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

The War Against Yourself

IV. Salvation Without Compromise

 41 Is it not true you do not recognize some of the forms attack can take? If it is true attack in any form will hurt you and will do so just as much as in another form which you do recognize, then it must follow that you do not always recognize the source of pain. Attack in any form is equally destructive. Its purpose does not change. Its sole intent is murder, and what form of murder serves to cover the massive guilt and frantic fear of punishment the murderer must feel? He may deny he is a murderer and justify his savagery with smiles as he attacks. Yet he will suffer and will look on his intent in nightmares where the smiles are gone and where the purpose rises to meet his horrified awareness and pursue him still. For no one thinks of murder and escapes the guilt the thought entails. If the intent is death, what matter the form it takes?

42 Is death in any form, however lovely and charitable it may seem to be, a blessing and a sign the Voice for God speaks through you to your brother? The wrapping does not make the gift you give. An empty box, however beautiful and gently given, still contains nothing. And neither the receiver nor the giver is long deceived. Withhold forgiveness from your brother, and you attack him. You give him nothing and receive of him but what you gave.

43 Salvation is no compromise of any kind. To compromise is to accept but part of what you want—to take a little and give up the rest. Salvation gives up nothing. It is complete for everyone. Let the idea of compromise but enter, and the awareness of salvation's purpose is lost because it is not recognized. It is denied where compromise has been accepted, for compromise is the belief salvation is impossible. It would maintain you can attack a little, love a little, and know the difference . Thus it would teach a little of the same can still be different, and yet the same remain intact as one. Does this make sense? Can it be understood?

44 This course is easy just because it makes no compromise. Yet it seems difficult to those who still believe that compromise is possible. They do not see that, if it is, salvation is attack . Yet it is certain the belief that salvation is impossible cannot uphold a quiet, calm assurance it has come. Forgiveness cannot be withheld a little. Nor is it possible to attack for this and love for that and understand forgiveness. Would you not want to recognize assault upon your peace in any form, if only thus does it become impossible that you lose sight of it? It can be kept shining before your vision, forever clear and never out of sight if you defend it not.

45 Those who believe that peace can be defended and that attack is justified on its behalf cannot perceive it lies within them. How could they know? Could they accept forgiveness side by side with the belief that murder takes some forms by which their peace is saved? Would they be willing to accept the fact their savage purpose is directed against themselves? No one unites with enemies nor is at one with them in purpose. And no one compromises with an enemy but hates him still for what he kept from him.

46 Mistake not truce for peace, nor compromise for the escape from conflict. To be released from conflict means that it is over . The door is open; you have left the battleground. You have not lingered there in cowering hope because the guns are still an instant and the fear that haunts the place of death is not apparent that it will not return. There is no safety in a battleground. You can look down on it in safety from above and not be touched. But from within it, you can find no safety. Not one tree left standing still will shelter you. Not one illusion of protection stands against the faith in murder. Here stands the body, torn between the natural desire to communicate and the unnatural intent to murder and to die. Think you the form that murder takes can offer safety? Can guilt be absent from a battlefield? [Do not remain in conflict, for there is no war without attack.]

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A Course in Miracles

The War Against Yourself

V. The Fear of Life

 47 The fear of God is fear of life and not of death. Yet He remains the only place of safety. In Him is no attack, and no illusion in any form stalks Heaven. Heaven is wholly true. No difference enters, and what is all the same cannot conflict. You are not asked to fight against your wish to murder. But you are asked to realize the form it takes conceals the same intent. And it is this you fear and not the form. What is not love is murder. What is not loving must be an attack. Every illusion is an assault on truth, and every one does violence to the idea of love because it seems to be of equal truth.

48 What can be equal to the truth yet different? Murder and love are incompatible. Yet if they both are true, then must they be the same and indistinguishable from one another. So will they be to those who see God's Son a body. For it is not the body that is like the Son's Creator. And what is lifeless cannot be the Son of Life. How can a body be extended to hold the universe? Can it create and be what it creates? And can it offer its creations all that it is and never suffer loss?

49 God does not share His function with a body. He gave the function to create unto His Son because it is His own. It is not sinful to believe the function of the Son is murder, but it is insanity. What is the same can have no different function. Creation is the means for God's extension, and what is His must be His Son's as well. Either the Father and the Son are murderers or neither is. Life makes not death, creating like itself.

50 The lovely light of your relationship is like the love of God. It cannot yet assume the holy function God gave His Son, for your forgiveness of one another is not complete as yet, and so it cannot be extended to all creation. Each form of murder and attack that still attracts you and that you do not recognize for what it is limits the healing and the miracles you have the power to extend to all. Yet does the Holy Spirit understand how to increase your little gifts and make them mighty. Also He understands how your relationship is raised above the battleground, in it no more. This is your part—to realize that murder in any form is not your will. The overlooking of the battleground is now your purpose.

51 Be lifted up and from a higher place look down upon it. From there will your perspective be quite different. Here in the midst of it, it does seem real. Here you have chosen to be part of it. Here murder is your choice. Yet from above, the choice is miracles instead of murder. And the perspective coming from this choice shows you the battle is not real and easily escaped. Bodies may battle, but the clash of forms is meaningless. And it is over when you realize it never was begun. How can a battle be perceived as nothingness when you engage in it? How can the truth of miracles be recognized if murder is your choice?

52 When the temptation to attack rises to make your mind darkened and murderous, remember you can see the battle from above. Even in forms you do not recognize, the signs you know. There is a stab of pain, a twinge of guilt, and above all, a loss of peace. This you know well. When it occurs, leave not your place on high but quickly choose a miracle instead of murder. And God Himself and all the lights of Heaven will gently lean to you and hold you up. For you have chosen to remain where He would have you, and no illusion can attack the peace of God together with His Son.

53 See no one from the battleground, for there you look on him from nowhere. You have no reference-point from where to look, where meaning can be given what you see. For only bodies could attack and murder, and if this is your purpose, then you must be one with them. Only a purpose unifies, and those who share a purpose have a mind as one. The body has no purpose and must be solitary. From below, it cannot be surmounted. From above, the limits it exerts on those in battle still are gone and not perceived. The body stands between the Father and the Heaven He created for His Son because it has no purpose.

54 Think what is given those who share their Father's purpose and who know that it is theirs! They want for nothing. Sorrow of any kind is inconceivable. Only the light they love is in awareness, and only love shines upon them forever. It is their past, their present, and their future always the same, eternally complete, and wholly shared. They know it is impossible their happiness could ever suffer change of any kind. Perhaps you think the battleground can offer something that you can win. Can it be anything that offers you a perfect calmness and a sense of love so deep and quiet that no touch of doubt can ever mar your certainty? And that will last forever?

55 Those with the strength of God in their awareness could never think of battle. What could they gain but loss of their perfection? For everything fought for on the battleground is of the body—something it seems to offer or to own. No one who knows that he has everything could seek for limitation, nor could he value the body's offerings. The senselessness of conquest is quite apparent from the quiet sphere above the battleground. What can conflict with everything? And what is there that offers less, yet could be wanted more? Who with the love of God upholding him could find the choice of miracles or murder hard to make?

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 256
God is the only goal I have today.

1 The way to God is through forgiveness here. There is no other way. If sin had not been cherished by the mind, what need would there have been to find a way to where you are? Who would still be uncertain? Who could be unsure of who he is? And who would yet remain asleep in heavy clouds of doubt about the holiness of him who God created sinless? Here we can but dream. But we can dream we have forgiven him in whom all sin remains impossible, and it is this we choose to dream today. God is our goal; forgiveness is the means by which our minds return to Him at last.

2 And so, our Father, would we come to You in Your appointed way. We have no goal except to hear Your Voice and find the way Your sacred Word has pointed out to us.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 256
God is the only goal I have today.

 Sarah's Commentary:
While Jesus reminds us to make God our only goal today, which is a vertical perspective, he reminds us that we make the goal real for us through the healing of relationships here, which is a horizontal perspective. And just in case we may think the way to God is to retreat to a monastery to meditate and pray all day, the means given us in the Course are for healing through relationships. He says in this Lesson, "There is no other way." (W.256.1.2) Thus, we are urged to make this our way to Heaven through the healing of all our special relationships.
Jesus tells us that forgiveness is an illusion, but it is an illusion that ends all other illusions. In the context of the discussion on sin, it is an illusion because sin is not real and we have not sinned. We believe we have sinned because we have bought the ego's story. Sin only seems real to us because Jesus says it is "cherished by the mind." (W.256.1.3) In other words, we actually value sin and hold onto it in the mind, strange as that might sound to us. Yet we have the power to release our hold on it, and we will do so when we see the cost to us of holding onto it. When our belief in guilt and sin is released, we remember who we are and where we are. We are at home in God, where we have never left except in dreams. It is our fear of love that keeps us invested in sin and guilt.
The Course reminds us that sin is a false belief. It is based on our belief that we have messed up Creation and have done permanent damage in order to establish our individual identity. We believe God had to be killed in order for us to exist, and the ego tells us it was a horrendous crime on our part. Now we walk around feeling like we have done something terribly wrong, but we can't place our finger on what this feeling is all about. There is a sense of deep unworthiness that we try to compensate for by doing our best to be good.
We are reminded of our belief in sin whenever we blame and judge others for their indiscretions as a way to make them feel guilty. In comparison, we present our own face of innocence. Thus, we hope in the end that they are the ones to get punished by God, and we get off "scot-free." But while the ego tells us this is the way to be rid of our guilt, it does not let us see that this is precisely how we keep it. "For it is the ego’s fundamental doctrine that what you do to others you have escaped. The ego wishes no one well. Yet its survival depends on your belief that you are exempt from its evil intentions. It counsels, therefore, that if you are host to it, it will enable you to direct its anger outward, thus protecting you." (T.15.VII.4.2-5) (ACIM OE T.15.VIII.68) The belief we hold is that the more anger we invest outside ourselves, the safer we will become. Attack and defense become the cycle of our lives.
What this does is bury us deeper and deeper into this insanity. But Jesus shows us the way out of this darkness by redirecting our senses to see innocence in our brothers instead of guilt. Now we can choose to send out messengers of love instead of messengers that bring back evidence of our brother's guilt. When we do see guilt in our brothers and condemn them for it, we are called instead to give our judgments over to the Holy Spirit to have them reinterpreted by Him. It requires consistent mind watching so we can see our judgments and realize that we are at a choice-point where we can choose to condemn or to forgive. Which one we choose determines our decision for Heaven or hell, peace or suffering.
Where we see our brother is where we will see ourselves. "The sword of judgment is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love." (T.31.VII.9.2) (ACIM OE T.31.VII.76) "Every time you feel a stab of anger, realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free." (W.192.9.4-5) Which one will we choose? How much longer will we choose to suffer? Salvation is in our minds, and the power of decision is our own.
We are reminded that sin is insanity. The mind actually seeks to replace the truth. Why would we ever want to do that? What would truth reveal to us that we are so afraid of? Ultimately, we are afraid to lose our specialness, our uniqueness, and our identity, and thus, we hold onto sin and guilt instead. Through forgiveness, we release the blocks in the mind until we come to the awareness that we have never separated from God. "God is our goal; forgiveness is the means by which our minds return to Him at last." (W.256.1.9) When we don't choose the means given us to heal our minds, we are not committed to our goal to be One with all beings and with God.
Forgiveness is the means by which we learn that we are not egos with separate identities. Through forgiveness, we learn that our reality is not contained in a body and there is no death. We fear to learn this since our sense of identity, individuality, specialness, and control all seem to be threatened, as we hang onto the self we think we are. The world seems very real to us because we are always looking through our senses, which bring back evidence that the world of form is, indeed, real and solid. Our eyes and ears give us the evidence of guilt in others. We see it everywhere. "Sin gave the body eyes, for what is there the sinless would behold?" (W.PII.Q4.1.4)
It is important to remain vigilant in looking at the interpretations we give everything that we perceive and to be willing to ask for help to see our brothers through the eyes of Christ. It is why it takes so much work and discipline. It seems much easier to simply go with the "evidence" offered by the ego because we like being right about our judgments of others. These judgments are based on the "evidence" gathered by our senses. Yet the ego directs those senses. Thus, the information gathered is based on the beliefs that we already hold in the mind, rather than on what is true. Therefore, we will always be wrong about how we are seeing our brothers when we use our own perceptions to guide us. It can be unsettling to acknowledge that we just don't know. It may feel like the ground is shifting under our feet, without any solid footing in this new territory that we are entering.
Jesus says, "The body is the instrument the mind made in its efforts to deceive itself. Its purpose is to strive." (W.PII.Q4.2.1-2) When we strive for things of this world, the implication is that they are real and have value. We have goals for which we strive because we still think there is something in the world that will make us happy, but we deceive ourselves. The more we see this, the more we are willing to give up these attempts at self-deception and instead use our striving for another purpose, which is to know the truth. Anything of the ego can be turned over to the Holy Spirit to be used for healing and awakening.
There is only one mind, but we have the illusion of many minds, all asleep and dreaming. Why did we set things up so miserably for ourselves? We have kept hidden from ourselves the secret goal we have, which is to be the victim of others in all of our relationships, so we never have to get in touch with the real cause of our misery. These are the secret vows we made. "Unstated and unheard in consciousness is every pledge to sickness. Yet it is a promise to another to be hurt by him, and to attack him in return." (T.28.VI.4.6-7) (ACIM OE T.28.VII.57)
We think the world, beginning with our parents and continuing with all of our other relationships, is the cause of our unhappiness. But the world and all of our relationships are only a clever diversion that we have made to keep the real source of our unhappiness hidden from ourselves. That source is our all-consuming desire for the separation to be real at any cost because we value the separate selves we think we are. The truth is that we can't separate from truth. We can only be unaware of what we are. And while we made a secret vow to maintain the gap with our brothers, we made another vow to our Father. In our creation, our Father said, "You are beloved of Me and I of you forever. Be you perfect as Myself, for you can never be apart from Me." (T.28.VI.6.4-5) (ACIM OE T.28.VII.59) What we don’t remember is that we "replied, 'I will'." (T.28.VI.6.6) (ACIM OE T.28.VII.59)
The world is the effect and not the cause of how we feel, no matter how much we may have convinced ourselves otherwise. We can change our thoughts about the world by looking within our own minds to uncover the blocks we have placed there to the awareness of love's presence. The world is just an outward picture of our inward condition. Thus, it serves a very important purpose as a classroom. The world reflects our unhealed perceptions and thus helps us to see what we need to let go of. This is not an easy process. Learning to forgive takes practice. It is challenging when what we see as the insanity of this world all seems so real. In fact, all we are seeing starts with the beliefs we hold in our own minds. Everything we see and experience in the world and all of our relationships provide us with a perfect curriculum for healing. It does not matter if it comes in a movie, nature, circumstances in our lives, or people who seemingly attack us---it is all for our healing, whatever form it takes. Whatever unloving thoughts are brought up, in whatever form they appear---uneasiness, depression, anger, fear, worry, attack, insecurity, and so on---we need to become aware of them and recognize that it is not the truth of what we are.
We are given many opportunities to forgive. The things of this world have no other purpose and no other value except this. Can I simply learn to be grateful for the curriculum of this world and allow it to be the beautiful classroom it is for my awakening? There is no other purpose for our lives. When we accept this purpose, the world becomes meaningful. "And so, our Father, would we come to You in Your appointed way." (W.256.2.1) His appointed way is through forgiveness. In fact, this is the only way to God. No matter which path we choose to take to God, there is only one theme it must encompass. "Its central theme is always, 'God's Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation'." (Manual for Teachers.1.3.5) When sin is cherished, we block God out. The only way to let go of sin is to overlook it in our brother. When we forgive our brother, we can let go of our own guilt and know that we are innocent. Let us today commit to our Lesson, "God is the only goal I have today." (W.256)
Love and blessings, Sarah


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