"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
Course in Miracles
Beyond the Body
V. Obstacles to Peace
b. The Second Obstacle:
The Belief the Body is Valuable for What it Offers
We said that peace must first surmount the obstacle of your desire to get rid of it. Where the attraction of guilt holds sway, peace is not wanted. The second obstacle that peace must flow across, and closely related to the first, is the belief that the body is valuable for what it offers. For here is the attraction of guilt made manifest in the body and seen in it.
This [is] the value that you think peace would rob you of. This is what you believe that it would dispossess and leave you homeless. And it is this for which you would deny a home to peace. This "sacrifice" you feel to be too great to make, too much to ask of you.
Is it a sacrifice or a release? What has the body really given you that justifies your strange belief that in it lies salvation? Do you not see that this is the belief in death? Here is the focus of the perception of Atonement as murder. Here is the source of the idea that love is fear. The Holy Spirit's messengers are sent far beyond the body, calling the mind to join in holy communion and be at peace. Such is the message that I gave them for you.
It is only the messengers of fear that see the body, for they look for what can suffer. Is it a sacrifice to be removed from what can suffer? The Holy Spirit does not demand you sacrifice the hope of the body's pleasure; it
no hope of pleasure. But neither can it bring you fear of pain. Pain is the only "sacrifice" the Holy Spirit asks, and this He
Peace is extended from you only to the eternal, and it reaches out from the eternal in you. It flows across all else. The second obstacle is no more solid than the first. For you will neither to get rid of peace nor limit it. What are these obstacles which you would interpose between peace and its going forth but barriers you place between your will and its accomplishment? You want communion, not the feast of fear. You want salvation, not the pain of guilt. And you want your Father, not a little mound of clay, to be your home. In your holy relationship is your Father's Son. He has not lost communion with Him nor with himself. When you agreed to join each other, you acknowledged this is so. This has no cost, but it has release from cost.
You have paid very dearly for your illusions, and nothing you have paid for brought you peace. Are you not glad that Heaven cannot be sacrificed, and sacrifice cannot be asked of you? There is no obstacle which you can place before our union, for in your holy relationship, I am there already. We will surmount all obstacles together, for we stand within the gates and not outside. How easily the gates are opened from within to let peace through to bless the tired world! Can it be difficult for us to walk past barriers together when you have joined the limitless? The end of guilt is in your hands to give. Would you stop now to look for guilt in each other?
Let me be to you the symbol of the
of guilt, and look upon each other as you would look on me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness, he will remember who he is and forget what never was. I ask for your forgiveness, for if you are guilty, so must I be. But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me. Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or of the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you, you see within yourself?
From your holy relationship truth proclaims the truth, and love looks on itself. Salvation flows from deep within the home you offered to my Father and to me. And we are there together in the quiet communion in which the Father and the Son are joined. Oh come ye faithful to the holy union of the Father and Son in you! And keep you not apart from what is offered you in gratitude for giving peace its home in Heaven. Send forth to all the world the joyous message of the end of guilt, and all the world will answer. Think of your happiness as everyone offers you witness of the end of sin and shows you that its power is gone forever. Where can guilt be, when the belief in sin is gone? And where is death, when its great advocate is heard no more?
Forgive me your illusions and release me from punishment for what I have not done. So will you learn the freedom that I taught by teaching freedom to each other and so releasing me. I am within your holy relationship, yet you would imprison me behind the obstacles you raise to freedom and bar my way to you. Yet it is not possible to keep away One Who is there already. And in Him it
possible that our communion, where we are joined already, will be the focus of the new perception that will bring light to all the world, contained in
Pleasure and Pain
Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole idea of sacrifice. And to accept the peace He gave instead, without the limits which would hold its extension back and so would limit your awareness of it. For what He gives must be extended if you would have its limitless power and use it for the Son of God's release. It is not this you would be rid of, and having it you cannot limit it. If peace is homeless, so are you and so am I. And He Who is our home is homeless with us. Is this your will? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what must fail?
Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience, and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither pain nor joy. It is a means and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. [Only the mind can set a purpose, and only mind can see the means for its accomplishment and justify its use.] Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind to be attained. And these conditions are the home of the emotion which called them forth and therefore is compatible with them. But think you which it is that is compatible with you.
Here is your choice, and it
free. But all that lies in it will come with it, and what you think you are can never be apart from it. The body is the great seeming betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness, but only if you ask of it what it cannot give. Can your mistake be reasonable grounds for depression and disillusionment and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your error as the justification for your faithlessness. You have not sinned, but you have been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of your mistake will give you grounds for faith.
It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt
enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.
Is not this inevitable? Under fear's orders, the body will pursue guilt, serving its master whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of its existence. This, then, is the attraction of pain. Ruled by this perception, the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully and obeying the idea that pain is pleasure. It is this idea that underlies all of the ego's heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship which it keeps hidden and yet feeds upon. To you it teaches that the body's pleasure is happiness. Yet to itself it whispers, "It is death."
Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly, it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium, the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognize this, and both also recognize that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himsel
? Who would accuse, make guilty, and condemn himself?
The ego's messages are always sent away from you in the belief that for your message of attack and guilt will someone other than yourself suffer. And even if you suffer, yet someone else will suffer more. The great deceiver recognizes that this is not so, but as the "enemy" of peace, it urges you to send out all your messages of hate and free yourself. And to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure and offering it to you as freedom
Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body's praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego's rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.
It is not given to the ego's disciples to realize that they have dedicated themselves to death. Freedom is offered them, but they have not accepted it, and what is offered must also be received to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father and offering His messages unto the Son. Like the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and the receiver. For what is sent through Him returns to Him, seeking itself along the way and finding what it seeks. So does the ego find the death it seeks, returning it to you.
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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 219 Review VI
 I am not a body. I am free.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.
"I am not a body I am free. For I am still as God created me."
(W.RVI.3.3-5) Our identity in the world is that of a body. Everything we see, say, and touch and everywhere we go, everything we do, everyone we meet, every emotion we have of anger, worry, distress, anxiety, pleasure, pain, sickness, and ultimately death affirm our bodily existence, and this is an affirmation that there is no God. Because of this strong identity with the body, we need to be constantly reminded,
"I am not a body."
It requires a lot of practice to undo the belief in the body and personality that I describe as myself. The personality is a bundle of beliefs, values, and self-concepts that I hold and give power to. Clearly, simply affirming that I am not a body will not change these beliefs. Change will come through the decision to watch the mind and withdraw the relevance given to our thoughts. We can choose not to listen to the thoughts, but to do that we must attend to what we are thinking, believing, and valuing and withdraw our investment in these thoughts.
Everything used by the ego to convince me that I am a body and that I am my thoughts can be turned over to the Holy Spirit to demonstrate to me that I am truly the Son of God. My reality is Spirit. I am love, peace, and joy and I am the unlimited mind, outside of the body and not contained by it. I am that which watches the thoughts. I am the awareness, behind the thoughts, that has always been. It is the same awareness that was there when I was born into a body, when I was seven, and when I was twenty-seven, as well as today. It is the changeless aspect of my Self, beyond the body. The more I stay in awareness, the less I identify with the body and personality.
I am reading in the Text,
"I Need Do Nothing,"
(T.18.VII) (ACIM T.18.VIII) where Jesus says,
"There is one thing that you have never done; you have not utterly forgotten the body. It has perhaps faded at times from your sight, but it has not yet completely disappeared. You are not asked to let this happen for more than an instant, yet it is in this instant that the miracle of Atonement happens. Afterwards you will see the body again, but never quite the same. And every instant that you spend without awareness of it gives you a different view of it when you return."
(T.18.VII.2.1-5) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.64)
Each time we practice the holy instant in which we enter the present moment---the NOW---the body disappears. It happens through the acceptance of the Atonement for myself. It is the acceptance of the truth of what I am. And how this happens is when we release our attachment and investment in our identity as a body. We practice the holy instant. Jesus tells us that it is given us if we want it. It is our decision.
"For beyond the past and future, where you will not find it, it stands in shimmering readiness for your acceptance."
(T.15.IV.1.8) (ACIM T.15.V.35) We must desire to become the living expression of the Christ while keeping our minds focused on the blessing, even in difficult circumstances. It requires that we maintain a consistent focus on what is going on in our minds and be willing to redirect our thoughts. We ask for help and are willing to release the outcome. We keep in mind our essence and recognize that all darkness is there only to assist in our awakening, so we can let our littleness go and choose our magnitude instead. We take time in silence. Our progress depends on willingness and not on time.
I was speaking with a friend last night about loneliness. When I thought more about where loneliness comes from, I realized that it is all about my identity, which is separate from everyone else. It is a belief, based on the Laws of Chaos, that truth is different for each of us. This experience in which we feel separate from others, locked in the body, and invested in lack and limitation is the human condition. It keeps us separate from others with the belief that we each have our own unique values and hold different perspectives that we do not share. We can be in a crowd and feel profoundly separate from everyone. We can be in an intimate relationship and feel the loneliness of separation.
Bodies can never join, as they were made not to join.
"For relationships, to the ego, mean only that bodies are together."
(T.15.VII.8.2) (ACIM OE T.15.VIII.72)
"For they think their minds must be kept private or they will lose them, but if their bodies are together their minds remain their own."
(T.15.VII.11.5) (ACIM OE T.15.VIII.75) The body has been made as a limit on what in truth cannot be limited. Our concept of freedom is not about the unlimited mind, but it is about the body getting to do what it wants. Yet real freedom is of the mind. It is the total opposite of how we think of freedom, but it is not hard to see how lacking in freedom we are when we identify ourselves with the body.
Aren't we all a slave to our body's requirements? It is a demanding thing that has urges, needs, and incapacities that demand attention, pains, frailties, and sickness. It gets hungry, dirty, and must be fed and exercised. We obey this seeming master and become its slave, carrying out its dictates. Even more, we carry out its demands to defend ourselves, protect ourselves, and attack others. Yet when we listen to the Holy Spirit and let our body be put into His service, the body becomes a useful instrument in service of the Self. Thus, its health and well-being are assured. This does not mean that we don't take care of the body, but it is no longer the primary source of instruction, ruling our lives when we realize our true identity. This happens as we practice the holy instant. It starts with perfect communication in which we are willing to hide nothing.
"For what you would hide is hidden from you. In your practice, then, try only to be vigilant against deception and seek not to protects the thoughts you would keep to yourself."
(T.15.I.9.7-8) (ACIM T.15.IV.44)
Egos can never join. Bodies can never join. The world of egos and bodies is a world of fear, separation, and loneliness. There is no trust and no love in this experience; but with desire and willingness, we can experience: "I am God's Son." We have never left our home. This is simply a dream of exile. There is nothing to seek and nothing to find. We need only remember the truth of what we are as we were created. And in the experience of the holy instant, we enter briefly into another reality. When we return from this experience of the holy instant, some of the confusion about our identity will be lifted from the mind. The truth will dawn on our minds as we commit to this practice, looking at our thoughts and recognizing their falsity.
"Let the Holy Spirit’s purity shine them away, and bring all your awareness to the readiness for purity he offers you."
(T.15.9.9) (ACIM T.15.IV.44)
When the body is given over to the Holy Spirit, it becomes a vehicle for extending love. It is now put to a holy use. Until this is the case, there is no freedom. That is the message we are to take to our brothers
"who perceive themselves as bound and helpless and afraid."
(W.199.7.3) We can be an example to others that they too can choose the peace we have chosen. To be an example requires that we do the work to free ourselves by recognizing that the world we have made up, including our bodies, is not real. We have kept ourselves in chains, believing that the world, and not our own thoughts, is the cause of our suffering. We are the ones who have given meaning to everything around us. No one has the power to hurt or upset us. We choose to be upset because this is what we want to experience.
When we make the decision to free ourselves and it becomes the priority in our lives, we free our brothers, right along with us. Every brother we welcome brings with him another opportunity to join in the Oneness of who we are by seeing that we are the same. This recognition of sameness is the reflection of God's Oneness. We owe our brothers gratitude because without them we could never see what is in our minds. We could never come to the place where we finally see our sameness with everyone. Only the guilt in the mind keeps us tied to our limited identity as bodies separate from every other body. Guilt requires differences and comparisons that maintain the separation, but our reality is One reflected in the recognition of our sameness.
The truth is that we are unlimited and uncontained in the body. The only bondage we experience is what we have chosen. Now we can make another choice. We can use the body for a different purpose. We practice today by reminding ourselves of the truth of who we are as God's Son. And today, whenever we experience pain, distress of any kind, anxiety, or investment in seeing our needs as more important than anyone else's, it is a trigger for us to see we have chosen to align with the ego and forget what we are in truth. We have turned to the ego for its interpretation of a situation or person that seems to be the cause of our distress. Now we can choose to change our minds, and decide instead to ask the Holy Spirit to help us to see each brother, every circumstance, and each situation, through the eyes of love.
We admit that we have been wrong in our way of seeing.
"I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace."
(T.5.VII.6.7) (ACIM OE T.5.IX.96) We recognize that we have made a mistake in listening to the ego and remind ourselves that we have a purpose here, which is to awaken to the truth of what we are. We take time today to enter the stillness where truth abides.
"And then return to earth, without confusion as to what my Father loves forever as His Son."
(W.219.1.5) Now we see the experience of our day in a different light, as we make it a day of forgiveness.
Love and blessings, Sarah
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