"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
Course in Miracles
The Forgiveness of Illusions
VIII. The End of Illusion
It is impossible to let the past go without relinquishing the special relationship. For the special relationship is an attempt to
the past and
it. Imagined slights, remembered pain, past disappointments, perceived injustices, and deprivations all enter into the special relationship, which becomes a way in which you seek to restore your wounded self-esteem. What basis would you have for choosing a special partner
the past? Every such choice is made because of something "evil" in the past to which you cling and for which must someone else atone.
The special relationship
on the past. By seeking to remove suffering in the past, it
the present in its preoccupation with the past and its total commitment to it.
special relationship is experienced in the present. Shades of the past envelop it and make it what it is. It
no meaning in the present, and if it means nothing
it cannot have any real meaning at all. How can you change the past
in fantasy? And who can give you what you think the past deprived you of? The past is nothing. Do not seek to lay the blame for deprivation on it, for the past is gone. You cannot really
let go what has
gone. It must be, therefore, that you are maintaining the illusion that it has
gone because you think it serves some purpose that you want
. And it must also be that this purpose could
be fulfilled in the present, but
in the past.
Do not underestimate the intensity of the ego's drive for vengeance on the past. It is completely savage and completely insane. For the ego remembers everything that you have done which offended it and seeks retribution of
. The fantasies it brings to the special relationships it chooses in which to act out its hate are fantasies of
destruction. For the ego holds the past
you, and in your
from the past, it sees itself deprived of the vengeance it believes that you so justly merit. Yet without your alliance in your own destruction, the ego could not hold you to the past.
In the special relationship, you are
your destruction to be. That this is insane is obvious. But what is less obvious to you is that the
is useless to you while you pursue the ego's goal as its ally. The past is gone; seek not to preserve it in the special relationship, which binds you to it and would teach you that salvation is past and that you must return
the past to find salvation. There is no fantasy which does not contain the dream of retribution for the past. Would you act out the dream or let it go?
In the special relationship, it does not
to be an acting out of vengeance which you seek. And even when the hatred and the savagery break briefly through into awareness, the illusion of love is not profoundly shaken. Yet the one thing which the ego never allows to reach awareness is that the special relationship is the acting out of vengeance on
But what else
it be? In seeking the special relationship, you look not for glory in
You have denied that it is
, and the relationship becomes your
for it. And vengeance becomes your substitute for Atonement, and the
from vengeance becomes your
Against the ego's insane notion of salvation, the Holy Spirit gently lays the holy instant. We said before that the Holy Spirit must teach through comparisons and uses opposites to point to truth. The holy instant is the
of the ego's fixed belief in salvation through vengeance for the past. In the holy instant, it is accepted that the past is gone, and with its passing the drive for vengeance has been uprooted and has disappeared. The stillness and the peace of
enfolds you in perfect gentleness. Everything is gone except the truth.
For a time you may attempt to bring illusions into the holy instant to hinder your full awareness of the
difference in all respects between your experience of truth and illusion. Yet you will not attempt this long. In the holy instant, the power of the Holy Spirit will prevail because you
Him. The illusions you bring with you will weaken the experience of Him for a while and will prevent you from keeping the experience in your mind. Yet the holy instant
eternal, and your illusions of time will not prevent the timeless from being what it is nor you from experiencing it as it is.
What God has given you is truly given and will be truly
. For God's gifts
no reality apart from your receiving them.
receiving completes His
. You will receive
it is His Will to give. He gave the holy instant to be given you, and it is impossible that you receive it not,
He gave it. When He willed that His Son be free, His Son
free. In the holy instant is His reminder that His Son will always be
as he was created. And everything the Holy Spirit teaches you is to remind you that you
received what God has given you.
There is nothing you can hold against reality. All that must be forgiven are the illusions you have held against your brothers. Their reality
no past, and only illusions can
forgiven. God holds nothing against anyone, for He is incapable of illusions of
kind. Release your brothers from the slavery of their illusions by forgiving them for the illusions which
perceive in them. Thus will you learn that
have been forgiven, for it is
who offered them illusions. In the holy instant, this is done for you
to bring to you the true condition of Heaven.
Remember that you always choose between truth and illusion—between the
Atonement which would heal and the ego's "atonement" which would destroy. The power of God and all His Love, without limit, will support you as you seek only your place in the plan of Atonement arising from His Love. Be an ally of God and not the ego in seeking how Atonement can come to you. His help suffices, for His Messenger understands how to restore the Kingdom to you and to place
your investment in salvation in your relationship with Him.
his message in the holy instant, where all illusions are forgiven. From there the miracle extends to bless everyone and to resolve all problems, be they perceived as great or small, possible or impossible. There is nothing that will not give place to Him and to His majesty. To join in close relationship with Him is to accept relationships as
and through their reality to give over all illusions for the reality of your relationship with God. Praise be to your relationship with Him and to no other. The truth lies here and nowhere else. You choose this or
Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You in which there are no illusions and where none can ever enter. Our holiness is Yours. What can there be in us that needs forgiveness when Yours is perfect? The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love. Let us not wander into temptation, for the temptation of the Son of God is not Your Will. And let us receive only what you have given and accept but this into the minds which You created and which You love. Amen.
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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
Salvation of the world depends on me.
Here is the statement that will one day take all arrogance away from every mind. Here is the thought of true humility which holds no function as your own but that which has been given you. It offers your acceptance of a part assigned to you, without insisting on another role. It does not judge your proper role. It but acknowledges the Will of God is done on earth as well as Heaven. It unites all wills on earth in Heaven's plan to save the world, restoring it to Heaven's peace.
Let us not fight our function. We did not establish it. It is not our idea. The means are given us by which it will be perfectly accomplished. All that we are asked to do is to accept our part in genuine humility and not deny with self-deceiving arrogance that we are worthy. What is given us to do we have the strength to do. Our minds are suited perfectly to take the part assigned to us by One Who knows us well.
Today's idea may seem quite sobering until you see its meaning. All it says is that your Father still remembers you and offers you the perfect trust He holds in you who are His Son. It does not ask that you be different in any way from what you are. What could humility request but this? And what could arrogance deny but this? Today we will not shrink from our assignment on the specious grounds that modesty is outraged. It is pride that would deny the call of God Himself.
All false humility we lay aside today that we may listen to God's Voice reveal to us what He would have us do. We do not doubt our adequacy for the function He will offer us. We will be certain only that He knows our strengths, our wisdom, and our holiness. And if He deems us worthy, so we are. It is but arrogance that judges otherwise.
There is one way and only one to be released from the imprisonment your plan to prove the false is true has brought to you. Accept the plan you did not make instead. Judge not your value to it. If God's Voice assures you that salvation needs your part and that the whole depends on you, be sure that it is so. The arrogant must cling to words, afraid to go beyond them to experience which might affront their stance. Yet are the humble free to hear the Voice which tells them what they are and what to do.
Arrogance makes an image of yourself that is not real. It is this image which quails and retreats in terror as the Voice for God assures you that you have the strength, the wisdom, and the holiness to go beyond all images. You are not weak, as is the image of yourself. You are not ignorant and helpless. Sin can not tarnish the truth in you, and misery can come not near the holy home of God.
All this the Voice for God relates to you. And as He speaks, the image trembles and seeks to attack the threat it does not know, sensing its basis crumble. Let it go. Salvation of the world depends on you and not upon this little pile of dust. What can it tell the holy Son of God? Why need he be concerned with it at all?
And so we find our peace. We will accept the function God has given us, for all illusions rest upon the weird belief that we can make another for ourselves. Our self-made roles are shifting, and they seem to change from mourner to ecstatic bliss of loved and loving. We can laugh or weep and greet the day with welcome or with tears. Our very being seems to change as we experience a thousand shifts in mood, and our emotions raise us high indeed or dash us to the ground in hopelessness.
Is this the Son of God? Could He create such instability and call it Son? He Who is changeless shares His attributes with His creation. All the images His Son appears to make have no effect on what he is. They blow across his mind like windswept leaves that form a patterning an instant, break apart to group again, and scamper off. Or like mirages seen above a desert, rising from the dust.
These unsubstantial images will go and leave your mind unclouded and serene when you accept the function given you. The images you make give rise to but conflicting goals, impermanent and vague, uncertain and ambiguous. Who could be constant in his efforts or direct his energies and concentrated drive toward goals like these? The functions which the world esteems are so uncertain that they change ten times an hour at their most secure. What hope of gain can rest on goals like this?
In lovely contrast, certain as the sun's return each morning to dispel the night, your truly given function stands out clear and wholly unambiguous. There is no doubt of its validity. It comes from One Who knows no error. And His Voice is certain of its messages. They will not change nor be in conflict. All of them point to one goal, and one you can attain. Your plan may be impossible, but God's can never fail because He is its Source.
Do as His Voice directs. And if it asks a thing of you that seems impossible, remember Who it is that asks and who would make denial. Then consider this—which is more likely to be right? The Voice that speaks for the Creator of all things Who knows all things exactly as they are, or a distorted image of yourself, confused, bewildered, inconsistent and unsure of everything? Let not its voice direct you. Hear instead a certain Voice Which tells you of a function given you by your Creator, Who remembers you and urges that you now remember Him.
His gentle Voice is calling from the known to the unknowing. He would comfort you, although He knows no sorrow. He would make a restitution, though He is complete; a gift to you, although He knows that you have everything already. He has Thoughts which answer every need His Son perceives, although He sees them not. For Love must give, and what is given in His Name takes on the form most useful in a world of form.
These are the forms which never can deceive, although they come from Formlessness Itself. Forgiveness is an earthly form of love which as it is in Heaven has no form. Yet what is needed here is given here as it is needed. In this form, you can fulfil your function even here, although what love will mean to you when formlessness has been restored to you is greater still. Salvation of the world depends on you who can forgive. Such is your function here.
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Salvation of the world depends on me.
Clearly, to our minds, the idea that the
"Salvation of the world depends on me
" (W.186) sounds more than a little arrogant. Yet Jesus says that it is not a statement of arrogance at all. In fact,
"Here is the statement that will one day take all arrogance away from every mind
." (W.186.1.1) And this is because acceptance of the statement undoes the thought of separation. We believe that we have separated from God, but it is an arrogant belief that we are holding in the mind because it is not the truth. It is the belief that we have made ourselves and our bodies and that we are living in the world and in a state of separation from God. When we humbly accept that we have been wrong about all of this, we become willing to learn our true reality. We learn what we are in truth through the undoing of specialness. We can only know our holiness by forgiving our specialness. And by being willing to look honestly at our roles and concepts of who we think we are and bringing them to the light of truth, we come to know the Self we are. Each healed mind saves the world because God's Son is One and the world is saved as the separation that gave rise to it is undone.
We all share the same function of forgiveness, but the forms will be different for each of us. The people and events in our lives are part of our script, and they play various roles in our lives so we can learn to forgive. While the forms vary for each of us, the content of forgiveness is the same for all of us. We have been mistaken about ourselves and have identified with the ego. Now the concepts associated with the ego and the roles we play can be released through forgiveness.
The ego, though it is nothing but a thought, seems powerful to us. We think it is almost impossible to set it aside. Jesus tells us,
"The means are given us by which it
[our function of forgiveness]
will be perfectly accomplished."
(W.186.2.4) Thus, while we think the challenge is too big for us, Jesus assures us that we can learn what he is teaching us. Our arrogance prevents us from accepting this belief. Each of us who heals our mind heals the Sonship because there is just One Mind.
We resist our function, as it is an affront to the image of ourselves that we think we are. Yet Jesus suggests,
"Let us not fight our function. We did not establish it. It is not our idea."
(W.186.2.2-3) To surrender all of this to God requires
(W.186.2.5) and to deny that we are worthy of undertaking what has been assigned to us is arrogance. It is not up to us to be the judge of our worthiness. This Lesson reminds us that the truth is already fully present in our minds, and we are worthy because of who we are as God's Son. Thus,
"Our minds are suited perfectly to take the part assigned to us by One Who knows us well."
In our arrogance, we try to deny this by thinking that we are too small to undertake what is being asked of us. We feel unworthy of the task, or alternatively, we believe that the ego is too enormous and too difficult to set aside. This keeps us believing that the Course is too difficult to learn. We often have a lot of fear and resistance to undoing our investment in the separate self.
"All false humility we lay aside today, that we may listen to God's Voice reveal to us what He would have us do."
(W.186.4.1) When we listen to our own voice, we feel inadequate and unworthy. Through forgiveness, we learn that the light of Christ is in us, so there is nothing to seek. The world is saved because there is no world. When the mind accepts the truth through the process of forgiveness, the world disappears. The world was established through our decision to separate, so when separation is undone, the world is undone.
As long as we are still here, there is work to be done. It is to release our plans and accept the plan we did not make. Our plans all involve maintaining the ego by seeing guilt and sin in the world and seeing ourselves as innocent victims. Now we are asked to look at what we are thinking and believing and recognize how it brings us pain. Jesus asks us to look honestly at our lives and assess our experiences here. He asks us to recognize how miserable we are and reminds us that we have another choice, which is to accept the Correction (Atonement) already in our minds. We do this by bringing our thoughts and perspectives to the Holy Spirit in our minds. It requires that we look at what we have chosen without judging ourselves for the choices we have made. We are not the ones to fix ourselves, as we created the problem. Only willingness is required to give the problem over to the Holy Spirit. He is the healer in our minds. We cannot do it without the power of His Holiness.
We all struggle with feelings of unworthiness, but again and again, we are assured of what we are. Jesus is not asking too much of us. When I am relying on my own strength, I do not feel up to what I am called to do, whether in writing these Course commentaries, facilitating the Course groups, or knowing how to respond to a difficult situation in any moment. I find myself fearful of judgment, and I will sometimes look for a way not to undertake what is mine to do. Inadequacy shows up in numerous ways. I compare myself as not as brilliant, not as enlightened, and not as insightful as others. Clearly, the ego is keeping me in fear of my function. It is a function given me by God, and now Jesus tells me,
"Accept the plan you did not make."
(W.186.5.2) He wants me to do this, instead of clinging to my own plan, which is to prove that the false is true. Jesus tells us that this is the only way we will be released from our own self-imposed imprisonment. (W.186.5.1) What keeps us imprisoned is our insistence on the reality of our experience here.
Our plan miscreated a world where we project our sin and guilt onto others and make them responsible for our pain. This can all be undone when we are ready to look on what we have made and choose to take responsibility for our decisions. The choice is always in front of us in every situation---to choose Heaven or hell, the problem or the Answer. It requires that we surrender our way, recognizing that we have been wrong about everything we think and believe. It is to step into our greatness by fully undertaking our function. Yes, fear will arise when we do not feel up to our function and when we insist that we are not what Jesus assures us we are. Jesus urges us not to take these thoughts seriously. Yes, doubts and feelings of inadequacy will come up, yet we can dismiss such foolish thoughts.
"We do not doubt our adequacy for the function He will offer us. We will be certain only that He knows our strengths, our wisdom and our holiness. And if He deems us worthy, so we are. It is but arrogance that judges otherwise."
We each have a function in form based on our strengths and skills and talents, but again, the content is always the same. The content is forgiveness and the function is to follow the Teacher and Guide Who is outside of this dream that we are dreaming. What we are given to do in this world is to love:
"For Love must give, and what is given in His Name takes on the form most useful in a world of form."
(W.186.13.5) Whatever we are called to do in the world, the function we all share is still forgiveness.
"Forgiveness is an earthly form of love, which as it is in Heaven has no form. Yet what is needed here is given here as it is needed. In this form you can fulfill your function even here, although what love will mean to you when formlessness has been restored to you is greater still."
Forgiveness is what takes us beyond words to an experience where the plan that we established is questioned. Our plan was to make others responsible for our condition and to prove that the false is true. Our plan is to be in control of our own lives. The ego tells us to hold grievances, attack others, serve our special needs, make others responsible for our pain, and see ourselves as the innocent victims of what others have done. To open to a new experience of transcendence, we must let go of the thoughts, the roles, and the self-concepts that we see as the truth about ourselves. Jesus tells us that we have the strength. We are not weak and helpless. No matter what we think about ourselves, nothing can change the truth. We are holy, and misery cannot touch this holy home where we abide. We will not know this until the work of undoing the false is complete, but we must be gentle with ourselves, as it is a process. Forgiveness does not require us to achieve healing any faster than we are prepared to go, and if we choose to delay, it is not a sin.
To accept the image of who we think we are is to accept instability.
"Our self-made roles are shifting, and they seem to change from mourner to ecstatic bliss of love and loving. We can laugh or weep, and greet the day with welcome or with tears. Our very being seems to change as we experience a thousand shifts in mood, and our emotions raise us high indeed, or dash us to the ground in hopelessness."
(W.186.8.3-5) Jesus assures us that this instability is not our reality. We are, indeed, changeless. We are consistently loved and loving. How is this possible when, much of the time, I see myself other than that? We are assured that since this world is just a dream, nothing we have done has had any real effects on anyone.
"All the images His Son appears to make have no effect on what he is. They blow across his mind like wind-swept leaves that form a patterning an instant, break apart to group again, and scamper off. Or like mirages seen above a desert, rising from the dust."
(W.186.9.4-6) When we awaken from the dream, these images will seem no more real than when we awaken from our night-time dreams that seem so real when we are dreaming them.
Letting go of the images that we have made allows the experience of truth to rush in. There is no room for this in the "I know" mind. We need to clear the slate for the Holy Spirit. The slate is now so crowded with thoughts and occupied with our plans that there is no place for silence. Only in the silence can truth enter. There is still an attraction to misery, shame, secrets, and dramas of all kinds in our lives. The reward the ego gets for its self-inflicted pain is that it reinforces the idea of victimhood, which the ego relishes. We would give it all up if there were no juice in our story and no victory for the conqueror nor the victim. Does such a thought arouse anger or defensiveness? This Lesson says,
"And as He speaks, the image trembles and seeks to attack the threat it does not know, sensing its basis crumble."
Yes, we are afraid that if we let it go, we will be left in shambles. The part of the mind that identifies with the ego senses the threat and is terrified. Our thousand shifting moods tell us how unstable our foundation really is. This image of ourselves that we identify with is a pile of dust. It knows nothing of the Son of God. When we say we cannot undertake the function that we have been given, we are speaking from the image because the truth is that we are perfectly suited to undertake whatever we are called to do. We are called to follow our prompts and step into our function fully. When we undertake it, our true Self breaks through the image and shows us a glimpse of our true nature.
It is appealing to think about exchanging our conflicting, uncertain, ambiguous, and changing goals for the new and fresh experience of constancy and certainty. In our ego identity, there is no constancy. We shift from one thing to another and our lives are filled with ambiguity, uncertainty, impermanence, and vagueness. There is nothing appealing about living in uncertainty and doubt.
"The functions which the world esteems are so uncertain that they change ten times an hour at their most secure."
(W.186.10.4) Can you see this in your own life, as you go from one thing to another, checking out the computer, planning dinner, watering the plants, paying bills, washing the car, and undertaking the business of the day? At ten times an hour, he considers this secure! Chances are that if we monitored our activity in an hour, we are perhaps changing our functions as much as thirty times an hour!
"What hope of gain can rest on goals like this?"
(W.186.10.5) When we recognize that we have been wrong and that our Teacher is right, we can accept His plan and function, which reflects the perfect unity of the Self we are. It does not mean that we don’t do things in the world, but it does mean that we always ask first so we can be guided in what we are doing and which mindset with which we do it.
God gives us a purpose. Our lives are not to be just a list of shifting, playful, or work-focused activities that the world esteems. We are being called to a purpose-driven life. Unlike our own shifting functions, what He assigns us
". . . stands out clear and wholly unambiguous,"
(W.186.11.1). Jesus assures us, we can attain the function given us. We are literally given a command,
"Do as God's Voice directs. And if It asks a thing of you which seems impossible, remember Who it is that asks, and who would make denial."
(W.186.12.1‑2) Who is likely to be right? God or me? What does this confused image of me really know? Can it ever get anything right? Can it ever know everything to ensure total success when it is indeed
"a distorted image . . . bewildered, inconsistent and unsure of everything?"
(W.186.12.4) We have tried to take the power unto ourselves and claim ourselves to be God, manifesting what we think we want, but can this image manifest anything, coming from this bewildered, uncertain state? Does it know what will bring it happiness? Would it not be better to attend to this Lesson, willingly admitting that we do not know our own best interests and allowing ourselves to trust the One Who does Know? He wants to offer us our function, and He has provided the means for us to achieve it, assuring us that we cannot fail.
Our particular, specific relationships in the world have been given us as our curriculum so we can be restored to Heaven. As we practice forgiveness, we are surrendering our way of seeing and understanding and demonstrating a willingness to be taught. As the image is being undone, we experience fear and feelings of inadequacy, but we rely not on our own adequacy.
"It comes from One Who knows no error, and His Voice is certain of Its messages. They will not change, nor be in conflict. All of them point to one goal, and one you can attain."
(W.186.11.3-5) There can be no failure with God. Thus, our single-minded purpose is what unifies our goals. We are called now to listen and to
"Do as God's Voice directs."
(W.186.12.1) We will be uncertain at times and wonder if we are up to what we are being called to do, but Jesus asks us to
"remember Who it is that asks, and who would make denial."
Love and blessings, Sarah
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