this Help by asking for it, you will give it because you want it. Nothing will be beyond your healing power because nothing will be denied your simple request. What problems will not disappear in the presence of God's answer? Ask, then, to learn of the reality of your brother because this is what you will perceive in him, and you will see your beauty reflected in him.

86 Do not accept your brother's variable perception of himself, for his split mind is yours, and you will not accept your healing without his. For you share the real world as you share Heaven, and his healing is yours. To love yourself is to heal yourself, and you cannot perceive part of you as sick and achieve your own goal. Brother, we heal together as we live together and love together. Be not deceived in God's Son, for he is one with himself and one with his Father. Love him who is beloved of His Father, and you will learn of the Father's Love for you .

87 If you perceive offense in a brother, pluck the offense from your mind, for you are offended by Christ and are deceived in Him. Heal in Christ and be not offended by Him, for there is no offense in Him. If what you perceive offends you, you are offended in yourself and are condemning God's Son, whom God condemneth not. Let the Holy Spirit remove all offense of God's Son against himself and perceive no one but through His guidance, for He would save you from all condemnation. Accept His healing power and use it for all He sends you, for He wills to heal the Son of God in whom He is not deceived.

88 Children perceive terrifying ghosts and monsters and dragons, and they are terrified. Yet if they ask someone they trust for the real meaning of what they perceive and are willing to let their interpretations go in favor of reality, their fear goes with them. When a child is helped to translate his "ghost" into a curtain, his "monster" into a shadow, and his "dragon" into a dream, he is no longer afraid and laughs happily at his own fear. You, my children, are afraid of your brothers and of your Father and of yourselves . But you are merely deceived in them.

89 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 which 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 which frightens you. You do not know what they are , and so you perceive them as ghosts and monsters and dragons. Ask of their reality 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.

90 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 of yourself of the Holy Spirit, who will teach you that, as part of God, deceit in you is impossible. When you perceive yourself without deceit, you will accept the real world in place of the false one you have made. And then your Father will lean down to you and take the last step for you by raising you unto Himself.

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 122
Forgiveness offers everything I want.

1 What could you want forgiveness cannot give? Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do you want care and safety and the warmth of sure protection always? Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep, abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset?

2 All this forgiveness offers you, and more. It sparkles in your eyes as you awake and gives you joy with which to meet the day. It soothes your forehead while you sleep and rests upon your eyelids so you see no dreams of fear and evil, malice, and attack. And when you wake again, it offers you another day of happiness and peace. All this forgiveness offers you, and more.

3 Forgiveness lets the veil be lifted up which hides the face of Christ from those who look with unforgiving eyes upon the world. It lets you recognize the Son of God and clears your memory of all dead thoughts so that remembrance of your Father can arise across the threshold of your mind.

4 What would you want forgiveness cannot give? What gifts but these are worthy to be sought? What fancied value, trivial effect, or transient promise never to be kept can hold more hope than what forgiveness brings? Why would you seek an answer other than the answer that will answer everything? Here is the perfect answer, given to imperfect questions, meaningless requests, half-hearted willingness to hear, and less than halfway diligence and partial trust.

5 Here is the answer! Seek for it no more. You will not find another one instead. God's plan for your salvation cannot change, nor can it fail. Be thankful it remains exactly as He planned it. Changelessly it stands before you like an open door with warmth and welcome calling from beyond the doorway, bidding you to enter in and make yourself at home where you belong.

6 Here is the answer! Would you stand outside while all of Heaven waits for you within? Forgive and be forgiven. As you give, you will receive. There is no plan but this for the salvation of the Son of God. Let us today rejoice that this is so, for here we have an answer, clear and plain, beyond deceit in its simplicity. All the complexities the world has spun of fragile cobwebs disappear before the power and the majesty of this extremely simple statement of the truth.

7 Here is the answer! Do not turn away in aimless wandering again. Accept salvation now. It is the gift of God and not the world. The world can give no gifts of any value to a mind which has received what God has given as its own. God wills salvation be received today and that the intricacies of your dreams no longer hide their nothingness from you.

8 Open your eyes today, and look upon a happy world of safety and of peace. Forgiveness is the means by which it comes to take the place of hell. In quietness it rises up to greet your open eyes and fill your heart with deep tranquility as ancient truths, forever newly born, arise in your awareness. What you will remember then can never be described. Yet your forgiveness offers it to you.

9 Remembering the gifts forgiveness gives, we undertake our practicing today with hope and faith that this will be the day salvation will be ours. Earnestly and gladly will we seek for it today, aware we hold the key within our hands, accepting Heaven's answer to the hell we made, but where we would remain no more.

10 Morning and evening do we gladly give a quarter of an hour to the search in which the end of hell is guaranteed. Begin in hopefulness, for we have reached the turning point at which the road becomes far easier. And now the way is short that yet we travel. We are close indeed to the appointed ending of the dream.

11 Sink into happiness as you begin these practice periods, for they hold out the sure rewards of questions answered, and what your acceptance of the answer brings. Today it will be given you to feel the peace forgiveness offers and the joy the lifting of the veil holds out to you.

12 Before the light you will receive today the world will fade until it disappears, and you will see another world arise you have no words to picture. Now we walk directly into light, and we receive the gifts which have been held in store for us since time began, kept waiting for today. Forgiveness offers everything you want. Today all things you want are given you.

13 Let not your gifts recede throughout the day, as you return again to meet a world of shifting change and bleak appearances. Retain your gifts in clear awareness as you see the changeless in the heart of change, the light of truth behind appearances. Be tempted not to let your gifts slip by and drift into forgetfulness but hold them firmly in your mind by your attempts to think of them at least a minute as each quarter of an hour passes by.

14 Remind yourself how precious are these gifts with this reminder, which has power to hold your gifts in your awareness through the day:

15 Forgiveness offers everything I want. Today I have accepted this as true. Today I have received the gifts of God.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 122
Forgiveness offers everything I want.

Jesus tells us that forgiveness offers us everything we want: peace, happiness, a quiet mind, a sense of worth, beauty, safety, deep abiding comfort, joy to meet the day, and more. What is more? It brings us home to the memory of who we really are. "My forgiveness is the means by which the light of the world finds expression through me. My forgiveness is the means by which I become aware of the light of the world in me." (W.82.1.(63).2-3) Ultimately, forgiveness becomes the means by which we learn that we have done nothing that needs forgiveness! "Forgiveness thus becomes the means by which he learns he has done nothing to forgive." (T.26.IV.1.6) (ACIM OE T.26.V.25) In other words, forgiveness undoes what never happened. We are innocent, never sinned, have done nothing wrong, and deserve only the love that was given us in our creation. When the blocks to love are removed through the process of forgiveness, we will know that nothing that we think we have done has changed us as the Son of God.

We are completely loved, but we block that love with our judgments, grievances, expectations, demands, wishes, specialness, victim stories, opinions, values, judgments, strategies, and manipulations. Thus, we can't know the glory of our Being when we listen to the voice of the ego. "The holy place on which you stand is but the space that sin has left." (T.26.IV.3.1) (ACIM OE T.26.V.27) This is the holiest of altars. It is a space made clean of our investment in sin and guilt. All that is required of us is to commit to looking at our wrong-minded investments.

Our obsessive, raucous thoughts occupy the place in the mind where holiness dwells. We hold onto these thoughts only because of our fear of love, believing that God will punish us for our "crime" of separation. "What but a miracle could change his mind, so that he understands that love cannot be feared?" (T.26.IV.4.6) (ACIM OE T.25.V.28) Jesus tells us that only a little hindrance stands between this love and the world of guilt and fear. We are just a thought away from Heaven. In other words, what blocks the love are our meaningless thoughts that we have given power, but we can withdraw that power anytime we choose.

Yes, the benefits of forgiveness, laid out in this Lesson, are clearly what we all say we want. Who does not want ". . . happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world?" (W.122.1.2) Jesus paints a picture of what we all yearn for. The problem is that we think we know how to achieve these benefits ourselves. We think we know our own best interests. We have been relying on the ego to tell us where our happiness lies. We set goals for ourselves that we think will bring about peace and happiness, and then we try to implement our own means for achieving our goals.

We think we know what we need to have a fulfilled life of joy and contentment. As long as we follow our own ideas of where our happiness lies, we will continue to believe we are reaching out for pleasure but will, in fact, receive more pain, more guilt, and more fear. Clearly, we are not convinced that this is so because if we were, every moment would be spent in forgiveness. We would be very vigilant of any thoughts of worry, distress, unease, anxiety, judgment, anger, anticipation, frustration, or anything keeping us from the experience of joy available to us in every moment. We would be very motivated to turn these thoughts over to be healed. We would be willing to see our own minds as the cause of our lack of ease and joy and not put the blame for our unhappiness on anything in the world. The cause of any distress comes from our own minds where we hold core beliefs such as "I am bad," or "I am unworthy." These beliefs perpetuate the illusion, which is why it is so important to question them. If we are an extension of God, they simply can’t be true.

We all have stories of what others have done to us and why we are the way we are. Whatever problems we experience or whatever our situation, we always have someone we can find to blame and hold responsible for our condition. This is the film, running in the mind, projecting the movie onto the screen of this seeming world. It is a movie we watch over and over in our minds, hoping for a better ending each time, but unless we change the input of our own thoughts and beliefs, the outcome will continue to be the same. Our thoughts are responsible for our experiences in the physical world. As long as those thoughts are based on guilt, we will live in fear of what will come next.

When we tell our stories, we project guilt onto others whom we hold responsible for having done us wrong. It is the way we try to make meaning of our lives by taking our interpretations of disparate situations and weaving them into a story. Now, we must take what we have made to the truth. "Bringing illusion to truth, or the ego to God, is the Holy Spirit’s only function. Keep not your making from your Father, for hiding it has cost you knowledge of Him and of yourself." (T.14.IX.1.4-5) (ACIM OE T.14.V.38) Everything we have come to believe must be released if we are to know ourselves. "The past that you remember never was, and represents only the denial of what always was." (T.14.IX.1.10) (ACIM OE T.14.V.38)

We have not changed ourselves. We are and always will remain, God’s perfect Son. Our stories are all meaningless, for only reality is true. "It cannot change with time or mood or chance. Its changelessness is what makes it real. This cannot be undone." (T.14.IX.2.7-8) (ACIM OE T.14.V.39) When we deny our responsibility, deny our guilt, suffocate it, or stuff it in the dark recesses of our minds, healing can’t happen. Truth cannot be brought to the illusion. We must be willing to look at the darkness and bring it to the light of truth. This is what forgiveness is. It brings us back to awareness of the Self we are. We are already whole and complete. Forgiveness requires that we look objectively at our unloving thoughts. It is a process of undoing what we have made. With forgiveness, what we made to hurt, harm, and blame can now be used to heal.

We were told in the Lesson yesterday that forgiveness is acquired. It must be learned. Our part in the process is the desire and willingness for healing. We start by recognizing our dark thoughts, our attachments, our judgments, our investment in specialness, and our need to be right. How much do we want the truth for ourselves? Jesus says that we must ask honestly, how much do we want a world we rule instead of one that rules us? How much do we want to know our own power and give up our helplessness and victimhood? How much do we want to know our innocence and that of everyone else? In other words, how willing are we to look at our darkness so we can know God’s love, which we still fear?

What we see in our brothers and sisters is just a reflection of the guilt in our own minds. As long as we feel guilty and project our guilt onto others, we will believe we deserve punishment and will experience this punishment delivered to us in the form of problems. The world will not feel like a benign place. We hate those who seem to be the cause of our pain, but the cause is always the guilt in our own minds. Without the guilt, any attack would have no place to land in us. We truly would see all attack as only calls for love and for help, and would accept responsibility for everything that seems to happen to us. As we are reminded in Chapter 21, "I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve. And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked." (T.21.II.2.3-5) (ACIM OE T.21.III.15) This is one of the hardest statements for us to fully accept.

Because the world is a closed system and ruled by guilt and fear, we need the Holy Spirit's help. Our part is to apply the Lessons as faithfully as we can and use our experiences in this world as the classroom for forgiveness. We consistently turn to the Holy Spirit to teach us how to interpret every situation we encounter. The ego tells us that the cause of our distress is in the world. It tells us that we are the effect of situations that cause us to be upset and that we are victimized by situations outside of our own minds. The Holy Spirit reminds us that the world is an outward picture of our own inward condition, and changing our thoughts is the only thing that will change our experience.

If forgiveness offers us all these gifts, "Why would you seek an answer other than the answer that will answer everything?" (W.122.4.1) What is it that we seek? We focus mostly on looking for happiness in things outside ourselves. They are all trivial pursuits that have no lasting value. It is all about investing in the ego's mantra to seek but never find. Jesus tells us, "Seek for it no more. You will not find another one [answer] instead." (W.122.4.4-5) There is nothing wrong with pursuing another relationship, another job, more money, fame, recognition, a new home, a better body, or another vacation, but none of these things will bring us the deep peace, happiness, and transcendence that we are hoping to find. Only forgiveness, which is found in the mind and not in anything outside, offers us what we are truly looking for. The answer to every problem is found within.

Behind every problem and every distress we seem to have is the miracle awaiting our acceptance. All that is required is our willingness to bring our problems to the only solution there is, which is the miracle. "Changelessly it stands before you like an open door, with warmth and welcome calling from beyond the doorway, bidding you to enter in and make yourself at home, where you belong." (W.122.5.3) What is calling us is to know our innocence? The Call is in our right minds where miracles are stored. This is our treasure house. It is all within us now. There is nothing to seek. It requires willingness and commitment to surrender our way, recognizing that we have been wrong about everything. The roadmap is laid out for us and help is available to show us the way.

Jesus says that our commitment up to now has been half-hearted, our dedication less than diligent, and our trust has been partial. We ask for help but then turn to our own solutions; or, we determine what the problem is and then ask for help, thinking we know the problem. Jesus reminds us that the only problem we have is the guilt in our minds as a result of the belief we cling to that we have sinned. Throughout the Lesson, Jesus keeps reminding us over and over to turn within where the only answer is. The ego mind has no answers for us.

I recently bought a large box of incontinence products for my elderly mother. When I left the store, I found that I was given the wrong size by the clerk. My mother lives in long-term care and quite a distance from the store. I felt inconvenienced by the mistake and blamed the clerk in my mind, and now I had a grievance. I felt imposed upon by my heavy schedule of activities, particularly as we were to be away for the next two weeks. As a result of our trip, there was much preparation to be done, including writing commentaries in advance. I felt anger at the salesperson, as well as myself, for not being more vigilant. In the midst of all of this, I took the time to stop and breathe and remind myself that God did not bring this suffering. It was a choice I was making to throw away my peace. Yet in spite of this awareness, I found myself unwilling to just let it go.

I marveled at my resistance and stubbornness in holding onto the anger. I felt justified in feeling distressed. This is an example of a choice point. I asked myself, "Do you want to hold onto your point of view and stay in hell, or bring your dark thoughts to the truth, and let them go?" Then I asked for help to see it differently. I remembered to substitute some helpful self-talk for my obsessive ego thoughts, telling myself that a healed mind would not be upset by this circumstance. You may look at this and see it as a minor disturbance compared to something you may be dealing with, but Jesus says that there are no small disturbances. Judgments are the oxygen of the ego, and as long as we are invested in the ego, we will relish our judgments.

Do we indulge our anger, or do we choose to forgive it and accept the miracle? This is the invitation always there for us. It does take willingness to choose to release our stubborn insistence that something should be different than it is. The question is, "Will I use this situation to keep myself in hell, or will I turn it over to the Holy Spirit in the recognition that I don't know my own best interests, and I don't know what anything is for?" I chose to ask the Holy Spirit to help me not to use this situation to keep me from the peace and love available to me. It is available in every situation, no matter how seemingly large or small. All problems are the same. They have no reality.

Is my situation easier to forgive than a car accident, a grave illness, or someone who has betrayed us? It does seem so, but Jesus reminds us there is no order of difficulty in the illusion. It is all the same because it is all nothing. Anything keeping us from peace is a hindrance and keeps us in hell. "Forgive and be forgiven. As you give you will receive." (W.122.6.3-4) Anytime I hold something against you, I am holding it against myself, but if I could see your innocence, then I could know my own.

What we are learning is to see the Christ in everyone. This is the meaning of seeing with vision rather than believing what our senses tell us. Mother Teresa saw this when she described everyone she helped as, "Christ in his distressing guises," or, as the Course says, "I do not know what anything, including this, means. And so I do not know how to respond to it. And I will not use my own past learning as the light to guide me now." (T.14.XI.6.7-8) (ACIM OE T.14.VII.65) In other words, we are surrendering our own misperceptions and our current way of seeing and bringing them to the light to be dispelled. It certainly does take willingness, and this is a choice we must make if we want peace of mind. No one will thrust this on us. The power of decision is our own. This power is in us. It is our inner Teacher.

When we think that we know anything, then there is no room for learning. We must be willing to be taught. "Forgiveness lets the veil be lifted up that hides the face of Christ from those who look with unforgiving eyes upon the world." (W.122.3.1) When our unforgiving thoughts or "dead thoughts" (W.122.3.2) are cleared away, we will have vision. These dead thoughts are our guilt, our fears, our self-hatred, unworthiness, specialness, and all ego thoughts, in whatever form. They are all the thoughts that keep the memory of God buried in our minds. Dead thoughts keep us from vision, and without vision, all we see are our own projections of the guilt in our minds.

When we stubbornly hold onto our perspectives, we resist admitting that we are wrong about everything. Jesus describes this as arrogance because we refuse to accept our own innocence. We are as God created us--unlimited beings of light and love. As long as we hold onto our own beliefs about ourselves and challenge what Jesus teaches as just beautiful thoughts that don't apply to us, we are being arrogant. This only serves to keep the memory of God that is in our right minds, locked away. Forgiveness offers us the key to unlocking this memory. We do so by bringing these dead thoughts to the light and choosing against them. "You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed." (T.31.VII.2.4-5) (ACIM OE T.31.VI.69)

Think about all the things you want. Think of all your hopes and dreams that you pursue in the world. Pursuing them can never offer the gifts Jesus lays out for us in this Lesson. In fact, he asks, "What fancied value, trivial effect or transient promise, never to be kept, can hold more hope than what forgiveness brings?" (W.122.3.5) In other words, we can and will pursue the things in the world we think will bring us happiness, yet this Lesson says that only forgiveness offers everything we want. It is the doorway home to the Self we are.

The definition of forgiveness given us in the Course is about releasing our dark dreams of guilt and fear, held in the mind, that we project onto the world. It is the means by which we remember the truth of what we are. It is to release the blocks that keep us from knowing our innocence and wholeness. Thus, it is the complete answer for all that troubles us in this world. Jesus says, "Let us today rejoice that his is so, for here we have an answer, clear and plain, beyond deceit in its simplicity." (W.122.6.6) Certainly, this is unlike the answers we find in the world that are extremely complex yet unstable like "fragile cobwebs." (W.122.6.7)

How willing are we to see forgiveness as the only answer that will truly deliver everything we want? Another way this might be put is, how willing are we to take responsibility for everything in our lives? He urges us, "Do not turn away in aimless wandering again." (W.122.7.2) "The world can give no gifts of any value to a mind that has received what God has given as its own." (W.122.7.5) Again and again, we are urged to see forgiveness as the answer. It is an answer that can never fail. He tells us to be thankful that this is so. (W.122.5.1-2)

Can you see how much urging there is in this Lesson to stay with the answer he has given us, and "Do not turn away in aimless wandering again?" (W.122.7.2) Jesus really wants us to remember the gifts forgiveness gives because he wants us to be happy. When we recognize all the rewards we receive through forgiveness, our trust will increase. Now we continue on with hope and faith and carry the rewards of the practice periods into the day. We do not lay the Lesson aside, but "Retain your gifts in clear awareness as you see the changeless in the heart of change; the light of truth behind appearances." (W.122.13.4)

Be willing today to look at your dark thoughts. They are not who you are. Look at them with Jesus from outside the dream. Recognize their unreality. The gifts of peace and joy are always present in the mind, and they are brought to awareness when the blocks to love are released through forgiveness. Regardless of what is going on around us, we can still be at peace. Peace is changeless and does not require events and situations to be any different than they are. Remember, these events and situations are actually our perfect classroom for applying forgiveness. Indeed, we can welcome them, as they facilitate our awakening.

Love and blessings, Sarah


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