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

CHAPTER 15
The Purpose of Time

V. Practicing the Holy Instant

35 This course is not beyond immediate learning unless you prefer to believe that what God wills takes time. And this means only that you would rather delay the recognition that His Will is so. The holy instant is this one and every one. The one you want it to be it is . The one you would not have it be is lost to you. You must decide on when it is. Delay it not. For beyond the past and future, in which you will not find it, it stands in shimmering readiness for your acceptance. Yet you cannot bring it into glad awareness while you do not want it, for it holds the whole release from littleness.

36 Your practice must therefore rest upon your willingness to let all littleness go. The instant in which magnitude will dawn upon you is but as far away as your desire for it. As long as you desire it not and cherish littleness instead, by so much is it far from you. By so much as you want it will you bring it nearer. Think not that you can find salvation in your own way and have it. Give over every plan that you have made for your salvation in exchange for God's. His will content you, and there is nothing else that can bring you peace. For peace is of God and of no one beside Him.

37 Be humble before Him and yet great in Him. And value no plan of the ego before the plan of God. For you leave empty your place in His plan, which you must fulfill if you would join with me, by your decision to join in any plan but His. I call you to fulfill your holy part in the plan that He has given to the world for its release from littleness. God would have His host abide in perfect freedom. Every allegiance to a plan of salvation that is apart from Him diminishes the value of His Will for you in your own minds. And yet it is your mind that is the host to Him.

38 Would you learn how perfect and immaculate is the holy altar on which your Father has placed Himself? This you will recognize in the holy instant in which you willingly and gladly give over every plan but His. For there lies peace, perfectly clear because you have been willing to meet its conditions. You can claim the holy instant any time and anywhere you want it. In your practice, try to give over every plan you have accepted for finding magnitude in littleness. It is not there . Use the holy instant only to recognize that you alone cannot know where it is and can only deceive yourself.

39 I stand within the holy instant, as clear as you would have me. And the extent to which you learn to be willing to accept me is the measure of the time in which the holy instant will be yours. I call to you to make the holy instant yours at once, for the release from littleness in the mind of the host of God depends on willingness and not on time. The reason why this course is simple is that truth is simple. Complexity is of the ego and is nothing more than the ego's attempt to obscure the obvious.

40 You could live forever in the holy instant, beginning now and reaching to eternity, but for a very simple reason. Do not obscure the simplicity of this reason, for if you do, it will be only because you prefer not to recognize it and not to let it go. The simple reason, simply stated, is this: The holy instant is a time in which you receive and give perfect communication. This means, however, that it is a time in which your mind is open , both to receive and give. It is the recognition that all minds are in communication. It therefore seeks to change nothing, but merely to accept everything.

41 How can you do this when you would prefer to have private thoughts and keep them? The only way you could do that is to deny the perfect communication that makes the holy instant what it is. You believe that it is possible to harbor thoughts you would not share and that salvation lies in keeping your thoughts to yourself alone. For in private thoughts, known only to yourself, you think you find a way to keep what you would have alone and share what you would share. And then you wonder why it is that you are not in full communication with those around you and with God Who surrounds all of you together.

42 Every thought you would keep hidden shuts communication off because you would have it so. It is impossible to recognize perfect communication while breaking communication holds value to you. Ask yourselves honestly, "Would I want to have perfect communication, and am I wholly willing to let everything that interferes with it go forever?" If the answer is no, then the Holy Spirit's readiness to give it to you is not enough to make it yours, for you are not ready to share it with Him. And it cannot come into a mind that has decided to oppose it. For the holy instant is given and received with equal willingness, being the acceptance of the single Will that governs all thought.

43  The necessary condition for the holy instant does not require that you have no thoughts which are not pure. But it does require that you have none that you would keep . Innocence is not of your making. It is given you the instant you would have it. Yet it would not be Atonement if there were no need for Atonement. You will not be able to accept perfect communication as long as you would hide it from yourself. For what you would hide is hidden from you.

44 In your practice, then, try only to be vigilant against deception and seek not to protect the thoughts you would keep unto yourself. Let the Holy Spirit's purity shine them away and bring all your awareness to the readiness for purity He offers you. Thus will He make you ready to acknowledge that you are host to God and hostage to no one and nothing.

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Lesson 169
By grace I live. By grace I am released.

1 Grace is an aspect of the Love of God which is most like the state prevailing in the unity of truth. It is the world's most lofty aspiration, for it leads beyond the world entirely. It is past learning yet the goal of learning, for grace cannot come until the mind prepares itself for true acceptance. Grace becomes inevitable instantly in those who have prepared a table where it can be gently laid and willingly received, an altar clean and holy for the gift.

2 Grace is acceptance of the Love of God within a world of seeming hate and fear. By grace alone the hate and fear are gone, for grace presents a state so opposite to everything the world contains that those whose minds are lighted by the gift of grace can not believe the world of fear is real.

3 Grace is not learned. The final step must go beyond all learning. Grace is not the goal this course aspires to attain. Yet we prepare for grace in that an open mind can hear the call to waken. It is not shut tight against God's Voice. It has become aware that there are things it does not know and thus is ready to accept a state completely different from experience with which it is familiarly at home.

4 We have perhaps appeared to contradict our statement that the revelation of the Father and the Son as one has been already set. But we have also said the mind determines when that time will be and has determined it. And yet we urge you to bear witness to the Word of God to hasten the experience of truth and speed its advent into every mind which recognizes its effects on you.

5 Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say "God is," and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source, and like its Source Itself, it merely is.

6 We cannot speak nor write nor even think of this at all. It comes to every mind when total recognition that its will is God's has been completely given and received completely. It returns the mind into the endless present, where the past and future cannot be conceived. It lies beyond salvation—past all thought of time, forgiveness, and the holy face of Christ. The Son of God has merely disappeared into His Father, as his Father has in him. The world has never been at all. Eternity remains a constant state.

7 This is beyond experience we try to hasten. Yet forgiveness, taught and learned, brings with it the experiences which bear witness that the time the mind itself determined to abandon all but this is now at hand. We do not hasten it, in that what you will offer was concealed from Him Who teaches what forgiveness means. All learning was already in His Mind, accomplished and complete. He recognized all that time holds and gave it to all minds that each one might determine from a point where time has ended when it is released to revelation and eternity.

8 We have repeated several times before that you but make a journey that is done. For oneness must be here. Whatever time the mind has set for revelation is entirely irrelevant to what must be a constant state, forever as it always was; forever to remain as it is now. We merely take the part assigned long since and fully recognized as perfectly fulfilled by Him Who wrote salvation's script in His Creator's name and in the name of His Creator's Son.

9 There is no need to further clarify what no one in the world can understand. When revelation of your oneness comes, it will be known and fully understood. Now we have work to do, for those in time can speak of things beyond and listen to words which explain what is to come is past already. Yet what meaning can the words convey to those who count the hours still and rise and work and go to sleep by them?

10 Suffice it, then, that you have work to do to play your part. The ending must remain obscure to you until your part is done. It does not matter. For your part is still what all the rest depends on. As you take the role assigned to you, salvation comes a little nearer each uncertain heart that does not beat as yet in tune with God. Forgiveness is the central theme which runs throughout salvation, holding all its parts in meaningful relationships, the course it runs directed, and its outcome sure.

11 And now we ask for grace, the final gift salvation can bestow. Experience that grace provides will end in time, for grace foreshadows Heaven yet does not replace the thought of time but for a little while. The interval suffices. It is here that miracles are laid, to be returned by you from holy instants you receive through grace in your experience to all who see the light that lingers on your face.

12 What is the face of Christ but his who went a moment into timelessness and brought a clear reflection of the unity he felt an instant back to bless the world? How could you finally attain to it forever while a part of you remains outside, unknowing, unawakened, and in need of you as witness to the truth?

13 Be grateful to return, as you were glad to go an instant and accept the gifts that grace provided you. You carry them back to yourself. And revelation stands not far behind. Its coming is ensured. We ask for grace and for experience that comes from grace. We welcome the release it offers everyone. We do not ask for the unaskable. We do not look beyond what grace can give. For this we can give in the grace that has been given us.

14 Our learning goal today does not exceed this prayer, yet in the world, what could be more than what we ask this day of Him Who gives the grace we ask as it was given Him?

15 By grace I live. By grace I am released. By grace I give. By grace I will release.

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Lesson 169
By grace I live. By grace I am released.

This Lesson helps us with our readiness to receive grace and to prepare our minds for grace, which is not something we learn. We merely clean up the altar of our minds and prepare for this holy gift. We prepare a table ". . . where it can be gently laid and willingly received." (W.169.1.4) How do we do that? We do the forgiveness work by looking at the ego with the Holy Spirit. The familiar responses we make to every situation must be released. To do so requires courage and honesty to investigate what is underneath these responses. What is driving us? What are we defending about ourselves? We must inquire deeply into our motivations and become very honest with ourselves to expose what the ego is up to if we are to heal. There is no room for truth when the mind is full of our own thoughts.
 
"It [the mind] has become aware that there are things it does not know, and thus is ready to accept a state completely different from experience with which it is familiarly at home." (W.169.3.6) We must be willing to acknowledge that we don't understand anything and become willing to be taught. When we think that we know, there is no room for the experience of grace. Thus, humility is called for so we can come to a state of readiness to receive.
 
We think that we can trust our senses and understand what we see and experience in the world. We exhibit certainty of how we see things and affirm it again and again. We do this each time we tell our stories, each time we discuss the "state" of the world, each time we affirm some "truth" or belief that we hold, and each time we find evidence or justification for these beliefs. When we justify our position, we stubbornly refuse to consider another way. Forgiveness shows us that what we see in the world is not true. "Forgiveness is the central theme that runs throughout salvation, holding all its parts in meaningful relationships, the course it runs directed and its outcome sure." (W.169.12.1)
 
There may be things happening in our lives that have made no sense to us, but as we overcome the world more and more, we see everything as a meaningful learning opportunity. Now it is all purposeful and all for the undoing of our judgments and perspectives. We will still see behaviors that are attacking, but now we don't judge them as "bad." Instead, we see them as our classroom in order to learn to undo our judgments. Events are still unfolding in the world as before, but we now experience them from a new perspective. As we do the forgiveness work called for in each situation where we make judgments, our perceptions are healed as we come to the place in which we see that the events and circumstances of the world have no reality.
 
With Christ's vision, a new interpretation can be given us, which starts with an open mind and the admonition that we don't know anything. We step out into unknown territory in which we leave behind our current familiarity with our way of seeing and judging. It is an advanced state. "It is the world's most lofty aspiration, for it leads beyond the world entirely." (W.169.1.2) It takes us to the real world in which the dream of this world is no longer.
 
Jesus says that we need not be concerned about the time it will take to accept the Atonement. Why? This is because the time has already been determined, and Jesus assures us that the end is certain. "Nothing can prevent what God would have accomplished from accomplishment." (T.13.XI.5.3) (ACIM OE T.13.V.39) Whatever we might do, and however much we may procrastinate and entertain foolish dreams, weird imaginings, and wild misperceptions, Jesus assures us, "God’s Will is done." (T.13.XI.5.4) (ACIM OE T.13.V.39) So, while the time is determined, it seems we can hasten our experience of awakening to the truth. (W.169.4.3) This may seem like a contradiction. It is similar to what we read in Lesson 158 in which he says, "The time is set already. It appears to be quite arbitrary. Yet there is no step along the road that anyone takes but by chance. It has already been taken by him, although he has not yet embarked on it. For time but seems to go in one direction. We but undertake a journey that is over. Yet it seems to have a future still unknown to us." (W.158.3.1-7)
 
What is interesting about all of this is that we are actually preparing for a time that is already over. The Atonement has already been accepted and is present in our minds. (W.169.8.1) Jesus says that all learning has already been accomplished and is complete, but we have not yet agreed to choose again for what has already been given. This is salvation's script, which is here now. "For oneness must be here." (W.169.9.1) It simply cannot be lost. All we have done is become unaware of this fact and believe that we have destroyed Creation. Jesus says that this is impossible and has never happened.
 
Eternity is totally unaffected by our dreams, and therefore the time, when we accept the Atonement, is irrelevant. He assures us that it is available now. We are not being coerced to do anything that we are not yet ready for. Time makes no difference in eternity. Any demands we put on ourselves of where we should be in our healing have not been put there by Jesus, although he does encourage us to do the work on behalf of our own happiness. However, he makes no demands of us.
 
He only encourages us to accept healing on behalf of our own well-being. He is never pushing us or pressuring us. This is an enormous comfort to me because sometimes I can start to feel guilty about my seemingly slow progress. Certainly, he urges us not to delay. This is not because something dreadful will happen if we do. It's because he says that we will be happier if we allow a new perception to shift our minds from a state of suffering to one of peace and joy. "And yet we urge you to bear witness to the Word of God to hasten the experience of truth, and speed its advent into every mind that recognizes truth's effects on you." (W.169.4.3) We are to become a light in this world and a demonstration of the power of healing on our minds and thus available to others.
 
For now, we need to make every effort to keep bringing our misperceptions to the truth in order to allow more joy and peace into our lives. It is interesting that we have resistance to this. It attests to our insanity. In fact, the first obstacle to peace speaks of our desire to be rid of it. If that seems bizarre to you, watch how many times a day in which you are actually throwing away your peace when you could be choosing it. Our part is to prepare our minds for "true acceptance" (W.169.1.3) "Grace becomes inevitable instantly in those who have prepared a table where it can be gently laid and willingly received; an altar clean and holy for the gift." (W.169.1.4)
 
When grace comes to our minds, we have a foretaste of Heaven, which is so opposite to the world that we will no longer hold anything about this world as true. The goal of the Course is to prepare us for this gift of grace so we can come to a place of readiness to receive it. And what is grace? Grace is a reflection of the love of God. The altar in the mind, now cluttered with our dark thoughts, opinions, and beliefs we hold, must be cleared to receive this grace. The beliefs, which keep us hostage to the ego, must first be released. In other words, we must watch our minds and become discerning of our thoughts. We must let go of all we think we know and ask for the Holy Spirit's interpretation of everything we see and experience. An open mind comes through the surrender of our beliefs, values, and concepts. I must be willing to acknowledge that I do not understand anything. We are mistaken in who we think we are and who we believe everyone else is as well. Now we need help to come to a new perception of all we think we know and understand.
 
Jesus speaks to us about Oneness, saying that there are no words to describe it. He makes it clear that we cannot understand it, and we do not even need to. It is enough to recognize, "Oneness is simply the idea God is." (W.169.5.1) If we got this, we would not need the rest of this Course. He knows that we cannot understand it, by saying, " W e cannot speak nor write nor even think of this at all." (W.169.6.1) "It returns the mind into the endless present, where past and future cannot be conceived." (W.169.6.3) "We say 'God is,' and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless." (W.169.5.4) This will come to every mind at some point, returning the mind to the endless present in which we disappear into our Father. We are not capable of knowing Oneness. While he explains this to the extent he can, our work is still with the specifics of this world because it is what we think that we are addressing. When we come to the top of the ladder that we are climbing in this undoing process and accept our reality, we will remember and understand what perfect Oneness is. In this world, it cannot be known but only reflected.
 
In the meantime, our job is to use this seeming world of illusion as a classroom to learn forgiveness, which is something "taught and learned." (W.169.7.2) Forgiveness ". . . brings with it the experiences which bear witness that the time the mind itself determined to abandon all but this is now at hand." (W.169.7.2) We are preparing our minds for the attainment of the real world. Jesus reminds us,  "Whatever time the mind has set for revelation is entirely irrelevant to what must be a constant state, forever as it always was; forever to remain as it is now. We merely take the part assigned long since, and fully recognized as perfectly fulfilled by Him Who wrote salvation's script in His Creator's Name, and in the Name of His Creator's Son." (W.169.9.2-3) The dream we are dreaming in this world has no impact on the truth, as it is the script we have chosen. It is the story we tell about our lives but has no effect on what we are. We can't rush into something for which we are not ready. Acceptance of the truth is dependent on releasing our fear. We can be comforted by the thought that all is exactly as it needs to be for our awakening.
 
Everything that seems to happen to us is the life lesson we have chosen in order to return to the state we never left. "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?" (W.135.18.1) Thus, the experiences in this seeming world can all be used for our awakening. We would welcome it all if we were convinced of this. This is what is important about the Course. There are things we don't understand about this journey, but they are not the focus of our learning. The focus is in the application of what we are being asked to do in these Lessons. The focus is to do the forgiveness work by bringing awareness to our judgments and allowing the Holy Spirit to release us from them. We are not the ones who heal our judgments. They must be given over to the Holy Spirit and left on the inner altar. We cannot undo what we have made. We need His help.
 
As you enter the quiet of your mind in your practice and find peace there, you will then see everything differently when your attention comes back to the world. When peace is brought to your relationships, people will respond differently, as you become a reflection of the love and peace you have connected with in your mind. This is what the Course offers us, as we do the work of forgiveness. Our investment in the world is lessened, so while we seem to be in the world, we nevertheless no longer feel as much a part of it. Our experiences in the world no longer have the same value as they once did. While we are in the world, we do not invest in the experiences of this world in the same way as before we started on this journey. We can bring peace to any situation when peace prevails in our minds. We will be ready for the real world only when our identification with this body and the world of time and space no longer has a hold on us.
 
This is our work while we are here. (W.169.11.1) We will have moments when we experience being outside of time ". . . but for a little while." (W.169.12.3) Jesus says, that is enough for now. "The interval suffices." (W.169.13.1) It is what comes as a result of true forgiveness. "It is here that miracles are laid." (W.169.13.2) The experience of the holy instant, evident to others, is a result of the glow coming from us and is the gift we bring to our brothers and sisters on our return. This is why Jesus says, "Be grateful to return . . . " (W.169.14.1) to the world of time, as we need to bring our gifts back for everyone else because they are all part of us. What we receive, we give. Now we identify less with the body and more and more with the love in our minds. This journey will take as long as it needs to take. Jesus is loving and patient with us and is not hurrying us along but only encouraging and supporting. We too are called to be gentle with ourselves and with everyone else.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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