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

CHAPTER 24
Specialness and Separation

I. Introduction

 1 Forget not that the motivation for this course is the attainment and the keeping of the state of peace. Given this state the mind is quiet, and the condition in which God is remembered is attained. It is not necessary to tell Him what to do. He will not fail. Where He can enter, there He is already. And can it be He cannot enter where He wills to be? Peace will be yours because it is His Will. Can you believe a shadow can hold back the Will that holds the universe secure? God does not wait upon illusions to let Him be Himself. No more His Son. They are . And what illusion that idly seems to drift between them has the power to defeat what is Their Will?

2 To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning. No belief is neutral. Every one has the power to dictate each decision you make. For a decision is a conclusion based on everything that you believe. It is the outcome of belief and follows it as surely as does suffering follow guilt and freedom sinlessness. There is no substitute for peace. What God creates has no alternative. The truth arises from what He knows . And your decisions come from your beliefs as certainly as all creation rose in His Mind because of what He knows.

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TEXT

CHAPTER 24
Specialness and Separation

II. Specialness as a Substitute for Love

 3 Love is extension. To withhold the smallest gift is not to know love's purpose. Love offers everything forever. Hold back but one belief, one offering, and love is gone because you asked a substitute to take its place. And now must war, the substitute for peace, come with the one alternative that you can choose for love. Your choosing it has given it all the reality it seems to have.

4 Beliefs will never openly attack each other, because conflicting outcomes are impossible. But an unrecognized belief is a decision to war in secret, where the results of conflict are kept unknown and never brought to reason to be considered sensible or not. And many senseless outcomes have been reached, and meaningless decisions have been made and kept hidden to become beliefs, now given power to direct all subsequent decisions. Mistake you not the power of these hidden warriors to disrupt your peace. For it is at their mercy while you decide to leave it there. The secret enemies of peace, your least decision to choose attack instead of love, unrecognized and swift to challenge you to combat and to violence far more inclusive than you think, are there by your election. Do not deny their presence nor their terrible results. All that can be denied is their reality, but not their outcome.

5 All that is ever cherished as a hidden belief, to be defended though unrecognized, is faith in specialness. This takes many forms but always clashes with the reality of God's creation and with the grandeur which He gave His Son. What else could justify attack? For who could hate someone whose Self is his and whom He knows? Only the special could have enemies, for they are different and not the same. And difference of any kind imposes orders of reality and a need to judge that cannot be escaped.

6 What God created cannot be attacked, for there is nothing in the universe unlike itself. But what is different calls for judgment, and this must come from someone "better," someone incapable of being like what he condemns, "above" it, sinless by comparison with it. And thus does specialness become a means and end at once. For specialness not only sets apart but serves as grounds from which attack on those who seem "beneath" the special one is "natural" and "just." The special ones feel weak and frail because of differences, for what would make them special is their enemy. Yet they protect its enmity and call it "friend." On its behalf they fight against the universe, for nothing in the world they value more.

7 Specialness is the great dictator of the wrong decisions. Here is the grand illusion of what you are and what your brother is. And here is what must make the body dear and worth preserving. Specialness must be defended . Illusions can attack it, and they do . For what your brother must become to keep your specialness is an illusion. He who is "worse" than you must be attacked so that your specialness can live on his defeat. For specialness is triumph, and its victory is his defeat and shame. How can he live with all your sins upon him? And who must be his conqueror but you?

8 Would it be possible for you to hate your brother if you were like him? Could you attack him if you realized you journey with him to a goal that is the same? Would you not help him reach it in every way you could if his attainment of it were perceived as yours? You are his enemy in specialness; his friend in a shared purpose. Specialness can never share, for it depends on goals that you alone can reach. And he must never reach them, or your goal is jeopardized. Can love have meaning where the goal is triumph? And what decision can be made for this that will not hurt you? Your brother is your friend because his Father created him like you. There is no difference. You have been given to each other that love might be extended, not cut off from one another. What you keep is lost to you. God gave you both Himself, and to remember this is now the only purpose that you share. And so it is the only one you have .

9 Could you attack each other if you chose to see no specialness of any kind between you? Look fairly at whatever makes you give each other only partial welcome or would let you think that you are better off apart. Is it not always your belief your specialness is limited by your relationship? And is not this the "enemy" that makes you both illusions to each other?

10 The fear of God and of each other comes from each unrecognized belief in specialness. For each demands the other bow to it against his will. And God Himself must honor it or suffer vengeance. Every twinge of malice or stab of hate or wish to separate arises here. For here the purpose which you share becomes obscured from both of you. You would oppose this course because it teaches you you are alike . You have no purpose that is not the same and none your Father does not share with you. For your relationship has been made clean of special goals. And would you now defeat the goal of holiness that Heaven gave it? What perspective can the special have that does not change with every seeming blow, each slight, or fancied judgment on itself?

11 Those who are special must defend illusions against the truth. For what is specialness but an attack upon the Will of God? You love your brother not while it is this you would defend against him. This is what he attacks and you protect. Here is the ground of battle which you wage against him. Here must he be your enemy and not your friend. Never can there be peace among the different. He is your friend because you are the same.

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WORKBOOK

Lesson 257
Let me remember what my purpose is.

1 If I forget my goal, I can be but confused, unsure of what I am and thus conflicted in my actions. No one can serve contradicting goals and serve them well. Nor can he function without deep distress and great depression. Let us therefore be determined to remember what we want today that we may unify our thoughts and actions meaningfully and achieve only what God would have us do today.

2 Father, forgiveness is Your chosen means for our salvation. Let us not forget that we can have no will but Yours today. And thus our purpose must be Yours as well if we would reach the peace You will for us.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 257
Let me remember what my purpose is.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
What is our purpose? Why are we here? What do we give our attention to? Is it about getting what we want in the world? Is it about striving for material things, recognition, relationships, specialness and power, or is it for healing our minds through forgiveness? The Course teaches over and over that the purpose of our time here, if it is to be used well, is only for forgiveness. It is our function, our purpose, and our reason for being here. The only purpose is to wake up from this dream, to remember who we really are, and to know peace and joy.
 
Our true purpose is already in the mind. It is the truth we have chosen to forget. The truth is fully present all the time, but while we are invested in focusing on meeting our perceived needs, we will be conflicted. Part of us wants to know the truth, and part of us wants to stay invested in the material world. When our focus is entirely on our worldly existence, we experience depression, deep distress, despair, and suffering. Even though we try to do everything we can to avoid suffering and to seek for ways to mitigate it, all this does is distract us from our feelings. None of our strategies to find happiness in the world will work because the problem is not in the world and neither is the solution. The only thing that brings distress is our identification with the ego, and the only answer is to remember who we are. When we hold grievances, we suffer. When we use the world as a classroom for helping us to learn to forgive, we are using it for the purpose of waking up to the truth.
 
 Our focus is now on the idols we have substituted in place of our reality. Jesus describes idols as, "Be it a body or a thing, a place, a situation or a circumstance, an object owned or wanted, or a right demanded or achieved, it is the same." (T.29.VIII.1.9) (ACIM OE T.29.IX.52) Further, he says, "For i dols are unrecognized as such, and never seen for what they really are." (T.29.VIII.1.3) (ACIM OE T.29.IX.52) This is the only power they have. If we saw that the idols we pursue will never deliver the happiness we seek through them, we certainly would not pursue them. We would pursue happiness where it truly lies, which is in liberating ourselves from this dream. Idols simply affirm our false identity. They prop up who we think we are, and "In some way, you believe they will   complete your little self, for safety in a world perceived as dangerous, with forces massed against your confidence and peace of mind." (T.29.VIII.2.3) (ACIM OE T.29.IX.53)
 
Our goal is mixed between wanting to pursue the truth on one hand and wanting to pursue our idols on the other. This creates conflict in our minds, as we try to walk both the path of the ego and the path of the Holy Spirit. Another way to look at this conflict is that we want to hold onto a grievance against someone and justify our upsets, yet we still want to know God and to be at peace. This is a reflection of our split minds. Until we step fully into our purpose, we will be in conflict. An example in my life is that I look after my mother who is 102 and has lots of care needs that occupy a lot of my time. While I see it as an opportunity for forgiveness, there are times when I feel imposed upon and resentful that it is all up to me. My sister lives some distance away and is rarely here to visit. Recently, she came to visit and I perceived that she questioned some of my decisions. I perceived that she thought there was more I should be doing. Not only did I express my anger to her, but I also tried to build an alliance against her with my other sister by sharing my story with her and further justifying my anger.
 
On reflection, I realized that I had set all of this up by not hearing my sister's cry for love. Clearly, she was expressing her concern for our mother's care, but I was choosing only to hear criticism coming at me. Jesus says, "If he speaks not of Christ to you, you spoke not of Christ to him." (T.11.V.18.9) (ACIM OE T.10.VI.58) Instead of hearing her call for love and seeing that "What you thought your brother did to you has not occurred," (W.P11.Q1.1.1) I made the error real. I took her comments personally. The criticism would not have found a place to land if I was not judging myself for not being sufficiently available to my mother.
 
Jesus reminds us that to forgive something we have made real is called, "Forgiveness to destroy." Real forgiveness shows us that nothing real has happened. If I see what she did as real and true, I cannot forgive it. Now I need to bring my illusions to the truth and let the Holy Spirit give me His interpretation of the situation. This means that I must admit that I was wrong in the way I interpreted her behavior. When I remember that my mind is the cause of it all, I can change my mind about the way I see every situation. It is all my own projection of my own self-attack. Can you see how the ego gets absolutely outraged by this? It insists that what we see is a fact, rather than an interpretation. If we listen to the ego, we stay in hell. That is why our focus today is, "Let me remember what my purpose is." (W.257)
 
Jesus says that only forgiveness can bring us happiness. This is our only purpose. If I am experiencing unhappiness today, it is because I have chosen with the ego. Only I can make myself unhappy. If we were suffering in any way today, Jesus reminds us the suffering is just hiding an unforgiving thought. (W.98) There is no form of pain forgiveness cannot heal. We need to recognize that any unhappiness that we experience today can be healed through forgiveness. It is the only way we can reclaim who we really are. Trying to be loving only obscures this function. We cannot overlay lovingness onto thoughts of worry, anxiety, distress, "dis-ease," anger, and frustration. Trying to be positive in the face of these kinds of feelings simply overlays the problem with a spiritual veneer. Instead, we need to look honestly and courageously at these unforgiving thoughts, accept responsibility for them, and be willing to turn them over to the Holy Spirit.
 
Today, we are invited to set our intention to remember our purpose throughout the day. It is to accept the Atonement for ourselves (the recognition of our guiltlessness), by being willing to accept His Correction so that the obstacles that stand in the way of peace and joy can be removed. When we forget our goal, we get conflicted in our actions and start focusing on our own ideas of what we think will make us happy, but this can only result in further conflict. (W.257.1.1) We cannot "serve contradicting goals and serve them well." (W.257.1.2) When we try, it just leads to "distress and great depression." (W.257.1.3)
 
How determined are you to stay on purpose and remember your function? What would God have you do today? Yesterday's Lesson reminded us that the only way we will hear guidance is through the means given to us to hear His Voice. We each have a curriculum set up by the mind in this world. This is our script. It offers us myriad opportunities for forgiveness with the characters given us in our script. Whatever is coming in your face today, stand back and look at it as an opportunity for healing the guilt in our minds. If everything that seemingly happens is just a projection of our own minds, the movie of our lives is just what we need to see to reclaim our innocence.
 
If we are not living our lives on purpose, we will be confused and unsure of what we are. "If you are to be conflict-free yourself, you must learn only from the Holy Spirit and teach only by Him." (T.6.III.2.2) (ACIM OE T.6.IV.41) As we step on this path and let the Holy Spirit in, there will be increased conflict. "This step may appear to exacerbate conflict rather than resolve it, because it is the beginning step in reversing your perception and turning it right-side up." (T.6.VA.6.4) (ACIM OE T.6.Va.69) The reason for this is that we now have conflicting goals and are trying to walk on two different paths. We want what the ego has to offer---our separate identity and its seeming pleasures---while also wanting to awaken from this dream. This can be very painful. When we are split between our spiritual focus and the goals of the ego, confusion reigns. Not only that, Jesus says that we will experience "deep distress and great depression." (W.257.1.3)
 
If in one minute we are in a state of bliss, peace, and spiritual joy and in the next minute we are gossiping, angry, or attacking, we will suffer. This is an example of pursuing two paths. It is not a happy experience until we learn to step on one side more and more consistently. It is in this state of conflict, between two thought systems, that we currently live. The answer is to watch our minds constantly and apply God's chosen means for our salvation. As our awareness increases and we can see more clearly how our minds are split, we will be less and less tolerant in following the ego's religion. This means that we will be much quicker in asking for help to release our grievances and will be more willing to step back from our investment in our thoughts. The only way out is to use everything that comes up in our day for forgiveness and peace.
 
In Chapter 30, in the Section called "The Only Purpose,"  Jesus reminds us that the only purpose of the world is forgiveness. Now, "The world becomes a place of hope, because its only purpose is to be a place where hope of happiness can be fulfilled." (T.30.V.2.7) (ACIM OE T.30.VI.58) When we see it this way, there is nothing bad happening. It is all for the undoing of our conditioned minds so we can wake up to who we really are. Everything is orchestrated by our own minds for our healing. It is all hopeful because, as we detach from the drama, watch our thoughts, and recognize ourselves as the dreamers of this dream, rather than the figures in the dream, we exert the power to choose how we see our purpose here.
 
We are assured that we will go beyond our function of forgiveness in this world and experience perfect happiness. This is the real world where we experience Heaven on earth. We will still see the idols, but we will have no interest in them and no longer want them. You may be noticing this more and more in your own life, where the things that seemed to hold a lot of interest for you at one time are simply falling away. I no longer have the same kinds of attachments as I have had in the past. It is not because I have given them up, but simply because they have just fallen away. These transitions are mostly gentle because, at some level of the mind, we are ready for them. We go at our own pace when we are ready to take the next step without fear. We take each step in joining with each other and releasing our separate interests.
 
"An ancient hate is passing from the world. And with it goes all hatred and all fear. Look back no longer, for what lies ahead is all you ever wanted in your heart. Give up the world! But not to sacrifice. You never wanted it. What happiness have you sought here that did not bring you pain? What moment of content has not been bought at fearful price in coins of suffering? Joy has no cost." (T.30.V.9.1-9) (ACIM OE T.30.VI.65)
 
There is an interesting piece I was reading by Byron Katie, which relates to this Lesson. She says that when we hurt, we are actually, mentally out of our business. It is important to recognize there are only three kinds of business in the universe: God's, yours, and mine. Whose business is it if an earthquake happens? God's business (Not that God created it, but it is beyond our business). Whose business is it if your neighbor down the street has an ugly lawn? Your neighbor's business. Whose business is it if you are angry at your neighbor down the street because he has an ugly lawn? Your business. So now it is in our purview to heal our judgments.
 
Life is simple---it is internal. Thus, if my sister has judgments of my caregiving, it is none of my business. Only if it upsets me is it necessary for me to heal my own mind.
 
Check your thoughts as you go through your day and see whose business is being attended to. Maintain vigilance over your mind, and observe how quickly you judge, give advice, look for alliances, cling to grievances, and hold onto everything that ultimately brings more suffering. Our responsibility is to mind our own minds and use what comes up in our minds for forgiveness, reminding ourselves always that our will is one with God's Will, and when we choose Him as our goal, we will increasingly release the goals keeping us invested in the illusion. We will recognize that when we give up our goals, we actually give up nothing to gain everything. What goals do you hold today in competition with your only goal for God? Can you feel the tension this creates in your life? Now, we have a choice. It is to get back to our only purpose.
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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