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

Salvation and the Holy Relationship

V. The Branching of the Road

 38 When you come to the place where the branch in the road is quite apparent, you cannot go ahead. You must go either one way or the other. For now if you go straight ahead, the way you went before you reached the branch, you will go nowhere . The whole purpose of coming this far was to decide which branch you will take now . The way you came no longer matters. It can no longer serve. No one who reaches this far can make the wrong decision, but he can delay. And there is no part of the journey that seems more hopeless and futile than standing where the road branches and not deciding on which way to go.

39 It is but the first few steps along the right way that seem hard, for you have chosen, although you still may think you can go back and make the other choice. This is not so. A choice made with the power of Heaven to uphold it cannot be undone. Your way is decided. There will be nothing you will not be told if you acknowledge this.

40 And so you stand, here in this holy place, before the veil of sin that hangs between you and the face of Christ. Let it be lifted! Raise it together, for it is but a veil that stands between you. Either alone will see it as a solid block, nor realize how thin the drapery that separates you now. Yet it is almost over in your awareness, and peace has reached you even here before the veil. Think what will happen after! The love of Christ will light your faces and shine from them into a darkened world that needs the light. And from this holy place He will return with you, not leaving it nor you. You will become His messengers, returning Him unto Himself.

41 Think of the loveliness that you will see who walk with Him! And think how beautiful will each of you look to the other! How happy you will be to be together after such a long and lonely journey where you walked alone. The gates of Heaven, open now for you, will you now open to the sorrowful. And none who looks upon the Christ in you but will rejoice. How beautiful the sight you saw beyond the veil which you will bring to light the tired eyes of those as weary now as once you were. How thankful will they be to see you come among them, offering Christ's forgiveness to dispel their faith in sin.

42 Every mistake you make the other will gently have corrected for you, for in his sight your loveliness is his salvation which he would protect from harm. And each will be the other's strong protector from everything that seems to rise between you. So shall you walk the world with me, whose message has not yet been given to everyone. For you are here to let it be received . God's offer still is open, yet it waits acceptance. From you who have accepted it is it received. Into your joined hands is it safely given, for you who share it have become its willing guardians and protectors.

43 To all who share the love of God, the grace is given to be the givers of what they have received. And so they learn that it is theirs forever. All barriers disappear before their coming, as every obstacle was finally surmounted which seemed to rise and block their way before. This veil you lift together opens the way to truth to more than you. Those who would let illusions be lifted from their minds are this world's saviors, walking the world with their Redeemer and carrying His message of hope and freedom and release from suffering to everyone who needs a miracle to save him.

44 How easy is it to offer this miracle to everyone! No one who has received it for himself could find it difficult. For by receiving it, he learned it was not given him alone. Such is the function of a holy relationship—to receive together and give as you received. Standing before the veil, it still seems difficult. But hold out your joined hands and touch this heavy-seeming block, and you will learn how easily your fingers slip through its nothingness. It is no solid wall. And only an illusion stands between you and the holy Self you share.

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A Course in Miracles

Salvation and the Holy Relationship

VI. Weakness and Defensiveness

 45 How does one overcome illusions? Surely not by force or anger nor by opposing them in any way. Merely by letting reason tell you that they contradict reality. They go against what must be true. The opposition comes from them and not reality. Reality opposes nothing. What merely is needs no defense and offers none. Only illusions need defense because of weakness. And how can it be difficult to walk the way of truth when only weakness interferes? You are the strong ones in this seeming conflict. And you need no defense. Everything that needs defense you do not want, for anything that needs defense will weaken you.

46 Consider what the ego wants defenses for —always to justify what goes against the truth, flies in the face of reason, and makes no sense. Can this be justified? What can this be except an invitation to insanity to save you from the truth? And what would you be saved from but what you fear? Belief in sin needs great defense and at enormous cost. All that the Holy Spirit offers must be defended against and sacrificed. For sin is carved into a block out of your peace and laid between you and its return. Yet how can peace be so fragmented? It is still whole, and nothing has been taken from it.

47 See how the means and the material of evil dreams are nothing. In truth you stand together with nothing in between. God holds your hands, and what can separate whom He has joined as one with Him? It is your Father Whom you would defend against. Yet it remains impossible to keep love out. God rests with you in quiet, undefended and wholly undefending, for in this quiet state alone is strength and power. Here can no weakness enter, for here is no attack and therefore no illusions. Love rests in certainty. Only uncertainty can be defensive. And all uncertainty is doubt about yourself .

48 How weak is fear—how little and how meaningless! How insignificant before the quiet strength of those whom love has joined! This is your "enemy"—a frightened mouse that would attack the universe. How likely is it that it will succeed? Can it be difficult to disregard its feeble squeaks that tell of its omnipotence and would drown out the hymn of praise to its Creator which every heart throughout the universe forever sings as one? Which is the stronger? Is it this tiny mouse or everything that God created? You are not joined together by this mouse but by the Will of God. And can a mouse betray whom God has joined?

49 If you but recognized how little stands between you and your awareness of your union! Be not deceived by the illusions it presents of size and thickness, weight, solidity, and firmness of foundation. Yes, to the body's eyes it looks like an enormous solid body, immovable as is a mountain. Yet within you there is a Force which no illusions can resist. This body only seems to be immovable; this Force is irresistible in truth. What, then, must happen when they come together? Can the illusion of immovability be long defended from what is quietly passed through and gone beyond?

50 Forget not, when you feel the need arise to be defensive about anything, you have identified yourself with an illusion. And therefore feel that you are weak because you are alone. This is the cost of all illusions. Not one but rests on the belief that you are separate. Not one that does not seem to stand, heavy and solid and immovable, between you and your brother. And not one that truth cannot pass over lightly and so easily that you must be convinced, in spite of what you thought it was, that it is nothing. If you forgive each other, this must happen. For it is your unwillingness to overlook what seems to stand between you that makes it look impenetrable and defends the illusion of its immovability.

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 249
Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss.

1 Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible, and anger makes no sense. Attack is gone, and madness has an end. What suffering is now conceivable? What loss can be sustained? The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity, and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the Light that it reflects. And so the journey which the Son of God began has ended in the Light from Which he came.

2 Father, we would return our minds to You. We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death. Now would we rest again in You, as You created us.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 249
Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss.

 Sarah's Commentary:
When I read this lesson I think about Jesus and how those who witnessed the crucifixion experienced great suffering and loss. Yet Jesus did not see it that way. He saw it as an opportunity to teach forgiveness, as well as to demonstrate that he knew he was not a body in the same way as he teaches that we are not bodies. "I said before that the message of the crucifixion was, 'Teach only love, for that is what you are'." (T.6.III.2.4) (ACIM OE T.6.II.18) Through his demonstration, he offered us a symbol of a world where suffering is over and "loss becomes impossible." (W.249.1.1) He also showed us "anger makes no sense . " (W249.1.1) When he was attacked, he showed nothing but love in return, which is why he asks us to take him as our model for learning. And the reason this was possible for him, according to what he taught, is that he could see the world from outside this dream, knowing his reality was not that of a figure in the dream, but an eternal being of light and love. The crucifixion was an extreme example for the world, and yet he says, "You are not asked to be crucified, which was part of my own teaching contribution. You are merely asked to follow my example in the face of much less extreme temptations to misperceive, and not to accept them as false justifications for anger." (T.6.I.6.6) (ACIM OE T.6.II.9)
The world we seem to live in is one where we see suffering and loss all around us and in our own lives. We hold the belief that anger and attack are a way to get what we think we want. It is a world defined by winners and losers. Attack and defense define our relationships in which we try to win at the expense of others. Because we recognize others want the same thing as we want and are committed to the same strategy, we now see ourselves being attacked, and so we put up all kinds of defenses. It is a world of pain, where suffering abounds, but we can only experience it in this way when we see ourselves as figures in this dream.
Forgiveness offers us the means to step outside of the illusion to above this battleground and observe the unreality of the drama of this world. What we see in the world is all just a projection of the attack thoughts in our own minds. The origin of these attack thoughts came with our attack on God, which resulted in having gained our separate selves. By gaining at God's expense, we now perceive attack can get us what we want, and thus we think it benefits us. Our attack thoughts are now projected onto the world. It appears to us that ideas have left their source in our own minds. Now, rather than seeing attack originating in our own minds, we see it in the world as a result of our projections. We prefer to see it this way so we don’t have to take responsibility for the attack as coming from our own minds and can, instead, claim victimhood and see ourselves as unfairly treated by the world. Forgiveness shows us that when we bring awareness to our thoughts of attack and we become willing to be totally accountable for them, they are transformed by the Holy Spirit.
The attack thoughts we hold in the mind are the cause of suffering and loss, yet the ego tells us to attack to get what we want and to defend ourselves as a way to alleviate our suffering. All that does is maintain the suffering. Jesus tells us that all our suffering is unforgiveness, even though we may attribute it to something else.
When we hold grievances, it is because we want something in the world to be different than it is. When our rules for how life should be are broken, grievances arise and with them come thoughts of attack. To free ourselves from this cycle of attack and defense, we need to bring every grievance, every thought of attack, every judgment, all conflict, and all blame to the Holy Spirit. It is important we take back our projections so we can know our own true power.
Our hate scares us so we deny and rationalize it, but Jesus talks about the importance of not denying our hateful thoughts because when we do, we can't bring them to the Holy Spirit to be released. Neither should we feel guilty about them. Rather, we should be grateful that they are showing up. When we look at them dispassionately, we will see that they are meaningless thoughts that do not define us. We need to do the work of forgiveness, or we will continue to suffer and suffering blocks the joy and peace in the mind. Yes, we will experience pain as we go through the process of uncovering the darkness in the unconscious mind. However, Jesus tells us that such pain is unnecessary and is generally part of this experience. Yet when we go through it with his presence next to us, we have the courage to look at our pain.
I had a dream last night that I said something untrue in order to aggrandize myself. The lie was about to be revealed and I suffered immensely, wondering how I could manage to keep this lie under wraps as it was about to be exposed. Waking up, I realized, with relief, that it was all a dream. I thought how interesting it was that I had created my own suffering simply with my meaningless thoughts. Isn't this what we do all the time? It may not seem to us that forgiveness is the answer for all suffering, but we need to recognize that course-based forgiveness is different than what we think of as forgiveness in the world because we are not forgiving anything real.
Jesus tells us that this world is a dream. It is all illusion. Nothing real has happened. Thus, our attacks have no real effects. Just like in my night-time dream, when we wake up, we see that we dreamt the whole experience. In this world too, we are just dream-figures, dreaming our experience here. This can only be seen when all our attack thoughts that are projected onto the world are released. In this context, we can see that anger truly has no justification. Getting angry is not wrong, but we need to see that there is no reason for the anger.
If I am angry at you for what you did in my nighttime dream, you would have to think this is nothing but insanity, since nothing has happened. In the same way, we learn to see what seemed to be done in this worldly dream as an attack on us does not justify our anger. Yes, you may have said something or done something intended to hurt me, but what does that really have to do with me? I don't have to see it as an attack. I don't have to take it personally. I can see it as your call for understanding and love. The fact is that you have expressed your anger at me, but it is a neutral event. Only my interpretation of your expression can upset me. If I do get hurt or feel angry and want to retaliate, it is an opportunity for me to see my own projection of the attack thoughts in my own mind.
When we are unforgiving, we frighten ourselves. Our minds are now in the grip of bitterness, which really is self-torture. This is why we are motivated to ask for help in bringing peace to our minds. When we give up the stories that keep our minds in bitterness, then suffering is replaced with joy, loss with abundance, attack with charity, and lack with endless giving. So with forgiveness, we release feelings of anger and hurt. We release the sense we have that we are not loveable. We release the past. It is only in the present that we can grow, expand, and truly shine. It is through forgiveness that we are truly born again because here we remember ourselves as we were created.
It is not always simple and easy for the twisted mind. We may have to really go deep into our experience and feel the pain, and when we do experience suffering, then calling on the loving support of the Holy Spirit becomes essential. That support is always available, waiting for our willingness and readiness to open ourselves to it. With each release, "The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving." (W249.1.5) It is not that the world actually becomes this, but we see in it a reflection of Heaven when our minds come to peace. And thus, we know ourselves as God created us---perfect and unlimited.
Forgiveness is ultimately about our own self-interest. When someone seems to have offended us, we think we need to defend ourselves, but as Byron Katie says, defense is the first statement of war. Instead, Jesus, our elder brother and teacher, has demonstrated for us that all attack is just a call for forgiveness because they know not what they do. He is not urging us to do something to please God. It is only for our own release that he urges us to follow his counsel, but it is entirely up to us. We are free to do as we choose.
Let us welcome the opportunities that show up in our day to find peace, happiness, abundance, and joy through forgiveness. Let us choose to free our minds from anger and attack by focusing on anyone that seems to be causing us difficulties today, and let us see it as an opportunity to see where healing is needed in our own minds. "Father we would return our minds to You. We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death. Now would we rest again in You, as You created us." (W.249.2.1-3) Pray the prayer with the desire to truly return your mind to the holiness within. It is all about releasing our imprisoned will.

Love and blessings, Sarah


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