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

CHAPTER 13
From Perception to Knowledge

IV. Release and Restoration

20 You are accustomed to the notion that the mind can see the source of pain where it is not. The doubtful service of displacement is to hide the real source of your guilt and keep from your awareness the full perception that it is insane . Displacement always is maintained by the illusion that the source, from which attention is diverted, must be true and must be fearful , or you would not have displaced the guilt onto what you believed to be less fearful. You are therefore willing with little opposition to look upon all sorts of "sources" underneath awareness, provided that they are not the deeper source to which they bear no real relationship at all.

21 Insane ideas have no real relationships, for that is why they are insane. No real relationship can rest on guilt or even hold one spot of it to mar its purity. For all relationships which guilt has touched are used but to avoid the person and the guilt. What strange relationships you have made for this strange purpose! And you forgot that real relationships are holy and cannot be used by you at all. They are used only by the Holy Spirit, and it is that which makes them pure. For by preempting for your own ends what you should have given to Him , He cannot use them unto your release. No one who would unite in any way with anyone for his own salvation will find it in that strange relationship. It is not shared, and so it is not real.

22 In any union with a brother in which you seek to lay your guilt upon him or share it with him or perceive his own, you will feel guilty. Nor will you find satisfaction and peace with him, because your union with him is not real. You will see guilt in that relationship because you put it there. It is inevitable that those who suffer guilt will attempt to displace it, because they do believe in it. Yet, though they suffer, they will not look within and let it go . They cannot know they love and cannot understand what loving is . Their main concern is to perceive the source of guilt outside themselves, beyond their own control.

23 When you maintain that you are guilty but the source lies in the past , you are not looking inward. The past is not in you. Your weird associations to it have no meaning in the present. Yet you let them stand between you and your brothers, with whom you find no real relationships at all. Can you expect to use your brothers as a means to "solve" the past and still to see them as they really are? Salvation is not found by those who use their brothers to resolve problems which are not there. You wanted not salvation in the past. Would you impose your idle wishes on the present and hope to find salvation now ?

24 Determine, then, to be not as you were. Use no relationship to hold you to the past, but with each one each day be born again. A minute, even less, will be enough to free you from the past and give your mind in peace over to the Atonement. When everyone is welcome to you as you would have yourself be welcome to your Father, you will see no guilt in you. For you will have accepted the Atonement, which shone within you all the while you dreamed of guilt and would not look within and see it.

25 As long as you believe that guilt is justified in any way in anyone whatever he may do, you will not look within, where you would always find Atonement. The end of guilt will never come as long as you believe there is a reason for it. For you must learn that guilt is always totally insane and has no reason. The Holy Spirit seeks not to dispel reality. If guilt were real, Atonement would not be. The purpose of Atonement is to dispel illusions, not to establish them as real and then forgive them.

26 The Holy Spirit does not keep illusions in your mind to frighten you and show them to you fearfully to demonstrate what He has saved you from . What He has saved you from is gone . Give no reality to guilt, and see no reason for it. The Holy Spirit does what God would have Him do and has always done so. He has seen separation, but knows of union. He teaches healing, but He also knows of creation. He would have you see and teach as He does, and through Him. Yet what He knows, you do not know, though it is yours.

27 Now it is given you to heal and teach, to make what will be now . As yet it is not now. The Son of God believes that he is lost in guilt, alone in a dark world where pain is pressing everywhere upon him from without . When he has looked within and seen the radiance there, he will remember how much his Father loves him. And it will seem incredible that he has ever thought his Father loved him not and looked upon him as condemned. The moment that you realize guilt is insane, wholly unjustified, and wholly without reason, you will not fear to look upon the Atonement and accept it wholly.

28 You who have been unmerciful unto yourselves do not remember your Father's Love. And looking without mercy upon your brothers, you do not remember how much you love Him . Yet it is forever true. In shining peace within you is the perfect purity in which you were created. Fear not to look upon the lovely truth in you. Look through the cloud of guilt that dims your vision, and look past darkness to the holy place where you will see the light. The altar to your Father is as pure as He Who raised it to Himself. Nothing can keep from you what Christ would have you see. His will is like His Father's, and He offers mercy to every Child of God, as He would have you do.

29 Release from guilt as you would be released. There is no other way to look within and see the light of love shining as steadily and as surely as God Himself has always loved His Son. And as His son loves Him . There is no fear in love, for love is guiltless. You who have always loved your Father can have no fear for any reason to look within and see your holiness. You cannot be as you believed you were. Your guilt is without reason, because it is not in the Mind of God where you are. And this is reason, which the Holy Spirit would restore to you. He would remove only illusions. All else He would have you see. And in Christ's vision, He would show you the perfect purity that is forever within God's Son.

30 You cannot enter into real relationships with any of God's Sons unless you love them all and equally . Love is not special. If you single out part of the Sonship for your love, you are imposing guilt on all your relationships and making them unreal. You can love only as God loves. Seek not to love unlike Him, for there is no love apart from His. Until you recognize that this is true, you will have no idea what love is like. No one who condemns a brother can see himself as guiltless in the peace of God. If he is guiltless and in peace and sees it not, he is delusional and has not looked upon himself. To him I say,

31 Behold the Son of God and look upon his purity and be still. In quiet look upon his holiness and offer thanks unto his Father that no guilt has ever touched him.

32 No illusion that you have ever held against him has touched his innocence in any way. His shining purity, wholly untouched by guilt and wholly loving, is bright within you. Let us look upon him together and love him. For in our love of him is your guiltlessness. But look upon yourself, and gladness and appreciation for what you see will banish guilt forever. I thank You, Father, for the purity of Your most holy Son, whom You have created guiltless forever.

33 Like you my faith and my belief are centered on what I treasure. The difference is that I love only what God loves with me, and because of this, I treasure you beyond the value that you set on yourselves, even unto the worth that God has placed upon you. I love all that He created, and all my faith and my belief I offer unto it. My faith in you is strong as all the love I give my Father. My trust in you is without limit and without the fear that you will hear me not. I thank the Father for your loveliness and for the many gifts that you will let me offer to the Kingdom in honor of its wholeness, which is of God.

34 Praise be unto you who make the Father one with His own Son. Alone we are all lowly, but together we shine with brightness so intense that none of us alone can even think on it. Before the glorious radiance of the Kingdom, guilt melts away and, transformed into kindness, will never more be what it was. Every reaction that you experience will be so purified that it is fitting as a hymn of praise unto your Father. See only praise of Him in what He has created, for He will never cease His praise of you . United in this praise, we stand before the gates of Heaven where we will surely enter in our blamelessness. God loves you. Could I, then, lack faith in you and love Him perfectly?

35 Forgetfulness and sleep and even death become the ego's best advice for how to deal with the perceived and harsh intrusion of guilt on peace. Yet no one sees himself in conflict and ravaged by a cruel war unless he believes that both opponents in the war are real. Believing this, he must escape, for such a war would surely end his peace of mind and so destroy him. Yet if he could but realize the war is between forces that are real and unreal powers, he could look upon himself and see his freedom. No one finds himself ravaged and torn in endless battles which he himself perceives as wholly without meaning.

36 God would not have His Son embattled, and so His Son's imagined "enemy," which he made, is totally unreal. You are but trying to escape a bitter war from which you have escaped. The war is gone. For you have heard the hymn of freedom rising unto Heaven. Gladness and joy belong to God for your release, because you made it not. Yet as you made not freedom, so you made not a war that could endanger freedom. Nothing destructive ever was or will be. The war, the guilt, the past are gone as one into the unreality from which they came.

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A Course in Miracles
WORKBOOK

Part I
Review IV

1 Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review and for the lessons following. Thus we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness which we would now achieve.

2 There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:

3 My mind holds only what I think with God.

4 This is a fact and represents the truth of what you are and what your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought which fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.

5 Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are—defenses which protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.

6 And yet your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read and see the meaning which they offer us.

7 Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully and remove the rest:

8 My mind holds only what I think with God.

9 Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day. They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him and He with you.

10 After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea that you review that day give you the gift which He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:

11 Each hour of the day bring to your mind the thought with which the day began and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts which they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be. We add no other thoughts, but let them be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him.

12 Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness. God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.

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Lesson 148
My Mind holds only what I think with God.


[135] If I defend myself, I am attacked.

[136] Sickness is a defense against the truth.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 148
My mind holds only what I think with God.
Review IV ~ Lesson 135 - 136

Lessons 135 and 136 are both very long. You may want to revisit them, as I did today, because both offer perspectives that one would not expect. Any defense is frightening because Jesus tells us our defenses stem from fear, and thus, with each defense we make, our fear is increased. Defenses can only come from a sense of threat, and the threat means we are vulnerable. It is a threat we believe comes from outside our own minds, but the real source of the threat is the guilt in our minds. When the guilt is projected, we experience a sense of threat from the world, as now we fear attack. Any defense we design against the threat we fear will not address the cause of the fear, which is the guilt buried in our own mind. To us, it looks like the threat is real and coming from outside the mind. Yet the guilt in the mind seems to call for punishment from the world. This is what we fear. When we recognize it all comes from the guilt and terror in our own minds, we can see this is where our attention needs to be if we want to heal our sense of vulnerability.
 
Getting in touch with the terror within the mind is not a lot of fun, to say the least. I recently had an experience of this as a result of an event in my life. My immediate response to the feeling of threat was to lash out in anger. The anger I projected brought forth fear of retaliation. Then, the cycle of attack and defense, blaming and defending, came into full force. In the aftermath of this whole situation, I finally invited Spirit to help me to look within at the real source of the issues, which seemed to be reflected in the external conditions. I did not realize how much fear was buried deep within and how vulnerable I felt until I was willing to uncover the cause of the upset in my mind.
 
Every upset in our lives covers some deep wounds. Unearthing the wounds and bringing them to the inner altar for healing is essential. The external situations in our lives help us to see where healing is needed, as they are a mirror of the mind. No, it is not pleasant, but always helpful. At times like this, I often turn to the Course, using it like an oracle, as I look for guidance. I opened the Course randomly and came to a section about our magnitude and our littleness. "Not to question your littleness therefore is to deny all knowledge, and keep the ego's whole thought system intact." (T.9.VII.7.3) (ACIM OE T.9.VI.44) I recognized that I was called to look at how I was keeping the ego thought system intact by accepting my littleness. What is real and true is our magnitude, but the way to magnitude is by going within, with Jesus as our guiding light. He asks that we not go there alone. We ask for help to have the courage to look honestly at how we are reflecting our littleness. The challenge is to look at this without judging ourselves for it, which is not always easy!
 
All our defenses, including making plans to mitigate future threats, are about our belief that we are bodies with feelings that get hurt. Now we feel the vulnerability of our condition, yet Jesus continually reminds us that we are mistaken about our identity. Our reality is this glorious infinite Spirit, but as long as we identify with these bodies and personalities, we will defend ourselves. Jesus does not make us wrong because a Child of God is never wrong. He only asks that we look at how all this has been set up so we can go back to the mind and question what we believe. He is simply asking that we let him help us recognize the true source of our power in the mind in order to undo our investment in the illusion and realize that this is not how God created us.
 
Our plans appear to have developed as a defense against change. We are threatened by the truth of our reality as an invulnerable Son of God. As we learn to release our plans and learn to trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit more and more, we experience more and more joy and peace. For me, this has been a process where I find myself taking my hands off the steering wheel of my life and recognizing the illusion of control. Nothing I have ever done of any value is mine. Yes, the ego tries to take credit, yet it has never really accomplished anything of value. As I learn to trust more, I find, increasingly, that things just fall into place without me. It all just happens. Events and people show up perfectly with little or no effort on my part. I just do what is obvious and in front of me to do, and He takes care of the rest. As I get more and more affirmation of His presence, there is a growing trust. I need do nothing. The more I interfere, the more stressful the situation becomes. With Spirit, all is done with ease and done through me and not by me. It is a continuing process of learning to trust.
 
It is important that we not feel guilty for making plans in the illusion. Jesus is asking us to focus our attention not on what we do in this world but on what is going on in our minds, as we make plans. When we lock our doors, pay our insurance, put on our seat belts, and design strategies to protect ourselves against being hurt, we are preserving our sense of threat. It is not about making changes in our behaviors on the level of form but about recognizing how our plans, originated by the ego, are based on fear and based on protecting and preserving the self we think we are. As our minds are healed, our strategies for self-protection are lessened.
 
When we are willing to accept that we are not victims of what we thought was a threat to us, we can ask for the help of Holy Spirit to forgive ourselves for using our plans to attack ourselves and to separate from God's Love. Our plans are merely defenses against the truth. They defend us from the truth because they keep us locked in the false perception that we are these fragile beings and are extremely vulnerable. Jesus assures us that when our minds do not abuse the body by assigning roles to the body it cannot fulfill, then it will be strong and healthy.
 
The focus needs to be on the mind, which is the cause of all the effects in our lives. Thus, I find that when I am angry and upset or worried and suffer and cannot sleep or eat, I am choosing to listen to the ego. I don’t need to indulge it. I have the power to choose to turn from it. The ego does not necessarily take this lightly and tries to do what it can to hold my attention. Yet I have the power to choose not to listen. Before coming to this teaching, I had no idea this power was in me. I did not know there was another Voice I could listen to. When I choose peace, there is nothing to trigger me. There is nothing outside my own mind. The only reason I get upset by something someone says to me is because I believe what they are saying. This belief comes from my own self-attacking thoughts. The opportunity for healing is now given, which is all perfect to the Spirit, though not always seen that way by the ego.
 
These Lessons are helping us uncover the many layers of defenses we have against the truth of who we are. We are learning to look at the sin, guilt, and fear in our minds so that they can be forgiven. It is not helpful to simply change our behavior in the belief that this is a real change. While we are still holding onto our misperceptions, the guilt and fear will remain intact in our minds. What is important, therefore, is to do the real healing of looking at the blocks to love that we are holding in our minds. Of course, behavior then naturally follows, because when the blocks are gone, we naturally function from the right mind and our behaviors will align with the love within. Beneath all these crazy thoughts is the truth: "My mind holds only what I think with God." (W.RIV.IN.2.2) (ACIM OE W.RIV.3)
 
This Lesson came a day after I had been asking for guidance about a situation where I felt wrongly accused and was asking how to see it. "If I defend myself I am attacked." (W.135) I got my answer in perfect timing, as is often the case when these Lessons show up. Jesus asks us, "Who would defend himself unless he thought he were attacked, that the attack were real, and that his own defense could save himself?" (W.135.1.1) I will not give illusions reality. I am reminded today that all attack is a call for love and understanding, and ultimately it is my own call. To respond in any way other than with love ". . . adds illusions to illusions, thus making correction doubly difficult." (W.135.1.3) Isn't that what happens when we respond to attack? It all gets very complicated. The simplicity of salvation is to bring our mistaken perceptions to the truth. Letting my seemingly justified attack go and recognizing that it is all call for love, allows the peace already in my mind to prevail. Even more so, when Lessons show up, often specifically for the question currently in our minds, we can be assured the Holy Spirit is there, offering us His answer. He is always there. We just don't hear the answer because we are preoccupied with figuring it all out on our own. To do this on our own is to be listening to the voice of the ego.
 
As I was struggling in my mind with how to address what seemed like a difficult issue, I got a beautiful affirmation from a Course student, who reminded me of the truth about myself. At the risk of reflecting an ego perspective, the message, which I have abbreviated here, said, "Sarah, how can I thank you for that which moves me through you...your insights, wisdom, and example of holiness. The spring of grace that flows from your heart to those you care about is so honorable. I just send so much love and gratitude to you and Don for sharing like you do and can hardly wait to sit in your sanctuary again." How beautifully things are orchestrated in our lives when we simply step aside. How beautifully the Holy Spirit speaks through others to the truth in ourselves. How lovely is the heart that extends itself into the mind to bless. A metaphor I like is to imagine a storm raging around us, but now we can choose to enter the quiet in the center of the storm. In the quiet center, the storm has no reality.
 
I find when any kind of trouble brews in my life, I really get the Lesson. When things go according to my plans, it is much easier for the ego to just sit back and congratulate itself on its spiritual progress. I am always thankful for these opportunities to watch the mind and be humbled by the way truth dawns on my mind when I am willing to get more honest about my intentions and my motivations. One of my favorite passages in this Lesson always brings gratitude when Jesus says, "What could you not accept, if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good? Perhaps you have misunderstood His plan, for He would never offer pain to you. But your defenses did not let you see His loving blessing shine in every step you ever took. While you made plans for death, He led you gently to eternal life." (W.135.18.1-4)
 
This does not mean God brings all these events into our lives. The fact is, the script for our lives has been written, but within each event, there is a gift offered by the Holy Spirit for our healing. Thus, no matter how difficult or challenging the situation seems to be, there is always a gift in every situation. All we have to do is to be willing to see it so the Lesson can be learned. Within the script, the Holy Spirit offers us an alternative. The alternative is always perfect for our awakening, and it is always a miracle.
 
Sickness is also a defense. It is something we apparently choose quite deliberately when the truth gets too close for comfort. It allows us to distract ourselves and become committed, once again, to the belief that we truly are vulnerable bodies, being attacked by something outside us. Sickness simply affirms that the body is what we are, and it has all the power to make us feel whatever it wants, keeping us separate from others, making us sick, and eventually bringing death. Yet sickness is a defense because it affirms that we have defeated the truth and thus defeated God and made Him wrong about us; but when truth enters, illusions are gone. It is like turning on a light in a dark room, where darkness no longer exists.
 
The only antidote to sickness is to accept the truth about ourselves and let our minds be healed. Of course, when we do experience sickness, it is not helpful to ask why I did this to myself and what is wrong with me. It is there only to help us realize it is a mistake to confuse our body with the truth of who we are. We just need to remind ourselves that the truth is---we are invulnerable. The body is just a tool to bring love and healing to the world, and when we get this and remember our Identity, then its health is guaranteed.
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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