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

CHAPTER 24
Specialness and Separation

V. Specialness and Salvation

 34 Specialness is a lack of trust in anyone except yourself. Faith is invested in yourself alone. Everything else becomes your enemy—feared and attacked, deadly and dangerous, hated and worthy only of destruction. Whatever gentleness it offers is but deception, but its hate is real. In danger of destruction, it must kill, and you are drawn to it to kill it first. And such is guilt's attraction. Here is death enthroned as savior; crucifixion is now redemption, and salvation can only mean destruction of the world, except yourself.

35 What could the purpose of the body be but specialness? And it is this that makes it frail and helpless in its own defense. It was conceived to make you frail and helpless. The goal of separation is its curse. Yet bodies have no goal. Purpose is of the mind . And minds can change as they desire. What they are and all their attributes, they cannot change. But what they hold as purpose can be changed, and body states must shift accordingly. Of itself the body can do nothing. See it as means to hurt, and it is hurt. See it as means to heal, and it is healed.

36 You can but hurt yourself . This has been oft repeated but is difficult to grasp as yet. To minds intent on specialness, it is impossible. Yet to those who wish to heal and not attack, it is quite obvious. The purpose of attack is in the mind , and its effects are felt but where it is . Nor is mind limited; so must it be that harmful purpose hurts the mind as one. Nothing could make less sense to specialness. Nothing could make more sense to miracles. For miracles are merely change of purpose from hurt to healing.

37 This shift in purpose does "endanger" specialness but only in the sense that all illusions are "threatened" by the truth. They will not stand before it. Yet what comfort has ever been in them that you would keep the gift your Father asks from Him and give it there instead? Given to Him , the universe is yours. Offered to them , no gifts can be returned. What you have given specialness has left you bankrupt and your treasure house barren and empty with an open door inviting everything that would disturb your peace to enter and destroy.

38 Long ago we said consider not the means by which salvation is attained nor how to reach it. But do consider, and consider well, whether it is your wish that you might see your brother sinless. To specialness the answer must be "no." A sinless brother is its enemy, while sin, if it were possible, would be its friend. Your brother's sins would justify itself and give it meaning that the truth denies. All that is real proclaims his sinlessness. All that is false proclaims his sins as real. If he is sinful, then is your reality not real but just a dream of specialness which lasts an instant, crumbling into dust.

39 Do not defend this senseless dream in which God is bereft of what He loves and you remain beyond salvation. Only this is certain in this shifting world which has no meaning in reality: when peace is not with you entirely and when you suffer pain of any kind, you have beheld some sin within your brother and have rejoiced at what you thought was there. Your specialness seemed safe because of it. And thus you saved what you appointed to be your savior and crucified the one whom God has given you instead. So are you bound with him, for you are one. And so is specialness his "enemy" and yours as well.

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CHAPTER 24
Specialness and Separation

VI. The Resolution of the Dream

 40 The Christ in you is very still. He looks on what He loves and knows it as Himself. And thus does He rejoice at what He sees because He knows that it is one with Him and with His Father. Specialness, too, takes joy in what it sees, although it is not true. Yet what you seek for is a source of joy as you conceive it. What you wish is true for you. Nor is it possible that you can wish for something and lack faith that it is so. Wishing makes real, as surely as does will create. The power of a wish upholds illusions as strongly as does love extend itself, except that one deludes; the other heals.

41 There is no dream of specialness—however hidden or disguised the form, however lovely it may seem to be, however much it delicately offers the hope of peace and the escape from pain—in which you suffer not your condemnation. In dreams, effect and cause are interchanged, for here the maker of the dream believes that what he made is happening to him. He does not realize he picked a thread from here, a scrap from there, and wove a picture out of nothing. For the parts do not belong together, and the whole contributes nothing to the parts to give them meaning.

42 Where could your peace arise but from forgiveness? The Christ in you looks only on the truth and sees no condemnation that could need forgiveness. He is at peace because He sees no sin. Identify with Him, and what has He that you have not? He is your eyes, your ears, your hands, your feet. How gentle are the sights He sees, the sounds He hears. How beautiful His hand that holds His brother's, and how lovingly He walks beside him, showing him what can be seen and heard and where he will see nothing and there is no sound to hear.

43 Yet let your specialness direct his way, and you will follow. And both will walk in danger, each intent, in the dark forest of the sightless, unlit but by the shifting tiny gleams that spark an instant from the fireflies of sin and then go out, to lead the other to a nameless precipice and hurl him over it. For what can specialness delight in but to kill? What does it seek for but the sight of death? Where does it lead but to destruction? Yet think not that it looked upon your brother first, nor hated him before it hated you. The sin its eyes behold in him and love to look upon, it saw in you and looks on still with joy. Yet is it joy to look upon decay and madness and believe this crumbling thing, with flesh already loosened from the bone and sightless holes for eyes, is like yourself?

44 Rejoice you have no eyes with which to see, no ears to listen, and no hands to hold nor feet to guide. Be glad that only Christ can lend you His while you have need of them. They are illusions too, as much as yours. And yet, because they serve a different purpose, the strength their purpose holds is given them. And what they see and hear and hold and lead is given light that you may lead as you were led.

45 The Christ in you is very still. He knows where you are going, and He leads you there in gentleness and blessing all the way. His love for God replaces all the fear you thought you saw within yourself. His holiness shows you Himself in him whose hand you hold and whom you lead to Him. And what you see is like yourself. For what but Christ is there to see and hear and love and follow home? He looked upon you first but recognized that you were not complete. And so He sought for your completion in each living thing that He beholds and loves. And seeks it still, that each might offer you the love of God.

46 Yet is He quiet, for He knows that love is in you now and safely held in you by that same hand that holds your brother's in your own. Christ's hand holds all His brothers in Himself. He gives them vision for their sightless eyes and sings to them of Heaven that their ears may hear no more the sound of battle and of death. He reaches through them, holding out His hand that everyone may bless all living things and see their holiness. And He rejoices that these sights are yours to look upon with Him and share His joy. His perfect lack of specialness He offers you that you may save all living things from death, receiving from each one the gift of life that your forgiveness offers to your Self. The sight of Christ is all there is to see. The song of Christ is all there is to hear. The hand of Christ is all there is to hold. There is no journey but to walk with Him.

47 You who would be content with specialness and seek salvation in a war with love, consider this: the holy Lord of Heaven has Himself come down to you to offer you your own completion. What is His is yours because in your completion is His Own. He Who willed not to be without His Son could never will that you be brotherless. And would He give a brother unto you except he be as perfect as yourself and just as like to Him in holiness as you must be?

48 There must be doubt before there can be conflict. And every doubt must be about yourself. Christ has no doubt, and from His certainty His quiet comes. He will exchange His certainty for all your doubts if you agree that He is one with you and that this Oneness is endless, timeless, and within your grasp because your hands are His. He is within you, yet He walks beside you and before, leading the way that He must go to find Himself complete. His quietness becomes your certainty. And where is doubt when certainty has come?

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Lesson 262
Let me perceive no differences today.

1 Father, You have one Son. And it is he that I would look upon today. He is Your one creation. Why should I perceive a thousand forms in what remains as one? Why should I give this one a thousand names, when only one suffices? For Your Son must bear Your Name, for You created him. Let me not see him as a stranger to his Father, nor as stranger to myself. For he is part of me and I of him, and we are part of You Who are our Source, eternally united in Your Love, eternally the holy Son of God.

2 We who are one would recognize this day the truth about ourselves. We would come home and rest in unity. For there is peace, and nowhere else can peace be sought and found.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 262
Let me perceive no differences today.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
When I was in Sedona studying and practicing the Course, I attended a workshop given by Nicola Perry called, "My Journey as a Course-Based Healer." At her workshop, she told the story of how she came to be a spiritual healer. She described the events of her life that led her to become a healer and then described what happens in her mind when she offers healing to others.
 
The significant thing she discovered was that she had to dismiss someone's bodily identity in her mind when she joined in a healing session. She had to get beyond differences such as male, female, likes, dislikes, interests---anything about their identities. Every single bit of normal perception about who someone was had to be released in order for her to come to the place where she overlooked all differences. Her intent was to see the person as a Son of God, their true Self, their true nature, and their formless spirit. It was something not forced but just happened. She cautioned that it cannot be imposed by trying to mentally create such a picture and superimpose it on the person while shoving all the usual perceptions to the back of the mind. The first step she took in this process was to relax, become aware of the perceptions she was holding, ask for help in letting them go, and reaffirm the true nature as the same One Self. "Why should I give this one a thousand names, when only one suffices? For Your Son must bear Your name, for You created him." (W.262.1.5-6)
 
No one is a stranger. Everyone is part of me and I of them. To recognize this is to know the truth about ourselves. It is only in recognizing our sameness and that we share the same interests that we can know peace. Peace can only be found in unity, never in differences. We spend so much of our time comparing and measuring ourselves against others. We see ourselves better than or less than others based on our judgments of them and of ourselves. Differences and comparisons constitute our special relationships, whether they be differences based on special love or special hate. We see someone who has what we don't have and what we think we need. In the special relationship, our goal is to try to get from the other what we think will fill our perceived lacks. Our perception of differences is a way to see the other as sinful so we can see ourselves as innocent. And what is their perceived sin? It is the belief that they have stolen from us what is rightfully ours and now they owe us. If they don't give us what we consider is ours, we hate them for it.
 
Every relationship, whether of hate or seeming love, is a special relationship. It is by definition one of differences. The ego uses these relationships to project guilt onto others for separating from God. Fundamental to all of our special relationships is seeing each one as a body and not who they really are. " Such is the strange position in which those in a world inhabited by bodies seem to be. Each body seems to house a separate mind, a disconnected thought, living alone and in no way joined to the Thought by which it was created. Each tiny fragment seems to be self-contained, needing another for some things, but by no means totally dependent on its one Creator for everything; needing the whole to give it any meaning, for by itself it does mean nothing. Nor has it any life apart and by itself." (T.18.VIII.5.1-4) (ACIM OE T.18.IX.75)
 
The focus of this Lesson is on our unity. The recognition of shared interests is a condition of the Teacher of God as stated in the Manual for Teachers. It is to recognize that there is only one Son. " A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else's. Once he has done that, his road is established and his direction is sure. A light has entered the darkness. It may be a single light, but that is enough. He has entered an agreement with God even if he does not yet believe in Him. He has become a bringer of salvation. He has become a teacher of God." (M.1.1.1-8)
 
Clearly, our eyes show us that there are many, yet today, we are reminded that we all share the same Christ Self and are One with God. Differences are only apparent in the illusion and reinforced by our senses. Now we are called to use every situation as an opportunity to see beyond differences and recognize that we share the same purpose and the same goal. The purpose of every relationship is for the healing of the mind. We do this by taking responsibility for our judgments and being willing to release them. Beyond these judgments is the truth, waiting to be acknowledged.
 
Although we will continue to see differences, today we make a decision to watch our judgments and take responsibility for them, joining with Jesus and asking for his help to see our brothers as innocent. The body is all about reinforcing our seeming separate state and maintaining differences between us, but the body can be turned to a holy purpose. We can choose to put the body to the purpose of healing. We can choose how we use the body. It can be used for pleasure, for attack, for getting what we think we want, or for extending love and forgiveness, thus being an agent of the Holy Spirit. What the body is used for is simply a matter of choice. The choice is ours. Peace is found in joining with our brothers and recognizing that we share the same purpose. "You cannot enter into real relationships with any of God's Sons unless you love them all and equally. Love is not special." (T.13.X.11.1-2) (ACIM OE T.13.IV.30)
 
I had a situation recently where I made a judgment about the behavior of someone whom I felt was acting in a way that was self-serving and selfish, looking after her own needs in a way I thought was at the expense of others. In the process, I felt she was less than honest and forthright. I asked myself if these were aspects I could see in myself? I had to look at my own self-serving and selfish behavior that I preferred to see in her. I took responsibility for my self-attacks, without judging myself for them. I was willing to just look at them.
 
The ego does not want us to look. The principle behind any defense is not to look because to look at our own ego without judging ourselves is the way it is undone. The miracle " merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false." (W.PII.Q13.1.3) The same thing is said about forgiveness. " It merely looks, and waits, and judges not." (W.PII.Q1.4.3) Healing is in the willingness to look without judgment. My judgment was a projection in which I preferred to see the sin in her that I feared was mine. What this allowed me to do is to claim my innocence at her expense. My attack thoughts convinced me that she was the problem. We do this so we don’t have to look at our own self-hatred. The only reason I am affected at all by her, or anyone, is that I forget it is my dream that I am dreaming. As I released my misguided perceptions to the Holy Spirit, I was able to have a lovely, open connection with her and recognize that we are both innocent.
 
The truth about everyone is that they are innocent, no matter what the body seems to be doing. When we can accept that it is truly all a dream, we can see more clearly that everyone who shows up in our dream is playing the role we assigned to them for our own healing. There are no accidents in salvation. Whatever we need to experience in order to heal, we do experience through the part others play in our drama. It can all seem so unfair but that is only when we forget it is our own dream.
 
Yes, we still do react to events in the dream as if they were real, and we have feelings and reactions to these events that seem to come from outside our own minds. Thus, we like some events and feel good about them, and dislike others and feel very sad, hurt and unfairly treated. We see ourselves as the effect of the world and believe that it is the world dreaming us, instead of our own dream. When we recognize that it is all our own dream, we can see that it all comes from our own minds. Mind is the cause and the world is the effect. Thus, we have power over what seems to be happening to us. "For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream." (T.27.VIII.10.5) (ACIM OE T.27. IX.86)
 
It is true that some of what I see another doing may not be what I have done in form. My actions may not be the same, but my thoughts are the same. I have not murdered anyone, yet I have the same murderous thoughts. I may not be poor, but I hold thoughts of lack, self-protection, self-centeredness, and greed. I may not be addicted to alcohol or drugs, but I have other addictions. We share the same one ego mind, which contains all of our misperceptions of what we are. We project our thoughts onto others in order to be rid of them in ourselves. Of course, this does not work, because by projecting onto others, we keep what the ego tells us that we are giving away. Until we can see that this is the case, we will continue to project our guilt in the false belief that we are getting rid of it in ourselves. We do it because we still value separation. While we attempt to distance ourselves from our thoughts, they are never disowned. All they do is keep our guilt intact.
 
Attack and judgment can only come with belief in differences and separation. Without this belief, any attack that we seem to make on another would be just an attack on ourselves. Why would I attack a part of myself? Today, we are called to watch our judgments and when differences arise, be willing to forgive them. We affirm the truth today: This is my brother, who is a part of me and whom I love, as I love myself. Affirmations will never overcome the ego, but they remind us of the truth. If we are not experiencing this as true for us, we can ask the Holy Spirit for help to see our brother as He sees him. If God loves my brother and I judge him instead, I am proclaiming that I am separate from my brother, and my will is different from God's.
 
Today, we remind ourselves that our desire is to see in everyone our dearest friend. We actively watch for the judgments we make that contravene this thought and are willing to be wrong about the way we are seeing him. This is how we do our part as an invitation to the Holy Spirit to bring this experience into reality for us, so we can truly know there are no differences. Until the experience is there, effort and discipline are required. It may seem like the discipline and the consistent practice required is difficult and that progress is not being made, but there will then be a moment of a shift in the mind where we receive the peace and understanding delivered through our practicing. Recently, a friend described this as her "Helen Keller moment."
 
Helen Keller was blind and deaf and unable to communicate. Her teacher was teaching her to sign and Helen was good at repeating what she was taught because she was very bright. However, there was no real understanding until the moment when all of a sudden she made the association with the sign for water and the actual feel of the water. Then, everything clicked for her and she became very excited. It is the same for us when we do this work. It may not click for a long time as we do our practice until all of a sudden there is a deep insight, and we get it. This may happen again and again and is very powerful in the moment of realization. So keep up with the practice and know that this moment is available when the mind is ready. Readying the mind requires willingness, vigilance, and determination to practice in watching our thoughts and doing the forgiveness work.
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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