"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
Course in Miracles
PAUSED FOR WEEKEND
Beyond the Body
V. Obstacles to Peace
a. The First Obstacle: The Desire to Get Rid of It
The first obstacle that peace must flow across is your desire to get
of it. For it cannot extend unless you
it. You are the center from which it radiates outward to call the others in. You are its home, its tranquil dwelling-place from which it gently reaches out but never leaving you. If you would make it homeless, how can it abide within the Son of God? If it would spread across the whole creation, it must begin with you and from you reach to everyone who calls and bring him rest by joining you.
Why would you want peace homeless? What do you think that it must dispossess to dwell with you? What seems to be the cost you are so unwilling to pay? The little barrier of sand still stands between you. Would you reinforce it
? You are not asked to let it go for yourselves alone. Christ asks it of you for Himself. He would bring peace to everyone, and how can He do this except through you? Would you let a little bank of sand, a wall of dust, a tiny seeming barrier, stand between your brothers and salvation? And yet, it
this little remnant of attack you cherish still against each other that is the first obstacle the peace in you encounters in its going forth. This little wall of hatred would still oppose the Will of God and keep it limited.
The Holy Spirit's purpose rests in peace within you. Yet you are still unwilling to let it join you wholly. You still oppose the Will of God, just by a little. And that little is a limit you would place upon the whole. God's Will is One, not many. It has no opposition, for there is none beside it. What you would still contain behind your little barrier and keep separate from each other seems mightier than the universe, for it would hold back the universe and its Creator. This little wall would hide the purpose of Heaven and keep it
Would you thrust salvation away from the giver of salvation? For such have you become. Peace could no more depart from you than from God. Fear not this little obstacle. It cannot contain the Will of God. Peace
flow across it and join you without hindrance. Salvation cannot
withheld from you. It is your purpose. You
will apart from this. You have no
apart from each other nor apart from the one you asked the Holy Spirit to share with you. The little wall will fall away so quietly beneath the wings of peace! For peace will send its messengers from you to all the world. And barriers will fall away before their coming as easily as those which you would interpose will be surmounted.
To overcome the world is no more difficult than to surmount your little wall. For in the miracle of your relationship, without this barrier, is every miracle contained. There is no order of difficulty in miracles, for they are all the same. Each is a gentle winning over from the appeal of guilt to the appeal of love. How can this fail to be accomplished, wherever it is undertaken? Guilt can raise no real barriers against it. And all that seems to stand between you must fall away because of the appeal you answered. For from you who answered, He Who answered you would call. His home is in your holy relationship. Do not attempt to stand between Him and His holy purpose, for it is yours. But let Him quietly extend the miracle of your relationship to everyone contained in it, as it was given.
There is a hush in Heaven, a happy expectancy, a little pause of gladness in acknowledgment of the journey's end. For Heaven knows you well, as you know Heaven. No illusions stand between you now. Look not upon the little wall of shadows. The sun has risen over it. How can a shadow keep you from the sun? No more can you be kept by shadows from the light in which illusions end. Every miracle is but the end of an illusion. Such was the journey; such its ending. And in the goal of truth which you accepted must all illusions end.
The little insane wish to get rid of Him Who you invited in and push Him out
produce conflict. As you look upon the world, this little wish, uprooted and floating aimlessly, can land and settle briefly upon anything, for it has no purpose now. Before the Holy Spirit entered to abide with you, it seemed to have a
purpose; the fixed and unchangeable dedication to sin and its results. Now it is aimless, wandering pointlessly, causing no more than tiny interruptions in love's appeal.
This feather of a wish, this tiny illusion, this microscopic remnant of the belief in sin, is all that remains of what once seemed to be the world. It is no longer an unrelenting barrier to peace. Its pointless wandering makes its results appear to be more erratic and unpredictable than before. Yet what could be more unstable than a tightly-organized delusional system? Its seeming stability is its pervasive weakness, which extends to everything. The variability which the little remnant induces merely indicates its limited results.
How mighty can a little feather be before the great wings of truth? Can it oppose an eagle's flight or hinder the advance of summer? Can it interfere with the effects of summer's sun upon a garden covered by the snow? See but how easily this little wisp is lifted up and carried away, never to return, and part with it in gladness, not regret. For it is nothing in itself and stood for nothing when you had greater faith in its protection. Would you not rather greet the summer sun than fix your gaze upon a disappearing snowflake and shiver in remembrance of the winter's cold?
The Attraction of Guilt
The attraction of guilt produces fear of love, for love would never look on guilt at all. It is the nature of love to look upon only the truth, for there it sees itself, with which it would unite in holy union and completion. As love must look past fear, so must fear see love not. For love contains the end of guilt as surely as fear depends on it. [Love is attracted
to love.] Overlooking guilt completely, it sees no fear. Being wholly without attack, it could not be afraid. Fear is attracted to what love sees not, and each believes that what the other looks upon does not exist. Fear looks on guilt with just the same devotion that love looks on itself. And each has messengers which they send forth and which return to them with messages written in the language in which their going forth was asked.
Love's messengers are gently sent and return with messages of love and gentleness. The messengers of fear are harshly ordered to seek out guilt and cherish every scrap of evil and of sin which they can find, losing none of them on pain of death and laying them respectfully before their lord and master. Perception cannot obey two masters, each asking for messages of different things in different languages. What fear would feed upon, love overlooks. What fear demands, love cannot even see.
The fierce attraction which guilt holds for fear is wholly absent from love's gentle perception. What love would look upon is meaningless to fear and quite invisible. Relationships in this world are the result of how the world is seen. And this depends on which emotion was called on to send its messengers to look upon it and return with word of what they saw. Fear's messengers are trained through terror, and they tremble when their master calls upon them to serve him. For fear is merciless even to its friends. Its messengers steal guiltily away in hungry search of guilt, for they are kept cold and starving and made very vicious by their master, who allows them to feast only upon what they return to him. No little shred of guilt escapes their hungry eyes. And in their savage search for sin, they pounce on any living thing they see and carry it screaming to their master to be devoured.
Send not these savage messengers into the world to feast upon it and to prey upon reality. For they will bring you word of bones and skin and flesh. They have been taught to seek for the corruptible and to return with gorges filled with things decayed and rotted. To them such things are beautiful because they seem to allay their savage pangs of hunger. For they are frantic with the pain of fear and would avert the punishment of him who sends them forth by offering him what they hold dear.
The Holy Spirit has given you love's messengers to send instead of those you trained through fear. They are as eager to return to you what they hold dear as are the others. If you send them forth, they will see only the blameless and the beautiful, the gentle and the kind. They will be as careful to let no little act of charity, no tiny expression of forgiveness, no little breath of love escape their notice. And they will return with all the happy things they found, to share them lovingly with you. Be not afraid of
. They offer you salvation. Theirs are the messages of safety, for they see the world as kind.
If you send forth only the messengers the Holy Spirit gives you, wanting no messages but theirs, you will see fear no more. The world will be transformed before your sight, cleansed of all guilt and softly brushed with beauty. The world contains no fear which you laid not upon it. And none you cannot ask love's messengers to remove from it and see it still. The Holy Spirit has given you His messengers to send to each other and return to each with what love sees. They have been given to replace the hungry dogs of fear you sent instead. And they go forth to signify the
Love, too, would set a feast before you on a table covered with a spotless cloth, set in a quiet garden where no sound but singing and a softly joyous whispering is ever heard. This is a feast which honors your holy relationship and at which everyone is welcomed as an honored guest. And in a holy instant, grace is said by everyone together as they join in gentleness before the table of communion. And I will join you there, as long ago I promised and promise still. For in your new relationship am I made welcome. And where I am made welcome, there
I am made welcome in the state of grace, which means you have at last forgiven me. For I became the symbol of your sin, and so I had to die instead of you. To the ego sin means death, and so Atonement is achieved through murder. Salvation is looked upon as a way by which the Son of God was killed instead of you.
Yet would I offer you my body, you whom I love,
its littleness? Or would I teach that bodies cannot keep us apart? Mine was no greater value than yours; no better means for communication of salvation, but not its Source. No one can die for anyone, and death does not atone for sin. Yet you can live to show it is not real. The body does appear to be the symbol of sin while you believe that it can get you what you want. While you believe that it can give you pleasure, you will also believe that it can bring you pain.
To think you could be satisfied and happy with so little is to hurt yourself, and to limit the happiness that you would have calls upon pain to fill your meager store and make your lives complete. This
completion, as the ego sees it. For guilt creeps in where happiness has been removed and substitutes for it. Communion is another kind of completion which goes beyond guilt because it goes beyond the body.
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A Course in Miracles
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.
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.
These practice sessions, like our last review, are centered round a central theme with which we start and end each lesson. It is this:
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.
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.
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.
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.
When you are tempted, hasten to proclaim your freedom from temptation as you say:
This thought I do not want. I choose instead….
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.
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 216 Review VI
 It can be but myself I crucify.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.
It is not difficult to get that when we attack, we suffer, but it is much more difficult to really live it every day, especially when we experience any kind of perceived attack and feel justified in retaliating. Notice how easy it is to see flaws and what seem to be idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies in others and to use these to judge and criticize. Yet it is precisely what we do not like in ourselves that we condemn in others. The solution is, of course,
"If I attack, I suffer. But if I forgive, salvation will be given me."
(W.216.2.4) Forgiveness in the Course is always about remembering that the lesson is always our own. Everything comes from our own minds. We are the dreamers of our own dream. We are judging something in a brother that we have not forgiven in ourselves. Our brother can truly be an effective mirror for our own mind if we are willing to take responsibility for what we see in him as a projection of our own perceived deficiencies and self-attacks.
Now, if you look closely at the wording of this Lesson, you will see that it speaks entirely about what we are doing to ourselves. When I get upset with someone, I find it helpful to see that there is no "other." What I am seeing in anyone is entirely in my own mind. I can only be affected by the situations and behaviors of others attacking me if I give them the power to hurt me. Seeing ourselves as victimized by others is the way the ego set it all up so we can justify our attacks and deem ourselves innocent in the face of their attack. When we forgive, by seeing that we are responsible for our own pain, we see that in truth no one has done anything. Yes, in the dream, something seems to have happened. but the cause is only in our own minds.
Others are just playing out the script we have written for them. It is as if they are reading their lines from a teleprompter, and these lines have been determined by us. This probably feels like quite a stretch, but it is very helpful in remembering that their response to us, which may look like an attack, is actually orchestrated by our own minds for our own awakening. We are not the victims of the world we see.
Jesus asks us to be wary of the idea that we can be unfairly treated.
"Unfairness and attack are one mistake, so firmly joined that where one is perceived the other must be seen. You cannot be unfairly treated. The belief you are is but another form of the idea you are deprived by someone not yourself."
(T.26.X.3.1-3) (ACIM OE T.26.XI.87) Our brothers have simply revealed the pain and unhealed aspects of our own minds. This pain must be brought forth for healing. Because they have revealed it to us, they are actually our saviors. If we forgive, salvation will be given us, and what is salvation but to know our own innocence, joy, and happiness. We cannot know this when we attack.
"What we give, we receive" is a law that works one hundred percent of the time. There are no exceptions to it. I can think I am hurting you and maintaining my innocence, but this is the lie of the ego, which tells us we can get rid of our guilt by projecting it onto others. Anytime we hurt anyone or try to gain at our brother’s expense, we will suffer. We cannot escape the reality that what we do to others we are actually doing to ourselves. The ego tells us that when we project guilt, we are free of it. What it does not tell us is that this is precisely how we keep it.
The golden rule says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In other words, what you give, you receive. It seems like there is a choice of what to give. The choice is to offer love to our brothers, or to withhold it from them. However, there is no wiggle room with this law. What I give, I receive. It is an immutable law. When I cause pain, I will feel pain in return. How it shows up is that I suffer guilt and believe that I deserve punishment, and thus I draw it into my life. The difficult events of our lives are based on the belief that we have them coming to us because of our attacks on others.
All attack is meant to hurt. We can say we did not mean it, but we are just lying to ourselves. We actually attack because we want to. That is why watching our mind takes discipline, vigilance, and the courage to be very honest with ourselves. It requires we look openly at our intentions and see where we try to get from others, using them for our personal gain. What we are doing in these situations is always hurting ourselves while serving our specialness. I cannot think of anything that undoes the ego more readily than to take this law very seriously and use every opportunity to look at our defenses and take responsibility for our projections. When we are not being kind, forgiveness is called for. We forgive as soon as we see that we have tried to gain at our brother's expense.
Any negative thought we have about anyone can immediately be dispelled by sincerely applying the Lesson. Application of the Lesson must become a habit that we over-learn, as it is not generally our immediate reaction to a difficult situation.
"The ego always speaks first"
(T.5.VI.3.5) (ACIM OE T.5.VIII.73) means the ego will be the first to give us its interpretation of any situation. Thus, our response today is:
"This thought I do not want. I choose instead____,"
"If I forgive, salvation will be given me."
"This thought I do not want. I choose instead___,"
"It can be but myself I crucify."
(W.216.1.1) Or, use a version that works for you so it will be meaningful to you. This is not just rote repetition of these words. Words are powerful, but only when we connect with them deeply and with sincerity and conviction.
If what I am doing brings me suffering, I have another opportunity today to recognize---I can experience peace instead of this. Would you not be highly motivated to change your thoughts and behaviors if you truly believed in this law? You would want to do this out of your own self-interest. If I were thinking of shooting an arrow at you that would land in my own heart, I would be highly motivated not to make that attack on you. Thus, the Lesson affirms that this is exactly what happens, except the forms may change in which of our attacks come back at us.
If I blame you, I may find my car breaks down as my form of self-punishment, or I may lose my job, or I may get sick. We draw all these experiences to ourselves for a purpose. They are all there to remind us that, as we forgive, the world looks more and more benign to us, regardless of what problems seem to be there. We are then able to see beyond the events and accept them as part of our classroom, rather than resist and see them as bringing us punishment and more suffering.
There are many ways we attack our brothers. We may even find ourselves using the metaphysics of the Course to make the other person wrong. We may try to correct them, judge, or critique them in the belief that we are being helpful. Yet when we step aside and place the Holy Spirit in charge, only then is peace possible, but we need to be gentle with ourselves in this process. We have believed for a very long time that the cause of our distress is outside of our own minds. Changing our minds about this belief requires a lot of vigilance and discipline. Jesus is helping us to realize that everything is coming from our minds and not from hostile elements in the world or as a result of the condition of the body. This is all part of the ego's strategy to keep us mindless.
When we discover the murderer is within, it can induce a lot of guilt; and when we feel guilty, we find ways to punish ourselves.
"For the ego does want to kill you, and if you identify with it you must believe its goal is yours."
(T.13.II.5.6) (ACIM OE T.12.II.5) In Lesson 196,
"It can be but myself I crucify,"
Jesus says that our attacks on others in the name of self-defense lead to our fear of crucifixion at the hands of God and the world. As Lesson 198 reminds us,
"Only my condemnation injures me. Only my own forgiveness sets me free."
It is helpful to remember in this regard,
"Everyone makes an ego or a self for himself, which is subject to enormous variation because of its instability. He also makes an ego for everyone else he perceives, which is equally variable. Their interaction is a process that alters both, because they were not made by or with the Unalterable
. It is important to realize that this alteration can and does occur as readily when the interaction takes place in the mind as when it involves physical proximity. Thinking about another ego is as effective in changing relative perception as is physical interaction. There could be no better example that the ego is only an idea and not a fact."
(T.4.II.2.1-6) (ACIM OE T.4.III.25)
How does this relate to today's Lesson? Well, we all play the game of separation and the game of hurt. We have called into our experience all the characters that show up in our play, as well as those who play the roles of our friends and enemies. We are like children playing this game, but we have forgotten that it is a silly game and now we take it all seriously. Yet, we can stand back and laugh at it all. Our thoughts about it hurt us when we take it seriously. We can heal this hurt by asking for help to forgive our thoughts, even if we don't do it in a tangible way, or in proximity to those who have seemingly hurt us. We can do it just in our own thoughts alone, and we can do it by forgoing our desire to crucify our brothers, or to try to get for ourselves at their expense. When we forgive, we see we are all the same. We share the same ego, albeit with different life circumstances, and we share One Self.
Love and blessings, Sarah
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