"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
Course in Miracles
PAUSED FOR WEEKEND
The Forgiveness of Illusions
V. Illusion and Reality of Love
Be not afraid to look upon the special hate relationship, for freedom lies in looking at it. It would be impossible not to know the meaning of love except for this. For the special love relationship, in which the meaning of love is
, is undertaken solely to offset the hate but
to let it go. Your salvation will rise clearly before your open eyes as you look on this. You cannot
hate. The special love relationship will not offset it but will merely drive it underground and out of sight. It is essential to bring it
sight and to make no attempt to hide it. For it is the attempt to balance hate with love that
love meaningless to you. The extent of the split that lies in this you do not realize. And
you do, the split will remain unrecognized and therefore unhealed.
The symbols of hate against the symbols of love play out a conflict which does not exist. For symbols stand for something
, and the symbol of love is without meaning if love is everything. You will go through this last undoing quite unharmed and will at last emerge as yourself. This is the last step in the readiness for God. Be not unwilling now. You are too near, and you will cross the bridge in perfect safety, translated quietly from war to peace. For the illusion of love will
satisfy, but its reality, which awaits you on the other side, will give you everything.
The special love relationship is an attempt to limit the destructive effects of hate by finding a haven in the storm of guilt. It makes no attempt to rise
the storm into the sunlight. On the contrary, it emphasizes guilt
the haven by attempting to build barricades against it and keep within them. The special love relationship is not perceived as a value in itself, but as a place of safety from which hatred is split off and kept apart. The special love partner is acceptable only as long as he serves this purpose. Hatred can enter and indeed is welcome in
aspects of the relationship, but it is still held together by the illusion of love. If the illusion goes, the relationship is broken or becomes unsatisfying on the grounds of disillusionment.
an illusion. It is a fact. Where disillusionment is possible, there was not love but hate. For hate
an illusion, and what can change was
love. It is certain that those who select certain ones as partners in any aspect of living and use them for any purpose which they would not share with others, are trying to
with guilt rather than
of it. This is the choice they see. And love to them is only an escape from death. They seek it desperately but not in the peace in which it would gladly come quietly
them. And when they find the fear of death is still upon them, the love relationship
the illusion that it is what it is not. For then the barricades against it are broken, fear rushes in, and hatred triumphs.
There are no triumphs of love. Only hate is concerned with the "triumph of love" at all. The illusion of love
triumph over the illusion of hate, but always at the price of making
illusions. As long as the illusion of hatred lasts, so long will love be an illusion to you. And then the only choice which remains possible is which illusion you prefer. There
no conflict in the choice between truth and illusion. Seen in
terms, no one would hesitate. But conflict enters the instant the choice seems to be one between
, for this choice does not matter. Where one choice is as dangerous as the other, the decision
be one of despair.
Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find
of the barriers within yourself which you have built
it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it
necessary to seek for what is false. Every illusion is one of fear, whatever form it takes. And the attempt to escape from one illusion into another
fail. If you seek love outside yourself, you can be certain that you perceive hatred within and are
of it. Yet peace will never come from the illusion of love, but
from its reality.
Recognize this, for it is true, and truth
be recognized if it is to be distinguished from illusion: The special love relationship is an attempt [to bring
love into separation
. And, as such, it is nothing more than an attempt] to bring love into fear and make it
in fear. In fundamental violation of love's condition, the special love relationship would accomplish the impossible. How but in illusion
this be done? It is essential that we look very closely at exactly what it is you think you can do to solve the dilemma, which seems very real to you, but which does not exist. You have come very close to truth, and only this stands between you and the bridge that leads you into it.
Heaven waits silently, and your creations are holding out their hands to help you cross and welcome them. For it is
. You seek but for your own completion, and it is they who render you complete. The special love relationship is but a shabby substitute for what makes you whole in truth,
in illusion. Your relationship with them is without guilt, and this enables you to look on all your brothers with gratitude because your creations were created in union
them. Acceptance of your creations is the acceptance of the oneness of creation, without which you could never
complete. No specialness can offer you what God has given and what you are joined with Him in giving.
Across the bridge is your completion, for you will be wholly in God, willing for nothing special but only to be wholly like unto Him, completing Him by
completion. Fear not to cross to the abode of peace and perfect holiness. Only there is the completion of God and of His Son established forever. Seek not for this in the bleak world of illusion, where nothing is certain, and where everything fails to satisfy. In the Name of God, be wholly willing to abandon
illusions. In any relationship in which you are wholly willing to accept completion, and
this, there is God completed and His Son with Him.
The bridge that leads to union in yourself
lead to knowledge, for it was built with God beside you and will lead you straight to Him, where your completion rests wholly compatible with His. Every illusion which you accept into your mind by judging it to be attainable removes your own sense of completion and thus denies the wholeness of your Father. Every fantasy, be it of love or hate, deprives you of knowledge, for fantasies are the veil behind which truth is hidden. To lift the veil which seems so dark and heavy, it is only needful to value truth beyond
fantasy and to be entirely unwilling to settle for illusion
Would you not go
fear to love? For such the journey seems to be. Love calls, but hate would have you stay. Hear not the call of hate, and see no fantasies[, for your completion lies in truth and
]. See in the call of hate and in every fantasy that rises to delay you but the call for help which rises ceaselessly from you to your Creator. Would He not answer you whose completion is His? He loves you wholly without illusion, as you must love. For love
wholly without illusion and therefore wholly without fear. Whom God remembers
be whole. And God has never forgotten what makes
whole. In your completion lies the memory of His wholeness and His gratitude to you for His completion. In His link with you lie both His inability to forget and your ability to remember. In Him are joined your willingness to love and all the love of God, Who forgot you not.
Your Father can no more forget the truth in you than you can fail to remember it. The Holy Spirit is the bridge to Him, made from your willingness to unite with Him and created by His joy in union with you. The journey that seemed to be endless is almost complete, for what
endless is very near. You have almost recognized it. Turn with me firmly away from all illusions
, and let nothing stand in the way of truth. We will take the last foolish journey
from truth together, and then together we go straight to God in joyous answer to His call for His completion.
If special relationships of any kind would hinder God's completion,
they have value to you? What would interfere with God
interfere with you. Only in time does interference in God's completion seem to be possible. The bridge that He would carry you across lifts you from time into eternity. Waken from time and answer fearlessly the call of Him Who gave eternity to you in your creation. On this side of the bridge to timelessness you understand nothing. But as you step lightly across it, upheld
timelessness, you are directed straight to the Heart of God. At its center, and
there, you are safe forever because you are
forever. There is no veil the love of God in us together cannot lift. The way to truth is open. Follow it with me.
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A Course in Miracles
Introduction to Lessons 181 - 200
Our next few lessons make a special point of firming up your willingness to make your weak commitment strong, your scattered goals blend into one intent. You are not asked for total dedication all the time, as yet. But you are asked to practice now in order to attain the sense of peace such unified commitment will bestow, if only intermittently. It is experiencing this which makes it sure that you will give your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth.
Our lessons now are geared specifically to widening horizons and direct approaches to the special blocks which keep your vision narrow and too limited to let you see the value of our goal. We are attempting now to lift these blocks, however briefly. Words alone can not convey the sense of liberation which their lifting brings. But the experience of freedom and of peace that comes as you give up your tight control of what you see speaks for itself. Your motivation will be so intensified that words become of little consequence. You will be sure of what you want and what is valueless.
And so we start our journey beyond words by concentrating first on what impedes our progress still. Experience of what exists beyond defensiveness remains beyond achievement while it is denied. It may be there, but you cannot accept its presence. So we now attempt to go past all defenses for a little while each day. No more than this is asked because no more than this is needed. It will be enough to guarantee the rest will come.
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A Course in Miracles
I call upon God's Name and on my own.
God's Name is holy, but no holier than yours. To call upon His Name is but to call upon your own. A father gives his son his name, and thus identifies the son with him. His brothers share his name, and thus are they united in a bond to which they turn for their identity. Your Father's Name reminds you who you are, even within a world that does not know; even though you have not remembered it.
God's Name cannot be heard without response, nor said without an echo in the mind which calls you to remember. Say His Name, and you invite the angels to surround the ground on which you stand and sing to you as they spread out their wings to keep you safe and shelter you from every worldly thought that would intrude upon your holiness.
Repeat God's Name and all the world responds by laying down illusions. Every dream the world holds dear has suddenly gone by, and where it seemed to stand you find a star; a miracle of grace. The sick arise, healed of their sickly thoughts. The blind can see; the deaf can hear; the sorrowful cast off their mourning, and the tears of pain are dried as happy laughter comes to bless the world.
Repeat the Name of God and little names have lost their meaning. No temptation but becomes a nameless and unwanted thing before God's Name. Repeat His Name and see how easily you will forget the names of all the gods you value. They have lost the name of god you gave them. They become anonymous and valueless to you, although before you let the Name of God replace their little names, you stood before them worshipfully, naming them as gods.
Repeat the Name of God and call upon your Self, Whose Name is His. Repeat His Name and all the tiny, nameless things on earth slip into right perspective. Those who call upon the Name of God cannot mistake the nameless for the Name, nor sin for grace, nor bodies for the holy Son of God.
And should you join a brother as you sit with him in silence and repeat God's Name along with him within your quiet minds, you have established there an altar which reaches to God Himself and to His Son. Practice but this today; repeat God's Name slowly again and still again. Become oblivious to every name but His.
Hear nothing else. Let all your thoughts become anchored on this. No other words we use except at the beginning, when we say today's idea but once. And then God's Name becomes our only thought, our only word, the only thing that occupies our minds, the only wish we have, the only sound with any meaning, and the only name of everything that we desire to see; of everything that we would call our own.
Thus do we give an invitation which can never be refused. And God will come and answer it Himself. Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus. He cannot hear requests that He be not Himself or that His Son receive another name than His.
Repeat His Name, and you acknowledge Him as sole Creator of reality. And you acknowledge also that His Son is part of Him, creating in His Name. Sit silently, and let His Name become the all-encompassing idea which holds your mind completely. Let all thoughts be still except this one. And to all other thoughts respond with this, and see God's Name replace the thousand little names you gave your thoughts, not realizing that there is One Name for all there is and all that there will be.
Today you can achieve a state in which you will experience the gifts of grace. You can escape all bondage of the world and give the world the same release you found. You can remember what the world forgot and offer it your own remembering. You can accept today the part you play in its salvation and your own as well, and both can be accomplished perfectly.
Turn to the Name of God for your release, and it is given you. No prayer but this is necessary, for it holds them all within it. Words are insignificant and all requests unneeded when God's Son calls on his Father's Name. His Father's Thoughts become his own. He makes his claim to all his Father gave, is giving still, and will forever give. He calls on Him to let all things he thought he made be nameless now, and in their place the holy Name of God becomes his judgment of their worthlessness.
All little things are silent. Little sounds are soundless now. The little things of earth have disappeared. The universe consists of nothing but the Son of God who calls upon his Father. And his Father's Voice gives answer in his Father's holy Name. In this eternal, still relationship, in which communication far transcends all words and yet exceeds in depth and height whatever words could possibly convey, is peace eternal. In our Father's Name, we would experience this peace today. And in His Name it shall be given us.
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I call upon God's Name and on my own.
I spent the year 2000 in Sedona where I studied the Course at the Circle of Atonement with Robert Perry. While I was there, Robert took some time off to go to a Catholic retreat center. When he returned, he spoke about his time at the retreat with this Lesson. It was very helpful to hear of his experience, as it allowed me to get a deeper appreciation of the message contained in this Lesson. Prior to this, I must admit, this Lesson did not really grab me. As I was repeating the name of God over and over as instructed,
"slowly again and still again,"
(W.183.6.1) it felt empty and ritualistic. It never elicited much in the way of a connection and seemed more like a mantra or magical incantation. Now I have come to see that by calling on God's Name, I am being called to detach from listening to the ego and to shift from the specifics of this world where we name everything and to realize that God's Love is all there is and the only thing I want. Everything in this world is named and thus it is separate and different from everything else. We give value to these things we name, but then we
"Repeat the Name of God, and little names have lost their meaning."
When Robert returned from his retreat, he talked about the similarity of this Lesson with the centering prayer that is described in a written work called
The Cloud of Unknowing
. It is an ancient prayer practice that comes from a contemplative heritage of the Catholic Church. It is a method of prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of God's presence by quieting our minds.
The book speaks about the soul's attainment of the Absolute, but it is contingent on one central necessity: The perfect and passionate setting of the will upon the Divine, since "Thy love and thy meaning, the choice and point of thine heart," and "that intent stretching to God," which "if wholly set on Him, cannot fail to reach its goal."
I love that!
This book goes on to describe the motivation for God as
"the sharp dart of longing love." It speaks of the happiness of those who have had the experience of this love.
There is a recognition by this author, as well, of the struggle with distracting thoughts and the confusion and bewilderment of the beginner in the early stages of contemplation. He also talks about the importance of recognizing the futility of study in a theoretical way without the benefit of release by grace. There is much that is beautiful in this writing. It speaks of the one necessity to connect with God, which is all about the will and the heart, rather than a focus on ascetic practices or intellectual striving. It is more about actively loving and choosing to apply the teachings in one’s life. It is the synthesis of "love and will" seen as essential in order to achieve the goal of peace. "For silence is not God," he says in the
Epistle of Discretion
, "nor speaking is not God; fasting is not God, nor eating is not God; loneliness is not God, nor company is not God; nor yet any of all the other two such contraries. He is hid between them, and may not be found by any work of thy soul, but only by love of thine heart. He may not be known by reason, He may not be gotten by thought, nor concluded by understanding; but He may be loved and chosen with the true lovely will of thine heart."
We traditionally think of prayer as an active process of mentally or verbally communicating with God, whereas this form of centering prayer is one of receptivity or resting in God. It is an opening up of our minds, our hearts, and our whole being to God, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. It takes us from the intellectual understanding to the heart so that we fully embody the experience of resting in God.
We are calling upon the truth in our right minds. The Holy Spirit reflects that truth. Calling on the truth requires detachment from the thought system of the ego mind. (wrong mind). I choose to identify with God's Name so I can know I am God's Son and not the son of the ego. The way to this recognition is to look at our thoughts, be willing to see our way of seeing everything as wrong, and be willing to use the events and circumstances of this world as a classroom for undoing the thought system of the ego. It means that our lives are the path.
Calling upon God's name is a symbol of the Correction (Atonement) of how we currently see. It is to recognize that we are wrong about how we perceive everything, which is truly humbling. Jesus invites us to
"Remember nothing that you taught yourself, for you were badly taught."
(T.28.I.7.1) (ACIM OE T.7.II.7)
This requires a willingness to become aware of my current perspectives so I can choose against what is false. I choose against the valueless, and I do this by not attending to my thoughts since they keep me invested in the world. This was so clearly illustrated in a movie I watched recently, called
in which I judged who was right and who was wrong, only to be shown at the end that all my perceptions were wrong. In the process of watching this movie, the Holy Spirit showed me how I was taken in by a convincing set-up, and I was absolutely wrong in my interpretations. The movie illustrated how we can be so absolutely certain of our perceptions in life that we are convinced this world is real. The apparatus for seeing and hearing are the ego's tools for bringing evidence to us that convince us of the reality of this world. The thought system of the ego is insane, but it is as consistent and logical as that of the Holy Spirit.
"The ingeniousness of the ego to preserve itself is enormous, but it stems from the very power of the mind the ego denies. This means that the ego attacks what is preserving it, which must result in extreme anxiety. That is why the ego never recognizes what it is doing. It is perfectly logical but clearly insane."
(T.7.VI.3.1-4) (ACIM OE T.7.VII.56)
This Lesson starts with the idea that we are actually calling upon our own true identity when we call on God's Name. While we are One with Him, He is the Cause and the Source. We share His name, not because we are Him, but because He is our Creator, and we share His nature. He has given us His Name, just as a father gives his name to his son. Thus, we have a deep, abiding bond with Him. In this deep connection with the divine within, we are reminded that we are not these characters in the dream that we know ourselves to be with our given names.
"Your Father's Name reminds you who you are, even within a world that does not know; even though you have not remembered it."
(W.183.1.5) When we say His Name, an echo is heard in the mind, and this calls us to remember who we really are.
"God’s Name can not be heard without response, nor said without an echo in the mind that calls you to remember."
(W.183.2.1) We are called to remember our true identity in that deep communion with the Christ Self within.
The Atonement Principle is our assurance that we have never changed ourselves. To be aware of the changeless Self requires deep desire and devotion to the truth. We are magnificent beings of light and love. This awareness brings recognition of the immense angelic power that protects us.
"Say His Name, and you invite the angels to surround the ground on which you stand, and sing to you as they spread out their wings to
keep you safe, and shelter you from every worldly thought that would intrude upon your holiness."
(W.183.2.2) We are releasing our worldly thoughts that are the idols we hold up as our gods. They are the things of this world we put value on, but they are actually valueless and deliver nothing. When we enter into deep communion with God, it brings healing to the sick and lifts the suffering of the world. When the mind is healed, it contributes to the One Mind like an inflated balloon that now has more air to lift it higher. That is quite a premise and points to the ministry we have in the world simply by remembering who we are.
This power is enhanced when we join with a brother.
"And should you join a brother as you sit with him in silence, and repeat God's Name along with him within your quiet mind, you have established there an altar which reaches to God Himself and to His Son."
(W.183.5.4) We can only truly join with a brother when we release our judgments and recognize the Christ in him. This may not mean that we literally sit together and repeat God's Name. What is symbolized here is the Oneness we share with everyone in which we join in truth and let go of the needs and judgments inherent in our special relationships.
"If you unite with anyone in prayer, you make him part of you."
(Song of Prayer.1.II.6.2)
"You have taught yourself to believe that you are not what you are."
(T.6.III.1.8) (ACIM OE T.6.IV.40) This demonstrates the immense power of our minds since we have taught ourselves that we are something we are not. It is about recognizing that, ultimately, in undoing what we have taught ourselves, we will see there is no room for the separate me, for my individual identity, nor separation from my brother. We are all one Son, in the unity of the family of God.
In our invitation to God, Jesus tells us,
"Thus do we give an invitation which can never be refused. And God will come, and answer it Himself."
(W.183.7.1-2) Then he says,
"Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus. He cannot hear requests that He be not Himself, or that His Son receive another name than His."
(W.183.7.3-5) How are we to understand this? Does God answer our prayers, or does He really not hear our prayers? In order to get more clarity on this question, I turned to
The Song of Prayer
that accompanies the Course. Jesus explains that there are different levels of prayer, depending on which rung of the ladder we are on, ascending back to the self.
On the beginning rungs, we ask for things we think we need. These requests come from our belief that we are in the world and are in a state of need and lack.
"To you who are in time a little while, prayer takes the form that best will suit your need."
(Song of Prayer.1.IN.2.1)
"At these levels prayer is merely wanting, out of a sense of scarcity and lack."
"These forms of prayer, or asking-out-of-need, always involve feelings of weakness and inadequacy, and could never be made by a Son of God who knows Who he is."
(S-1.II.2.1) Do these prayers get answered? Apparently, they do but only as long as they do not set us back on our journey.
When we request that the idols of the world make us happy, we are making meaningless things into gods. Yet to ask for what we think we need is not wrong. It is just that this will not advance our journey to God because getting what we want in the illusion will tempt us to stay asleep. Any answer we get to our prayers comes from the Holy Spirit in our minds, as God does not know of our dream. Asking for specifics comes from our belief that we are bodies, living in the world. When we progress on our journey, our prayer becomes less specific.
"It is possible at this level to continue to ask for things of this world in various forms, and it is also possible to ask for gifts such as honesty or goodness, and particularly for forgiveness for the many sources of guilt that inevitably underlie any prayer of need."
(S.1.II.3.4) Until we reach the higher levels of the ladder,
"Prayer now must be the means by which God's Son leaves separate goals and separate interests by, and turns in holy gladness to the truth of union in his Father and himself."
Thus, he tells us that
"You can escape all bondage of the world, and give the world the same release you found."
(W.183.9.2) We are refocusing the mind away from what intrudes on it when we focus on God's Name. What intrudes on our minds are the things we think we want that do not serve our best interests. What we think we need are meaningless idols of the world that we believe will make us happy. They include our goals and plans, money, food, prestige, power, sex, cars, and special relationships. Everything we value in the world is essentially valueless.
"In true prayer you hear only the song."
"Prayer is an offering; a giving up of yourself to be at one with Love."
"The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need."
"Prayer is a stepping aside; a letting go, a quiet time of listening and loving."
"This is not a level of prayer that everyone can attain as yet."
Today, we are invited to experience the peace of God.
"Turn to the Name of God for your release, and it is given you. No prayer but this is necessary, for it holds them all within it."
(W.183.10.1-2) All that is real is in our relationship with our Father. Now we come to know eternal peace, if only for a moment, as we enter the holy instant.
"And in His Name, it shall be given us."
(W.183.11.8) In the holy instant, all is quiet and still, and our holy minds can rest in the presence of the eternal! Here,
"communication far transcends all words."
Today, we are asked to
"Become oblivious to every name but His. Hear nothing else. Let all your thoughts become anchored on This. No other word we use except at the beginning, when we say today’s idea but once."
(W.183.6.2-5) When we return to the world, we will remember what the world forgot. It takes strength to be in the world but not of the world, yet we are called to be the example of peace so others may see that this is the same choice they could make. Our part is to offer forgiveness in every situation. That is what he invites us to do when he says,
"It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well."
Only love is real. Everything else is just part of the dream, broken into small parts with different names.
"In this eternal still relationship in which communication far transcends all words, and yet exceeds in depth and height whatever words could possibly convey is peace eternal."
(W.183.11.6) So let us join in the experience of this peace today, as much as possible, and trust it will be given us, as we lay aside our own ideas.
Love and blessings, Sarah
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