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

CHAPTER 21
The Inner Picture

VIII. Perception and Wishes

 70 Do you not see that all your misery comes from the strange belief that you are powerless? Being helpless is the cost of sin. Helplessness is sin's condition—the one requirement that it demands to be believed. Only the helpless could believe in it. Enormity has no appeal save to the little. And only those who first believe that they are little could see attraction there. Treachery to the Son of God is the defense of those who do not identify with him. And you are for him or against him; either you love him or attack him, protect his unity or see him shattered and slain by your attack.

71 No one believes the Son of God is powerless. And those who see themselves as helpless must believe that they are not the Son of God. What can they be except his enemy? And what can they do but envy him his power and by their envy make themselves afraid of it? These are the dark ones, silent and afraid, alone and not communicating, fearful the power of the Son of God will strike them dead and raising up their helplessness against him. They join the army of the powerless, to wage their war of vengeance, bitterness, and spite on him to make him one with them. Because they do not know that they are one with him, they know not whom they hate. They are indeed a sorry army, each one as likely to attack his brother or turn upon himself as to remember they thought they had a common cause.

72 Frantic and loud and strong the dark ones seem to be. Yet they know not their enemy, except they hate him. In hatred they have come together but have not joined each other. For had they done so, hatred would be impossible. The army of the powerless must be disbanded in the presence of strength. Those who are strong are never treacherous because they have no need to dream of power and to act out their dream. How would an army act in dreams? Any way at all. It could be seen attacking anyone with anything. Dreams have no reason in them. A flower turns into a poisoned spear, a child becomes a giant, and a mouse roars like a lion. And love is turned to hate as easily. This is no army, but a madhouse. What seems to be a planned attack is bedlam.

73 The army of the powerless is weak indeed. It has no weapons, and it has no enemy. Yes, it can overrun the world and seek an enemy. But it can never find what is not there. Yes, it can dream it found an enemy, but this will shift even as it attacks, so that it runs at once to find another and never comes to rest in victory. And as it runs, it turns against itself, thinking it caught a glimpse of the great enemy which always eludes its murderous attack by turning into something else. How treacherous does this enemy appear, who changes so it is impossible even to recognize him!

74 Yet hate must have a target. There can be no faith in sin without an enemy. Who that believes in sin would dare believe he has no enemy? Could he admit that no one made him powerless? Reason would surely bid him seek no longer what is not there to find. Yet first he must be willing to perceive a world where it is not. It is not necessary that he understand how he can see it. Nor should he try. For if he focuses on what he cannot understand, he will but emphasize his helplessness and let sin tell him that his enemy must be himself . But let him only ask himself these questions, which he must decide to have it done for him:

75 Do I desire a world I rule instead of one which rules me? Do I desire a world where I am powerful instead of helpless? Do I desire a world in which I have no enemies and cannot sin? And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth? 

76 You have already answered the first three questions but not yet the last. For this one still seems fearful and unlike the others. Yet reason would assure you they are all the same. We said this year would emphasize the sameness of things that are the same. This final question, which is indeed the last you need decide, still seems to hold a threat the rest have lost for you. And this imagined difference attests to your belief that truth may be the enemy you yet may find. Here, then, would seem to be the last remaining hope of finding sin and not accepting power.

77 Forget not that the choice of truth or sin, power or helplessness, is the choice of whether to attack or heal. For healing comes of power and attack of helplessness. Whom you attack you cannot want to heal. And whom you would have healed must be the one you chose to be protected from attack. And what is this decision but the choice whether to see him through the body's eyes or let him be revealed to you through vision? How this decision leads to its effects is not your problem. But what you want to see must be your choice. This is a course in cause and not effect.

78 Consider carefully your answer to the last question you have left unanswered still. And let your reason tell you that it must be answered and is answered in the other three. And then it will be clear to you that, as you look on the effects of sin in any form, all you need do is simply ask yourself,

79 Is this what I would see? Do I want this?

80 This is your one decision; this the condition for what occurs. It is irrelevant to how it happens but not to why . You have control of this. And if you choose to see a world without an enemy in which you are not helpless, the means to see it will be given you.

81 Why is the final question so important? Reason will tell you why. It is the same as are the other three except in time . The others are decisions which can be made and then unmade and made again. But truth is constant and implies a state where vacillations are impossible. You can desire a world you rule which rules you not, and change your mind. You can desire to exchange your helplessness for power, and lose this same desire as a little glint of sin attracts you. And you can want to see a sinless world and let an "enemy" tempt you to use the body's eyes and change what you desire.

82 In content, all the questions are the same. For each one asks if you are willing to exchange the world of sin for what the Holy Spirit sees, since it is this the world of sin denies. And therefore those who look on sin are seeing the denial of the real world. Yet the last question adds the wish for constancy in your desire to see the real world, so the desire becomes the only one you have. By answering the final question "yes," you add sincerity to the decisions you have already made to all the rest. For only then have you renounced the option to change your mind again. When it is this you do not want, the rest are wholly answered.

83 Why do you think you are unsure the others have been answered? Could it be necessary they be asked so often, if they had? Until the last decision has been made, the answer is both "yes" and "no." For you have answered "yes" without perceiving that "yes" must mean "not no." No one decides against his happiness, but he may do so if he does not see he does it. And if he sees his happiness as ever changing, now this, now that, and now an elusive shadow attached to nothing, he does decide against it.

84 Elusive happiness, or happiness in changing form that shifts with time and place, is an illusion which has no meaning. Happiness must be constant because it is attained by giving up the wish for the in constant. Joy cannot be perceived except through constant vision. And constant vision can be given only those who wish for constancy. The power of the Son of God's desire remains the proof that he is wrong who sees himself as helpless. Desire what you will, and you will look on it and think it real. No thought but has the power to release or kill. And none can leave the thinker's mind or leave him unaffected.

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A Course in Miracles
WORKBOOK

Lesson 242
This day is God's. It is my gift to Him.

1 I will not lead my life alone today. I do not understand the world. And so to try to lead my life alone must be but foolishness. For there is One Who knows all that is best for me. And He is glad to make no choices for me but the ones that lead to God. This day I give to Him, for I would not delay my coming home, and it is He Who knows the way to Him.

2 And so we give today to You. We come with wholly open minds. We do not ask for anything that we may think we want. Give us what You would have received by us. You know all our desires and our needs. And You will give us everything we want and that will help us find the way to You.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 242
This day is God's. It is my gift to Him.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
In the Lesson yesterday, the focus was that the world of false perception was made as an attack on God. The world is a result of our choice for separation and with it our choice for individuality and differences. Now Jesus shows us that what we have made can be used as a classroom for undoing the ego thought system. He tells us, "As sight was made to lead away from truth, it can be redirected." (W.PII.Q3.4.1) Just like anything we have made—the world, the body, and our special relationships---all can be used by the Holy Spirit for healing when given over to Him. While the ego tries to ensure that we see the world as real, the Holy Spirit redirects our way of seeing it and gives it a new purpose, which is to help us wake up from this dream.
 
"Sounds become the call of God, and all perception can be given a new purpose by One Whom God appointed Savior to the world." (W.PII.Q3.4.2) Now we are called to see the world as the Holy Spirit beholds it, which is beyond the forms of this world and their seeming reality and toward the content of love. Ultimately, we learn that we have been wrong about everything that we think we know and think we understand about ourselves, others, and the world.
 
The purpose we have given the world is to meet our needs: we use others to support our specialness, we win at their expense, and we project guilt onto them. With our desire for healing, we now choose a new purpose, where we no longer want to see others guilty, we no longer want the power struggles and conflicts, and we use our special relationships for healing and holiness. We increasingly choose to see that the peace and joy that comes from joining has more appeal than maintaining our focus exclusively on what we think we want. There is now a willingness to see that we have been wrong and are willing to be taught.
 
Jesus pleads with us to, "Hear His Voice alone in all that speaks to you. And let Him give you peace and certainty, which you have thrown away, but Heaven has preserved for you in Him." (W.PII.Q3.4.4-5) While we believe that we have thrown away our peace and joy, Jesus assures us that this has not happened and, indeed, cannot happen. It has been preserved for us. We have not changed ourselves and cannot change ourselves from our holy creation; however, we have lost awareness of who we really are. The peace and certainty are still in us, covered over by our mistaken perceptions. Our eyes may still see misbehaving bodies, and our ears may still hear sounds of war, but our purpose now is to see with Christ's vision beyond what our senses report and the interpretation our brain gives them. We bring to question what we see and hear. We become the observers of the characters in the dream, seeing them from outside of the dream where we look at everyone without judgment. Each time we do, we bring back more light to our minds and to the world, and with it comes the realization that no one is separate from us. We all share the same One Self.
 
"Let us not rest content until the world has joined our changed perception." (W.PII.Q3.5.1) Our interests are not separate from anyone else's. We save the world by our willingness to release the meaning we have given it. Thus, "what was made to die can be restored to everlasting life," (W.PII.Q3.5.5) meaning we awaken to the reality that life cannot end. While the body was made to die, what we are cannot die. We are changing our minds from thoughts of death to thoughts of life. Our reality as infinite, eternal beings has always been. As Jesus said in the Bible, "Before Abraham was, I am." The world of bodies and of death has no reality.
 
Today's Lesson, "This day is God's. It is my gift to Him," (W.242) is a lesson in humility. When we lead our lives alone, we are actually leading them with the ego. We are believing we know what is best for us. We claim our free will, not recognizing that we are a prisoner to the ego and the script. To recognize that "there is One Who knows all that is best for me" (W.242.1.3) is to acknowledge that I do not know anything. The information on which I base my decisions is very limited. This means that I am always uncertain. Yet with the Holy Spirit, everything is known and lived in the flow of total trust and certainty.
 
I know I have turned to the wrong teacher whenever I feel anxious, stressed, worried, unhappy, and focused on my plans and goals for happiness, and thus I am never certain what to do. I know I am mistaken when I feel less than peaceful. I know that when I choose to rely on my own resources, trying to figure out how to resolve the problems of my life as I perceive them, I have turned to the wrong teacher. It is a relief to remember that I just need to step back and turn to the Guide within, Who does know where my peace resides. My issue is forgetting to ask and going off on my own, thinking I know what I need. We think we need to maintain control over all of the many decisions in our lives. We get upset if our preferences for how things should be done do not pan out. Yet, if we release our attachments to preferences and remember that the script is already written, then what is there to manage? All that is left is to ask for help to see the situation differently.
 
When we were at the funeral for Don's dad, our friend, Linda, was to sing at the gravesite, but she wasn ' t there when the interment was about to take place. At first, I was feeling quite attached to having her there and very disappointed that she had not turned up as planned. I spent a moment going within to look at what I was feeling. I noticed my disappointment and watched it and reminded myself, "This need not be." I could choose simply to accept things as they are. Just as the minister was about to start the proceedings, we heard the sound of her beautiful voice coming from the distance, as she was moving toward where we were standing. The hymn we had chosen for her to sing was, "It is Well with My Soul." And yes, those words reverberated with my soul and I knew then---it is truly well with my soul. This is always the case whenever we let go of our expectations of how things should be. Letting go of our attachments does not necessarily mean everything will show up in this way, but it does release us from the upsets that we experience as a result of our attachments. For me, this was a situation that reinforced the value of acceptance.
 
To let go, to accept, and to trust are the ways we learn the foolishness of living our lives alone. (W.241.1.2) When we turn to our inner Guide, we recognize that the support of the Holy Spirit is always there. He is not only our Guide, but our Companion. He walks with us. We are never alone. Yet to experience this truth, we need to admit that we do not know and that we do not understand. To surrender our understanding and turn within where truth abides is to release our reliance on the ego. There are just too many variables for us to ever be certain, so let us make space for guidance from the One who does know all the variables we cannot know. We make space through forgiveness of all that is false.
 
When I look at my life, it does not always look like things are working out the way I would like. I now accept more and more that the way I would like it to be does not mean it is the way that will lead to God. The goal is to awaken. It is not to have a prettier dream. I have to remind myself daily that I do not know my own best interests. What I think serves me can actually set me back, while what I think is good can keep me invested in the dream. As Jesus tells us, "Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success." (T.18.V.1.6) (ACIM OE T.18.VI.41)
 
In Chapter 24, we are told to "Forget not that the healing of God's Son is all the world is for." (T.24.VI.4.1) (ACIM OE T.24.VII.52) The situations that offer us the most healing may take place in ways that we do not welcome, but what does the ego know of true healing? To awaken from this dream is to release investment in the ego. The ego is invested in keeping us from choosing the right mind. Indeed, when we make progress in releasing our mistaken thoughts, tremendous resistance can arise. I know that we have all experienced it from time to time in many different ways. We seem to take two steps back with every step forward. Resistance is there because we still cling to our individuality and our specialness, and when we do make progress, the ego can become very suspicious. Then, when things seem to get more difficult for us on this path, we may question whether it is right for us.
 
Whenever something we think we want fails to happen, we need not be distraught. It can all be used for our greater good. We have not been abandoned. He knows our deepest needs. It is only the interpretation or meaning I give to the situation that gives rise to my emotional experience. My interpretation is what I need to be willing to release for His judgment to prevail. In the Manual for Teachers, Section 10, we learn, "It is necessary for the teacher of God to realize, not that he should not judge, but that he cannot. In giving up judgment, he is merely giving up what he did not have. He gives up an illusion; or better, he has an illusion of giving up. He has actually merely become more honest. Recognizing that judgment was always impossible for him, he no longer attempts it." (M.10.2.1-5) (ACIM OE M.10.2)
 
Don't we all feel the burden of deciding by ourselves? Wouldn't it be easier if we learned to trust the Guide, Who offers us His certainty? He is not something outside of us. It is our own Voice. Jesus tells us, "When you have learned how to decide with God, all decisions become as easy and as right as breathing. There is no effort, and you will be led as gently as if you were being carried down a quiet path in summer." (T.14.IV.6.1-2) (ACIM OE T.13.IX.92) Don't we all wish for that---just to be in the flow where everything works?
 
Let us give this day to God. Let us remember to enter the quietness of our minds and ask for His help with everything. Let us determine to take our hands off the levers of control that we think we have, which is only an illusion anyway! We may protest that we aren't hearing guidance from the Holy Spirit, but we need to ask, and to listen, and to pay attention to the inner nudges. We must leave room for His Answer by stepping back from the problem and continuing to ask in every situation. Then, we trust that the answer will come when we are willing to receive it. When we express gratitude for every answer we receive, we feel blessed.
 
In the midst of some difficult communication where the ego is holding sway, we may literally have to leave the room and take a few moments away from the storm in order to return our minds to sanity. Take the time you need in order to remind yourself that you do not know your own best interests, and ask Him to lead the way for you. You can then reenter the situation that seemed to be the cause of the distress, recognizing that there is no cause outside of your own mind. Bringing our minds to peace is where the resolution lies to every difficult situation.
 
Jesus continually encourages us to remember that our investment in healing is on behalf of our own happiness. Many of the things we ask for from God delay our homecoming. They are things that we think we need for our happiness. Isn't that what we usually pray for? Isn't that what the secret of the "Secret" is all about? We believe that we know what we want for our happiness, but the "me" that thinks it knows is always the ego, and the ego is not for our best interests. The things that I think I want may instead weigh me down and keep me attached to the world. If we insist on hanging onto our personal goals and staying in charge of our decisions, we will find that turning our minds over to the Holy Spirit and surrendering to His guidance will indeed be threatening. His priority is not about our stuff, our status, or our special relationships. He knows just as a good parent knows that what a child thinks he wants will not deliver the joy and happiness the child believes is contained in the thing he demands. Jesus reminds us often---we are like that child.
 
Let us give this day to God as our gift to Him. Let us be determined to protect the day from our own whims and wishes by asking for Him to be our Guide today. When we are tempted to set our own goals for the day, let us take a moment and step back and be willing to release our desires and wishes and ask instead, "What would you have me do?" "Where would you have me go?" And then, we listen. Our experience of a day of peace and joy comes from God and not from what seems to be happening to us. Come to this day with a wholly open mind. It is not for us to define what is in our own best interests. We truly do not know.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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