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

CHAPTER 18
The Dream and the Reality

IX. The Purpose of the Body

71 It is only the awareness of the body that makes love seem limited. For the body is a limit on love. The belief in limited love was its origin, and it was made to limit the unlimited. Think not that this is merely allegorical, for it was made to limit you . Can you who see yourselves within a body know yourself as an idea? Everything you recognize you identify with externals, something outside itself. You cannot even think of God without a body or some form you think you recognize.

72 The body cannot know . And while you limit your awareness to its tiny senses, you will not see the grandeur which surrounds you. God cannot come into a body, nor can you join Him there. Limits on love will always seem to shut Him out and to keep you apart from Him. The body is a tiny fence around a little part of a glorious and complete idea. It draws a circle, infinitely small, around a very little segment of Heaven splintered from the whole, proclaiming that within it is your kingdom, where God can enter not.

73 Within this kingdom the ego rules, and cruelly. And to defend this little speck of dust, it bids you fight against the universe. This fragment of your mind is such a tiny part of it that, could you but appreciate the whole, you would see instantly that it is like the smallest sunbeam to the sun or like the faintest ripple on the surface of the ocean. In its amazing arrogance, this tiny sunbeam has decided it is the sun; this almost imperceptible ripple hails itself as the ocean. Think how alone and frightened is this little thought, this infinitesimal illusion, holding itself apart against the universe. The sun becomes the sunbeam's "enemy" which would devour it, and the ocean terrifies the little ripple and wants to swallow it.

74 Yet neither sun nor ocean is even aware of all this strange and meaningless activity. They merely continue, unaware that they are feared and hated by a tiny segment of themselves. Even that segment is not lost to them, for it could not survive apart from them. And what it thinks it is in no way changes its total dependence on them for its being. Its whole existence still remains in them. Without the sun the sunbeam would be gone; the ripple without the ocean is inconceivable.

75 Such is the strange position in which those in a world inhabited by bodies seem to be. Each body seems to house a separate mind, a disconnected thought living alone and in no way joined to the Thought by which it was created. Each tiny fragment seems to be self-contained, needing each other for some things but by no means totally dependent on their one Creator for everything and needing the whole to give them any meaning, for by themselves they do mean nothing. Nor have they any life apart and by themselves.

76 Like to the sun and ocean your Self continues, unmindful that this tiny part regards itself as you. It is not missing; it could not exist if it were separate, nor would the whole be whole without it. It is not a separate kingdom, ruled by an idea of separation from the rest. Nor does a fence surround it, preventing it from joining with the rest and keeping it apart from its Creator. This little aspect is no different from the whole, being continuous with it and at one with it. It leads no separate life because its life is the oneness in which its being was created.

77 Do not accept this little fenced-off aspect as yourself. The sun and ocean are as nothing beside what you are. The sunbeam sparkles only in the sunlight, and the ripple dances as it rests upon the ocean. Yet in neither sun nor ocean is the power that rests in you. Would you remain within your tiny kingdom, a sorry king, a bitter ruler of all he surveys who looks on nothing, yet who would still die to defend it? This little self is not your kingdom. Arched high above it and surrounding it with love is the glorious whole, which offers all its happiness and deep content to every part. The little aspect which you think you set apart is no exception.

78 Love knows no bodies and reaches to everything created like itself. Its total lack of limit is its meaning. It is completely impartial in its giving, encompassing only to preserve and keep complete what it would give. In your tiny kingdom, you have so little! Should it not, then, be there that you would call on love to enter? Look at the desert, dry and unproductive, scorched and joyless, which makes up your little kingdom. And realize the life and joy which love would bring to it from where it comes and where it would return with you.

79 The Thought of God surrounds your little kingdom, waiting at the barrier you built to come inside and shine upon the barren ground. See how life springs up everywhere! The desert becomes a garden, green and deep and quiet, offering rest to those who lost their way and wander in the dust. Give them a place of refuge, prepared by love for them where once a desert was. And everyone you welcome will bring love with him from Heaven for you. They enter one by one into this holy place, but they will not depart as they had come, alone. The love they brought with them will stay with them, as it will stay with you. And under its beneficence, your little garden will expand and reach out to everyone who thirsts for living water but has grown too weary to go on alone.

80 Go out and find them, for they bring your Self with them. And lead them gently to your quiet garden and receive their blessing there. So will it grow and stretch across the desert, leaving no lonely little kingdoms locked away from love and leaving you inside. And you will recognize yourself and see your little garden gently transformed into the Kingdom of Heaven with all the love of its Creator shining upon it. The holy instant is your invitation to love, to enter into your bleak and joyless kingdom, and to transform it into a garden of peace and welcome.

81 Love's answer is inevitable. It will come because you came without the body and interposed no barriers which would interfere with its glad coming. In the holy instant, you ask of love only what it offers everyone, neither less nor more. Asking for everything, you will receive it. And your shining Self will lift the tiny aspect which you tried to hide from Heaven straight into Heaven. No part of love calls on the whole in vain. No Son of God remains outside His Fatherhood.

82 Be sure of this—love has entered your special relationship and entered fully at your weak request. You do not recognize that love has come because you have not yet let go of all the barriers you hold against each other. And you will not be able to give love welcome separately. You could no more know God alone than He knows you without your brother. But together you could no more be unaware of love than love could know you not or fail to recognize itself in you.

83 You have reached the end of an ancient journey, not realizing yet that it is over. You are still worn and tired and the desert's dust still seems to cloud your eyes and keep you sightless. Yet He Whom you welcomed has come to you and would welcome you. He has waited long to give you this. Receive it now of Him, for He would have you know Him. Only a little wall of dust still stands between you. Blow on it lightly and with happy laughter, and it will fall away. And walk into the garden love has prepared for both of you.

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Part I
Review VI

1 For this review, we take but one idea each day and practice it as often as is possible. Besides the time you give morning and evening, which should not be less than 15 minutes, and the hourly remembrances you make throughout the day, use the idea as often as you can between them. Each of these ideas alone would be sufficient for salvation, if it were learned truly. Each would be enough to give release to you and to the world from every form of bondage and invite the memory of God to come again.

2 With this in mind, we start our practicing in which we carefully review the thoughts the Holy Spirit has bestowed on us in our last 20 lessons. Each contains the whole curriculum if understood, practiced, accepted, and applied to all the seeming happenings throughout the day. One is enough. But for that one, there must be no exceptions made. And so we need to use them all and let them blend as one, as each contributes to the whole we learn.

3 These practice sessions, like our last review, are centered round a central theme with which we start and end each lesson. It is this:

4 I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.

5 The day begins and ends with this. And we repeat it every time the hour strikes or we remember in between we have a function that transcends the world we see. Beyond this and a repetition of the special thought we practice for the day, no form of exercise is urged except a deep relinquishment of everything that clutters up the mind and makes it deaf to reason, sanity, and simple truth.

6 We will attempt to get beyond all words and special forms of practicing for this review. For we attempt this time to reach a quickened pace along a shorter path to the serenity and peace of God. We merely close our eyes and then forget all that we thought we knew and understood. For thus is freedom given us from all we did not know and failed to understand.

7 There is but one exception to this lack of structuring. Permit no idle thought to go unchallenged. If you notice one, deny its hold and hasten to assure your mind that this is not what it would have. Then gently let the thought which you denied be given up in sure and quick exchange for the idea you practice for the day.

8 When you are tempted, hasten to proclaim your freedom from temptation as you say:

9 This thought I do not want. I choose instead….

10 And then repeat the idea for the day, and let it take the place of what you thought. Beyond such special applications of each day's idea, we will add but a few formal expressions or specific thoughts to aid your practicing. Instead we give these times of quiet to the Teacher Who instructs in quiet, speaks of peace, and gives our thoughts whatever meaning they may have.

11 To Him I offer this review for you. I place you in His charge and let Him teach you what to do and say and think each time you turn to Him. He will not fail to be available to you each time you call to Him to help you. Let us offer Him the whole review we now begin, and let us also not forget to Whom it has been given as we practice day by day, advancing toward the goal He set for us, allowing Him to teach us how to go, and trusting Him completely for the way each practice period can best become a loving gift of freedom to the world.

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Lesson 207
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.

[187] I bless the world because I bless myself.

1 God's blessing shines upon me from within my heart where He abides. I need but turn to Him, and every sorrow melts away as I accept His boundless Love for me.

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Lesson 207 Review VI
[187] I bless the world because I bless myself.

I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.

The prayer in this Lesson says, "God's blessing shines upon me from within my heart, where He abides." (W.207.1.2) If God's blessing shines from within my heart, nothing in this world of form needs to change for me to experience God's blessing. It is there within me all the time. Nothing needs to be different in the world for me to know I am blessed. Anything I expect, think I want, or need, is not where the blessing comes from. It is already within me. We think it is about getting something we want, but the ego is all about seeking and never finding. Until we realize that nothing outside of us can bring happiness, we will not give up the search and will blame conditions and situations for our lack of peace.
 
In Chapter 18.1, "The Substitute Reality," (T.18.I) (ACIM T.18. I.IN) we learn that because of our fear of God (Love) and the truth of our reality, we have substituted the dream or the illusion for the truth of what we are. There is only this one substitution, but it has taken many forms. It is just the one error where we chose to separate from the love we are. Everything we see in this world of form, including our belief in time, space, and death, is all a result of that one error. This is how our world of unreality emerged, where we no longer see beyond it to the eternal truth. The truth, like the sun behind the clouds, is always shining. It is always there behind the seemingly thick veil of illusion. The veil actually has no substance at all, but we believe it is literally impenetrable because our senses bring us evidence to prove that what we see and experience is real.
 
The knowledge of Heaven seems to be shattered into billions of bits of perception, no longer one whole but all disconnected. We look out at this world and see all the forms instead of what is behind the veil, which is our reality. All our thoughts are projected onto this veil. What we see are just images, held in our minds and projected onto the screen. We think these images are real, yet they have no substance. The only thing real is our eternal, unlimited Self. When we look at our projections honestly, without defending them or justifying them, we can bring them to the healing light of the Holy Spirit. Defending our misperceptions keeps them in the dark, and they become our conditioned responses to everything we see. Our reactions are based on our interpretations, but they have no substance. We are called to look at our reactions and recognize that we have another choice. When we look at the workings of the ego mind, we can choose against it. We can turn to the Holy Spirit and ask for His interpretation of every situation we encounter. His interpretation will always be some form of the idea---God’s Son is innocent.
 
The process of forgiveness requires that we stay very attentive to our thoughts and feelings and take full responsibility for them. This calls for consistent mind watching. In Chapter 30, "Rules for Decision," (T.30.I) (ACIM OE T.30.II) Jesus provides us with a restorative for the times when we are not feeling peace. We start by admitting, "At least I can decide I do not like what I feel now." (T.30.I.8.2) (ACIM OE T.30.II.16) This paves the way for an opening to the truth, "And so I hope I have been wrong." (T.30.I.9.2) (ACIM OE T.30.II.19) Now space is opened up in our minds, as we are willing to be shown another way. We open to the possibility that perhaps there might be another way to perceive a situation or event in our lives that has upset or disturbed us. Instead of insisting that I am right and making a case for my way of perceiving, I have now made room for another way to see the person or situation.
 
Do I want to be right if it only brings me pain, or would I rather change my mind and be happy? What can I lose by trying another way? I want another way to look at this because I want to feel peaceful. Thus, I open my mind to receive help from the Holy Spirit. I become willing to be taught another way. The ego will certainly create resistance, but happiness is now a bigger motivator for me than insisting that I am right. I have experienced the contrast that comes from stubbornly holding onto my perspective, versus releasing it to the Holy Spirit. My way brings more pain, distress, loneliness, and separation while choosing to forgive brings peace. Would you rather be right about the way you have set things up or be happy?
 
"And turn you to the stately calm within, where in holy stillness dwells the living God you never left, and Who never left you." (T.18.I.8.2) (ACIM OE T.18.II.8) We will never find this stately calm in the world. Only in the stillness within will we connect to the unlimited Self we are. As we read in "The Real Alternative," (T.31.IV) (ACIM T.31.IV) we have taken many roads to nowhere. Jesus says, "There is a tendency to think the world can offer consolation and escape from problems that its purpose is to keep. Why should this be? Because it is a place where choice among illusions seems to be the only choice." (T.31.IV.1.1-3) (ACIM OE T.31.IV.33) This will take us nowhere until we take the only road that will lead us out.
 
Jesus says, "Real choice is no illusion." (T.31.IV.2.1) (ACIM OE T.31. IV.34) He says the time will come when all of us will see this. He encourages us to "Learn now, without despair, there is no hope of answer in the world." (T.31.IV.4.3) (ACIM OE T.31.IV.36) When we go within, we see it is where the blessing shines forth. We learn indeed, "There is no road that leads away from Him. A journey from yourself does not exist." (T.31.IV.10.4-5) (ACIM T.31.IV.42) This is such good news. We cannot be what we are not. Yes, we can experience a self that seems to live in this world, still hoping to find answers here, but when we lose hope of ever finding it where it does not exist, we turn within where truth abides. As we accept the blessing from within, we are able to give it; and as we give it, we know it is in us to give.
 
Today, we set our intention for peace. In the quiet of our hearts, we open up to the blessing within the mind. This requires releasing the blocks to love. What are these blocks? They constitute the false self that includes the body, personality and the image of ourselves we hold onto in this dream. We are learning to see the thoughts held in the mind, without taking them personally. Instead of judging ourselves for them, we can remember to laugh. We don't need to believe whatever we are thinking. For example, if I am annoyed at someone, or think someone should do a task a certain way, I can simply remember that I don't know anything. What I think needs to happen is just my idea, based on past conditioning and not the truth. I cannot judge that what they do is wrong. Allow whatever feelings come up around an issue without judging yourself for them. Thus, I can feel anger, guilt, sadness, or distress come up in me and allow it to come without trying to stuff it down because "spiritual people" are not supposed to feel this way. Stuffing down our feelings will not allow healing. We need to allow these feelings to arise so we can see them, which does not mean we should act on them. If we are afraid of our hateful feelings, we will not let them come up. When they are not allowed to be seen, we will not experience their release. The pure, innocent, magnificent, beautiful, eternal Self is always there behind these feelings.
 
When the blocks to the experience of the eternal Self are healed, we bring blessings instead of judgment to our day. And when blessings extend through us, we know that they are in us. Giving and receiving are one in Truth. When I accept the truth for myself, I accept it for everyone because we are One. This place where we are joined is a holy and blessed place. All the lilies of forgiveness and blessings are laid on this holy altar and include what we have given and what has been given to us. Every loving thought is right there. Every gift we have given is laid on that altar.
 
I hold very dear the words from Lesson 161, "Give me your blessing, holy Son of God. I would behold you with the eyes of Christ, and see my perfect sinlessness in you." (W.161.11.7-8) We ask this of our brother so that he may set us free. "Behold him now, whom you have seen as merely flesh and bone, and recognize that Christ has come to you." (W.161.12.3) This is so powerful when we apply it to our brothers. Whenever I am having difficulty with anyone, I try to remember this blessing so I can know my own perfect innocence. When I wish something were different in my relationship with my brother, I cannot be in the flow of acceptance of what is. I have decided to be annoyed instead, and in that decision, I choose the experience of the illusion and all the suffering that accompanies it.
 
Think of someone you resent, are angry with, would rather not see, or are judging and know that in releasing your grievances to the Holy Spirit, you are set free. "I bless the world because I bless myself." (W.187) "Only my condemnation injures me." (W.198) In other words, I am only hurt by the hurt I inflict on others. Nothing real is happening. It is only our own attacks, which are also illusory, coming back to "bite us."
 
In every sorrow I experience, I just need to turn to God, and my sorrows melt away. When we turn outward to find comfort in the world, we are turning away from the Source of comfort, and thus we keep our sorrows. So, today in our meditation, we affirm, "I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me. I bless the world because I bless myself . God's blessing shines upon me from within my heart, where He abides. I need but turn to Him, and every sorrow melts away, as I accept His boundless love for me. " (W.207.1.1-3) Then, in our meditation time, we withdraw our attention from the outward events and situations that bring sorrow, and we move our attention to the center of our being where God's blessing shines from within the heart where He abides. We enter that place of boundless love and bring all sorrow to the Light to be dispelled.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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