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

CHAPTER 19
Beyond the Body

V. Obstacles to Peace
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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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 218
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.

[198] Only my condemnation injures me.

1 My condemnation keeps my vision dark, and through my sightless eyes I cannot see the vision of my glory. Yet today I can behold this glory and be glad.

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Lesson 218 Review VI
[198] Only my condemnation injures me.

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

We have aligned with the ego thought system of sin, guilt, and fear and see ourselves as a separate self, alone in the world, weak and vulnerable. We have become unaware of what we are. With the choice made for the ego, we seemingly crossed a bridge from Oneness into the body and the world. The body and the world are illusions, but to us, they seem so very real because we have no recollection of how we got here. Our experience here will continue to feel very real until we have the experience of the holy instant in which we have a glimpse of the eternal. The bridge built by the ego has been detonated with denial and repression so we have no memory of the decision made by the mind to run away from our reality, as divine beings of light and love. Now, we think of our reality as a body, which is limited, lacking, vulnerable, and destructible.
 
Our decision to listen to the lies of the ego has resulted in tremendous guilt. The ego has convinced us that we have stolen our identity from God, and now we fear that He will come after us. It is not a conscious thought, but it is the origin of the guilt we hold in our wrong minds. However, the ego knows that we will not continue to choose it if it means being overwhelmed with guilt, so it has devised a plan for us to project the guilt and see it in others and blame them for our condition. Thus, we judge others for their guilt, and now we claim innocence for ourselves. When we condemn and blame others, we only experience more guilt, which hurts us. That is the part the ego has kept hidden from us, which is why Jesus goes to great lengths to unveil the ego myth that we have bought into. Once we see it clearly, we will readily dismiss it, as it is the source of all suffering. Jesus shows us that when we condemn our brothers, instead of getting rid of the guilt, we keep it.
 
There are many ways we condemn: through blame, judgment, attack, unsolicited advice-giving, analyzing the motives of others, correcting others, holding grievances and resentments, focusing on the mistakes of others or even our own, using others to meet our needs through our special relationships, holding onto past hurts, getting vengeance on others through our suffering, compensating for our negative beliefs by trying to be nice and kind, abusing ourselves with substance use and other self-indulgent behaviors and similar strategies that keep us bound to the ego.
 
These are examples of some of the ways the ego operates in the world. It is always self-serving, always giving to get, and always seeing differences. Even a feeling of discomfort or anxiety around someone is a self-attack based on self-judgment and self-hatred. Our discomforts are never about anyone else. When we take responsibility and see it all as a projection of our own unhealed thoughts, we can begin the process of choosing against the ego and releasing our wrong-minded thoughts to the Holy Spirit. This requires that we look at them first and recognize that they all come from our own wrong minds and are then projected out. The ego will always focus outward. Our senses were made for this purpose. By looking outside of our own minds, we keep the ego thought system intact and not available for healing. By denying, projecting, and repressing our thoughts, they are kept apart from healing.
 
So what do we do? Our responsibility is to accept the Atonement for ourselves. What does this mean? It means we must take responsibility for our thoughts and recognize that what we have come to believe about ourselves is not the truth. We need to do the work of forgiveness so we can take the steps necessary to return to sanity until we can finally accept our true reality as created by God. How do we do that? We do it by forgiving our thoughts, taking responsibility for them and bringing them to awareness. We do it by being willing to see everything and everyone in our lives as an opportunity to heal ourselves. Everything happening in this illusion is helpful if we choose to see it that way.
 
With everything that comes up in my life, I have a decision to make. Do I use my past learning and apply my own judgments to my situation, or do I turn the whole situation over to the Holy Spirit for a miracle? Do I choose God or the ego? How do I know which choice I have made? If I still feel guilt, fear, and a lack of peace, then I have chosen the ego. I know that if I am chewing on some issue, then I am still in my ego mind. I know, if I have a story around the situation that I am unwilling to release, I am still in my ego. And I know I have chosen the right mind when I am at peace. It is a process that requires our commitment to stay vigilant, constantly watching our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and opinions, which underpin the decisions we have made. We are called to be the observer and notice where the mind is focused. The ego may keep chattering, but our part is not to give it any attention.
 
What is my purpose here? It is always to remember who I am. To do so, I need to look honestly at everything in my life and bring it to the Holy Spirit. My usual way of figuring things out will not heal anything. We need to release our personal self from being the one in charge. Yes, we learn and study the Course, but only for one purpose---to heal the mind by applying what we learn. In order to do that, it is important that we look at everything and keep nothing hidden from the light of Truth. This means that we need to stop and look at what is going on in the mind. Defenses will not allow us to look, so we must be willing to let them down to the extent possible. This takes great courage, great honesty, and a strong dedication to the truth.
 
The important question to ask is, "What is this for?" in everything we do. It is all about purpose. The ego's purpose is to keep us invested in the illusion. The Holy Spirit's purpose is to wake us up to who we really are. Everything made by the ego can now be used by the Holy Spirit for healing. The form does not change. We can still have our special relationships, although now the content is no longer to serve our needs but for the purpose of healing. The body, which was made to get, can now be used for the holy purpose of giving and extending. Now the body is no longer an end in itself but is a communication device for the Holy Spirit.
 
Whatever situations you face today, use each of them as opportunities for healing, rather than for self-condemnation. This means that we do not judge what comes up. Murderous and hateful thoughts are only thoughts. Judging them is a way to condemn ourselves instead of looking at these thoughts honestly and being willing to release them to the Holy Spirit. He will do the rest. This is what makes forgiveness easy. It is not done by us. Our part is only to look at the blocks to love. As the mind awakens to the truth, we become clear channels so the love in us can extend through us. No amount of charity work, no amount of service, and no amount of good deeds or of being nice, which comes from compensating for the ego’s darkness and self-serving motives, will ever offer the extension of love in the world that can be demonstrated when we make space for the Holy Spirit.
 
It is our choice as to which operating system we run today---that of the ego or of the Holy Spirit. One brings only condemnation, while the other opens the way for us to behold our glory and be glad. What a choice! And of course, we can only accomplish this with mind training; and that means doing the practices so we over-learn the Lessons until they become our habitual response to every situation where we find that we are not experiencing peace.
 
Throughout the day when we are not feeling peace, we watch our thoughts and affirm, "This thought I do not want. I choose instead___" (W.RVI.IN.6.2-3) to behold my brother's glory and my own so I can know my innocence and his. Only when we offer forgiveness can we behold the truth, or as Jesus says, "behold this glory and be glad." (W.218.1.3) Ultimately, this is how we learn the central Lesson that we have been practicing every day, which is "I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me." We do not learn this Lesson by shouting down the ego with affirmations. We learn it by looking at how we are defending ourselves against this truth.
 
Remind yourself of the truth frequently today, as you apply the Lesson to all the events and situations you encounter in your day. When you lapse, remember it is a mistake. Do not give power to your mistake by judging yourself for it and feeling guilty. Simply correct it and resolve to continue with your daily practice.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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