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

Beyond the Body

V. Obstacles to Peace
a. The First Obstacle: The Desire to Get Rid of It

40 The first obstacle that peace must flow across is your desire to get rid of it. For it cannot extend unless you keep 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.

41 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 now ? 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 is 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.

42 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 from Heaven.

43 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 will flow across it and join you without hindrance. Salvation cannot be withheld from you. It is your purpose. You cannot will apart from this. You have no purpose 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.

44 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.

45 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.

46 The little insane wish to get rid of Him Who you invited in and push Him out must 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 mighty 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.

47 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.

48 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

49 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 only 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.

50 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.

51 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.

52 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.

53 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 them . They offer you salvation. Theirs are the messages of safety, for they see the world as kind.

54 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 end of fear.

55 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 .

56 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.

57 Yet would I offer you my body, you whom I love, knowing 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.

58 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 is 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

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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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 217
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.

[197] It can be but my gratitude I earn.

1 Who should give thanks for my salvation but myself? And how but through salvation can I find the Self to Whom my thanks are due?

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ACIM Edmonton
Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 217 Review VI
[197] It can be but my gratitude I earn.

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

Jesus tells us that we open to the love we are by healing everything in our minds that stands in the way of love. Then the love in us extends and flows through us, as we become a vehicle for the Holy Spirit. It is a love without conditions of any kind. Such love is not given erratically, nor is it based on bargaining and reciprocity, where we are happy when our needs are met and unhappy when they are not. Real love never turns to hate. Love is what we are. It is in us and not dependent on anything outside of us. Love is freedom, which is a frightening thought to the ego because to the ego, love is all about control, bargaining, and giving to get. The core of the special relationship is all about this kind of "love." In our special relationships, if we do not get the gratitude and reciprocity we think we deserve for our "gifts" of giving, we get angry and bitter and withdraw our love.
Healing is about clearing the blocks to love’s awareness so we can come to know the truth of what we are. This is achieved when the world is seen as a classroom used for the purpose of healing the blocks to love. We accept the Atonement for ourselves, which is the Correction for the ego’s projected guilt. We willingly give over to the Holy Spirit all that stands in the way of the light and the love that we are. When we come to recognize how the ego set this all up, we need no longer pursue its agenda. Its goal is to keep us mindless so we won’t know we have another choice. The ego has convinced us that salvation comes through attack because our seeming attack on God is how the ego was established in the first place. In our special relationships, we enact this same idea of gaining at someone else's expense. We give to get. Jesus exposes the nature of this kind of giving so we can make another choice.
Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. We have imprisoned ourselves with our own attacks. It is not about forgiving perceived wrongs in someone else, but taking responsibility for our expectations of others. It is about seeing the subtle hooks in our giving, which must be released if we are to truly receive. When we see what the ego is up to, instead of judging ourselves, we can now look at the ego without guilt. With willingness, honesty, and courage, we look at our judgments, our anger, our worry, our sadness, our fantasies of what we think we want or need, our self-concepts, and our beliefs. As we see what was previously hidden from our awareness, we bring it all to the Holy Spirit. What was in the way of love is now quietly released back into the nothingness from which it came.
Our willingness is enhanced when we realize that alignment with the ego will never make us happy. Now we can choose to take responsibility for the unhealed parts of our mind most often triggered in our special relationships. Thus, our relationships are most helpful when used for the purpose of healing our own minds. By consistently turning to the healing power of the Holy Spirit within our own right mind, rather than listening to the voice of the ego in the wrong mind, we come to more consistent peace in our lives.
Every gift we give is given for ourselves, just as every attack we make is made on ourselves. In Lesson 197, Jesus talked about how we demand gratitude from others for the gifts we give. If we do not receive what we want, we withdraw the gift. Yet when a blessing is truly given, not only is it immediately received within the giver, it is also received in the mind of our brother, even if it is not immediately acknowledged. Not only that but God Himself accepts the gifts we give. There is only one mind and that is the Mind of God, where we already are in truth. No matter the form of the gift, when the content is love, we can know we have it in ourselves, as we give it.
Anything we give, when we want something in return, is not a gift. As we read in this review, "Who should give thanks for my salvation but myself? And how but through salvation can I find the Self to Whom my thanks are due?" (W.217.1.2-3) In giving we receive, and ultimately, what we receive are the gifts of joy, peace, innocence, and love. This is really what we can be grateful for because then we have an experience of the Christ Self we are. As we extend love (forgiveness) to our brothers, we receive a blessing for ourselves. We are not bound by the dictates of the ego that demands its due for the gifts it gives. Everything is about reciprocity to the ego. It wants to gain. To the ego, giving seems like a loss. When we identify with the ego, we see our interests as separate from the interests of others and in competition with everyone.
Anything we do in the world to "be nice" to someone is just a conditional aspect of worldly love with the ego as the guide. Having a day that feels good is just a trick of the ego to keep us believing that what happens in the day is the source of our happiness. If we believe there is a "good" and a "bad" way to be, we are caught in the ego world of form. Our function is to realize who we are as unlimited beings. Mind is cause and the world is the effect of our thoughts. We can experience our unbounded Self when we step out of the matrix above the battleground, turn to Holy Spirit, and let ourselves be guided.
It feels insulting and even threatening to the ego identity to be told to give up control and surrender to God’s Will. Surrender may feel like we are losing something and indeed we are. But what we are losing is the tyrant that currently guides our lives. It is mostly a moment-by-moment release. For example, if I am feeling impatient, I can choose to step aside in that moment and observe my feelings instead of acting on them. When someone calls with an invitation, I can stop and ask for guidance, instead of immediately reacting. When I want to voice an opinion, I can step back and be still. My opinions come from my beliefs and take positions based on limited information. When anger shows up, I can remember it is never justified, and I can ask for a miracle. This moment-by-moment surrender takes a level of mind training and discipline that we are not necessarily good at, but with practice, we will get better until the ego no longer dominates our lives.
We read in Text Chapter 18 IV (ACIM OE T.18.V) , "The Little Willingness," about the importance of determination in accepting our holiness. Trying to make ourselves holy is counterproductive. It is not our job to atone first, clean up our minds, or try to make ourselves pure. The issue is that we are the ones that want to be in control, and so we put the ego in charge of our healing. But Jesus reminds us that purification is of God, not something for ourselves to undertake. Willingness and readiness are all that is required of us. "I who am host to God am worthy of Him. He Who established His dwelling place in me created it as He would have it be. It is not needful that I make it ready for Him, but only that I do not interfere with His plan to restore to me my own awareness of my readiness, which is eternal. I need add nothing to His plan. But to receive it, I must be willing not to substitute my own in place of it." (T.18.IV.5.9-13) (ACIM OE T.18.V.37)
The reality is that the false identity has no idea how to love or how to be helpful. The ego is always out to get, rather than to give. My responsibility is to use every event, circumstance, and situation in my life to heal my mind, not to decide how to fix myself. It is not my job to ensure that anyone stays or goes in my life. It is not my job to change the world. It is not for me to make anyone happy. It is not for me to be a people pleaser in order to be liked. My job is only to change my mind about myself and the world. Only in this way can I become a clear channel for His Love. Guidance comes through clearly when egoic interferences are out of the way. We then are able to hear the prompts on where to go, what to say and to whom, and what to do.
Love is the way I walk in gratitude. To know what giving really means, we need to be constantly willing to release attack thoughts. Releasing attack thoughts opens the door to who I am as the Christ Self. As the error in my mind is corrected, I experience the holy instant. By my trying to figure out how to be loving or good to others, I am working on the level of form and not on healing my mind. Being kind, generous, and loving in my terms are all about conditional love because I am determining how that might look in form. We need to get out of our own way. When our own self-attack is healed, everyone is blessed.
Chuck Spezzano, with Psychology of Vision, does healing work based on A Course in Miracles . He recently wrote of a healing that demonstrates the importance of giving up our self-attacking thoughts and beliefs so everyone can receive the blessing we receive. He writes:
"He was so full of self-attack because, though he, himself, was doing great at work, his son was failing at everything he tried. Only recently had his son gotten a normal, although poor-paying, job. His father felt like he was underperforming. His father had discovered that during the marriage with his first wife, she had been having an affair with one of his business associates. It had devastated him. When he got a divorce, it had devastated his son. While he and his wife had happily remarried different partners, his son had never fully recovered. While this man was a great success and admired by his associates, he felt like a failure inside because of his son. Because he was now happily married, it had been fairly easy for him to forgive his ex-wife after the event, but he had never forgiven himself. He was quite adamant in feeling guilt and punishing himself for it. Finally, I shared with him a principle that I learned from A Course in Miracles---attack is not discrete. You may think you are only attacking the person you are attacking but actually, you are attacking everyone. Or as I put it, attack is not a pistol that shoots the one you are aiming at, in this case, himself. Attack is a machine gun that sprays the crowd - including those you love the most. When people realize this, it is the very motivation needed for them to give up attack and replace it with blessing.
"During the Business Workshop, I demonstrated to the CEO just how much stress he was adding to himself by his self-attack. I showed him how the self-attack, because of its magnitude, was generating a vicious circle of guilt, self-attack, and stress in his life. It was only when I showed him that because the self-attack was not discrete, he was now attacking his wife, his son, his ex-wife, all of his friends and work associates when he attacked himself that he was finally motivated to let it all go. He was also motivated to let his guilt go when I was able to show him that the guilt he carried was equal and connected to the guilt his son and ex-wife were carrying. I showed him that if he chose to bless himself he would be able to bless his ex-wife, his wife now and his son also. I set up a simple healing walk in which he at first embraced someone who represented his self-attack so he might integrate all this energy in a positive way. As he did this and was finally able to accept himself, he let out the most heart-rending cry that brought most of the participants of the Business Workshop to tears. He kept crying, 'I didn't know...I didn't know...' He had not realized that he was attacking his son when he attacked himself. He had not known that the guilt he carried kept his son and ex-wife in guilt also. He was finally willing to embrace the healing gift of blessing---desiring the best for another in place of his self-attack. He could then easily bless himself and share this gift of blessing with his son, his wife and his ex-wife."
We see in this example how healing our minds is ours to do, and when we do it, it is a gift to everyone. Opening ourselves up to the healing of our own minds offers us an opportunity to reflect love and offer salvation to everyone and receive Heaven’s thanks.
"What is Heaven but a song of gratitude and love and praise by everything created to the Source of its creation?" (T.26.IV.3.5) (ACIM OE T.26.V.27) "For He would offer you the thanks you give, since He receives your gifts in loving gratitude, and gives them back a thousand and a hundred thousand more than they were given."  (W.123.6.3)
"Let our gratitude unto our Teacher fill our hearts, as we are free to choose our joy instead of pain, our holiness in place of sin, the peace of God instead of conflict, and the light of Heaven for the darkness of the world." (W.190.11.2)
"Give thanks to every part of you that you have taught how to remember you." (T.13.VII.17.8) (ACIM OE T.12.VII.76) As we willingly bring awareness to the barriers we hold against the love we are, we begin to awaken to our reality. Forgiveness is the means given us to heal our self-attacks. Through forgiveness, the ego dissolves. We put our self-attacking thoughts and our judgments on the inner altar where they are healed. In the holy instant, there is a moment of recognition of the truth of ourselves, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude that what we ' ve made of ourselves is not the truth. I am overcome with tears of joy and a thankful heart. Love always trumps hate.

Love and blessings, Sarah


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