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

CHAPTER 21
The Inner Picture

IV. Faith, Belief, and Vision

29 All special relationships have sin as their goal. For they are bargains with reality, toward which the seeming union is adjusted. Forget not this—to bargain is to set a limit, and any brother with whom you have a limited relationship you hate. You may attempt to keep the bargain in the name of "fairness," sometimes demanding payment of yourself, perhaps more often of the other. Thus in the "fairness" you attempt to ease the guilt that comes from the accepted purpose of the relationship. And that is why the Holy Spirit must change its purpose to make it useful to him and harmless unto you .

30 If you accept this change, you have accepted the idea of making room for truth. The source of sin is gone. You may imagine that you still experience its effects, but it is not your purpose, and you no longer want it. No one allows a purpose to be replaced while he desires it, for nothing is so cherished and protected as is a goal the mind accepts. This it will follow, grimly or happily, but always with faith and with the persistence that faith inevitably brings. The power of faith is never recognized if it is placed in sin. But it is always recognized if it is placed in love.

31 Why is it strange to you that faith can move mountains? This is indeed a little feat for such a power. For faith can keep the Son of God in chains as long as he believes he is in chains. And when he is released from them, it will be simply because he no longer believes in them, withdrawing faith that they can hold him and placing it in his freedom instead. It is impossible to place equal faith in opposite directions. What faith you give to sin you take away from holiness. And what you offer holiness has been removed from sin.

32 Faith and belief and vision are the means by which the goal of holiness is reached. Through them the Holy Spirit leads you to the real world and away from all illusions where your faith was laid. This is His direction, the only one He ever sees. And when you wander, He reminds you there is but one. His faith and His belief and vision are all for you. And when you have accepted them completely instead of yours, you will have need of them no longer. For faith and vision and belief are meaningful only before the state of certainty is reached. In Heaven they are unknown. Yet Heaven is reached through them.

33 It is impossible that the Son of God lack faith, but he can choose where he would have it be . Faithlessness is not a lack of faith, but faith in nothing . Faith given to illusions does not lack power, for by it does the Son of God believe that he is powerless. Thus is he faithless to himself, but strong in faith in his illusions about himself. For faith, perception, and belief you made as means for losing certainty and finding sin. This mad direction was your choice, and by your faith in what you chose, you made what you desired.

34 The Holy Spirit has a use for all the means for sin by which you sought to find it. But as He uses them, they lead away from sin because His purpose lies in the opposite direction. He sees the means you use but not the purpose for which you made them. He would not take them from you, for He sees their value as a means for what He wills for you. You made perception that you might choose among your brothers and seek for sin with them. The Holy Spirit sees perception as a means to teach you that the vision of a holy relationship is all you want to see. Then will you give your faith to holiness, desiring and believing in it because of your desire.

35 Faith and belief become attached to vision, as all the means that once served sin are redirected now toward holiness. For what you think is sin is limitation , and whom you try to limit to the body you hate because you fear. In your refusal to forgive him, you would condemn him to the body because the means for sin are dear to you. And so the body has your faith and your belief. But holiness would set your brother free, removing hatred by removing fear, not as a symptom, but at its source.

36 Those who would free their brothers from the body can have no fear. They have renounced the means for sin by choosing to let all limitations be removed. Desiring to look upon their brothers in holiness, the power of belief and faith goes far beyond the body, supporting vision, not obstructing it. But first they chose to recognize how much their faith had limited their understanding of the world, desiring to place its power elsewhere should another point of view be given them. The miracles which follow this decision are also born of faith. For all who choose to look away from sin are given vision and are led to holiness.

37 Those who believe in sin must think the Holy Spirit asks for sacrifice, for this is how they think their purpose is accomplished. Brothers, the Holy Spirit knows that sacrifice brings nothing . He makes no bargains. And if you seek to limit Him, you will hate Him because you are afraid. The gift that He has given you is more than anything that stands this side of Heaven. The instant for its recognition is at hand. Join your awareness to what has been already joined. The faith you give each other can accomplish this. For He Who loves the world is seeing it for you without one spot of sin upon it and in the innocence which makes the sight of it as beautiful as Heaven.

38 Your faith in sacrifice has given it great power in your sight, except you do not realize you cannot see because of it. For sacrifice must be exacted of a body and by another body. The mind could neither ask it nor receive it of itself. And no more could the body. The intention is in the mind, which tries to use the body to carry out the means for sin in which the mind believes. Thus is the joining of mind and body an inescapable belief of those who value sin. And so is sacrifice invariably a means for limitation and thus for hate.

39 Think you the Holy Spirit is concerned with this ? He gives not what it is His purpose to lead you from . You think He would deprive you for your good. But "good" and "deprivation" are opposites and cannot meaningfully join in any way. It is like saying that the moon and sun are one because they come with night and day, and so they mus t be joined. Yet sight of one is but the sign the other has disappeared from sight. Nor is it possible that what gives light be one with what depends on darkness to be seen. Neither demands the sacrifice of the other. Yet on the absence of the other does each depend.

40 The body was made to be a sacrifice to sin, and in the darkness so it still is seen. Yet in the light of vision, it is looked upon quite differently. You can have faith in it to serve the Holy Spirit's goal and give it power to serve as means to help the blind to see. But in their seeing, they look past it, as do you. The faith and the belief you gave it belongs beyond. You gave perception and belief and faith from mind to body. Let them now be given back to what produced them and can use them still to save itself from what it made.

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Lesson 236
I rule my mind, which
I alone must rule.

1 I have a kingdom I must rule. At times, it does not seem I am its king at all. It seems to triumph over me and tell me what to think and what to do and feel. And yet it has been given me to serve whatever purpose I perceive in it. My mind can only serve. Today I give its service to the Holy Spirit to employ as He sees fit. I thus direct my mind, which I alone can rule. And thus I set it free to do the Will of God.

2 Father, my mind is open to Your Thoughts and closed today to every thought but Yours. I rule my mind and offer it to You. Accept my gift, for it is Yours to me.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 236
I rule my mind, which I alone must rule.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
With separation came the decision to identify with the wrong mind and with it the false self. This is the mind ruled by the ego. Now, "It seems to triumph over me, and tell me what to think, and what to do and feel." (W.236.1.3) The kingdom of the ego is one based on sin, guilt, and fear which constitute linear time. This means that we think we sinned in the past, feel guilty in the present, and fear the future. The thoughts that reflect this unholy trinity of sin, guilt, and fear are so intolerable to us that the ego has devised a plan for us to project them out. How we know we are projecting is that we have a reaction to what we perceive, and we see the cause of our distress outside of our own mind. It is the reversal of cause and effect. We have forgotten that cause is always in the mind and not anything in the world. Thoughts do not leave our minds, and as long as we are in the service of the ego, we are tortured by our thoughts that seemingly rule us.
 
Now it seems the ego triumphs over us. We feel at the mercy of our body or of other bodies that affect our state of happiness. We feel victimized by situations and circumstances that seem to be coming from outside our own minds. Yet Jesus is saying that we are not at the mercy of these thoughts. We can serve whatever purpose we choose. We are the rulers of our kingdom. In other words, we can put our minds in the service of the Holy Spirit, rather than the ego thought system. We are the decision makers, and we are the ones who decide for God or the ego. "I thus direct my mind, which I alone can rule." (W.236.1.7)
 
How do we rule our minds? We do it by taking responsibility for our projections. We make space for the Holy Spirit to come through the right mind when we bring our thoughts and feelings to His healing light. We accept the Atonement for ourselves by accepting His Love as the only truth. We step aside from our own wishes, fantasies, fears, desires, and judgments and surrender to the One that knows our true will. Now our minds are open to His Thoughts. We deny the power of our own thoughts to rule over us. What can bring us pain or sorrow except for our own belief in our unworthiness?
 
In the passage, "The Little Garden," (ACIM OE "The Purpose of the Body") Jesus talks of how cruelly the ego rules within its kingdom, which is a part of our minds dominated by the ego. The ego-dominated mind sees its kingdom as the body. "It draws a circle, infinitely small, around a very little segment of Heaven, splintered from the whole, proclaiming that within it is your kingdom, where God can enter not." (T.18.VIII.2.6) (ACIM OE T.18.IX.72)
 
"Within this kingdom the ego rules, and cruelly. And to defend this little speck of dust it bids you fight against the universe. This fragment of your mind is such a tiny part of it that, could you but appreciate the whole, you would see instantly that it is like the smallest sunbeam to the sun, or like the faintest ripple on the surface of the ocean. In its amazing arrogance, this tiny sunbeam has decided it is the sun; this almost imperceptible ripple hails itself as the ocean. Think how alone and frightened is this little thought, this infinitesimal illusion, holding itself apart against the universe." (T.18.VIII.3.1-5) (ACIM OE T.18.IX.73)
 
What we are doing is keeping out of our awareness the vast unknown—the Call in our minds to remember who we are. When we join, we experience the holiness of our One Self. We recognize that we are not these little ripples on the ocean, but, in fact, we are the ocean itself---One with all there is. We recognize our Oneness with all of our brothers. This is where our peace, joy, and freedom reside. We have a choice. We do not have to be at the mercy of our baser instincts, drives, hormones, emotional patterns, and habits that seem to rise up and tell us what to think and feel and do. We fight against certain urges and addictions, doing things against our own better judgment. These things may seem to plague our lives, as we try to overcome these urges and addictions with willpower, yet our own will is mostly powerless against them. It is our fight with fear. We cannot heal ourselves without Help from outside of this matrix. When we give it over to the Holy Spirit, healing happens on its own. None of what we experience as having power over us has any real effects. "Who could be made fearful by a power that can have no real effects at all?" (T.30.IV.5.7) (ACIM OE T.30.V.53) We are called to deny the power of the ego over us. It is not our enemy. We just need not give it any power. It cannot be sustained if we do not invest belief in it.
 
The only power is the power of love. The ego will never undo itself. We will never change ourselves without help from outside of this seemingly closed system of the ego. The only real change comes from bringing our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and concepts to the Holy Spirit. Through forgiveness, our true power is felt. This is the kingdom that is always available to us. There is nothing else to choose, as it is the only reality. To choose anything else is to choose nothing. The power of decision is the only true power we have. We are not limited by the body and our experiences in this world. Our reality is boundless. "The body is a tiny fence around a little part of a glorious and complete idea." (T.18.VIII.2.5) (ACIM OE T.18.IX.72)
 
Jesus is telling us in this Lesson that the decision-making mind is in charge. The purpose being served is whatever we decide. Either our purpose is to continue to be rooted in the body and the world, or our purpose is to wake up. We are not at the mercy of the drives that seem to rule us with such persistence. We can choose the Will of God instead of our own will. We are not the victims of our bodies or the world. We are under no laws but God's. We have heard the Call, and love has entered at our weak request.
 
As we watch our thoughts and turn them over to the Holy Spirit, we loosen the bricks of this wall of protection that we have built around the part of the mind ruled by the ego. Our own decision-making mind chose the ego, and now we can make a choice for the Holy Spirit. Thus, we are still in charge and can give up the belief that we are at the mercy of the body and the world.
 
Everything is about purpose. If we decide to awaken from this dream, everything in the dream can serve that purpose. If we choose to serve our interests and bodily needs as defined by the ego, everything serves the purpose of keeping us rooted in the world of illusion. Today, we are asked to put our minds in the service of the Holy Spirit, and when we do, everything we have made to serve the ego can be used for our awakening.
 
Jesus tells us, "You have a Guide to how to develop them [your abilities] , but you have no commander except yourself." (T.6.IV.9.4) (ACIM OE T.6.V.53) The Holy Spirit can only guide. We are the ones who must choose. We are the ruler---the king. No one has power over us but ourselves. A guide merely invites, leaving us to choose whether to follow or not. In this Course, God is described as a loving Father of infinite tenderness and patience. He has no power over us. This is where the Course is not in line with traditional religious thinking. It is up to us to freely choose to accept what is being offered us through guidance. God's power is Love. His Love only affirms one thing---we cannot change the truth of who we are as God's Son. We have been created with all of our Father's attributes. Thus, the only thing that we cannot change is the truth about ourselves, which is that we are holy, innocent, pure, and perfect in our creation. Thank goodness for this restriction placed on us through the Atonement Principle.
 
The place where no one can enter, not even God, is the secret, untouchable place we rule with our thoughts. It is protected by our judgments. All of our self-concepts, beliefs, and values are formed here. In our work with the Course, we are urged to bring these judgments forward to awareness and raise them to doubt. "If you raise what fear conceals to clear-cut unequivocal predominance, fear becomes meaningless." (T.12.I.9.9) (ACIM OE T.11.III.12) We are releasing our need to be right in this process and thus raising to doubt the ego mind that thinks it knows everything. In other words, we are willing to give up the "I know" mind.
 
Our part in the process of releasing the ego is simply to look at what we have denied. We have denied the truth about ourselves, but it is given to us when we truly want it . "And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth?" (T.21.VII.5.14) (ACIM OE T.21.VIII.75) Jesus calls this the last unanswered question because we are still afraid of God’s Love. We are not yet ready to make a total commitment to the truth. Yet since there is only this one decision to be made, it can be made anytime. Everything leads us to this place of readiness.
 
 The ego tells us, if we look at the truth, we will be destroyed. The ego wants to maintain the separation. The road to Heaven, to the happy dream, will not circumvent the darkness of our personal hell, since we cannot heal what we hide from ourselves. Our minds can be very deceptive. Today, let us take the hand of our beloved friend and elder brother, look at the judgments, and be willing to question them. Our bodies and the world have no effect on us. They have no power to take away our peace, nor to destroy the love in our minds. By ruling my mind, which I alone can rule, I come to know the love I am as my only reality.
 
Today, we direct our minds in a holy direction and give them to the Holy Spirit to use. I choose today which voice I shall follow. I decide today which teacher my mind serves. I need not be ruled by the ego, and its identification with the body, to tell me what to feel. It is up to me what purpose I give to everything in my day. When the choice is for the ego, we cannot know the love, joy, and peace that are our natural inheritance. In fact, in our confusion, we are constantly reaching out for pleasure, yet ultimately getting pain. Today, we take charge and consciously acknowledge our power to choose. Let us not pretend that we are powerless. Today, we choose to open our minds to His Thoughts and close them to every thought but His.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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