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

God's Plan For Salvation

I. Introduction

1 You have been told not to make error real, and the way to do this is very simple. If you want to believe in error, you would have to make it real because it is not true. But truth is real in its own right, and to believe in truth, you do not have to do anything . Understand that you do not respond to stimuli, but to stimuli as you interpret them . Your interpretation thus becomes the justification for the response. That is why analyzing the motives of others is hazardous to you . If you decide that someone is really trying to attack you or desert you or enslave you, you will respond as if he had actually done so, because you have made his error real to you. To interpret error is to give it power, and having done this, you will overlook truth.

2 The analysis of ego-motivation is very complicated, very obscuring, and never without the risk of your own ego-involvement. The whole process represents a clear-cut attempt to demonstrate your own ability to understand what you perceive. This is shown by the fact that you react to your interpretations as if they were correct and control your reactions behaviorally but not emotionally. This is quite evidently a mental split in which you have attacked the integrity of your mind and pitted one level within it against another.

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A Course in Miracles

God's Plan For Salvation

II. The Judgment of the Holy Spirit

3 There is but one interpretation of all motivation that makes any sense. And because it is the Holy Spirit's judgment, it requires no effort at all on your part. Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help. That is what it is, regardless of the form it takes. Can anyone be justified in responding with anger to a plea for help? No response can be appropriate except the willingness to give it to him, for this and only this is what he is asking for. Offer him anything else, and you are assuming the right to attack his reality by interpreting it as you see fit.

4 Perhaps the danger of this to your own mind is not yet fully apparent to you, but this by no means signifies that it is not perfectly clear. If you maintain that an appeal for help is something else, you will react to something else, and your response will be inappropriate to reality as it is but not to your perception of it. This is poor reality testing by definition. There is nothing to prevent you from recognizing all calls for help as exactly what they are except your own perceived need to attack. It is only this that makes you willing to engage in endless "battles" with reality in which you deny the reality of the need for healing by making it unreal. You would not do this except for your unwillingness to perceive reality, which you withhold from yourself .

5 It is surely good advice to tell you not to judge what you do not understand. No one with a personal investment is a reliable witness, for truth to him has become what he wants it to be. If you are unwilling to perceive an appeal for help as what it is , it is because you are unwilling to give help and to receive it . The analysis of the ego's "real" motivation is the modern equivalent of the inquisition, for in both a brother's errors are "uncovered" and he is then attacked for his own good . What can this be but projection? For his errors lay in the minds of his interpreters, for which they punished him .

6 Whenever you fail to recognize a call for help, you are refusing help. Would you maintain that you do not need it? Yet this is what you are maintaining when you refuse to recognize a brother's appeal, for only by answering his appeal can you be helped. Deny him your help, and you will not perceive God's answer to you . The Holy Spirit does not need your help in interpreting motivation, but you do need His . Only appreciation is an appropriate response to your brother. Gratitude is due him for both his loving thoughts and his appeals for help, for both are capable of bringing love into your awareness if you perceive them truly. And all your sense of strain comes from your attempts not to do just this.

7 How simple, then, is God's plan for salvation. There is but one response to reality, for reality evokes no conflict at all. There is but one Teacher of reality, Who understands what it is . He does not change His Mind about reality because reality does not change. Although your interpretations of reality are meaningless in your divided state, His remain consistently true. He gives them to you because they are for you. Do not attempt to "help" a brother in your way, for you cannot help yourselves. But hear his call for the help of God, and you will recognize your own need for the Father.

8 Your interpretations of your brother's need is your interpretation of yours . By giving help you are asking for it, and if you perceive but one need in yourself, you will be healed. For you will recognize God's answer as you want it to be, and if you want it in truth, it will be truly yours. Every appeal you answer in the name of Christ brings the remembrance of your Father closer to your awareness. For the sake of your need, then, hear every call for help as what it is, so God can answer you .

9 By applying the Holy Spirit's interpretation of the reactions of others more and more consistently, you will gain an increasing awareness that His criteria are equally applicable to you . For to recognize fear is not enough to escape from it, although the recognition is necessary to demonstrate the need for escape. The Holy Spirit must still translate it into truth. If you were left with the fear, having recognized it, you would have taken a step away from reality, not towards it. Yet we have repeatedly emphasized the need to recognize fear and face it without disguise as a crucial step in the undoing of the ego. Consider how well the Holy Spirit's interpretation of the motives of others will serve you then.

10 Having taught you to accept only loving thoughts in others and to regard everything else as an appeal for help, He has taught you that fear is an appeal for help. This is what recognizing it really means. If you do not protect it, He will reinterpret it. That is the ultimate value to you in learning to perceive attack as a call for love. We have learned surely that fear and attack are inevitably associated. If only attack produces fear and if you see attack as the call for help that it is , the unreality of fear must dawn upon you. For fear is a call for love in unconscious recognition of what has been denied.

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 123
I thank my Father for His gifts to me.

1 Today let us be thankful. We have come to gentler pathways and to smoother roads. There is no thought of turning back and no implacable resistance to the truth. A bit of wavering remains, some small objections, and a little hesitance, but we can well be grateful for our gains, which are far greater than we realize.

2 A day devoted now to gratitude will add the benefit of some insight into the real extent of all the gains which you have made; the gifts you have received. Be glad today in loving thankfulness your Father has not left you to yourself, nor let you wander in the dark alone. Be grateful He has saved you from the self you thought you made to take the place of Him and His creation. Give Him thanks today.

3 Give thanks that He has not abandoned you and that His Love forever will remain shining on you, forever without change. Give thanks as well that you are changeless, for the Son He loves is changeless as Himself. Be grateful you are saved. Be glad you have a function in salvation to fulfill. Be thankful that your value far transcends your meager gifts and petty judgments of the one whom God established as His Son.

4 Today in gratitude we lift our hearts above despair and raise our thankful eyes, no longer looking downward to the dust. We sing the song of thankfulness today in honor of the Self Which God has willed to be our true identity in Him. Today we smile on everyone we see and walk with lightened footsteps as we go to do what is appointed us to do. We do not go alone. And we give thanks that in our solitude a Friend has come to speak the saving Word of God to us.

5 And thanks to you for listening to Him. His Word is soundless if it be not heard. In thanking Him the thanks are yours as well. An unheard message will not save the world, however mighty be the Voice that speaks, however loving may the message be. Thanks be to you who heard, for you become the messenger who brings His Voice with you and let it echo round and round the world.

6 Receive the thanks of God today, as you give thanks to Him. For He would offer you the thanks you give, since He receives your gifts in loving gratitude and gives them back a thousand and a hundred thousand more than they were given. He will bless your gifts by sharing them with you, and so they grow in power and in strength until they fill the world with gladness and with gratitude.

7 Receive His thanks and offer yours to Him for 15 minutes twice today. And you will realize to Whom you offer thanks, and Whom He thanks as you are thanking Him. This holy half an hour given Him will be returned to you in terms of years for every second, power to save the world eons more quickly for your thanks to Him.

8 Receive His thanks, and you will understand how lovingly He holds you in His Mind, how deep and limitless His care for you, how perfect is His gratitude to you. Remember hourly to think of Him and give Him thanks for everything He gave His Son that he might rise above the world remembering his Father and his Self.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 123
I thank my Father for His gifts to me.

What a blessed day we are invited to have today in gratitude and thankfulness! For me, I am most grateful for this Course and how it has contributed to my life. Where would I be without it!! I spent years searching for something to ease my inner sense of loneliness. As a young girl, I sat in church, looking for a sign from God, and when it didn't come to me in a form I could understand, I gave up on religion entirely.

The search for meaning continued as I took my degree in psychology and then pursued many workshops, educational opportunities, and other modalities, looking for truth. You name it, I did it. Whether it was Gestalt Therapy, Transactional analysis, EST, or T-Groups of various sorts, they all attracted me in my search for myself. It was all about looking for who am I? Why am I here? What is my meaning? Much of the group activity and individual work was based on analyzing the ego, or as Jesus would put it, it was about looking for light in the darkness. Not surprisingly, nothing I did delivered the answers I was searching for. When the Course came into my life, I was suspicious of its origin and reacted to the Christian language. I had given up on God many years prior; but as I started pursuing it more, I sensed the words contained the truth. They resonated at a deep level, even though I did not understand much of it. I plunged into the Lessons with little understanding of what they were really about because I had not read the Text and did not have the context that would have been helpful. Nevertheless, I applied the Lessons to my life as best as I could and simply doing what I was told to do each day. My life was at a low point and I was ready to trust that there may be an answer for me here.

What motivated me to keep going was Dr. Willis Harmon, a physicist and director of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). He was the one who introduced me to the Course around 1982-83. He was hired for the position of director of SRI by Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the astronaut who had an epiphany during his return trip from the moon. It was this experience which led him to establish the institute dedicated to research in alternative realities, healing, psychic abilities, remote viewing, etc. Dr. Harmon assured me that if I did one Lesson a day for one year, my life would never be the same. Nevertheless, I struggled to get started with the Course until I met Paul Steinberg, a publisher of the Course who came to Edmonton to speak about it. While I was not ready for the radical messages he presented at this seminar, in particular that there is no world and we are not really here, he nevertheless had brought along some books, one of which was the background story of the scribing of the Course written by Robert Skutch.

This was exactly what I needed. I had been listening to channeled material over the years, and when I learned how the Course came through Helen Schucman with help from Bill Thetford, there was no more hesitation. I began the Lessons and have never looked back. Dr. Harmon was right when he assured me that my life would change after one year of dedicated study and application of the Lessons. I will be forever grateful for Holy Spirit, Who brought this man into my life, and for Edgar Mitchell, whose epiphany started this whole chain of encounters. How beautifully the Holy Spirit orchestrates everything for our awakening. Both of these individuals, Dr. Harmon and Edgar Mitchell, served their function in my life and have both made their transition.

With each shift, with each miracle, and with increased peace in my life, I became more certain of the truth of this teaching and my trust and faith grew. Much as I had resisted Paul Steinberg’s message that there is no world, there was growing acceptance, as I continued through the Course, of the possibility that this world really may all be a dream that we made up. What I really liked was that I did not have to try to reconcile the bad with the good in the world. I no longer had to wonder why God let bad things happen to good people. Increasingly, I was learning to let go of my way. I no longer had to put all my energy into trying to control events and people in my life. I saw the futility of relying on my own meager strength and limited understanding to figure things out.

I could rest in the growing awareness that this was the perfect right path for me and accept that everything was determined and the end was certain. I learned to trust Jesus as my elder brother and developed a personal relationship with him. There was a lot of healing that had to come about in order to even say his name out loud. I did not come out of the closet in proclaiming him publicly as my friend, for many years. I had rejected him and now needed to let go of negative past associations. As I saw evidence in my life that forgiveness truly was the answer, my faith and trust grew.

I also found myself giving up on the notion that there was a savior outside of my own mind. I increasingly came to accept that the Answer was within my own mind and that the Voice of Truth was there all the time. No one was coming to save me. I had to do the work myself. That was quite a revelation and initially somewhat depressing. I did not want to hear that God did not create the world, and I was just a character in this dream that I had dreamed up. This meant that neither my happiness nor my distress came from outside of my own mind. The good part was that I had the power to change my mind regarding how I perceived the situations and people in my life. I could see that my interpretations were the source of my misery.

I am changeless love. Nothing else is real. No matter how many mistakes I think I have made, no matter how I think I have screwed things up, and no matter how unworthy I feel, Jesus assures me that I haven't changed anything about the truth of who I am because I can't change my reality. Of course, we can be unaware of who we are, but we can't change who we are in truth. The Atonement Principle establishes that it is impossible to change what God created perfect. We are one Self, which means we are love, we are innocent, complete and perfect with all of God’s attributes. Doesn't this make things simple? It means that everything but the truth of who we are is really all meaningless. It means that we don't need to beat up on ourselves or experience the guilt of having screwed things up. Nothing has happened. Nothing we have done has changed who we are in truth!

I am never alone, and for that, I am grateful. I sense the presence of powerful spiritual companions and guides on this journey. I am grateful for the guidance of the ever present Voice of the Holy Spirit in my right mind in the form of prompts, signs, symbols, and nudges, as well as messages delivered through others. When in the flow of His Love, the path is gentle and everything is given perfectly. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to share this path with so many lovely beings who offer me opportunities to know the truth about my Self. Yes, this includes my gratitude for those who seemingly create difficulties for me, as I increasingly recognize that they truly do hold the key to my salvation. Increasingly, I am aware they are in my life so I can see those places in myself where I still need to release, to heal, and to let go of what is false and does not serve my highest good.

Everyone perfectly mirrors what is going on in my own mind. Everything is just an outward picture of my inward condition. If I want to change the outward picture, I must bring all my self-concepts, my beliefs, my values, my opinions, and my judgments to the truth. Whoever shows up in my life is given to me as my assignment in forgiveness. I can now see the perfection of it all. My unhappy childhood is now seen as perfectly orchestrated by my higher mind for the purpose of bringing me to this path. I am grateful for it all. That is what Jesus means by being a happy learner. "They will be happy learners of the lesson this light brings to them, because it teaches them release from nothing and from all the works of nothing." (T.14.II.4.5) (ACIM OE T.13.VII.59) He is asking us to learn to be happy learners, meaning to accept the perfection of the classroom of our lives when it is used for healing, but we must be happy learners. "If you would be a happy learner, you must give everything you have learned to the Holy Spirit, to be unlearned for you." (T.14.II.6.1) (ACIM OE T.13.VII.61)

I am grateful for the assurance that I will find my way home. Very early in the Text, Jesus assures us that ". . . the outcome is as certain as God " (T.2.III.3.10) (ACIM OE T.2.II.48) Later, he tells us that we can afford to be patient because of the certainty of the outcome. Along the way on this journey, I have found many friends and companions who have come into my life exactly as I needed them for my growth and healing. I am grateful for the many teachers who have shown up and deepened my understanding of the Course and encouraged its application in my life. I have felt God's ever-loving support every step of the way reflected in the many miracles in my life. The deepening awareness of who I really am in God's sight has been such a gift.

To rest in Him is the only rest there is. I am grateful for the opportunities to overlook error and to increasingly see who my brothers really are when I look with vision. Every opportunity presented to me to release a judgment, to take responsibility for an attack thought, and to recognize that I need not judge myself in this process, has been such a blessing. I am not the healer of my own thoughts. I simply bring them to the Holy Spirit Who does the heavy lifting. He thanks me for giving Him what does not serve me. "For He would offer you the thanks you give, since He receives your gifts in loving gratitude, and gives them back a thousand and a hundred thousand more than they were given." (W.123.6.3) Today, not only do we express our thanks to Him, but sit in quietness and hear His gratitude expressed to us. So much love to be absorbed!

"Today let us be thankful. We have come to gentler pathways and to smoother roads. There is no thought of turning back, and no implacable resistance to the truth. A bit of wavering remains, some small objections and a little hesitance, but you can well be grateful for your gains, which are far greater than you realize." (W.123.1.1-4) We may be feeling a lot of resistance and hesitation while we still cling to the investments we have in the world and to our grievances and problems. While we do have resistance and lots of wavering, we have made progress in accepting forgiveness as the only answer. Our part in this process is simply to bring our dark thoughts to the light. Shifts happen as we commit to watching our minds. We are told that our gains are even greater than we realize. Jesus is always gentle and encouraging of us. He reminds us, "Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success." (T.18.V.1.6) (ACIM OE T.18.VI.41) In other words, we have no way of evaluating our progress on this path. When we are grateful, however, it will bring more awareness to our minds of the gains we have made.

God has not abandoned us, ". . . nor left you to yourself, nor let you wander in the dark alone." (W.123.2.2) "Be grateful He has saved you from the self you thought you made to take the place of Him and His creation." (W.123.2.3) We could not have made the gains we have without Him. Thus, "We sing the song of thankfulness today, in honor of the Self that God has willed to be our true Identity in Him." (W.123.4.2) We can truly be grateful that God has not changed His mind about us. He has made it impossible for us to change the truth about ourselves, as we were created. We have simply become unaware of our true reality. We never left our home and have not changed ourselves. We can only know this when we give up the blocks to the awareness of our reality. This is our responsibility. The power is in our own minds. There is no one outside our own minds to save us. We must be the ones who are willing to do the work with the help of the Holy Spirit. We must be patient with ourselves. "Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving." (T.19.IV.B.i.10.1) (ACIM OE T.19.V.b.69)

We are called to listen intently to His message, as "His word is soundless if it be not heard." (W.123.5.4) Because we are willing to do the healing and are willing to take our function in the world in accepting the Atonement for ourselves, He is thanking us. "Thanks be to you who heard, for you become the messenger who brings His Voice with you, and lets It echo round and round the world." (W.123.6.1) Our function in the world is not one of literally bringing the message to the world, but simply through our Being, shining our light into every mind. It is not about doing something, but only to accept the Atonement for ourselves. In other words, we accept the correction of our errors in perception. As we do so, the light shines through us and miracles are brought to every mind open to receiving them. The light we bring is carried around the world by the Holy Spirit. Our part is to do our own healing and not interfere. "You have been willing to bring the darkness to light, and this willingness has given strength to everyone who would remain in darkness." (T.18.III.6.2) (ACIM OE T.18.IV.29)

"Receive the thanks of God today, as you give thanks to Him. For He would offer you the thanks you give, since He receives your gifts in loving gratitude, and gives them back a thousand and a hundred thousand more than they were given." (W.123.6.2-3) Just for giving Him the gift of our thankfulness, He gives us His gratitude. What a blessing to experience this deep level of communion with our Source. This is true prayer. How different this is than to focus on praising God and beseeching Him in our prayers. The time of mea culpa is over. Now is the time of our resurrection!

In the process of giving our thanks to Him, so much power is unleashed! "This holy half an hour given Him will be returned to you in terms of years for every second; power to save the world eons more quickly for your thanks to Him." (W.123.7.3) It's overwhelming when we really think about this and with deep humility and gratitude accept it must be so. "Receive His thanks, and you will understand how lovingly He holds you in His Mind, how deep and limitless His care of you, how perfect is His gratitude to you." (W.123.8.1)

If you find it difficult today to embrace this message, be willing to bring any self-attacking thoughts of unworthiness, depression, sadness, despair, and impatience, to the light of the Holy Spirit. Know that behind these dark thoughts, God's light is shining constantly. We are the ones choosing to obscure it. When we are willing to bring these thoughts to the truth, only then can we walk through our day with light footsteps. This Lesson is not so much about focusing on specific things in this world that we are grateful for, although that too is helpful in learning to be grateful, but it is about putting more of our focus on the eternal gifts already given us. To be grateful for that which comes and goes makes gratitude less constant, because when the gifts come, we are grateful and when they don't come, we feel distress. The gratitude Jesus talks to us about in this Lesson becomes part of our very being and is not dependent on external circumstances. It is an inner condition where we experience the constancy of the truth about ourselves, the love we are, and the changelessness of our being, which is innocence, peace, love, and joy.

I will conclude with my deepest, heartfelt gratitude to each of you who contribute to this walk we share together in such a meaningful way. "Be glad you have a function in salvation to fulfill." (W.123.3.4) It is the function of forgiving our special relationships. It is why we are here. It is what time is for! With gratitude comes deep feelings of joy and with it comes the desire to extend, to give, to share, to support, to care, and to love. When our focus is on taking and getting for ourselves, we are called to do the forgiveness work of releasing all the thoughts and feelings that block this natural desire to extend. We come to know ourselves when we extend our gifts. We know the gifts are in us as we give them. Giving and receiving are the same.

In morning and evening meditation, for fifteen minutes, we give thanks for the eternal gifts and for the specific gifts in our lives. Also, we look at areas where we lack gratitude. We bring to mind people and situations where we don't want to smile on everyone we see, and we ask for help of the Holy Spirit in bringing these thoughts to the light. We thank God for His eternal Love for us, for having created us changeless, for His presence in our lives, and for never having abandoned us. He has given us a special function in salvation, and His Love for us will remain shining in us forever. We thank Him for the gains we have made as a result of His presence in us. We honor the Self He has willed to be our true Identity in Him. We are grateful for the Friend we have in the Holy Spirit and for His infinite patience with us. Then, we take in His thanks to us and feel how lovingly He holds us in His Mind and how deep is His limitless care.

"Remember hourly to think of Him, and give Him thanks for everything He gave His Son, that he might rise above the world, remembering his Father and his Self." (W.123.8.2) "Today we smile on everyone we see, and walk with lightened footsteps as we go to do what is appointed us to do." (W.123.4.3)

Love and blessings, Sarah


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