"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

X. The Time of Christ

92 It is in your power in time to delay the perfect union of the Father and the Son. For in this world, the attraction of guilt does stand between them. Neither time nor season means anything in eternity. But here it is the Holy Spirit's function to use them both, though not as the ego uses them. This is the season when you would celebrate my birth into the world. Yet you know not how to do it. Let the Holy Spirit teach you, and let me celebrate your birth through Him. The only gift I can accept of you is the gift I gave to you. Release me as I will your release. The time of Christ we celebrate together , for it has no meaning if we are apart.

93 The holy instant is truly the time of Christ. For in this liberating instant, no guilt is laid upon the Son of God, and his unlimited power is thus restored to him. What other gift can you offer me, when only this I will to offer you ? And to see me is to see me in everyone and offer everyone the gift you offer me. I am as incapable of receiving sacrifice as God is, and every sacrifice you ask of yourself, you ask of me. Learn now that sacrifice of any kind is nothing but a limitation imposed on giving. And by this limitation, you have limited acceptance of the gift I offer you .

94 We who are one cannot give separately. When you are willing to accept our relationship as real, guilt will hold no attraction for you. For in our union, you will accept all of our brothers. The gift of union is the only gift that I was born to give. Give it to me, that you may have it. The time of Christ is the time appointed for the gift of freedom, offered to everyone. And by your acceptance of it, you have offered it to everyone. It is in your power to make this season holy, for it is in your power to make the time of Christ be now .

95 It is possible to do this all at once because there is but one shift in perception that is necessary, for you made but one mistake. It seems like many, but it is all the same. For though the ego takes many forms, it is always the same idea. What is not love is always fear and nothing else. It is not necessary to follow fear through all the circuitous routes by which it burrows underground and hides in darkness, to emerge in forms quite different from what it is. Yet it is necessary to examine each one as long as you would retain the principle which governs all of them. When you are willing to regard them not as separate but as different manifestations of the same idea, and one you do not want , they go together. The idea is simply this—you believe that it is possible to be host to the ego or hostage to God. This is the choice you think you have, and the decision which you believe that you must make.

96 You see no other alternatives, for you cannot accept the fact that sacrifice gets nothing . Sacrifice is so essential to your thought system that salvation apart from sacrifice means nothing to you. Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this that you must look upon—sacrifice is attack , not love. If you would accept but this one idea, your fear of love would vanish. Guilt cannot last when the idea of sacrifice has been removed. For if there is sacrifice, as you are convinced, someone must pay and someone must get. And the only question which remains to be decided is how much is the price for getting what .

97 As host to the ego, you believe that you can give all your guilt away whatever you think and purchase peace. And the payment does not seem to be yours . While it is obvious that the ego does demand payment, it never seems to be demanding it of you . For you are unwilling to recognize that the ego, which you invited, is treacherous only to those who think they are its host. The ego will never let you perceive this, since this recognition would make it homeless. For when this recognition dawns clearly, you will not be deceived by any form the ego takes to protect itself from your sight.

98 Each form will be recognized as but a cover for the one idea that hides behind them all—that love demands sacrifice and is therefore inseparable from attack and fear. And that guilt is the price of love, which must be paid by fear. How fearful, then, has God become to you, and how great a sacrifice do you believe His love demands! For total love would demand total sacrifice. And so the ego seems to demand less of you than God, and of the two is judged as the lesser of two evils, one to be feared a little, but the other to be destroyed. For you see love as destructive , and your only question is who is to be destroyed, you or another? You seek to answer this question in your special relationships, in which you are both destroyer and destroyed in part, but with the idea of being able to be neither completely. And this you think saves you from God, Whose total love would completely destroy you.

99 You think that everyone outside yourself demands your sacrifice, but you do not see that only you demand sacrifice and only of yourself. Yet the demand of sacrifice is so savage and so fearful that you cannot accept it where it is. But the real price of not accepting this has been so great that you have given God away rather than look at it. For if God would demand total sacrifice of you, you thought it safer to project Him outward and away from you and not be host to Him. To Him you ascribed the ego's treachery, inviting it to take His place to protect you from Him. And you do not recognize that it is what you invited in that would destroy you and does demand total sacrifice of you. No partial sacrifice will appease this savage guest, for it is an invader who but seems to offer kindness, but always to make the sacrifice complete.

100 You will not succeed in being partial hostage to the ego, for it keeps no bargains and would leave you nothing. [Nor can you be partial host to it.] You will have to choose between total freedom and total bondage, for there are no alternatives but these. You have tried many compromises in the attempt to avoid recognizing the one decision which must be made. And yet it is the recognition of the decision just as it is that makes the decision so easy! Salvation is simple, being of God and therefore very easy to understand. Do not try to project it from you and see it outside yourself. In you are both the question and the answer—the demand for sacrifice and the peace of God.

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Review V

1 We now review again. This time we are ready to give more effort and more time to what we undertake. We recognize we are preparing for another phase of understanding. We would take this step completely, that we may go on again more certain, more sincere, with faith upheld more surely. Our footsteps have not been unwavering, and doubts have made us walk uncertainly and slowly on the road this course sets forth. But now we hasten on, for we approach a greater certainty, a firmer purpose and a surer goal.

2 Steady our feet, our Father; let our doubts be quiet and our holy minds be still, and speak to us. We have no words to give to You. We would but listen to Your Word and make it ours. Lead our practicing as does a father lead a little child along a way he does not understand. Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe because his father leads the way for him.

3 So do we bring our practicing to You. And if we stumble, You will raise us up. If we forget the way, we count upon Your sure remembering. We wander off, but You will not forget to call us back. Quicken our footsteps now, that we may walk more certainly and quickly unto You. And we accept the Word You offer us to unify our practicing, as we review the thoughts that You have given us.

4 This is the thought which should precede the thoughts that we review. Each one but clarifies some aspect of this thought or helps it be more meaningful, more personal and true, and more descriptive of the holy Self we share and now prepare to know again:

5 God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

6 This Self alone knows love. This Self alone is perfectly consistent in Its thoughts, knows Its Creator, understands Itself, is perfect in Its knowledge and Its love, and never changes from Its constant state of union with Its Father and Itself.

7 And it is This that waits to meet us at the journey's ending. Every step we take brings us a little nearer. This review will shorten time immeasurably if we keep in mind that This remains our goal, and as we practice, it is This to which we are approaching. Let us raise our hearts from dust to life as we remember This is promised us, and that this course was sent to open up the path of light to us, and teach us, step by step, how to return to the eternal Self we thought we lost.

8 I take the journey with you. For I share your doubts and fears a little while, that you may come to me who recognize the road by which all fears and doubts are overcome. We walk together. I must understand uncertainty and pain, although I know they have no meaning. Yet a savior must remain with those he teaches, seeing what they see, but still retaining in his mind the way that led him out and now will lead you out with him. God's Son is crucified until you walk along the road with me.

9 My resurrection comes again each time I lead a brother safely to the place at which the journey ends and is forgot. I am renewed each time a brother learns there is a way from misery and pain. I am reborn each time a brother's mind turns to the light in him and looks for me. I have forgotten no one. Help me now to lead you back to where the journey was begun, to make another choice with me.

10 Release me as you practice once again the thoughts I brought to you from Him Who sees your bitter need and knows the answer God has given Him. Together we review these thoughts. Together we devote our time and effort to them. And together we will teach them to our brothers. God would not have Heaven incomplete. It waits for you as I do. I am incomplete without your part in me. And as I am made whole, we go together to our ancient home, prepared for us before time was and kept unchanged by time, immaculate and safe, as it will be at last, when time is done.

11 Let this review be then your gift to me. For this alone I need—that you will hear the words I speak and give them to the world. You are my voice, my eyes, my feet, my hands, through which I save the world. The Self from Which I call to you is but your own. To Him we go together. Take your brother's hand, for this is not a way we walk alone. In him I walk with you and you with me. Our Father wills His Son be one with Him. What lives but must not then be one with you?

12 Let this review become a time in which we share a new experience for you, yet one as old as time, and older still. Hallowed your name. Your glory undefiled forever. And your wholeness now complete, as God established it. You are His Son, completing His extension in your own. We practice but an ancient truth we knew before illusion seemed to claim the world. And we remind the world that it is free of all illusions every time we say,

13 God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

14 With this we start each day of our review. With this we start and end each period of practice time. And with this thought we sleep, to waken once again with these same words upon our lips to greet another day. No thought that we review but we surround with it and use the thoughts to hold it up before our minds and keep it clear in our remembrance throughout the day. And thus when we have finished this review, we will have recognized the words we speak are true.

15 Yet are the words but aids and to be used, except at the beginning and the end of practice periods, but to recall the mind as needed to its purpose. We place faith in the experience that comes from practice, not the means we use. We wait for the experience and recognize that it is only here conviction lies. We use the words, and try and try again to go beyond them to their meaning, which is far beyond their sound. The sound grows dim and disappears as we approach the Source of meaning. It is here that we find rest.

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Lesson 176

God is but Love,
and therefore so am I.

[161] Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

[162] I am as God created me.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 176
Review V ~ Lesson 161 and Lesson 162

Sarah's Commentary:
 
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

[161] Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.
[162] I am as God created me.
 
In the introduction to these Review Lessons, Jesus offers to lead us on the journey he took and tells us that he is renewed each time he leads one of us to ". . . the place at which the journey ends and is forgot." (W.RV.7.1) He needs our cooperation, as he asks us to "Help me now to lead you back to where the journey was begun, to make another choice with me."  (W.RV.7.5) We do that by undertaking the practice and giving it more time and effort. He encourages our willingness on behalf of our own healing. It means being vigilant in watching our minds and seeing when we have sided with the ego.
 
When he says we are just being led back to where the journey started, this means that nothing is irrevocable. We are being taken back to where we made the wrong choice for the ego and, with it, for sin, guilt, and fear. Now we can make another choice, which means that every wrong choice we believe we have made in our lives can be undone. It was all just a mistake, and mistakes can be corrected. It also means that we need not feel guilty about the wrong choices and decisions we have made, and there need not be regrets. Each mistaken choice can be undone with the help of the Holy Spirit until the memory of who we really are as God created us is restored to us. Forgiveness is the means for this undoing.
 
It is always important to remember that we have not changed ourselves. Whenever we start to beat up on ourselves , allow doubt thoughts and beliefs to enter, or our unworthiness to slip in, we can remind ourselves that these thoughts are not the truth about us. When we start our healing journey, the ego gets threatened, becomes suspicious, and ultimately vicious, warning us of the consequence of this path. We may start to question whether this program works for us and may be tempted to abandon the teaching. We need each other and our mighty companions to strengthen our weak resolve when we are tempted to wander off the path. The wonderful thing about "talking" to you as I write these commentaries is that I am really talking to myself and reinforcing the Lessons in my own mind. It is a gift I receive, as I give.
 
This Course is not just a personal path of salvation for me alone. To undertake this journey alone is to undertake it with the ego as a guide. We heal through our connections with each other, extending miracles so we know that we have received them, and they are always in us, waiting for our acceptance. Every time we are willing to offer a blessing instead of judgment, we feel renewed. Everything we give, we receive. We are not separate from each other, but part of the whole. When we say, "Give me your blessing, holy Son of God," (W.175 [161]) we are not asking for anything of our brother. It is our own desire that we are expressing to see the innocence in our brother so we can know it for ourselves. Our hearts open to our brothers with love, rather than judgment. In our invulnerability, we have nothing to defend, and thus we see no attack from anyone. We know our safety and our peace. We share the same light with everyone. The truth is in us all. When we recognize this sameness, we are reminded that nothing has changed from what we are, as we were created. The light in everyone is all there is to see. When we judge and attack anyone, we are choosing against our own peace and happiness.
 
We need not be in the presence of anyone physically to do this healing. It is important to remember that there is no world outside our own minds. Thus, as our mind is healed, so is the world, which is a projection of the mind. And since all minds are joined, and we are just One Mind, then my healing heals the world. As Jesus tells us, he is incomplete without us, and we are incomplete without our brothers because there is only one Self.
 
The practice we do with these Lessons, both in our meditation times and our daily lives, requires vigilance in watching our thoughts and being willing to apply the teachings throughout the day. When our day is dedicated to healing the mind, it puts God at the forefront, and the activities of the day recede into the background.
 
In the Course, meditation is only mentioned twice, although there were apparently a few more references in the original dictation. In the Text Chapter 18, Jesus mentions it by saying, "Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary." (T.18.VII.4.9) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.66) Certainly, the Lessons urge that we spend quiet time with God, yet meditation is not an integral part of the Course curriculum. In fact, caution is recommended not to make idols of our spiritual practice. It is not about avoiding meditation if it is helpful to our spiritual path, but meditation should be a means, not an end
 
In the Manual for Teachers, Section 16, "How should a teacher of God spend his day ? " (M.16) there is a caution against routines. "Routines as such are dangerous, because they easily become gods in their own right, threatening the very goals for which they were set up." (M.16.2.5) Jesus is telling us not to ritualize our practice into something we do as a routine in which the form becomes more important than the content. It might make us think that, just by doing the Lessons right, we will appease God and make Him happy with our efforts. We think we are doing something to make ourselves good in the eyes of some external judge instead of our own inner motivation to wake up from this dream.
 
The Course is different than other paths. "Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means." (T.18.VII.5.1) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.67) "You are not making use of the course if you insist on using means which have served others well, neglecting what was made for you ." (T.18.VII.6.5) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.68) "All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose. Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of present unworthiness and inadequacy." (T.18.VII.4.10-11) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.66)
 
Jesus urges us to start each day right, as a way to save time, by choosing to spend time with God as soon as possible on awakening. Setting our intention for the kind of day we want is also an important part of the morning practice. "The goal is clear, but now you need specific methods for attaining it. The speed by which it can be reached depends on this one thing alone; your willingness to practice every step. Each one will help a little, every time it is attempted." (T.30.IN.1.2-4) (ACIM OE.T.31.IN.1) He goes on to say that, eventually, we will make the practice into a habit, so the remedy will always be available to us to address every egoic thought. We do this by calling on the Holy Spirit in every situation. Thus, we make no decisions by ourselves; meaning, no decisions will be made with the ego. When we set this intention in the morning, the day will be given to the Holy Spirit and our own judgments in every situation will be suspended in favor of His direction. He says that now our only problem is, "You still make up your mind, and then decide to ask what you should do." (T.30.I.3.2) (ACIM OE.T.30.II.6)
 
When we start the day right, we connect with the stillness of our Being. We are to "Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself." (W.189.7.1) We are being asked to empty the contents of the mind and come with wholly empty hands, meaning an empty mind, and openness to the experience. In fact, the attitude with which we approach the quiet time is important. It includes: 1) confidence because we are uniting our will with God's, 2) desire and determination, because it is our only goal and our only need to end this ancient search, 3) importance, because we are needed for the healing of the world, and 4) holiness, because of its inestimable value to us.
 
Michele O'Donnell, a Christian spiritual healer, says that you can watch your thoughts go by like birds in the sky, but you don't have to invite them to build a nest in your hair. It is not about having no thoughts, but about letting each thought that comes up simply go, releasing these thoughts to the Holy Spirit. No matter how obsessive and challenging the thoughts are to your peace, try to look at them dispassionately and without judging yourself for them. Look at them from above the battleground, and recognize that from this place, outside of the dream, there is nothing serious going on here in this illusory world. With the help of Jesus, we can let them go, rather than weaving them into some kind of story. Remember that the natural state of the mind is to be in a state of stillness, peace, and joy. If we are not at peace, we are doing something to stop the mind from taking its natural course.
 
The ego mind fears this experience in which we identify with the false self, which sees itself as a body, and sees value in private thoughts, victimhood, problems, and specialness. Ultimately, we put a value on our separate self, and with it, we value our opinions, our beliefs, and our concepts. It is our attraction to the self we made, which is our attraction to guilt.
 
In the center of our minds is perfection, truth, God, holiness, and the Source of all joy, of which we are not wholly aware now, but we are assured that this Source goes with us wherever we go. Even without our awareness, It is always there! The truth simply awaits our acceptance. This acceptance is of the Atonement, which is the correction for our wrong-minded thinking.
 
Think of your mind as a big circle. The surface of the mind is our current awareness. It is surrounded by heavy clouds, which represent our insane thoughts that block awareness of the truth of what we are. The purpose of each Lesson is to bring our awareness to the thought for the day. We start the meditation with this thought and use it to pull us back when our minds wander. It is not intended that we say the thought over and over like a mantra, but to use the thought to focus our minds, and then sink down and inward, into the quiet within. The mind is not in the brain or in the body, but outside of it. The words simply point to the truth and are used to help us focus our attention and enter the silence beyond the words. Here we wait in quiet anticipation for the experience, with the mind at rest.
 
The important thing is to do what works for you. Practice what is most effective for you. The Course is not about rules, and you will not find anything in the Course that speaks about having to be in a certain body position while meditating, or about using your breath, or using any kind of devices, such as needing to be in front of a statue or a lit candle. However, there is no injunction against any of that, either. If these actions are helpful to your process, all is good. This Course is not about form but only about the content of our minds.
 
Remember the earlier comments about how Jesus takes this journey with us. He tells us that when we visualize taking his hand and walking with us, it is no idle thought. He is really there because he is already in our minds. He is not remote, nor distant from us. He does not dismiss our uncertainty as irrelevant. He understands. He has taken this same journey. That is why he knows the way and why he is described as our elder brother. If this relationship bothers you, it is an area for healing, just like any other relationship in which you project your discomfort onto someone. If the thought of Jesus, as a symbol in the mind, does not bring comfort as your chosen friend, call on the presence of the Holy Spirit, Love, God, or whatever symbol is helpful to you.
 
The central thought, which begins and ends our day today, as well as each practice throughout the day, is "God is but [only] Love, and therefore so am I." (W.RV.4.3) Then, we review Lesson 161, "Give me your blessing, holy Son of God." (W.176 [161]) We recognize that the people in our lives can offer us a blessing that can transform and enlighten us. The blessing comes when we recognize they are not who they seem, as the symbol of fear and hate, but are really our saviors. Behind their appearance as a body and an ego is the Christ. This brother reflects the love of God showing up in this specific form. Jesus reminds us our minds are naturally abstract, but right now we don't understand abstraction, so we need specifics on which to focus forgiveness. All forgiveness is the release of judgments and grievances that our brothers seem to evoke in us. They are the reflection of our own unhealed thoughts.
 
Our next Review Lesson says, "I am as God created me." (W.176 [162]) This Lesson is literally the same as "God is but Love, and therefore so am I." (W.RV.4.3) We keep having to be reminded that no matter what we think we have done, we can't change the truth about our Being, as created by a loving Father. Our state is love. God is only love. He is nothing but love. That is His nature and His nature establishes our own. We can't change what we are, as we were created. It is a fact, and it is the Atonement Principle, which affirms that we are as God created us. We have become unaware of this truth, but we cannot change it. We think that we have changed the truth by making ourselves into something unique and special---an individual living in a body---but it is impossible to depart from the truth of who God is and who we are.
 
What we have come to believe about ourselves are only wild imaginings. We give them power because we believe them, but it does not make them true. We think that there are lovely, good parts to us and many parts that are vicious and hateful. Neither what we think is good nor what we think is bad is the truth. They are only concepts that we have accepted as true. The truth is beyond these self-made concepts, which are reinforced by the world and accepted by us. As Ken Wapnick says, just because billions of people hold something as true does not mean it is.
 
We need to support each other on this path, as it is outside of the collective thinking of the world. Thus, it can be a challenge for us because our minds have been conditioned by the beliefs held by the majority. We have bought into the cult of the ego. We drank the Kool-Aid! These conditioned thoughts are what we are releasing when we remind ourselves, "I am as God created me." (W.176 [162]) We enter our quiet time with God to experience the truth that is beyond these words. Our practice times now are a preparation for Part II of the Workbook.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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