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

From Perception to Knowledge

VIII. The Decision For Guiltlessness

64 Learning will be commensurate with motivation, and the interference in your motivation for learning is exactly the same as that which interferes with all your thinking. The happy learner cannot feel guilty about learning. This is so essential to learning that it should never be forgotten. The guiltless learner learns so easily because his thoughts are free. Yet this entails the recognition that guilt is interference, not salvation, and serves no useful function at all.

65 You are accustomed to using guiltlessness merely to offset the pain of guilt and do not look upon it as having value in itself . You believe that guilt and guiltlessness are both of value, each representing an escape from what the other does not offer you. You do not want either alone, for without both, you do not see yourselves as whole and therefore happy. Yet you are whole only in your guiltlessness, and only in your guiltlessness can you be happy. There is no conflict here. To wish for guilt in any way, in any form, will lose appreciation of the value of your guiltlessness and push it from your sight.

66 There is no compromise that you can make with guilt and escape the pain which only guiltlessness allays. Learning is living here, as creating is being in Heaven. Whenever the pain of guilt seems to attract you, remember that, if you yield to it, you are deciding against your happiness and will not learn how to be happy. Say therefore to yourself gently, but with the conviction born of the love of God and of His Son,

67 What I experience, I will make manifest. If I am guiltless, I have nothing to fear. I choose to testify to my acceptance of the Atonement,  not for its rejection. I would accept my guiltlessness by making it manifest and sharing it. Let me bring peace to God's Son from his Father.  

68 Each day, each hour and minute, even every second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection, between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the decision for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours. What you can decide between is fixed because there are no alternatives except truth and illusion. And there is no overlap between them because they are opposites which cannot be reconciled and cannot both be true. You are guilty or guiltless, bound or free, happy or unhappy.

69 The miracle teaches you that you have chosen guiltlessness, freedom, and joy. It is not a cause, but an effect . It is the natural result of choosing right, attesting to your happiness that comes from choosing to be free of guilt. Everyone you offer healing to returns it. Everyone you attack keeps it and cherishes it by holding it against you. Whether he does this or does it not will make no difference; you will think he does. It is impossible to offer what you do not want without this penalty. The cost of giving is receiving. Either it is a penalty from which you suffer or the happy purchase of a treasure to hold dear.

70 No penalty is ever asked of God's Son except by himself and of himself. Every chance given him to heal is another opportunity to replace darkness with light and fear with love. If he refuses it, he binds himself to darkness because he did not choose to free his brother and enter light with him. By giving power to nothing, he threw away the joyous opportunity to learn that nothing has no power. And by not dispelling darkness, he became afraid of darkness and of light. The joy of learning that darkness has no power over the Son of God is the happy lesson the Holy Spirit teaches and would have you teach with Him. It is His joy to teach it, as it will be yours.

71 The way to teach this simple lesson is merely this: guiltlessness is invulnerability. Therefore, make your invulnerability manifest to everyone, and teach him that whatever he may try to do to you, your perfect freedom from the belief that you can be harmed shows him he is guiltless. He can do nothing that can hurt you, and by refusing to allow him to think he can, you teach him that the Atonement, which you have accepted for yourself, is also his. There is nothing to forgive. No one can hurt the Son of God. His guilt is wholly without cause, and being without cause, cannot exist.

72 God is the only Cause, and guilt is not of Him. Teach no one he has hurt you, for if you do, you teach yourself that what is not of God has power over you. The causeless cannot be . Do not attest to it, and do not foster belief in it in any mind. Remember always that mind is one and cause is one. You will learn communication with this oneness only when you learn to deny the causeless and accept the Cause of God as yours . The power that God has given to His Son is his, and nothing else can His Son see or choose to look upon without imposing on himself the penalty of guilt in place of all the happy teaching the Holy Spirit would gladly offer him.

73 Whenever you decide to make decisions for yourself, you are thinking destructively, and the decision will be wrong. It will hurt you because of the concept of decision which led to it. It is not true that you can make decisions by yourself or for yourself alone. No thought of God's Son can be separate or isolated in its effects. Every decision is made for the whole Sonship, directed in and out and influencing a constellation larger than anything you ever dreamed of. Those who accept the Atonement are invulnerable. But those who believe they are guilty will respond to guilt because they think it is salvation and will not refuse to see it and side with it. [They believe that increasing guilt is self-protection.] And they will fail to understand the simple fact that what they do not want must hurt them.

74 All this arises because they do not believe that what they want is good . Yet will was given them because it is holy and will bring to them all that they need, coming as naturally as peace that knows no limits. There is nothing their wills will not provide that offers them anything of value. Yet because they do not understand their will, the Holy Spirit quietly understands it for them and gives them what they will without effort, strain, or the impossible burden of deciding what they want and need alone.

75 It will never happen that you will have to make decisions for yourself. You are not bereft of help, and Help that knows the answer. Would you be content with little, which is all that you alone can offer yourself, when He Who gives you everything will simply offer it to you? He will never ask what you have done to make you worthy of the gift of God. Ask it not therefore of yourselves. Instead, accept His answer, for He knows that you are worthy of everything God wills for you. Do not try to escape the gift of God which He so freely and so gladly offers you. He offers you but what God gave Him for you. You need not decide whether or not you are deserving of it. God knows you are.

76 Would you deny the truth of God's decision and place your pitiful appraisal of yourself in place of His calm and unswerving value of His Son? Nothing can shake God's conviction of the perfect purity of everything that He created, for it is wholly pure. Do not decide against it, for being of Him, it must be true. Peace abides in every mind that quietly accepts the plan which God has set for his Atonement, relinquishing his own . You know not of salvation, for you do not understand it. Make no decisions about what it is or where it lies, but ask of the Holy Spirit everything and leave all decisions to His gentle counsel.

77 The One Who knows the plan of God which God would have you follow can teach you what it is . Only His wisdom is capable of guiding you to follow it. Every decision you undertake alone but signifies that you would define what salvation is and what you would be saved from . The Holy Spirit knows that all salvation is escape from guilt. You have no other "enemy," and against this strange distortion of the purity of the Son of God, the Holy Spirit is your only friend. He is the strong protector of your innocence, which sets you free. And it is His decision to undo everything that would obscure your innocence from your unclouded mind.

78 Let Him, therefore, be the only Guide that you would follow to salvation. He knows the way and leads you gladly on it. With Him you will not fail to learn what God wills for you is your will. Without His guidance, you will think you know alone and will decide against your peace as surely as you made the wrong decision in ever thinking that salvation lay in you alone. Salvation is of Him to Whom God gave it for you. He has not forgotten it. Forget Him not, and He will make every decision for you, for your salvation, and the peace of God in you.

[to be continued...]

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 152
The power of decision is my own.

1 No one can suffer loss unless it be his own decision. No one suffers pain except his choice elects this state for him. No one can grieve nor fear nor think him sick unless these are the outcomes that he wants. And no one dies without his own consent. Nothing occurs but represents your wish, and nothing is omitted that you choose. Here is your world, complete in all details. Here is its whole reality for you. And it is only here salvation is.

2 You may believe that this position is extreme and too inclusive to be true. Yet can truth have exceptions? If you have the gift of everything, can loss be real? Can pain be part of peace, or grief of joy? Can fear and sickness enter in a mind where love and perfect holiness abide? Truth must be all-inclusive if it be the truth at all. Accept no opposite and no exceptions, for to do so is to contradict the truth entirely.

3 Salvation is the recognition that the truth is true and nothing else is true. This you have heard before, but may not yet accept both parts of it. Without the first, the second has no meaning, but without the second is the first no longer true. Truth cannot have an opposite. This can not be too often said and thought about. For if what is not true is true as well as what is true, then part of truth is false, and truth has lost its meaning. Nothing but the truth is true, and what is false is false.

4 This is the simplest of distinctions, yet the most obscure. But not because it is a difficult distinction to perceive. It is concealed behind a vast array of choices which do not appear to be entirely your own. And thus the truth appears to have some aspects that belie consistency but do not seem to be but contradictions introduced by you.

5 As God created you, you must remain unchangeable with transitory states by definition false. And that includes all shifts in feeling, alterations in conditions of the body and the mind, in all awareness, and in all response. This is the all-inclusiveness which sets the truth apart from falsehood, and the false kept separate from the truth as what it is.

6 Is it not strange that you believe to think you made the world you see is arrogance? God made it not. Of this you can be sure. What can He know of the ephemeral, the sinful and the guilty, the afraid, the suffering and lonely, and the mind that lives within a body that must die? You but accuse Him of insanity, to think He made a world where such things seem to have reality. He is not mad. Yet only madness makes a world like this.

7 To think that God made chaos, contradicts His Will, invented opposites to truth, and suffers death to triumph over life—all this is arrogance. Humility would see at once these things are not of Him. And can you see what God created not? To think you can is merely to believe you can perceive what God willed not to be. And what could be more arrogant than this?

8 Let us today be truly humble and accept what we have made as what it is. The power of decision is our own. Decide but to accept your rightful place as co-creator of the universe, and all you think you made will disappear. What rises to awareness then will be all that there ever was, eternally as it is now. And it will take the place of self-deceptions made but to usurp the altar to the Father and the Son.

9 Today we practice true humility, abandoning the false pretense by which the ego seeks to prove it arrogant. Only the ego can be arrogant. But truth is humble in acknowledging its mightiness, its changelessness, and its eternal wholeness—all-encompassing, God's perfect gift to His beloved Son.

10 We lay aside the arrogance which says that we are sinners, guilty and afraid, ashamed of what we are. And we lift our hearts in true humility instead to Him Who has created us immaculate, like to Himself in power and in love. The power of decision is our own. And we accept of Him that which we are and humbly recognize the Son of God.

11 To recognize God's Son implies as well that all self-concepts have been laid aside and recognized as false. Their arrogance has been perceived. And in humility the radiance of God's Son, his gentleness, his perfect sinlessness, his Father's Love, his right to Heaven and release from hell are joyously accepted as our own. Now do we join in glad acknowledgment that lies are false and only truth is true.

12 We think of truth alone as we arise and spend five minutes practicing its ways, encouraging our frightened minds with this:

13 The power of decision is my own. This day I will accept myself as what my Father's Will created me to be.

14 Then will we wait in silence, giving up all self-deceptions as we humbly ask our Self that He reveal Himself to us. And He Who never left will come again to our awareness, grateful to restore His home to God as it was meant to be.

15 In patience wait for Him throughout the day and hourly invite Him with the words with which the day began, concluding it with this same invitation to your Self. God's Voice will answer, for He speaks for you and for your Father. He will substitute the peace of God for all your frantic thoughts, the truth of God for self-deceptions, and God's Son for your illusions of yourself.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 152
The power of decision is my own.

This Lesson, like the one yesterday, offers us another opportunity to look more closely at the illusion and what we have made. It clearly tells us that this world of pain, grief, misery, fear, and sickness was not made by God. "God made it not. Of this you can be sure." (W.152.6.2-3) If we accept that God created only the changeless and brings us only joy, love, holiness, and peace, then we must accept that we are the ones who have made everything that is unlike what He created. God did not make this changing world. Nothing is outside of our own decision. We have that much power! And that is precisely the ego's fear---that we can change our minds anytime we want about the choice we have made to support its thought system of guilt and fear.
We all have a difficult time believing we are not at the mercy of the world and forces over which we have no control. It seems to us that the events and situations that show up in our lives happen to us without our choice, and indeed, that we are victims of the world that we see. But in this Lesson, we are told that nothing happens without our consent. At some level of the mind, we have chosen everything that seems to be happening, even when we are leaving our bodies.
This is the movie of our lives. We have no control over the world we made, but we have a choice as to how we respond to it. Observing our lives is similar to watching a movie. There is no point in trying to influence the characters on the screen and what they will do. It is all part of the prearranged script, but we can work with our minds and how we respond to the script. The Holy Spirit waits for us to offer our thoughts and beliefs to Him so that they can be purified by Him. He does not control, command, demand, or coerce. He must wait until we are ready to give Him our misperceptions for His Correction. As our thoughts shift, the events of the world become irrelevant to our peace of mind, even though they witness for what is in our mind. Think about what this means. It makes mind training very important to our state of mind. Thus, watching our responses to what seems to be happening to us is essential for healing.
This brings up fear because we enter into a realm of the unknown. Even if our lives are a nightmare, there is a familiarity with the known. Giving up control to the Holy Spirit and admitting we don’t know and that we are wrong about everything we think brings up fear in us. Yet Jesus assures us that we are in control of the process. We choose when we are ready to give over our thoughts to be purified. Jesus recognizes that we see the ideas presented here as extreme, but he asks us to think about it. If we were created with everything, in a state of peace, joy, love, and perfect holiness, then who made loss, pain, fear, and sickness? Clearly, these states are opposite to the conditions of peace, joy, love, and holiness, which are our inheritance. Can truth have opposites? To accept opposites or exceptions to what we have been given is to contradict truth. If God did not give us loss, pain, fear, and sickness, who did? According to Jesus, it is our own contribution and our own choice. "No one can suffer loss unless it be his own decision. No one suffers pain except his choice elects this state for him. No one can grieve nor fear nor think him sick unless these are the outcomes that he wants." (W.152.1.1-3)
No wonder Jesus says that this is an extreme idea because we do experience these painful conditions as if they were the truth. We may accept that God is Love and only His truth is true, yet we still accept these painful conditions as also the truth, yet they are irreconcilable states. "To think that God made chaos, contradicts His Will, invented opposites to truth, and suffers death to triumph over life; all this is arrogance . " (W.152.7.1) For God to bring about these conditions, He would have to be an unloving God. "For if what is not true is true as well as what is true, then part of truth is false. And truth has lost its meaning." (W.152.3.8) Now the false is included as part of the truth. It is futile to try to bring the truth to the illusion and to think that we could bring some light into the darkness---it is impossible. We must bring the darkness to the light. Healing is about bringing our thoughts and beliefs to the light of the Holy Spirit. It is to give up control over our own thoughts and is a positive use of control.
Jesus tells us that every time we experience: our shifting moods and changes in our feeling state, every alteration in the conditions of the body, all the shifting concepts we hold, and all of our changing perceptions, we are, by definition, not experiencing the truth. "As God created you, you must remain unchangeable, with transitory states by definition false." (W.152.5.1) These transitory states can't be true if God created the unchangeable. We are the ones that choose to suffer pain, to grieve loss, to fear attack, to experience sickness, and to die. God chose none of this for us. Thus, it is our wish, and not God's, that this is so, but we readily dismiss the idea that we chose it all. Our experience of this world seems to include both what is true as well as what is false. In fact, we hold that the false is true, which is how we experience our reality here as a body living in the world. If there is anything here that we see as true, there is a part of truth we determine must be false. Again, Jesus tells us, if we see it this way, then ". . .truth has lost its meaning," (W.152.3.8) and seems entirely inconsistent. While we blame this state on God, wondering how He could have created this world of suffering and grief, these contradictions were introduced entirely by us.
Jesus says we must learn to recognize and to accept that we choose our own suffering. This is important to get because it is the source of our salvation. Why does he say this? Because the only way out of the illusion is to accept the power of our minds to choose again. It is about accepting responsibility for our choice for separation. "In this world the only remaining freedom is the freedom of choice; always between two choices or two voices." (Clarification of Terms.1.7.1) He knows that we are going to have a strong reaction to this when he says, "You may believe that this position is extreme, and too inclusive to be true." (W.152.2.1) We do think this, but in asking us to acknowledge the power of our minds and to accept the truth, he assures us that this is the way to become liberated from pain and suffering. Thus, everything about the illusion, including the body and the world, cannot be real. We have great difficulty and resistance to this because to accept this thought is to question our own reality.
There is a lot in this Lesson about arrogance and humility. Jesus is basically saying that for us to believe we are victims of the world is to be arrogant and to accept our greatness and our magnitude is to be humble. This has come up before and is always kind of mind-blowing. God did not make this world of suffering and chaos, and if we believe He did, we are being arrogant, even though it seems like humility. Why would a loving God create a sinful, guilty, fearful, and suffering self, living in a body that will decay and die? It seems like we are being humble if we give God the credit for our condition. Yet we are insisting on our own weakness when we do and demanding that God take responsibility for this mess. This is arrogant because it contradicts who God is. To accept our power, given us by God, is to be humble by acknowledging who our Creator is. It is to surrender our idea of what is true and real and accept His. Jesus tells us it is arrogant and asks us, "And can you see what God created not." (W.152.7.3) Why would we think we can see what was not created by God and therefore does not even exist? If we do see what is not there, we must be hallucinating. We are simply imagining this outside picture as real when it is all a projection of an inward condition of sin and guilt in the mind. In our arrogance, we are accusing God of being responsible for our unholy condition. This is the god the ego has made. It is a god that is jealous, angry, and retaliative, smiting his enemies. He is basically just a projection of our own ego, only a bigger more powerful ego.
Then Jesus goes on to ask, "Is it not strange that you believe to think you made the world you see is arrogance?" (W.152.6.1) We do wonder how it is possible we made this world. Jesus is asking us to see these things are not of God. He says it takes humility to accept this. What we are accepting is that God is right, and we are wrong. To accept that nothing we think we know is true, does take humility. It requires that we surrender our concepts and beliefs, because right now we do believe what we see is true. "Let us today be truly humble, and accept what we have made as what it is." (W.152.8.1) It is to recognize and accept our minds have power because they are part of God's Mind. As One with Him in reality, we created only the beautiful and eternal. In our humble acceptance of the truth of our reality, we will no longer see this world. It will simply disappear in our recognition that opposites can't be real. "Decide but to accept your rightful place as co-creator of the universe, and all you think you made will disappear. What rises to awareness then will be all that there ever was, eternally as it is now." (W.152.8.3-4) And then we will acknowledge our grandeur and know the truth about ourselves when all that obscures it is released.
God created us as powerful beings of light and love. Thus, the power of decision is our own, meaning it is up to us to choose to do our part in the healing process. This requires that we lay aside all our self-concepts, all our false perceptions, all our roles, and all our beliefs, and see them as false. They are all a lie, constantly informing us we are something we are not. If we are feeling sad, we can make another choice. If we are angry about something someone has done, we can give this thought over for healing and choose forgiveness. If we are grieving or suffering, we can recognize that God did not bring us this condition. If our bodies are sick, we can choose peace for our minds. If we tell ourselves we must be guilty because of what we believe we have done, we can know there is no need for guilt but only for correction. We are not victims and these changing states are not our reality! They are all self-imposed! We have immense power, and to accept this power is to be humble in our greatness. Yes, we seem to have changed from how we knew ourselves at different stages in our lives, but can such transitory states be the truth about us? What hasn't changed is the constancy of our soul/spirit. The essence of what we are is the same as it has always been. Our radiance, our gentleness, and our perfect sinlessness is constant. The truth in you is and always has been constant, just waiting for your acceptance.
This Lesson is a powerhouse of amazing wisdom. Prior to being introduced to the Course, I had never read anything anywhere that has brought such consistency and clarity to what is offered through the Course. Getting this one Lesson can really change the way we see God, truth, the world, and our perceived reality, but it requires that "Today we practice true humility, abandoning the false pretense by which the ego seeks to prove it arrogant." (W.152.9.1) In other words, the ego would have us maintain our victimhood and diminish the power of our minds, arrogantly claiming we are sinful and weak, when God tells us instead that we are co-creators of the universe. This is not about anything physical, as Jesus is only talking about the universe of spirit.
In humility, we surrender everything we thought we knew and simply ask our Father to reveal Himself to us. This requires we give up our self-deceptions and wait in quiet. Jesus reminds us that we are the ones who made fear and thus we must be the ones who choose to undo it. "It has already been said that you believe you cannot control fear because you yourself made it, and your belief in it seems to render it out of your control. Yet any attempt to resolve the error through attempting the mastery of fear is useless. In fact, it asserts the power of fear by the very assumption that it need be mastered. The true resolution rests entirely on mastery through love. In the interim, however, the sense of conflict is inevitable, since you have placed yourself in a position where you believe in the power of what does not exist." (T.2.VII.4.1-5) (ACIM OE T.2.V.98)
We exercise patience today in waiting to hear His Voice, and to do so, we must give up all the frantic thoughts and concerns and allow peace to come. "The memory of God comes to the quiet mind." (T.23.I.1.1) (ACIM OE T.23.II.7) It takes effort and discipline of the mind and a willingness to look at how we have deceived ourselves with our own thoughts that have obscured the Thought of God. Today, we bring our self-deceptions and our illusions about ourselves to the truth so space can be made for the miracle. Each time we release our judgments of our brothers, we make the choice to see their innocence, and thus know our own. This is the power of our minds-‑‑to choose and decide against the ego so we can know ourselves as God's Son, together with every brother we meet.
"The power of decision is my own. This day I will accept myself as what my Father's Will created me to be." (W.152.11.3-4)

Love and blessings, Sarah


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