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

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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A Course in Miracles
WORKBOOK

Lesson 237
Now would I be as God created me.

1 Today I will accept the truth about myself. I will arise in glory and allow the light in me to shine upon the world throughout the day. I bring the world the tidings of salvation that I hear as God my Father speaks to me. And I behold the world that Christ would have me see, aware it ends the bitter dream of death, aware it is my Father's call to me.

2 Christ is my eyes today, and His the ears which listen to the Voice of God today. Father, I come to You through Him Who is Your Son and my true Self as well. Amen.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 237
Now would I be as God created me.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
Jesus reminds us that the Self we are is the Christ---the One Son of God. For two thousand years, this has exclusively been used in Christian theology to denote Jesus---God's only begotten Son. Jesus' specialness was further accentuated by St. Paul, relegating the rest of humanity to the status of "adopted sons" of God. (Galatians 4:4) In the Course, Jesus wants us to really embrace him as our equal and, therefore, he uses the term "Son of God" for all of us as the One Self. He makes it clear that we are not excluded from this designation. He presents himself as no different from any of us. He is the symbol of the truth of our own reality, buried deep in our minds. Again, we see the usage of the same form as in traditional Christianity, but with a totally different content.
 
Jesus reminds us that we are God's children, who believe we are bodies and separate from our Source and, therefore, different from him; but this is not the truth. We are the Christ, not this person we think of as our current self. We are mistaken in our identity as a body and personality. I am the Christ, convinced that I am something else. This need not be. "Now would I be as God created me." (W.237)
 
We heal the mistaken perceptions we hold about ourselves by changing our minds. In Chapter 21, there is a much-quoted line, "Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world." (T.21.IN.1.7) (ACIM OE T.21.I) In the same way, we can choose to change our minds about the reactions we have to anything concerning us today. We can also change our minds about any negative reaction we hold about words used in the Course. For example, you may have a negative reaction to Christian terminology or to symbols like "Jesus" and "Christ," or words like "salvation," "Last Judgment,” and "sin." Some react to the male terminology used in the Course. Yet just like anything else where we have a reaction, we can take what triggers us and use it for forgiveness. Any reaction we have reflects what we are projecting onto these words, based on past associations.
 
The important thing we are reminded of is that we are not what we think we are. We have made a choice for the ego and have run away from the truth. Yet we are as God created us. This thought frightens us because we have become invested in the self we have made and the world we still value; but the power is in our minds to choose again. "Now would I be as God created me." (W.237)
 
God did not create this body that I identify as myself. It is the result of choosing the ego thought system. The truth is that we are the Christ, the Self that all of us share as the One Son. We are created in perfection. We are given the means (forgiveness) to undo what we have made. The Atonement Principle is our absolute guarantee that it is impossible to mar our perfection as we were created, no matter what we do or have done. We have simply become unaware of our true nature and our inherent innocence.
 
The truth seems elusive when we identify with our ego. This world and our belief in bodies seem more real and solid than what is truly real. The ego is the choice for sin, guilt, and fear reflected in the differences, uniqueness, and specialness that we prize. When we get on the spiritual path, the ego can even make this experience one of spiritual specialness. We love our uniqueness and love to see ourselves as special, even if that specialness involves suffering.
 
We value our perceptions, our thoughts, and our feelings. When we do not doubt them or question them, they run our lives. While our reactions feel natural to us, Jesus assures us that what we have learned is unnatural. Our nature is peace, joy, and innocence. We justify our positions and our perspectives, but they can only be maintained by denying reality. Jesus tells us that this is not an easy thing to do. He says that what we have taught ourselves is an amazing learning feat. "What you have taught yourself is such a giant learning feat it is indeed incredible." (T.31.I.2.7) (ACIM OE T.31.I.2)
 
Since we have achieved such an amazing feat in teaching ourselves that we are something we are not, the simplicity of this Course should be easy for us. Why it is not easy, he says, is because of our twisted thought system. "His message is not indirect, but He must introduce the simple truth into a thought system which has become so twisted and so complex you cannot see that it means nothing." (T.14.I.5.2) (ACIM OE T.13.VI.53) Even though it is twisted and complex, we still cling to it and fear what will become of us if we release our beliefs about ourselves and the world.
 
The ego is devious, self-serving, and narcissistic. It is addicted to external sources of happiness, compares itself to others, is convinced it knows where its happiness lies, is afraid of true love and joining, is devious and a liar, and is arrogant in its insistence that it is right about the way it has set up reality. All of the ego is false. It is all part of our twisted thinking. The only way to release it all is to get very, very honest about ourselves. It is to look at the ego with honesty and courage. It is to inquire deeply into its motivations. It is to look with courage at the beliefs upholding these patterns and be willing to release them to the Holy Spirit.
 
It takes considerable introspection, courage, and honesty to admit our motives. What was I trying to gain? For whose benefit was it? What was the purpose? What am I projecting onto others that reflects my own secret sins? Everything that comes up offers us another opportunity to open up to deeper levels of the ego thought system that we are holding onto. It all needs to be brought to awareness because we cannot heal what we do not acknowledge in ourselves and what we are not willing to take responsibility for.
 
The turning point for many of us on this spiritual path is when our lives go off track. It may be a divorce, infidelity, car accident, cancer, depression, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, financial loss, general malaise, or betrayal of some kind. At such times, we may initially want to escape into some form of safety or security that we believe will mitigate our situation, but these are often the kind of circumstances that motivate us to find another way. Such events may be what brought us to this spiritual path. When we are brought to our knees, we become motivated to find a more solid foundation for our lives, as delivered in our work with this Course. Our own solutions for our problems only bring more pain and loss. They are generally focused on fixing the forms of this world, based on our need for control. We despair when our "fixes" do not work, and they never will. In this place of deep despair, our motivation is significantly heightened to find a new direction. It takes us inward, where we call on God in our desire to join with His Will, rather than to keep relying on our own.
 
As the dark cornerstones of the ego are turned over to the Holy Spirit, we come to know the Self that we are. It is a process of stepping back and allowing "the light in me to shine upon the world throughout the day." (W.237.1.2) It is to allow the glory, the radiance, the love, and the light of what we are to radiate through us. It is not something we do. It is what we are. There is nothing we need to do to become what we already are. "The truth in you remains as radiant as a star, as pure as light, as innocent as love itself." (T.31.VI.7.4) (ACIM OE T.31.VI.67) It came with our specifications given by God. There is nothing we can do to change the truth. Can we really allow this thought to take hold? Can we accept the grandeur and magnificence, as we release our belief in our unworthiness? Can we end this bitter dream of death today? Perhaps our readiness is not yet strong, but we can make choices moment by moment to bring the blocks to the inner altar for healing. It is a process of undoing, as we sort the valuable from the valueless, until we are ready to relinquish all of the ego thought system.
 
When I enter the silence and connect with the Truth in my mind, I "behold the world that Christ would have me see," (W.237.1.4) and not the one I made. So, today, as it is every day that we do our practice, we are urged to go beyond the words to experience the love that we are. These are not just beautiful thoughts and beautiful words to be contemplated, but they are to be lived. To do so, we not only need to connect with the silence within us, but also to apply these thoughts in our day to day activities and encounters whenever we are tempted to get upset about anything. This is a very practical Course, reminding us of the truth when we forget our reality and forget who walks with us in every moment.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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