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

Forgiveness and Healing

VIII. The Need for Faith

65 There is no problem in any situation that faith will not solve. There is no shift in any aspect of the problem but will make solution impossible. For if you shift part of the problem elsewhere, the meaning of the problem must be lost, and the solution to the problem is inherent in its meaning. Is it not possible that all your problems have been solved, but you have removed yourself from the solution? Yet faith must be where something has been done and where you see it done. A situation is a relationship, being the joining of thoughts. If problems are perceived, it is because the thoughts are judged to be in conflict. But if the goal is truth, this is impossible. Some idea of bodies must have entered, for minds cannot attack.

66 The thought of bodies is the sign of faithlessness, for bodies cannot solve anything. And it is their intrusion on the relationship, an error in your thoughts about the situation, which then becomes the justification for your lack of faith. You will make this error, but be not at all concerned with that. The error does not matter. Faithlessness brought to faith will never interfere with truth. But faithlessness used against truth will always destroy faith. If you lack faith, ask that it be restored where it was lost and seek not to have it made up to you elsewhere as if you had been unjustly deprived of it.

67 Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation. But remember this: the goal of holiness was set for your relationship and not by you. You did not set it because holiness cannot be seen except through faith, and your relationship was not holy because your faith in one another was so limited and little. Your faith must grow to meet the goal that has been set. The goal's reality will call this forth, for you will see that peace and faith will not come separately. What situation can you be in without faith and remain faithful to each other?

68 Every situation in which you find yourself is but a means to meet the purpose set for your relationship. See it as something else, and you are faithless. Use not your faithlessness. Let it enter and look upon it calmly, but do not use it. Faithlessness is the servant of illusion and wholly faithful to its master. Use it and it will carry you straight to illusions. Be tempted not by what it offers you. It interferes not with the goal, but with the value of the goal to you. Accept not the illusion of peace it offers, but look upon its offering and recognize it is illusion.

69 The goal of illusion is as closely tied to faithlessness as faith to truth. If you lack faith in anyone to fulfill, and perfectly, his part in any situation dedicated in advance to truth, your dedication is divided. And so you have been faithless to each other and used your faithlessness against each other. No relationship is holy unless its holiness goes with it everywhere. As holiness and faith go hand in hand, so must its faith go everywhere with it. The goal's reality will call forth and accomplish every miracle needed for its fulfillment. Nothing too small or too enormous, too weak or too compelling, but will be gently turned to its use and purpose. The universe will serve it gladly, as it serves the universe. But do not interfere.

70 The power set in you in whom the Holy Spirit's goal has been established is so far beyond your little conception of the infinite that you have no idea how great the strength that goes with you. And you can use this in perfect safety. Yet for all its might, so great it reaches past the stars and to the universe that lies beyond them, your little faithlessness can make it useless if you would use the faithlessness instead.

71 Yet think on this, and learn the cause of faithlessness: You think you hold against the other what he has done to you. But what you really blame him for is what you did to him . It is not his past but yours you hold against him. And you lack faith in him because of what you were. Yet you are as innocent of what you were as he is. What never was is causeless and is not there to interfere with truth. There is no cause for faithlessness, but there is a Cause for faith. That Cause has entered any situation which shares Its purpose. The light of truth shines from the center of the situation and touches everyone to whom the situation's purpose calls. It calls to everyone. There is no situation which does not involve your whole relationship in every aspect and complete in every part. You can leave nothing of yourself outside it and keep the situation holy. For it shares the purpose of your whole relationship and derives its meaning from it.

72 Enter each situation with the faith that you give to each other, or you are faithless to your own relationship. Your faith will call the others to share your purpose, as this same purpose called forth the faith in you. And you will see the means you once employed to lead you to illusions transformed to means for truth. [Truth calls for faith, and faith makes room for truth .] When the Holy Spirit changed the purpose of your relationship by exchanging yours for His, the goal He placed there was extended to every situation in which you enter or will ever enter. And every situation was thus made free of the past, which would have made it purposeless.

73 You call for faith because of Him Who walks with you in every situation. You are no longer wholly insane, nor no longer alone. For loneliness in God must be a dream. You whose relationship shares the Holy Spirit's goal are set apart from loneliness because the truth has come. Its call for faith is strong. Use not your faithlessness against it, for it calls you to salvation and to peace.

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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 196
It can be but myself I crucify.

1 When this is firmly understood and kept in full awareness, you will not attempt to harm yourself nor make your body slave to vengeance. You will not attack yourself, and you will realize that to attack another is but to attack yourself. You will be free of the insane belief that to attack a brother saves yourself. And you will understand his safety is your own, and in his healing you are healed.

2 Perhaps at first you will not understand how mercy, limitless and with all things held in its sure protection, can be found in the idea we practice for today. It may in fact appear to be a sign that punishment can never be escaped because the ego, under what it sees as threat, is quick to cite the truth to save its lies. Yet must it fail to understand the truth it uses thus. But you can learn to see these foolish applications and deny the meaning they appear to have.

3 Thus do you also teach your mind that you are not an ego. For the ways in which the ego would distort the truth will not deceive you longer. You will not believe you are a body to be crucified. And you will see within today's idea the light of resurrection, looking past all thoughts of crucifixion and of death to thoughts of liberation and of life.

4 Today's idea is one step we take in leading us from bondage to the state of perfect freedom. Let us take this step today that we may quickly go the way salvation shows us, taking every step in its appointed sequence as the mind relinquishes its burdens one by one. It is not time we need for this. It is but willingness. For what would seem to need a thousand years can easily be done in just one instant by the grace of God.

5 The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on others and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross. Perhaps it seemed to be salvation. Yet it merely stood for the belief the fear of God is real. And what is that but hell? Who could believe his Father is his deadly enemy, separate from him and waiting to destroy his life and blot him from the universe, without the fear of hell upon his heart?

6 Such is the form of madness you believe if you accept the fearful thought you can attack another and be free yourself. Until this form is changed, there is no hope. Until you see that this, at least, must be entirely impossible, how could there be escape? The fear of God is real to anyone who thinks this thought is true. And he will not perceive its foolishness nor even see that it is there so that it would be possible to question it.

7 To question it at all, its form must first be changed at least as much as will permit fear of retaliation to abate and the responsibility returned to some extent to you. From there you can at least consider if you want to go along this painful path. Until this shift has been accomplished, you cannot perceive that it is but your thoughts that bring you fear and your deliverance depends on you.

8 Our next steps will be easy if you take this one today. From there we go ahead quite rapidly. For once you understand it is impossible that you be hurt except by your own thoughts, the fear of God must disappear. You do not now believe that fear is caused without. And God, Whom you had thought to banish, can be welcomed back within the holy mind He never left.

9 Salvation's song can certainly be heard in the idea we practice for today. If it can but be you you crucify, you did not hurt the world and need not fear its vengeance and pursuit. Nor need you hide in terror from the deadly fear of God projection hides behind. The thing you dread the most is your salvation. You are strong, and it is strength you want. And you are free and glad of freedom. You have sought to be both weak and bound because you feared your strength and freedom. Yet salvation lies in them.

10 There is an instant in which terror seems to grip your mind so wholly that escape appears quite hopeless. When you realize once and for all that it is you you fear, the mind perceives itself as split. And this had been concealed while you believed attack could be directed outward and returned from outside to within. It seemed to be an enemy outside you had to fear. And thus a god outside yourself became your mortal enemy—the source of fear.

11 Now for an instant is a murderer perceived within you, eager for your death, intent on plotting punishment for you until the time when it can kill at last. Yet in this instant is the time as well in which salvation comes. For fear of God has disappeared. And you can call on Him to save you from illusions in His Love, calling Him Father and yourself His Son. Pray that the instant may be soon—today. Step back from fear and make advance to love.

12 There is no Thought of God that does not go with you to help you reach that instant and to go beyond it quickly, surely, and forever. When the fear of God is gone, there are no obstacles that still remain between you and the holy peace of God. How kind and merciful is the idea we practice! Give it welcome, as you should, for it is your release. It is indeed but you your mind can try to crucify. Yet your redemption, too, will come from you.

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ACIM Edmonton
Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 196
It can be but myself I crucify.

Jesus tells us, it is impossible that anything that happens to us does not come by our own choice. The power of our own decision determines every situation in our lives, but it is important to recognize to whom Jesus is talking. He is not talking to me, Sarah, the self I think I am as the body and personality in this dream. No. He is addressing the decision-making mind. It is the part of the mind that can now choose to reverse the faulty choice to side with the ego because the ego will never undo itself. Thus, we must turn to the power available to us outside of the matrix of this world.
To the ego, attack is necessary for its salvation. It relies on the thought system of "one or the other," meaning that my needs come first. It originated with the attack on God through which we seemed to establish our separate existence. Thus, to the ego thought system, attack means gain. The ego keeps us invested in the idea that we must attack in order to make it in the world. It is invested in this game of attack and tells us that this is what we must do to succeed. "Perhaps it seemed to be salvation." (W.196.5.2) It seems this way to us because we think it is how we achieve protection for ourselves, all the while maintaining we are innocent and have no other choice. To us, it seems like we must continue in this activity of crucifying others in order to gain for ourselves.
This is the way of the world in which the end is death. The ego's system of defense used to maintain itself is to keep us in this prison and the never-ending cycle of birth and death. It is the basis of all our fear; although, we never knew where that fear originated until Jesus showed us how this was all set up. Because we bought the setup, we have the power to change our minds. He is showing us that there is another way. We have a choice. There is a way out. Our initial decision for the ego that took us into this seeming imprisonment can be reversed.
We will continue to follow the dictates of the ego until we see that we gain nothing except more pain and suffering. When we recognize this, we will not want to attack anyone because we will see it is always an attack on ourselves. Only then will we "be free of the insane belief that to attack a brother saves yourself." (W.196.1.3) The fact that our brother's safety is our own (W.196.1.4) is based on the recognition that our brother's freedom, from the prison he has made, is our own freedom because we are One. What we give, we receive. This is the basis for the holy relationship, which undoes all specialness and recognizes our interests are the same.
We are now asked to make room for truth. We do this by withdrawing our investment in the belief that we are victims of the world we see and by taking responsibility for our attack thoughts. The world and body were made so that we would not have to take responsibility for our condition as a separate self. We don't want responsibility for what the ego tells us we have done in attacking God in order to gain our independent self. We feel guilt though we have no idea where it came from. The guilt is intolerable so the ego came up with a solution, which is to make others guilty for how we feel. We project the guilt that is in our own minds onto our brothers and see ourselves unfairly treated. The world was made to shield us from the horror of what the ego says we have done by making others responsible for how we feel and blaming them for our condition. We see the world as an uncaring place that has no concern for us and "where we are badgered ceaselessly and pushed about without a thought or care for us or for our future." (W.195.9.3)
The ego tells us we have committed a horrendous sin in separating from God and now deserve punishment for having killed Him so we can exist. Our guilt is projected in the mistaken belief that we can now be rid of it. When we come to see that we are responsible for stealing our identity from God and He is now our enemy, Jesus says this moment can be terrible. It is a moment of realization that we have been wrong in buying into the ego's myth. "There is an instant in which terror seems to grip your mind so wholly that escape appears quite hopeless." (W.196.10.1) It is the realization that our fear is of ourselves! It is a realization that our own minds are split. It is not my brother who is terrorizing me, but myself.
In this recognition, we see the enemy is never outside of us. We have feared attack from outside where it never was. It was just an attack thought in our own minds. Mind is cause and the world is effect. Our self-attack thoughts are projected onto God, believing He too is outside of us and to be feared. "And thus a god outside yourself became your mortal enemy; the source of fear." (W.196.10.5) Jesus says, "Until this form [thought] is changed, there is no hope." (W.196.6.2) When we give up the idea that God is our enemy, nothing is there to hold the ego thought system in place.
The final obstacle to peace is our fear of God. One way this fear comes to our awareness is when we look at events and circumstances in our lives and wonder why God is bringing these "Lessons" to us, or why He let this tragedy happen, or why He took our loved one away, or why He didn't stop this tragic situation from happening since He is all powerful. It is a belief that somehow God is behind all of the tragic events in the world. It is as if He is getting back at us for what we have done, and he is now bringing all kinds of calamities to punish us. We think somehow God is behind it all, pulling all the strings. We trace back all the forces that seem to be working against us and keeping us in the struggle to forces outside of us, including the most powerful force of all---God.
"Now, for an instant, is a murderer perceived within you, eager for your death, intent on plotting punishment for you until the time when it can kill at last. Yet in this instant is the time as well in which salvation comes. For fear of God has disappeared. And you can call on Him to save you from illusions by His Love, calling Him Father and yourself His Son." (W. 196.11.1-4) Now there is the realization that the ego has sold us a bill of goods. It is all a myth. There is no need for sin if nothing real has happened, and with it, all fear and guilt go as well. It has all been made up by the ego to keep us from changing our allegiance to it because when we do, it is the end of the ego. That is why Jesus lays all of this out so carefully for us, so we can see the ego "dynamics" and recognize their nothingness. We come to see we have not sinned at all, but we have simply been mistaken in choosing the ego. We never left God.
It is through our special relationships, in which healing happens, that we show mercy to our brothers instead of attacking them. "Thus do you also teach your mind that you are not an ego." (W.196.3.1) If you are not an ego, you are also not a body, and you are not this terrible person the ego says you are and that you believe you are. You are no longer willing to listen to the ego's distortions, nor be deceived by its lies. Jesus tells us, "Your mission is very simple. You are asked to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego, and I [Jesus] do not choose God's channels wrongly." (T.4.VI.6.3) (ACIM OE T.4.VII.89)
The ego tells us that we deserve to be crucified and to die. Pay attention to how you crucify yourself and you can see these words are true. Resurrection in the Course is about awakening from the dream of death, but first, we must see it is a dream. We start by seeing that we are responsible for our condition and not our parents, not the education system, not our boss, nor anyone else we may want to blame. When we blame others for our condition, it moves responsibility from ourselves to others. Even if we blame ourselves, there is someone we see as responsible for our condition.
What the ego really wants is our death. It plots punishment for us until it kills us at last. It tricks us into attack on others by telling us it is how we can gain in the world. "The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on others and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross." (W.196.5.1) As we keep the attacks going, we feel more and more guilt, and with guilt comes the belief that we deserve to be punished and ultimately to die. While guilt invites punishment, the ego keeps this out of our awareness by convincing us that attack brings us benefits. The ego needs to keep us invested in its program to keep itself in business because it knows its days are numbered since we can choose against it anytime we decide to withdraw our allegiance.
How willing are you to give up attack? To choose God's grace is to choose to give up attack and to turn to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation of any difficult situation. We can be a happy learner by seeing the opportunity for forgiveness and healing in every situation that shows up in our lives. By giving up our need to be right in how we perceive our brother, we willingly turn to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation. He consistently reminds us of our brother’s innocence and of our own.
It just takes an instant to undo a thousand years. "For what would seem to need a thousand years can easily be done in just one instant by the grace of God." (W.196.4.5) With our practice, "Today's idea is one step we take in leading us from bondage to the state of perfect freedom." (W.196.4.1) When we experience a transition in our journey through these Lessons, we feel the burden of guilt lifted from our lives. This Lesson is a significant step in the direction of our healing. The Lesson that follows is another big step. First, we see that "It can be but myself I crucify," (W.196) and in the Lesson tomorrow, "It can be but my gratitude I earn." (W.197) With each step, our motivation increases, as light dawns on our minds. Our fear is such that we need to take these seemingly small steps in undoing the ego thought system. We need to be gentle and patient with ourselves. The grace of God is always there, but we need to be willing to choose it.
Because nothing really happened by our attacks, there is no need for fear. "If it can but be you you crucify, you did not hurt the world, and need not fear its vengeance and pursuit. Nor need you hide in terror from the deadly fear of God projection hides behind." (W.196.9.2-3) The fearful God we see pursuing us is our own belief in punishment that we have projected onto Him. Behind all of this is our fear of release. We actually fear our salvation. We fear our own strength and our own freedom. Thus, we keep ourselves bound to this ego cycle and keep ourselves small and fearful and make others responsible for our wretchedness, thinking this is how we will escape God's punishment for the separation. "Who me? This weak, ineffectual self? How could I possibly have done all of this? I am innocent. It is my brothers who made me the way I am. I can't help it." It is our greatness we fear. Why? We fear our greatness because then we would have to take responsibility for our lives and accept that no one has done anything to us. Everything that seemed to happen to us is our own choice. It is our release that frightens us the most.
As we learn to acknowledge that only our own thoughts can hurt us, we increasingly withdraw our projections from the world and see that the problem is in our own minds. The problem is no longer outside in the world. We realize that the problem is not in this relationship. It is not about my body. It is not about the money or the boss. It is not in this person who seemed to hurt me. It is only my own thoughts and the interpretation I have given to these events.
The problem is that we don't trust. We don't love. We feel alone, and we feel continually under the threat of things in the world. We grab onto any specialness we can, believing that if we can keep others from messing with our stuff, our peace, and our goals, then we could have some semblance of peace. It is putting the responsibility for our happiness and our peace on events, situations, and circumstances outside of our own minds, thus making us a victim of the world we see. It is the source of all our grievances where we think that if this were different, I would be happy. This brings the inevitability of a cycle of attack and defense. If you believe everyone is trying to take from you, then your defenses and your attacks on others are justified.
It all sounds pretty dark, doesn't it? Well, this Lesson assures us that if we start to question what we have come to accept as true about being at the mercy of the world, and if we take back responsibility for what we see "out there," it is a beginning step in breaking this cycle of sin, guilt, and fear. It is a step toward freedom and a way to get off of this painful path. If we are really honest with ourselves, we will admit to how painful it is. Our only escape from it all is to be vigilant in watching our thoughts and accepting them without defending. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can bring our minds to their natural state of abstract Oneness. It all depends on our willingness to take the required steps. We start to welcome God back, seeing that it is not God that banished us, but it is we that have banished Him by seeing Him as the enemy. The fear comes from our decision to listen to the ego. The ego convinced us that we can only be free on our own and that we must keep escaping the tyranny of God. We have been wrong about everything, and when we accept that, we can make another choice.
When the ego strategy is exposed and we see it for what it is, it will make no sense to keep hurting ourselves. When the plan that the ego has enacted is exposed and released, we are no longer bound by it. It can only operate when it is not in our awareness. We made an alliance with the ego, but as we increasingly see how it causes us pain, we choose to withdraw from its seeming control. The only power it has is what we give it. When we see what is going on, we can do something about it. Until then, we have been mindlessly reacting according to the ego dictates. There is another choice! Take this step today from its bondage.
We have help in this process. It is the Holy Spirit in the right mind. We turn to Him for His interpretation. We lose interest in the ego’s obsessive voice, telling us that we must attack and defend ourselves. Be willing to see that your happiness, contentment, and peace do not come from anything in the world. It is not about any relationship changing or any situation being different than it is. There has never been anyone who can give us our happiness.
Will our healing take long? It is just an instant. We just need to be willing to withdraw our projections as they come up. "It is not time we need for this. It is but willingness." (W.196.4.3-4) We just need to be willing to be very mindful in watching our thoughts and in recognizing their falsity. With desire, willingness, and our heartfelt intent to keep forgiving the world for what it has not done to us, we heal our wrong-minded perceptions. It is all about recognizing the illusory nature of this world by stepping outside of the ego's dream and seeing that it is all an outside picture of our inward condition. "How kind and merciful is the idea we practice! Give it welcome, as you should, for it is your release. It is indeed but you your mind can try to crucify. Yet your redemption, too, will come from you." (W.196.12.3-6)
Love and blessings, Sarah


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