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

The Problem of Guilt

IV. Healing and Time

23 And now the reason why you are afraid of this course should be apparent. For this is a course on love because it is about you . You have been told that your function in this world is healing, and your function in Heaven is creating. The ego teaches that your function on earth is destruction and that you have no function at all in Heaven. It would thus destroy you here and bury you here, leaving you no inheritance except the dust out of which it thinks you were made. As long as it is reasonably satisfied with you, as its reasoning goes, it offers you oblivion. When it becomes overtly savage, it offers you hell.

24 Yet neither oblivion nor hell is as unacceptable to you as Heaven. For your definition of Heaven is hell and oblivion, and the real Heaven is the greatest threat you think you could experience. For hell and oblivion are ideas which you made up, and you are bent on demonstrating their reality to establish yours . If their reality is questioned, you believe that yours is. For you believe that attack is your reality and that your destruction is the final proof that you were right .

25 Under the circumstances, would it not be more desirable to have been wrong, even apart from the fact that you were wrong? While it could perhaps be argued that death suggests there was life, no one would claim that it proves there is life. Even the past life which death might indicate could only have been futile if it must come to this and needs this to prove that it was. You question Heaven, but you do not question this . You could heal and be healed if you did question it. And even though you know not Heaven, might it not be more desirable than death? You have been as selective in your questioning as in your perception. An open mind is more honest than this.

26 The ego has a very strange notion of time, and it is with this notion that your questioning might well begin. The ego invests heavily in the past and in the end believes that the past is the only aspect of time that is meaningful. You will remember that we said its emphasis on guilt enables it to ensure its continuity by making the future like the past and thus avoiding the present. By the notion of paying for the past in the future, the past becomes the determiner of the future, making them continuous without an intervening present. For the ego uses the present only as a brief transition to the future, in which it brings the past to the future by interpreting the present in past terms.

27 Now has no meaning to the ego. The present merely reminds it of past hurts, and it reacts to the present as if it were the past. The ego cannot tolerate release from the past, and although the past is no more, the ego tries to preserve its image by responding as if it were present. Thus it dictates reactions to those you meet now from a past reference point, obscuring their present reality. In effect, if you follow the ego's dictates, you will react to your brothers as though they were someone else , and this will surely prevent you from perceiving them as they are . And you will receive messages from them out of your own past because, by making it real in the present, you are forbidding yourself to let it go. You thus deny yourself the message of release that every brother offers you now .

28 The shadowy figures from the past are precisely what you must escape . For they are not real and have no hold over you unless you bring them with you. They carry the spots of pain in your minds, directing you to attack in the present in retaliation for a past that is no more. And this decision is one of future pain. Unless you learn that past pain is delusional, you are choosing a future of illusions and losing the endless opportunities which you could find for release in the present. The ego would preserve your nightmares and prevent you from awakening and understanding that they are past.

29 Would you recognize a holy encounter if you are merely perceiving it as a meeting with your own past? For you are meeting no one, and the sharing of salvation, which makes the encounter holy, is excluded from your sight. The Holy Spirit teaches that you always meet yourself and the encounter is holy because you are. The ego teaches that you always encounter your past, and because your dreams were not holy, the future cannot be, and the present is without meaning. It is evident that the Holy Spirit's perception of time is the exact opposite of the ego's. The reason is equally clear, for they perceive the goal of time as diametrically opposed.

30 The Holy Spirit interprets time's purpose as rendering the need for it unnecessary. Thus does He regard the function of time as temporary, serving only His teaching function, which is temporary by definition. His emphasis is therefore on the only aspect of time which can extend to the infinite, for now is the closest approximation of eternity which this world offers. It is in the reality of now, without past or future, that the beginning of the appreciation of eternity lies. For only now is here, and it presents the opportunities for the holy encounters in which salvation can be found.

31 The ego, on the other hand, regards the function of time as one of extending itself in place of eternity, for like the Holy Spirit, the ego interprets the goal of time as its own. The continuity of past and future under its direction is the only purpose the ego perceives in time, and it closes over the present so that no gap in its own continuity can occur. Its continuity, then, would keep you in time, while the Holy Spirit would release you from it. It is His interpretation of the means of salvation which you must learn to accept if you would share His goal of salvation for you.

32 You too will interpret the function of time as you interpret yours. If you accept your function in the world of time as healing, you will emphasize only the aspect of time in which healing can occur. For healing cannot be accomplished in the past and must be accomplished in the present to release the future. This interpretation ties the future to the present and extends the present rather than the past. But if you interpret your function as destruction, you will lose sight of the present and hold on to the past to ensure a destructive future. And time will be as you interpret it, for of itself it is nothing .

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 139
I will accept Atonement for myself.

1 Here is the end of choice. For here we come to a decision to accept ourselves as God created us. And what is choice except uncertainty of what we are? There is no doubt that is not rooted here. There is no question but reflects this one. There is no conflict that does not entail the single simple question, "What am I?"

2 Yet who could ask this question except one who has refused to recognize himself? Only refusal to accept yourself could make the question seem to be sincere. The only thing that can be surely known by any living thing is what it is. From this one point of certainty it looks on other things as certain as itself. Uncertainty about what you must be is self-deception on a scale so vast its magnitude can hardly be conceived.

3 To be alive and not to know yourself is to believe that you are really dead. For what is life except to be yourself, and what but you can be alive instead? Who is the doubter? What is it he doubts? Whom does he question? Who can answer him? He merely states that he is not himself and therefore, being something else, becomes a questioner of what that something is.

4 Yet he could never be alive at all unless he knew the answer. If he asks as if he did not know, it merely shows he does not want to be the thing he is. He has accepted it because he lives, has judged against it and denied its worth, and has decided that he does not know the only certainty by which he lives. Thus he becomes uncertain of his life, for what it is has been denied by him.

5 It is for this denial that you need Atonement. Your denial made no change in what you are. But you have split your mind into what knows and does not know the truth. You are yourself. There is no doubt of this, and yet you doubt it. But you do not ask what part of you can really doubt yourself. It cannot really be a part of you that asks this question, for it asks of one who knows the answer. Were it part of you, uncertainty would be impossible.

6 Atonement remedies the strange idea that it is possible to doubt yourself and be unsure of what you really are. This is the depth of madness. Yet it is the universal question of the world. What does this prove except the world is mad? Why share its madness in the sad belief that what is universal here is true? Nothing the world believes is true. It is a place whose purpose is to be a home where those who claim they do not know themselves can come to question what it is they are.

7 And they will come again until the time Atonement is accepted, and they learn it is impossible to doubt yourself and not to be aware of what you are. Only acceptance can be asked of you, for what you are is certain. It is set forever in the holy Mind of God and in your own. It is so far beyond all doubt and question that to ask what it must be is all the proof you need to show that you believe the contradiction that you know not what you cannot fail to know.

8 Is this a question or a statement which denies itself in statement? Let us not allow our holy minds to occupy themselves with senseless musings such as this. We have a mission here. We did not come to reinforce the madness which we once believed in. Let us not forget the goal that we accepted. It is more than just our happiness alone we came to gain. What we accept as what we are proclaims what everyone must be along with us.

9 Fail not your brothers, or you fail yourself. Look lovingly on them that they may know that they are part of you and you of them. This does Atonement teach and demonstrates the oneness of God's Son is unassailed by his belief he knows not what he is. Today accept Atonement, not to change reality, but merely to accept the truth about yourself and go your way rejoicing in the endless Love of God. It is but this that we are asked to do. It is but this that we will do today.

10 Five minutes in the morning and at night we will devote to dedicate our minds to our assignment for today. We start with this review of what our mission is:

11 I will accept Atonement for myself, for I remain as God created me.

12 We have not lost the knowledge that God gave to us when He created us like Him. We can remember it for everyone, for in creation are all minds as one and in our memory is the recall how dear our brothers are to us in truth, how much a part of us is every mind, how faithful they have really been to us, and how our Father's Love contains us all.

13 In thanks for all creation, in the name of its Creator and His oneness with all aspects of creation, we repeat our dedication to our cause today each hour, as we lay aside all thoughts that would distract us from our holy aim. For several minutes let your mind be cleared of all the foolish cobwebs which the world would weave around the holy Son of God. And learn the fragile nature of the chains that seem to keep the knowledge of yourself apart from your awareness, as you say:

14 I will accept Atonement for myself, for I remain as God created me.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 139
I will accept Atonement for myself.

The Lesson yesterday spoke of the thousand choices we seem to have in the world of illusion, with many conflicting goals in front of us. Yet Jesus also reminded us that there really is only one choice to make and even that choice is already made. We are learning that the many forms we seem to choose among conceal the fact that there is only one choice---the choice for Heaven and truth. When we made the choice for the ego, we also made a choice for the false self, which is why the Atonement is needed. The Atonement is a correction that we can apply every time we choose wrongly. This does not make us wrong, but we have simply made a mistake that can be corrected when we turn to the Holy Spirit.
Time has been given us to use for the purpose of correcting our mistaken choice for the separation and our individuality. When we use time for learning, it is because we really do want to know again our Eternal One Self. When time is used for healing, it is being well used to accept the Atonement for ourselves. We are not responsible for the error, but we are responsible for accepting the Correction. As long as the illusion seems to offer us what we deem as satisfaction, we will continue to choose its offerings until we recognize it offers us nothing but pain and suffering. Today's Lesson says that when we decide to accept the Atonement, it marks the end of choice and the acceptance of ourselves as God created us. Until we come to total acceptance of our reality, we keep questioning, seeking, doubting, denying, and keeping ourselves small. We keep wondering: "What am I?" "Why am I here?" "What is the purpose and meaning of my life?"
Why would we ask these questions if God has already answered them? Why do we stay in this confusion about our identity? He says, "Uncertainty about what you must be is self-deception on a scale so vast, its magnitude can hardly be conceived." (W.139.3.1) We are living in denial of the truth about ourselves that we must learn to stop. "The task of the miracle worker thus becomes to deny the denial of truth ." (T.12.II.1.5) (ACIM OE T.11.III.14) Our minds are split into a part that knows the truth about ourselves (the right mind) and another part that does not know; and we hold beliefs and concepts about ourselves that are not true.
Our journey of awakening is not supported by the world. It can’t be otherwise because "It is a place whose purpose is to be a home where those who claim they do not know themselves can come to question what it is they are." (W.139.7.2) It is an insane world based on an insane thought system. "The ego made the world as it perceives it, but the Holy Spirit, the reinterpreter of what the ego made, sees the world as a teaching device for bringing you home." (T.5.III.11.1) (ACIM OE T.5.V.42) All our past learning, when used for the purpose of awakening, can now become a classroom for its undoing with the help of our inner Teacher.
Apparently, we will keep coming here until we give up all these questions and all our doubt thoughts and accept the truth about ourselves. This is what acceptance of the Atonement is all about. It is the correction of our mistaken perceptions. It is a correction of our wrong-minded beliefs. To accept the Atonement is to come to accept that we are not bodies, living in this world. To accept the Atonement is to heal the mind of all its misconceptions, all its self-concepts, and all the values and beliefs it holds. It is a process of undoing everything that we have come to accept as true about ourselves and the world until we come to the place where we no longer question who we are. We are no longer deceived about our true Identity as the Christ.
We come to the place where we know ourselves as eternal, rather than bodies living a life that ends in death. "To be alive and not to know yourself is to believe that you are really dead." (W.139.3.2) The truth is that we have never left God and are still one with Him. It is only in the insanity of the illusion that we believe life consists of our experience in the body and the world. Life can only be truly known when we know what we are as the Christ. We did not destroy this life when we remembered not to laugh at the tiny mad idea that we could actually separate from God and the Love we are. Not one note in Heaven’s song was missed. We are still One with our Father.
"Who is the doubter? What is it he doubts? Whom does he question? Who can answer him?" (W.139.3.4-7) I love these questions that show the part of the mind that asks and the part that does not know. When I say, " I ask myself ," who is the "I" that asks the "self?" This internal dialogue goes on between what seem to be the different parts of the mind. The questioner is the part that has chosen the ego. What he doubts is what he is. Whom he questions is himself. Who can answer him is only the Holy Spirit in the right mind.  "For it asks of one who knows the answer." (W.139.5.10) We won't hear the answer as long as we listen to the ego. The Self is in the right mind, but it seems to be a separate part of what we are. The one who is questioning is not what we are. "Were it part of you, then certainty would be impossible." (W.139.5.11) We are not two parts in conflict. There is only One Self. The doubter is the one who has chosen to identify with the wrong mind. Again, it is the choice made for our individuality that brought about all our doubt thoughts. We now doubt what we are as the One Self at One with God. Yet the answer is within, in the right mind. If we do not hear, it is because we are listening to the part that does not know.
This Lesson helps us to see how we can end the uncertainty of this constant questioning of ourselves. Sanity is in our minds at this very moment. It is the Answer within us to every question about ourselves. "We have not lost the knowledge that God gave us when He created us like Him." (W.139.11.4) If we don't hear the answer, it is because we don't want to be what we are. We are actively resisting the truth, believing there will be a high cost to us in the acceptance of the truth within. The Holy Spirit is the symbol of the memory of everlasting life. He is our assurance that we cannot die. Yet because we have ". . . judged against it [the truth of our being] and denied its worth," (W.139.4.4) we think we don't know what we are; and this is the source of all our uncertainty. Just because we have denied the truth of our reality does not change what we are. "Your denial made no change in what you are." (W.139.5.3) Part of us knows the truth about ourselves, and the other part keeps denying this truth. This is the split mind.
The ego is nothing but a doubt thought we hold about ourselves. It is madness. It has occupied the mind which now doubts itself and has become unsure of what it is. "Atonement remedies the strange idea that it is possible to doubt yourself, and be unsure of what you really are." (W.139.6.1) Thus, Atonement is the acceptance of the truth about ourselves. It releases the question from our minds of what we are. It is the acceptance of the Answer. It is the recognition, "I will accept Atonement for myself, for I remain as God created me . " (W.139.11.3) The truth is already in our minds. (W.139.8.2) It is not something we have to seek. We can choose to "not allow our holy minds to occupy themselves with senseless musings." (W.139.8.5) "We have not lost the knowledge that God gave to us when He created us like Him." (W.139.11.4) That knowledge is still in our minds to be accessed there.
What is stopping us? The only thing stopping us is our own fear and our distractions from our holy aim. All the things of this world that distract us are the ". . . foolish cobwebs which the world would weave around the Holy Son of God." (W.139.12.2) They have no substance but only appear to be a complex web that cannot hold us back. "And learn the fragile nature of the chains that seem to keep the knowledge of yourself apart from your awareness. . ." (W.139.12.3) They cannot hold back the awareness of the truth about ourselves if we don't let them. When we let them hold us back, they do indeed feel powerful and strong to us. In this dream, they seem to have a very strong hold only because we give them power.
We have an important assignment given to us by Jesus today. The assignment is to remind ourselves hourly that we remain as God created us. It will never be affirmed by what the world values and what we value in the world. Whenever we experience doubt, confusion, or distress of any kind, we can look at our thoughts with the Holy Spirit and without judgment. We need to tell ourselves the truth often---we were created perfect, whole, and totally innocent. Everything we think we have done to destroy the truth about ourselves is simply a dream. While we may acknowledge that this is the case, the only way we can experience it is to be vigilant of our thoughts. Our thoughts are blocking the truth. These are the thoughts of anger, despair, worry, fears, demands, expectations, specialness, judgment, arrogance, and more. Jesus can't change our thoughts for us. We must do the work ourselves because we are the ones who gave power to these senseless thoughts. He tells us that since we made them, we must be the ones to bring them to the light.
When we release the blocks to love by accepting the Atonement for ourselves, we do it for the whole Sonship, as there is only One Mind. Every brother is a part of the One Mind. We will know our magnificence when we see it everywhere and in everyone. In this endless love, available to us in every moment, we will rejoice as we join with our brothers and sisters in Oneness. So let us look with kindness on everyone, extend blessings to those who cross our path today, and refrain from analyzing the motives of others or correcting our brothers. Our acceptance of our own joy and peace is the gift we give and thus receive for ourselves, as we do this in gratitude and joy.
He asks us to lay aside all thoughts that would distract us from our holy aim. Today, anytime you witness your unhappiness, pain, distress, or even happiness as coming from something outside you, realize that you deny the truth of who you are and thus deny the healing. By taking responsibility for our judgments and our attacks perceived to be coming from within ourselves or from the world, we take the first step in healing. We need to spend the day being vigilant with regard to mind watching. All our doubts, confusion, and uncertainties are opportunities to question their validity. They are not the truth.
"For several minutes let your mind be cleared of all the foolish cobwebs which the world would weave around the holy Son of God. And learn the fragile nature of the chains that seem to keep the knowledge of yourself apart from your awareness, as you say:
"I will accept Atonement for myself, for I remain as God created me. " (W.139.12.2-3)
These fragile chains are the ego's thought system of sin, guilt, fear, suffering, and death. To us, they do not seem fragile at all when we give them power. Today, I set my kitchen on fire and was giving power to my thoughts that I was guilty and had sinned. These are the fragile chains that can readily be brought to the truth so that regardless of what is happening in our lives, we can choose peace instead. Yes, feelings arise and must be acknowledged, felt, and released, but that comes more and more easily as we do the work and remind ourselves of the only thing that is true in this world---I am still as God created me.
We can only recognize the nothingness of these illusions when we question them and bring them to the light of truth. It is the process of forgiveness as described in the Course. It is a process of looking without judgment at the ego thought system, which can only be done when we look with the Holy Spirit.
Bring forth the memory of how dear your brothers are in truth and how much a part of you is every mind, how faithful they have been to you, and how your Father's love contains them all. Bring them all into the circle of light and love, leaving no one outside of your loving embrace. Notice whenever you try to separate from your brothers with your judgments or by seeing differences and making comparisons. Any thoughts we hold that separate us from any of our brothers is how we deny our Identity. We make judgments all the time, so do not judge yourself for making them. Just be willing to release them once they are seen. "The necessary condition of the holy instant does not require that you have no thoughts that are not pure. But it does require that you have none that you would keep." (T.15.IV.9.1) (ACIM OE T.15.V.43)
Love and Blessings, Sarah


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