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

CHAPTER 23
The War Against Yourself

I. Introduction

 1 Do you not see the opposite of frailty and weakness is sinlessness? Innocence is strength, and nothing else is strong. The sinless cannot fear, for sin of any kind is weakness. The show of strength attack would use to cover frailty conceals it not, for how can the unreal be hidden? No one is strong who has an enemy, and no one can attack unless he thinks he has. Belief in enemies is therefore the belief in weakness, and what is weak is not the Will of God. Being opposed to it, it is its "enemy." And God is feared as an opposing will.

2 How strange indeed becomes this war against yourself! You will believe that everything you use for sin can hurt you and become your enemy. And you will fight against it and try to weaken it because of this; and you will think that you succeeded and attack again. It is as certain you will fear what you attack as it is sure that you will love what you perceive as sinless. He walks in peace who travels sinlessly along the way love shows him. For love walks with him there, protecting him from fear. And he will see only the sinless, who can not attack.

3 Walk you in glory with your head held high, and fear no evil. The innocent are safe because they share their innocence. Nothing they see is harmful, for their awareness of the truth releases everything from the illusion of harmfulness. And what seemed harmful now stands shining in their innocence, released from sin and fear, and happily returned to love. They share the strength of love because they looked on innocence. And every error disappeared because they saw it not. Who looks for glory finds it where it is . Where could it be but in the innocent?

4 Let not the little interferers pull you to littleness. There can be no attraction of guilt in innocence. Think what a happy world you walk with truth beside you! Do not give up this world of freedom for a little sigh of seeming sin nor for a tiny stirring of guilt's attraction. Would you, for all these meaningless distractions, lay Heaven aside? Your destiny and purpose are far beyond them in the clean place where littleness does not exist. Your purpose is at variance with littleness of any kind. And so it is at variance with sin.

5 Let us not let littleness lead God's Son into temptation. His glory is beyond it, measureless and timeless as eternity. Do not let time intrude upon your sight of him. Leave him not frightened and alone in his temptation but help him rise above it and perceive the light of which he is a part. Your innocence will light the way to his, and so is yours protected and kept in your awareness. For who can know his glory and perceive the little and the weak about him? Who can walk trembling in a fearful world and realize that Heaven's glory shines on him?

6 Nothing around you but is part of you. Look on it lovingly, and see the light of Heaven in it. So will you come to understand all that is given you. In kind forgiveness will the world sparkle and shine and everything you once thought sinful now will be reinterpreted as part of Heaven. How beautiful it is to walk clean and redeemed and happy through a world in bitter need of the redemption that your innocence bestows upon it! What can you value more than this? For here is your salvation and your freedom. And it must be complete if you would recognize it.

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TEXT

CHAPTER 23
The War Against Yourself

II. The Irreconcilable Beliefs

 7 The memory of God comes to the quiet mind. It cannot come where there is conflict, for a mind at war against itself remembers not eternal gentleness. The means of war are not the means of peace, and what the warlike would remember is not love. War is impossible unless belief in victory is cherished. Conflict within you must imply that you believe the ego has the power to be victorious. Why else would you identify with it? Surely you realize the ego is at war with God. Certain it is it has no enemy. Yet just as certain is its fixed belief it has an enemy that it must overcome and will succeed.

8 Do you not realize a war against yourself would be a war on God? Is victory conceivable? And if it were, is this a victory that you would want ? The death of God, if it were possible, would be your death. Is this a victory ? The ego always marches to defeat because it thinks that triumph over you is possible. And God thinks otherwise. This is no war—only the mad belief the Will of God can be attacked and overthrown. You may identify with this belief, but never will it be more than madness. And fear will reign in madness and will seem to have replaced love there. This is the conflict's purpose . And to those who think that it is possible, the means seem real.

9 Be certain that it is impossible God and the ego, or yourself and it, will ever meet. You seem to meet and make your strange alliances on grounds that have no meaning. For your beliefs converge upon the body, the ego's chosen home, which you believe is yours . You meet at a mistake—an error in your self-appraisal. The ego joins with an illusion of yourself you share with it. And yet illusions cannot join. They are the same, and they are nothing. Their joining lies in nothingness; two are as meaningless as one or as a thousand. The ego joins with nothing, being nothing. The victory it seeks is meaningless as is itself.

10 Brothers, the war against yourself is almost over. The journey's end is at the place of peace. Would you not now accept the peace offered you here? This "enemy" you fought as an intruder on your peace is here transformed before your sight into the giver of your peace. Your "enemy" was God Himself, to Whom all conflict, triumph, and attack of any kind are all unknown. He loves you perfectly, completely, and eternally. The Son of God at war with his Creator is a condition as ridiculous as nature roaring at the wind in anger and proclaiming that it is part of itself no more.

11 Could nature possibly establish this and make it true? Nor is it up to you to say what shall be part of you and what is kept apart. The war against yourself was undertaken to teach the Son of God that he is not himself and not his Father's Son. For this, the memory of his Father must be forgotten. It is forgotten in the body's life, and if you think you are a body, you will believe you have forgotten it. Yet truth can never be forgotten by itself , and you have not forgotten what you are. Only a strange illusion of yourself, a wish to triumph over what you are, remembers not.

12 The war against yourself is but the battle of two illusions, struggling to make them different from each other in the belief the one which conquers will be true. There is no conflict between them and the truth . Nor are they different from each other. Both are not true. And so it matters not what form they take. What made them is insane, and they remain part of what made them. Madness holds out no menace to reality and has no influence upon it. Illusions cannot triumph over truth, nor can they threaten it in any way. And the reality which they deny is not a part of them.

13 What you remember is a part of you. For you must be as God created you. Truth does not fight against illusions, nor do illusions fight against the truth. Illusions battle only with themselves. Being fragmented, they fragment. But truth is indivisible and far beyond their little reach. You will remember what you know when you have learned you cannot be in conflict. One illusion about yourself can battle with another, yet the war of two illusions is a state where nothing happens. There is no victor, and there is no victory. And truth stands radiant, apart from conflict, untouched and quiet in the peace of God.

14 Conflict must be between two forces. It cannot exist between one power and nothingness. There is nothing you could attack that is not part of you. And by attacking it, you make two illusions of yourself in conflict with each other. And this occurs whenever you look on anything that God created with anything but love. Conflict is fearful, for it is the birth of fear. Yet what is born of nothing cannot win reality through battle. Why would you fill your world with conflicts with yourself? Let all this madness be undone for you and turn in peace to the remembrance of God, still shining in your quiet mind.

15 See how the conflict of illusions disappears when it is brought to truth! For it seems real only as long as it is seen as war between conflicting truths , the conqueror to be the truer, the more real, and vanquisher of the illusion that was less real, made an illusion by defeat. Thus, conflict is the choice between illusions, one to be crowned as real, the other vanquished and despised. Here will the Father never be remembered. Yet no illusion can invade His home and drive Him out of what He loves forever. And what He loves must be forever quiet and at peace because it is His home. And you who are beloved of Him are no illusions, being as true and holy as Himself.

16 The stillness of your certainty of Him and of yourself is home to both of you, who dwell as one and not apart. Open the door of His most holy home and let forgiveness sweep away all trace of the belief in sin that keeps God homeless and His Son with Him. You are not strangers in the house of God. Welcome your brother to the home where God has set him in serenity and peace and dwells with him. Illusions have no place where love abides, protecting you from everything that is not true. You dwell in peace as limitless as its Creator, and everything is given those who would remember Him. Over His home the Holy Spirit watches, sure that its peace can never be disturbed.

17 How can the resting-place of God turn on itself and seek to overcome the One Who dwells there? And think what happens when the house of God perceives itself divided. The altar disappears, the light grows dim, the temple of the Holy One becomes a house of sin. And nothing is remembered except illusions. Illusions can conflict because their forms are different. And they do battle only to establish which form is true.

18 Illusion meets illusion; truth, itself. The meeting of illusions leads to war. Peace, looking on itself, extends itself. War is the condition in which fear is born and grows and seeks to dominate. Peace is the state where love abides and seeks to share itself. Conflict and peace are opposites. Where one abides the other cannot be; where either goes the other disappears. So is the memory of God obscured in minds that have become illusion's battleground. Yet far beyond this senseless war it shines, ready to be remembered when you side with peace.

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Lesson 253
My Self is ruler of the universe.

1 It is impossible that anything should come to me unbidden by myself. Even in this world, it is I who rule my destiny. What happens is what I desire. What does not occur is what I do not want to happen. This must I accept. For thus am I led past this world to my creations, children of my Will, in Heaven where my holy Self abides with them and Him Who has created me.

2 You are the Self Whom You created Son, creating like Yourself and one with You. My Self, Which rules the universe, is but Your Will in perfect union with my own, which can but offer glad assent to Yours that It may be extended to itself.

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Lesson 253
My Self is ruler of the universe.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
The Self that is the ruler of the universe is the Christ Self, and the universe is that of the spirit, not the physical universe. But, "Even in this world, it is I who rule my destiny." (W.253.1.2) This is because the world reflects what I hold in my mind. What this looks like is that, at some level, we have invited everything that happens. It is all part of the script, all for our learning, and thus, all helpful. We might wonder why we would invite abuse, betrayal, or judgment in our dream? The reason is so we can see our projections and thus see the false self. We project onto others the self-attacking thoughts we hold in our own minds. We prefer to see others guilty and blame them, instead of taking responsibility for our own attack thoughts. The problem is that projection never works. We think we are getting rid of our guilt, but what we are seeing are the judgments we hold against ourselves reflected back at us. By projecting them onto others, we think we can stay safe and protected. We think we can claim our innocence while proclaiming others guilty.
 
We have chosen everything that seems to be happening to us. When we refuse to take responsibility, we conveniently blame everyone and everything outside of ourselves. The problem with this is that we are now helpless in the face of what seems to be done to us. When we accept responsibility, we realize that we are the ones who have the power within us to change the way we see things. When we are willing to take responsibility for our judgments, our unworthiness, and our lack of trust and acceptance of ourselves, the healing process can start. It is very empowering to come to recognize that we are the creators of our world. We resist this idea only because we have falsely learned that we are the victims of outside circumstances. The fact is, no one but ourselves is responsible for our happiness, or unhappiness. It all comes from the choice that we make in our own minds to perceive with the ego, or the Holy Spirit. Will I choose to see what seems to be happening, as an opportunity for healing my mind, or decide to blame and to crucify? This is always the choice in front of us.
 
Our minds are the cause and the world is the effect, and not the other way around. A good beginning to understanding this Lesson is provided to us in Chapter 21.II.2.3-5 (ACIM OE CH. 21.III.15) "Responsibility for Sight." Jesus tells us that we need to affirm: "I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve. And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked . " This reflects what he tells us in this Lesson, "What happens is what I desire." (W.253.1.3) How can this be, we may wonder? Is it really possible that I have brought about everything that seems to be happening to me?
 
It is not an easy concept for us to embrace. It is because the idea of victimhood is so firmly held in our minds. Jesus says, "Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you." (T.21.II.2.6) (ACIM OE T.21. III.16) "It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident. No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it, outside of which is nothing. Suffer, and you decided sin was your goal. Be happy and you gave the power of decision to Him Who must decide for God for you." (T.21.II.3.1-6) (ACIM OE T.21.III.17)
 
It is all about our choice in accepting that there is no cause outside of our own minds. While the script for our lives has already been written and the circumstances that show up have already happened, how we respond to them is now up to us. Now our only choice is to ask, "Which teacher will I follow today?" "Will I let the ego be my guide today, or will I choose the Holy Spirit, Who knows how to exchange separation for salvation?" What we see depends on our interpretation, and our interpretation depends on which teacher we choose---the ego or the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows us that every brother is all brothers. We are all the same. He shows us that everything we see in the world is love, or a call for love. When we fight what we perceive in the world, we suffer. With acceptance and appreciation of the fact that we are dreaming this dream and all of it is coming from our own consciousness, the dream can now be given another interpretation. Clearly, Jesus reminds us that we have the power to dominate all things and are not at the mercy of outside circumstances.
 
I am one with my brother. If I look to prove otherwise, I am denying my own reality. We do this constantly when we prefer to see differences and see ourselves as innocent, while seeing our brothers as the guilty ones. I am not, nor is my brother, independent of our Source. The Self that is the ruler of the universe is the Self I am in truth, one with my Creator, and one that shares His Will. It has nothing to do with the little self I identify with as a body living in this world.
 
Our minds are powerful, and we can indeed manifest what we think we want in the world. However, manifesting anything from the ego will not bring us true peace and happiness. Yes, we may achieve temporary happiness, but because we don't know our own best interests, we can't know what serves our highest good. Using the power of the mind by manifesting what we think we want, as discussed in "The Secret," can be an important stepping-stone in bringing to us the awareness that we do have the power to manifest. As Jesus says, "Why is it strange to you that faith can move mountains? This is indeed a little feat for such a power." (T.21.III.3) (ACIM OE T.21.IV.31)
 
Only by choosing with the Holy Spirit will any real and lasting happiness be available to us. To choose with the Holy Spirit is to ask in everything, "How would you have me see this situation?" "What would you have me do?" "What would you have me say, and to whom?" Today, instead of seeking that which continues to keep us bound to the world, we can choose to turn to the truth within. This is where we can hear the loving and gentle Voice for God remind us of His Love. We make a decision for Heaven, or for hell, in every moment, in every decision, and in every circumstance.
 
When I have a disagreement with anyone, I notice how I go through a process in my own mind as to whether I will choose to join with my brother, or to punish him for his indiscretions as I perceive them. When I think he "deserves" punishment and my anger is justified, I find it challenging to choose forgiveness. Only by doing so can I know the truth of who I am. As long as I choose the ego, I stay stuck in my anger and grievances.
 
What keeps me there and keeps me from my happiness? Only my own decision! In that moment, I am literally refusing to accept the healing power of the Holy Spirit in my mind. It is up to me whether I choose to suffer, or choose happiness. Is that really a choice? Every step we take to join with a brother, and every decision we make with the Holy Spirit, is a decision against our exile as separate egos, separate personalities, and separate selves. This seeming existence is not the truth of our reality. We are an extension of God. "My Self is holy beyond all thoughts of holiness of which I now conceive." (W.252.1) In other words, any idea of holiness does not match the shimmering, perfect purity, far beyond the brilliant light and limitless love that we are. Yet this can only be experienced, and the experience comes when we commit to forgiveness.
 
The ideas that are given here: "What happens is what I desire. What does not occur is what I do not want to happen," (W.253.1.3-4) can bring about self-recrimination, where we blame ourselves for the state of our lives. This is how the ego turns powerful truth against us. It is just another way the ego tries to keep us trapped in the false identity. When we recognize that it is the interpretation we put on any event that hurts us, rather than the event itself, we will not judge anything that shows up as good or bad. Instead, we will recognize that the Holy Spirit uses all events and circumstances in our lives for healing when we let Him. With desire and willingness, we are "led past this world." (W.253.1.6)
 
It is important to accept ourselves, regardless of what is currently happening in our lives. It is not helpful to use Lessons such as this to judge ourselves when we are experiencing divorce, financial lack, loneliness, or sickness. We don't know what gift of healing is being presented in every circumstance. The important thing is to be gentle and compassionate with ourselves in this human journey back to the love we are.
 
We continue to read these Lessons in the context of the teaching, "What is Sin?" We are reminded in this section that we have come to think of ourselves as sinful, evil, and corrupted beings, who have taken the perfection of our creation and made a mockery of it. We feel so guilty about what we have done---that we have come here to hide from God in this illusory world. We are now afraid of God and afraid of our true Self, as an extension of God. And while we identify ourselves as these separate beings, living in the world of illusions, we look for substitutes for happiness, including special relationships, power, prestige, money, and status. Finally, when we realize our happiness is not found in any of these things and disillusionment sets in, we begin the awakening process offered through the Course. Through this journey, we recognize that nothing real has happened. We are still one with God, experiencing a dream of this world. Now we are committed to waking up from this dream, using the experiences of the world to assist us in this process. Thus, nothing is wrong with anything that seems to be happening since we have called it all forth for the purpose of awakening.
 
What we are seeing in the world is a projection of what is in the mind. Thus, our lives are a perfect reflection of our relationship with ourselves. If we are experiencing a lack in our external world, we are feeling a lack in ourselves. If our relationships are distant, we have a distant relationship with ourselves. Anything that is less than satisfactory in the external experience is another opportunity to look within. There is no need to change anything, but only to recognize that there is power within to transform ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit.
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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