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

The Forgiveness of Illusions

VI. Specialness and Guilt

43 In looking at the special relationship, it is necessary first to realize that it involves a great amount of pain. Anxiety, despair, guilt, and attack all enter into it, broken into by periods in which they seem to be gone. All these must be understood for what they are. Whatever form they take, they are always an attack on the self to make the other guilty. We have spoken of this before, but there are some aspects of what is really being attempted that we have not touched upon.

44 Very simply, the attempt to make guilty is always directed against God. For the ego would have you see Him, and Him alone, as guilty, leaving the Sonship open to attack and unprotected from it. The special love relationship is the ego's chief weapon for keeping you from Heaven. It does not appear to be a weapon, but if you consider how you value it and why, you will realize what it must be. The special love relationship is the ego's most boasted gift, and one which has the most appeal to those unwilling to relinquish guilt. The "dynamics" of the ego are clearest here, for counting on the attraction of this offering, the fantasies which center around it are often quite open. Here they are usually judged to be acceptable and even natural. No one considers it bizarre to love and hate together, and even those who believe that hate is sin merely feel guilty and do not correct it.

45 This is the "natural" condition of the separation, and those who learn that it is not natural at all seem to be the unnatural ones. For this world is the opposite of Heaven, being made to be its opposite, and everything here takes a direction exactly opposite of what is true. In Heaven, where the meaning of love is known, love is the same as union. Here, where the illusion of love is accepted in love's place, love is perceived as separation and exclusion .

46 It is in the special relationship, born of the hidden wish for special love from God, that the ego's hatred triumphs. For the special relationship is the renunciation of the love of God and the attempt to secure for the self the specialness which He denied. It is essential to the preservation of the ego that you believe this specialness is not hell, but Heaven. For the ego would never have you see that separation can only be loss, being the one condition in which Heaven cannot be.

47 To everyone Heaven is completion. There can be no disagreement on this because both the ego and the Holy Spirit accept it. They are, however, in complete disagreement on what completion is and how it is accomplished. The Holy Spirit knows that completion lies first in union and then in the extension of union. To the ego, completion lies in triumph and in the extension of the "victory" even to the final triumph over God. In this it sees the ultimate freedom of the self, for nothing would remain to interfere with it. This is its idea of Heaven. From this it follows that union, which is a condition in which the ego cannot interfere, must be hell.

48 The special relationship is a strange and unnatural ego device for joining hell and Heaven and making them indistinguishable. And the attempt to find the imagined "best" of both worlds has merely led to fantasies of both and to the inability to perceive either one as it is. The special relationship is the triumph of this confusion. It is a kind of union from which union is excluded , and the basis for the attempt at union rests on exclusion. What better example could there be of the ego's maxim, "Seek but do not find?"

49 Most curious of all is the concept of the self which the ego fosters in the special relationship. This "self" seeks the relationship to make itself complete. Yet when it finds the special relationship in which it thinks it can accomplish this, it gives itself away and tries to "trade" itself for the self of another. This is not union, for there is no increase and no extension. Each partner tries to sacrifice the self he does not want for one he thinks he would prefer. And he feels guilty for the "sin" of taking and of giving nothing of value in return. For how much value can he place upon a self that he would give away to get a better one?

50 The "better" self the ego seeks is always one that is more special. And whoever seems to possess a special self is "loved" for what can be taken from him. Where both partners see this special self in each other, the ego sees "a union made in Heaven." For neither one will recognize that he has asked for hell, and so he will not interfere with the ego's illusion of Heaven, which it offered him to interfere with Heaven. Yet if all illusions are of fear, and they can be of nothing else, the illusion of Heaven is nothing more than an "attractive" form of fear in which the guilt is buried deep and rises in the form of "love."
51 The appeal of hell lies only in the terrible attraction of guilt, which the ego holds out to those who place their faith in littleness. The conviction of littleness lies in every special relationship, for only the deprived could value specialness. The demand for specialness and the perception of the giving of specialness as an act of love would make love hateful . And the real purpose of the special relationship, in strict accordance with the ego's goals, is to destroy reality and substitute illusion. For the ego is itself an illusion, and only illusions can be the witnesses to its "reality."

52 If you perceived the special relationship as a triumph over God, would you want it? Let us not think of its fearful nature nor of the guilt it must entail nor of the sadness and the loneliness. For these are only attributes of the whole religion of the separation and of the total context in which it is thought to occur. The central theme in its litany to sacrifice is that God must die so you can live. And it is this theme which is acted out in the special relationship. Through the death of your self, you think you can attack another self and snatch it from the other to replace the self which you despise. And you despise it because you do not think it offers the specialness which you demand. And hating it, you have made it little and unworthy because you are afraid of it.

53 How can you grant unlimited power to what you think you have attacked? So fearful has the truth become to you that unless it is weak and little, [and unworthy of value,] you would not dare to look upon it. You think it safer to endow the little self which you have made with power you wrested from truth, triumphing over it and leaving it helpless. See how exactly is this ritual enacted in the special relationship. An altar is erected in between two separate people on which each seeks to kill his self and on his body raise another self which takes its power from his death. Over and over and over this ritual is enacted. And it is never completed nor ever will be completed. For the ritual of completion cannot complete, and life arises not from death, nor Heaven from hell.

54 Whenever any form of special relationship tempts you to seek for love in ritual, remember love is content and not form of any kind. The special relationship is a ritual of form, aimed at the raising of the form to take the place of God at the expense of content. There is no meaning in the form, and there will never be. The special relationship must be recognized for what it is—a senseless ritual in which strength is extracted from the death of God and invested in His killer as the sign that form has triumphed over content and love has lost its meaning. Would you want this to be possible, even apart from its evident impossibility? For if it were possible, you would have made yourself helpless. God is not angry. He merely could not let this happen. You cannot change His Mind.

55 No rituals that you have set up in which the dance of death delights you can bring death to the eternal. Nor can your chosen substitute for the wholeness of God have any influence at all upon it. See in the special relationship nothing more than a meaningless attempt to raise other gods before Him and by worshiping them to obscure their tininess and His greatness . In the name of your completion, you do not want this. For every idol which you raise to place before Him stands before you in place of what you are.

56 Salvation lies in the simple fact that illusions are not fearful because they are not true . They but seem to be fearful to the extent to which you fail to recognize them for what they are, and you will fail to do this to the extent to which you want them to be true. And to the same extent you are denying truth, and so are making yourself unable to make the simple choice between truth and illusion, God and fantasy. Remember this and you will have no difficulty in perceiving the decision as just what it is and nothing more.

57 The core of the separation delusion lies simply in the fantasy of destruction of love's meaning. And unless love's meaning is restored to you, you cannot know yourself, who shares its meaning. Separation is only the decision not to know yourself. Its whole thought system is a carefully contrived learning experience designed to lead away from truth and into fantasy. Yet for every learning that would hurt you, God offers you correction and complete escape from all its consequences. The decision whether or not to listen to this course and follow it is but the choice between truth and illusion. For here is truth separated from illusion and not confused with it at all.

58 How simple does this choice become when it is perceived as only what it is. For only fantasies made confusion in choosing possible, and they are totally unreal. This year is thus the time to make the easiest decision that ever confronted you and also the only one. You will cross the bridge into reality simply because you will recognize that God is on the other side and nothing at all is here. It is impossible not to make the natural decision as this is realized.

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A Course in Miracles

Part I
Introduction to Lessons 181 - 200

1 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.

2 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.

3 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

Lesson 184
The Name of God is my inheritance.

1 You live by symbols. You have made up names for everything you see. Each one becomes a separate entity, identified by its own name. By this you carve it out of unity. By this you designate its special attributes and set it off from other things by emphasizing space surrounding it. This space you lay between all things to which you give a different name—all happenings in terms of place and time, all bodies which are greeted by a name.

2 This space you see as setting off all things from one another is the means by which the world's perception is achieved. You see something where nothing is and see as well nothing where there is unity—a space between all things, between all things and you. Thus do you think that you have given life in separation. By this split you think you are established as a unity which functions with an independent will.

3 What are these names by which the world becomes a series of discrete events, of things un-unified, of bodies kept apart and holding bits of mind as separate awarenesses? You gave these names to them, establishing perception as you wished to have perception be. The nameless things were given names and thus reality was given them as well. For what is named is given meaning and will then be seen as meaningful, a cause of true effects with consequence inherent in itself.

4 This is the way reality is made by partial vision, purposefully set against the given truth. Its enemy is wholeness. It conceives of little things and looks upon them. And a lack of space, a sense of unity or vision which sees differently become the threats which it must overcome, conflict with, and deny.

5 Yet does this other vision still remain a natural direction for the mind to channel its perception. It is hard to teach the mind a thousand alien names and thousands more. Yet you believe this is what learning means—its one essential goal by which communication is achieved and concepts can be meaningfully shared.

6 This is the sum of the inheritance the world bestows. And everyone who learns to think that it is so accepts the signs and symbols which assert the world is real. It is for this they stand. They leave no doubt that what is named is there. It can be seen, as is anticipated. What denies that it is true is but illusion, for it is the ultimate reality. To question it is madness; to accept its presence is the proof of sanity.

7 Such is the teaching of the world. It is a phase of learning everyone who comes must go through. But the sooner he perceives on what it rests, how questionable are its premises, how doubtful its results, the sooner does he question its effects. Learning which stops with what the world would teach stops short of meaning. In its proper place, it serves but as a starting point from which another kind of learning can begin, a new perception can be gained, and all the arbitrary names the world bestows can be withdrawn as they are raised to doubt.

8 Think not you made the world. Illusions, yes! But what is true in earth and Heaven is beyond your naming. When you call upon a brother, it is to his body that you make appeal. His true identity is hidden from you by what you believe he really is. His body makes response to what you call him, for his mind consents to take the name you give him as his own. And thus his unity is twice denied, for you perceive him separate from you, and he accepts this separate name as his.

9 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. They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing, it is this thought that will release you from them. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand, but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found.

10 Thus what you need are intervals each day in which the learning of the world becomes a transitory phase—a prison house from which you go into the sunlight and forget the darkness. Here you understand the Word, the Name which God has given you; the One Identity which all things share; the one acknowledgment of what is true. And then step back to darkness, not because you think it real, but only to proclaim its unreality in terms which still have meaning in the world which darkness rules.

11 Use all the little names and symbols which delineate the world of darkness. Yet accept them not as your reality. The Holy Spirit uses all of them, but He does not forget creation has One Name, One Meaning, and a single Source Which unifies all things within Itself. Use all the names the world bestows on them but for convenience, yet do not forget they share the Name of God along with you.

12 God has no name. And yet His Name becomes the final lesson that all things are one, and at this lesson does all learning end. All names are unified; all space is filled with truth's reflection. Every gap is closed and separation healed. The Name of God is the inheritance He gave to those who chose the teaching of the world to take the place of Heaven. In our practicing, our purpose is to let our minds accept what He has given as the answer to the pitiful inheritance you made as fitting tribute to the Son He loves.

13 No one can fail who seeks the meaning of the Name of God. Experience must come to supplement the Word. But first you must accept One Name for all reality, and realize the many names you gave its aspects have distorted what you see but have not interfered with truth at all. One Name we bring into our practicing. One Name we use to unify our sight.

14 And though we use a different name for each awareness of an aspect of God's Son, we understand that they have but One Name, Which He has given them. It is this Name we use in practicing. And through Its use, all foolish separations disappear which kept us blind. And we are given strength to see beyond them. Now our sight is blessed with blessings we can give as we receive.

15 Father, our Name is Yours. In It we are united with all living things and You Who are their One Creator. What we made and call by many different names is but a shadow we have tried to cast across Your Own Reality. And we are glad and thankful we were wrong. All our mistakes we give to You, that we may be absolved of all effects our errors seemed to have. And we accept the truth You give in place of every one of them. Your Name is our salvation and escape from what we made. Your Name unites us in the Oneness which is our inheritance and peace. Amen.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 184
The Name of God is my inheritance.

This Lesson helps us understand how we developed our perception by seeing separate things and giving them all names. This keeps us from seeing the whole of reality and keeps us from seeing with vision, which in turn keeps us from seeing who someone really is. It is not just a name connected to a body---it shuts out wholeness. The way we see reality is due to this naming process. We see things that we have named as surrounded by empty space that makes everything seem separate from everything else. We have also done the same thing with ourselves: we believe in our unique attributes, our independent will, and our separate self as contained by a body and holding private thoughts. This is contrary to truth. The truth is unified. It does not acknowledge separate things. Once we have given all these seemingly separate things names, we give them reality as well. "For what is named is given meaning and will then be seen as meaningful; a cause of true effect, with consequence inherent in itself." (W.184.3.4) What we give a name to now has been given importance by the very nature of our naming it.
Yesterday, the Lesson concluded that God has no name so there cannot be separation but only perfect unity. We believe we have shattered this perfect unity and now there are forms and shapes instead of Oneness. Each form and shape has been given a name. The whole point of naming everything is so that we will see all those forms, including separate bodies, as real. Now we have come to believe that what the names point to is real and we agree this is so. This is what the world has offered us as its inheritance, and we have agreed with what it bestows, accepting ". . . the signs and symbols that assert the world is real." (W.184.6.2) Those signs and symbols represent everything in this world that reinforces our belief in separation, including pain, sickness, wars, problems, specialness, and finally death. We do not doubt that what is named is there.
We are so certain that what we see is actually there. We have given meaning to everything we see. This takes us right back to Lesson 1. "Nothing I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] means anything." (W.1) None of it has any meaning except the meaning we bestow on it. Jesus understands that for us to question it at all seems crazy, yet it is what he is asking us to do. "To question it is madness; to accept its presence is the proof of sanity." (W.184.6.7) To be well adjusted to the world seems perfectly sane to us. It seems like insanity not to accept the reality of this world, and so we become part of it. The agreement we all hold, that this world is real, is powerful. The world's religions confirm that God is the Creator of this world and this, too, makes it real in the minds of most. Jesus tells us that just because there is agreement by most that all of this is real, it does not make it so.
What learning means in the world is to ". . . teach the mind a thousand alien names, and thousands more." (W.184.5.2) Jesus tells us that this is hard to do, but we have accomplished it. He tells us it is difficult to teach an abstract mind so many concrete symbols. "What you have taught yourself is such a giant learning feat it is indeed incredible." (T.31.I.2.7) (ACIM OE T.31.I.2) He challenges our belief that learning this Course is difficult when, in fact, we truly have accomplished the most difficult learning feat of all. We have taught ourselves that we are something we are not.
"No one who understands what you have learned, how carefully you learned it, and the pains to which you went to practice and repeat the lessons endlessly, in every form you could conceive of them, could ever doubt the power of your learning skill. There is no greater power in the world. The world was made by it, and even now depends on nothing else. The lessons you have taught yourself have been so overlearned and fixed they rise like heavy curtains to obscure the simple and the obvious. Say not you cannot learn them. For your power to learn is strong enough to teach you that your will is not your own, your thoughts do not belong to you, and even you are someone else." (T.31.I.3.1-6) (ACIM OE T.31.I.3)
At some point, we start to question what we have learned, and the beginning of this questioning motivates us to search for the deeper meaning of our lives. We start to wonder why we are here, and what is the purpose for our lives. We tell ourselves that there must be a better way of being in the world. Jesus tells us, "In its proper place, it serves but as a starting point from which another kind of learning can begin, a new perception can be gained, and all the arbitrary names the world bestows can be withdrawn as they are raised to doubt." (W.184.7.5) In other words, the world can now become a place for learning "a new perception," or another way to see everything. The world becomes a backdrop for finding a new way of seeing everything by turning to the Guide within us. Everything in the world can provide us with an opportunity to release our way of seeing.
Just because the symbols of the world do not reflect God's reality, it does not mean we stop using them. "You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well." (W.184.9.2-3) We still think that we live in this world, and we think that we relate from our body to other bodies, but we can now use our experiences here to learn another way of relating. Instead of defining our brothers by their bodies and personalities, we ask for help to see the love beyond the forms. We are learning to be released from the symbols of this world so that instead of separation, we experience joining. The symbols can be used as helpful ways of reflecting God's love, instead of using them for maintaining the separation. "Thus what you need are intervals each day in which the learning of the world becomes a transitory phase; a prison house from which you go into the sunlight and forget the darkness." (W.184.10.1) In the holy instant, we can escape the symbols temporarily and have an experience of the formless. This is a reflection of God's Oneness.
When you step back from the experience of the holy instant into the world of darkness, it is ". . . not because you think it real, but only to proclaim its unreality in terms which still have meaning in the world that darkness rules." (W.184.10.3) Thus, we are still using the signs and symbols that delineate this world, but for a different purpose. The world is now just a backdrop for the healing of our minds. "You walk this path as others walk, nor do you seem to be distinct from them, although you are indeed. Thus can you serve them while you serve yourself, and set their footsteps on the way that God has opened up to you, and them through you." (W.155.5.3)
In other words, we are not escaping the world, but we are living in the world as others do while holding a different mindset. We do not need to quit our jobs or leave our families. We do not need to go to ashrams, though there may indeed be changes in our lifestyles and situations. Regardless of where we are, "There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be." (W.155.1.1) Jesus says that those who are like us will recognize us. While we function in the world and work with the symbols of this world, our purpose is one of waking up from this dream through our relationships with everything and everyone in the world. Now we are willing to look at everything from a new perspective. We no longer take the world's perspective but instead see everything in a new light. It is the light of truth. It is the recognition we are all the same. We have the same ego, with all the same attributes, and the same Christ Self.
Jesus is teaching us how to live in the world but also to recognize that this is not our true reality. Yet while this world is an illusion, we have a function here, which is to forgive. This requires watching our thoughts and, in every moment, being willing to be shown that there is another way to see everything. What seems like an attack is really a call for love. What we had used to support our specialness can now be used for the purpose of undoing. Instead of listening to the counsel of the ego, we can now turn to the Guide within as to what to do, where to go, and how to perceive every situation. He is helping us to see everything that we experience in this world as not what it seems. We are turning to the Holy Spirit, asking for help to see everything in a new way. We acknowledge that the way we are thinking about any situation is simply keeping us from the love we are and keeping us from our inheritance, which is our joy and peace.
"The ego always speaks first." (T.6.IV.1.2) (ACIM OE T.6.V.45) The Holy Spirit is the Correction of the ego's version of everything. Recently, I experienced distress that my partner, who made a commitment to be home at a certain time, did not show up and did not call. It was particularly difficult because that same day I received a call from the hospital that my mother was being discharged, and I would have to pick her up. Managing this by myself seemed challenging and trying to connect with my partner on the cell phone was not successful. Needless to say, the ego spoke loudly about betrayal and injustice, which gave me justification to hold a grievance. I reminded myself that a healed mind would not react as I was reacting. So what was the basis for my grievance? When I inquired more deeply I realized that I felt alone, helpless, and unloved and I recognized that none of this was the truth. So, I turned to the Holy Spirit for help in forgiving myself for using this situation to keep me from my peace and happiness. I realized that I did not want to give the situation the power to disrupt my peace. I placed my belief in my aloneness, helplessness, and the belief that I was separate from love, onto my inner altar. I asked for help to see it all differently. While the ego continued to make some noise, ultimately, peace prevailed. I realized that I could make a choice for happiness. I was motivated and willing to turn my version of events over to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation.
Throughout the Course, Jesus reminds us that we made this world, yet here he says, "Think not you made the world. Illusions yes! But what is true in earth and Heaven is beyond your naming." (W.184.8.1-2) The real world is a reflection of reality. In other words, it is a reflection of Heaven. The real world is a state of true perception, which is still an illusion, but a helpful illusion much like forgiveness.
With each Lesson in Part I of this Workbook, false perception is being undone so we can learn that we have been wrong about everything. " And we are glad and thankful we were wrong. " (W.184.15.4) We increasingly recognize that everything we have taught ourselves is wrong. As we become more and more willing to surrender what we think we know, we become more willing to be taught by one who truly knows. Now we ask to be shown the truth. We become willing to look honestly at our blocks to love, bring them to awareness, and give them over to the Holy Spirit to be shined away. Throughout the day, stay aware of how you use differences as a weapon against others. Commit to taking "intervals each day in which the learning of the world becomes a transitory phase; a prison house from which you go into the sunlight and forget the darkness," (W.184.10.1) if only for a moment, until the time of peace is extended more and more.

Love and blessings, Sarah


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