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

The Body and the Dream

I. Introduction

1 The wish to be unfairly treated is a compromise attempt that would combine attack and innocence. Who can combine the wholly incompatible and make a unity of what can never join? Walk you the gentle way, and you will fear no evil and no shadows in the night. But place no terror symbols on your path, or you will weave a crown of thorns from which your brother and yourself will not escape. You cannot crucify yourself alone. And if you are unfairly treated, he must suffer the unfairness that you see. You cannot sacrifice yourself alone. For sacrifice is total. If it could occur at all, it would entail the whole of God's creation and the Father with the sacrifice of his beloved Son.

2 In your release from sacrifice is his made manifest and shown to be his own. But every pain you suffer do you see as proof that he is guilty of attack. Thus would you make yourself to be the sign that he has lost his innocence and need but look on you to realize that he has been condemned. And what to you has been unfair will come to him in righteousness. The unjust vengeance that you suffer now belongs to him, and when it rests on him are you set free. Wish not to make yourself a living symbol of his guilt, for you will not escape the death you made for him. But in his innocence, you find your own.

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II. The Picture of the Crucifixion

3 Whenever you consent to suffer pain, to be deprived, unfairly treated, or in need of anything, you but accuse your brother of attack upon God's Son. You hold a picture of your crucifixion before his eyes that he may see his sins are writ in Heaven in your blood and death and go before him, closing off the gate and damning him to hell. Yet this is writ in hell and not in Heaven, where you are beyond attack and prove his innocence . The picture of yourself you offer him you show yourself and give it all your faith. The Holy Spirit offers you to give to him a picture of yourself in which there is no pain and no reproach at all. And what was martyred to his guilt becomes the perfect witness to his innocence.

4 The power of witness is beyond belief because it brings conviction in its wake. The witness is believed because he points beyond himself to what he represents. A sick and suffering you but represents your brother's guilt—the witness which you send lest he forget the injuries he gave from which you swear he never will escape. This sick and sorry picture you accept, if only it can serve to punish him. The sick are merciless to everyone, and in contagion do they seek to kill. Death seems an easy price if they can say, "Behold me, brother; at your hand I die." For sickness is the witness to his guilt, and death would prove his errors must be sins.

5 Sickness is but a "little" death; a form of vengeance not yet total. Yet it speaks with certainty for what it represents. The bleak and bitter picture you have sent your brother you have looked upon in grief. And everything that it has shown to him have you believed because it witnessed to the guilt in him which you perceived and loved. Now in the hands made gentle by His touch, the Holy Spirit lays a picture of a different you. It is a picture of a body still, for what you really are cannot be seen nor pictured. Yet this one has not been used for purpose of attack and therefore never suffered pain at all. It witnesses to the eternal truth that you cannot be hurt and points beyond itself to both your innocence and his.

6 Show this unto your brother, who will see that every scar is healed and every tear is wiped away in laughter and in love. And he will look on his forgiveness there and with healed eyes will look beyond it to the innocence that he beholds in you. Here is the proof that he has never sinned—that nothing which his madness bid him do was ever done or ever had effects of any kind; that no reproach he laid upon his heart was ever justified, and no attack can ever touch him with the poisoned and relentless sting of fear. Attest his innocence and not his guilt. Your healing is his comfort and his health because it proves illusions are not true.

7 It is not will for life, but wish for death that is the motivation for this world. Its only purpose is to prove guilt real. No worldly thought or act or feeling has a motivation other than this one. These are the witnesses that are called forth to be believed and lend conviction to the system they speak for and represent. And each has many voices, speaking to your brother and yourself in different tongues. And yet to both the message is the same. Adornment of the body seeks to show how lovely are the witnesses for guilt. Concerns about the body demonstrate how frail and vulnerable is your life, how easily destroyed is what you love. Depression speaks of death and vanity of real concern with anything at all. The strongest witness to futility, which bolsters all the rest and helps them paint the picture in which sin is justified, is sickness in whatever form it takes.

8 The sick have reason for each one of their unnatural desires and strange needs. For who could live a life so soon cut short and not esteem the worth of passing joys? What pleasures could there be that will endure? Are not the frail entitled to believe that every stolen scrap of pleasure is their righteous payment for their little lives? Their death will pay the price for all of them if they enjoy their benefits or not. The end of life must come, whatever way that life be spent. And so take pleasure in the quickly passing and ephemeral.

9 These are not sins, but witnesses unto the strange belief that sin and death are real, and innocence and sin will end alike within the termination of the grave. If this were true, there would be reason to remain content to seek for passing joys and cherish little pleasures where you can. Yet in this picture is the body not perceived as neutral and without a goal inherent in itself. For it becomes the symbol of reproach, the sign of guilt whose consequences still are there to see, so that the cause can never be denied.

10 Your function is to show your brother sin can have no cause. How futile must it be to see yourself a picture of the proof that what your function is can never be! The Holy Spirit's picture changes not the body into something it is not. It only takes away from it all signs of accusation and of blamefulness. Pictured without a purpose, it is seen as neither sick nor well, nor bad nor good. No grounds are offered that it may be judged in any way at all. It has no life, but neither is it dead. It stands apart from all experience of fear or love. For now it witnesses to nothing yet, its purpose being open and the mind made free again to choose what it is for . Now is it not condemned, but waiting for a purpose to be given that it may fulfill the function that it will receive.

11 Into this empty space, from which the goal of sin has been removed, is Heaven free to be remembered. Here its peace can come and perfect healing take the place of death. The body can become a sign of life, a promise of redemption, and a breath of immortality to those grown sick of breathing in the fetid scent of death. Let it have healing as its purpose. Then will it send forth the message it received and by its health and loveliness proclaim the truth and value that it represents. Let it receive the power to represent an endless life, forever unattacked. And to your brother let its message be, "Behold me, brother; at your hand I live."

12 The simple way to let this be achieved is merely this—to let the body have no purpose from the past, when you were sure you knew its purpose was to foster guilt. For this insists your crippled picture is a lasting sign of what it represents. This leaves no space in which a different view, another purpose, can be given it. You do not know its purpose. You but gave illusions of a purpose to a thing you made to hide your function from yourself. This thing without a purpose cannot hide the function that the Holy Spirit gave. Let, then, its purpose and your function both be reconciled at last and seen as one.


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A Course in Miracles

Part II
What is the Holy Spirit?

1 The Holy Spirit mediates between illusions and the truth. As He must bridge the gap between reality and dreams, perception leads to knowledge through the grace that God has given Him, to be His gift to everyone who turns to Him for truth. Across the bridge that He provides are dreams all carried to the truth, to be dispelled before the light of knowledge. There are sights and sounds forever laid aside. And where they were perceived before, forgiveness has made possible perception's tranquil end.

2 The goal the Holy Spirit's teaching sets is just this end of dreams. For sights and sounds must be translated from the witnesses of fear to those of love. And when this is entirely accomplished, learning has achieved the only goal it has in truth. For learning, as the Holy Spirit guides it to the outcome He perceives for it, becomes the means to go beyond itself, to be replaced by the Eternal Truth.

3 If you but knew how much your Father yearns to have you recognize your sinlessness, you would not let His Voice appeal in vain nor turn away from His replacement for the fearful images and dreams you made. The Holy Spirit understands the means you made, by which you would attain what is forever unattainable. And if you offer them to Him, He will employ the means you made for exile to restore your mind to where it truly is at home.

4 From knowledge, where He has been placed by God, the Holy Spirit calls to you to let forgiveness rest upon your dreams and be restored to sanity and peace of mind. Without forgiveness will your dreams remain to terrify you. And the memory of all your Father's Love will not return to signify the end of dreams has come.

5 Accept your Father's gift. It is a call from Love to Love that it be but itself. The Holy Spirit is His gift by Which the quietness of Heaven is restored to God's beloved Son. Would you refuse to take the function of completing God when all He wills is that you be complete?

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 285
My holiness shines bright and clear today.

1 Today I wake with joy, expecting but the happy things of God to come to me. I ask but them to come and realize my invitation will be answered by the thoughts to which it has been sent by me. And I will ask for only joyous things the instant I accept my holiness. For what would be the use of pain to me, what purpose would my suffering fulfill, and how would grief and loss avail me, if insanity departs from me today and I accept my holiness instead?

2 Father, my holiness is Yours. Let me rejoice in it and through forgiveness be restored to sanity. Your Son is still as You created him. My holiness is part of me and also part of You. And what can alter Holiness Itself?

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 285
My holiness shines bright and clear today.

 Sarah's Commentary:
Are you feeling your holiness shining bright and clear today? Did you awaken with joy with the knowledge that you have another day of healing as a gift to you? Have you invited the happy things of God to come to you today? It is always good to start every day with what you want, what you desire, what you value, what you wish for, and what you set your goal to be for the day. When our goal is to use each day for healing and peace, every day can be a happy day, regardless of the events that come our way, because everything in our day becomes a beautiful opportunity for letting go of the blocks to love and stepping deeper into peace and joy. When our days are used in this way we can approach each day with confidence that everything is orchestrated for our highest good.
"The Rules for Decision," (T.30.I) (ACIM OE T.30.II) are helpful in setting us up for each day. They are more ideas than rules of thought, initially, but Jesus says that as we practice these ideas they become habitual rules by which we live. "We seek to make them habits now, so you will have them ready for whatever need." (T.30.IN.1.8) (ACIM OE T.31.IN.1) Thus, we focus the day on not judging what shows up nor the situations where we will be called upon to make a response. "For if you judge them, you have set the rules for how you should react to them." (T.30.I.2.5) (ACIM OE T.30.II.5) We are called instead to turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance in every situation. Our problem is that we forget to ask and make our own decisions. When our desire for truth is deeply sincere, we remember more and more in each moment that we have a Guide to turn to in every situation. We turn to this Guide rather than listening to the ego that keeps us rooted in the illusion, affirms our problems are real, and wants us to believe we have to find our own way to solve them and only cry out for help when our way gets us into difficulty.
Perhaps we woke up today with foreboding and heaviness in our hearts. We may be running scenarios of gloom and despair through our minds. The ego is obsessive in ruminating over thoughts. I find too often that I start my day thinking about what has to be accomplished and feeling stressed before I even get out of bed. The good news is that the thoughts running through our minds are thoughts we are choosing. These thoughts are actively keeping the joy and contentment away. We are doing this to ourselves so we can choose not to listen to the thoughts that forecast a joyless day. We can choose not to make decisions with the ego. When we do, we are turning to the part of the mind that does not know. We are turning to the false self, asking it how to see our day.
When that is the case, Jesus asks, "What answer that the Holy Spirit gives can reach you, when it is your specialness to which you listen, and which asks and answers?" (T.24.II.4.3) (ACIM OE T.24.III.15) In other words, we are just talking to ourselves and listening to our own judgments and perspectives coming from past experience and conditioning. In order to loosen this position, Jesus says that we can at least decide that we do not like what we feel now. He says, "This much is obvious, and paves the way for the next easy step." (T.30.I.8.3) (ACIM OE T.30.II.17) That step is the recognition that possibly we are wrong in our thinking. What this does is it opens our minds to another way of looking. All we need is "this tiny opening." (T.30.I.9.4) (ACIM OE T.30.II.20) We are called to look at why we want to hold onto our sadness. "For what would be the use of pain to me, what purpose would my suffering fulfill, and how would grief and loss avail me if insanity departs from me today, and I accept my holiness instead?" (W.285.1.4)
Many things come about during the day that tempt us to be upset. While the events of the day may trigger fear, sadness, anger, worry, specialness, or some kind of distress, they reflect back to us our own lack of self-love. It is never about anything going on in the world. The source of the feelings we experience is from within our own minds. The situations and events of the day are just bringing the unhealed aspects of our mind to our attention. They need not distress us, but indeed can be seen as helpful mirrors of what is in the mind. Yet we do not have to learn through pain. Jesus says, "The Holy Spirit needs a happy learner, in whom His mission can be happily accomplished." (T.14.II.1.1) (ACIM OE T.13.VII.54) This means we can be happy to have a day in front of us that we can use for healing. "They will be happy learners of the lesson this light brings to them, because it teaches them release from nothing and from all the works of nothing." (T.14.II.4.5) (ACIM OE T.13.VII.59)
Suffering and grief are used by the ego to keep us in the illusion by trying to prove that pain is real and what is going on in our lives is real. Yet when we choose to use every situation to heal the guilt and fear already in the mind, whatever shows up in our day is perfect for that purpose; and we can be happy to see it because we remember it is all for our healing. When our day is used for the purpose of forgiveness, what goes on in the day really does not matter. The only thing that matters is that each situation is being used to bring us closer to awakening to the holiness we are. Thus, we can wake up every morning with a clear goal---we want the joy that comes from waking from this dream. Now we see that everything that shows up is there to help us reach that goal.
When we defend against what shows up or deny responsibility, we are resisting the opportunities presented to us for forgiveness regardless of how they look in the dream. No, they may not, and probably will not, meet the ego's requirements for what makes for a happy day. If we maintain awareness of our goal of healing, everything that shows up becomes useful for that purpose. Lesson 153 says, "In my defenselessness my safety lies." When we are perfectly defenseless, we proclaim that we have nothing to defend against. We are safe, invulnerable, and have no enemies. "Defensiveness is weakness. It proclaims you have denied the Christ and come to fear His Father's anger. What can save you now from your delusion of an angry god, whose fearful image you believe you see at work in all the evils of the world? What but illusions could defend you now, when it is but illusions that you fight?" (W.153.7) We generally tend to think God is punishing us when we have troubles. We wonder why God is doing this to us. This is the god we have made that we fear, but the God of love does not bring us any of the things that we fear and defend ourselves against. God brings us no lessons, nor is He about testing us or building our character.
In our undefended state, we become willing to look at every thought and feeling that comes up. Yes, even our murderous, hateful thoughts are valuable when they are revealed, as they are not true. The trick is to observe them without judgment. The ego operates very effectively in the dark, but when these thoughts are brought to light, they show us the nothingness of the ego. It only seems to have power in the darkness. When we are willing to look at all we are hiding from ourselves and are willing to be vulnerable in the process, the ego becomes weak. We increasingly come to recognize and accept that we are not the ego, and our reality is invulnerable.
Why do we suffer? Why do we believe suffering is even good for us? Why do we believe we need hardship in our lives? Why do we make things hard for ourselves? Why do we self-sabotage? Do we hold the belief that this is somehow what we need to do in order to show how well we can endure? We choose to suffer because we have chosen separation. Separation from God is at the root of our suffering. We chose the ego thought system of sin, guilt, fear, suffering, loss, and death, and now we hold onto that thought system as a way to preserve our identity that comes with the separation. Suffering proves that separation is real and shows us that our vulnerable bodies and personalities are real, and there are events outside of ourselves that cause pain.
When we set our goal for healing, we can rejoice that not only are forgiveness and sanity restored to us, but along with the healing comes the recognition that all healing is of the mind. It is the recognition that nothing outside of ourselves is the source of our pain. The only purpose for pain is to maintain our identity as a separated being, living in the world. As long as we want to hold onto that identity, we will hold onto our belief that we can be hurt by events and people outside of ourselves.
Today, let us choose to welcome the possibility that we are wrong about everything and that what Jesus tells us is the truth. What he tells us is that we can use everything in our day, if we choose, to remember who we are. If that is how we are using time, is it not a joyful thing to know that we have another day in front of us to forgive all that stands in the way of the truth? Is it not a joyful thought to be told that we can never alter our holiness no matter what we think we have done? Is it not a joyful thought that all we have to do is ask and our invitation will be answered? We are not alone in this. We have the Holy Spirit in our minds, Who answers every call and is the bridge between what seems so real in this world and the holiness that is ours.
It reminds me of the Section in Chapter 20, "Entering the Ark," where he says, "You may wonder how you can be at peace when, while you are in time, there is so much that must be done before the way to peace is open. Perhaps this seems impossible to you. But ask yourself if it is possible that God would have a plan for your salvation that does not work? Once you accept His plan as the one function that you would fulfill, there will be nothing else the Holy Spirit will not arrange for you without your effort. He will go before you making straight your path, and leaving in your way no stones to trip on, and no obstacles to bar your way. Nothing you need will be denied you. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it. You need take thought for nothing, careless of everything except the only purpose that you would fulfill. As that was given you, so will its fulfillment be. God's guarantee will hold against all obstacles for it rests on certainty and not contingency. It rests on you . And what can be more certain than a Son of God." (T.20.IV.8) (ACIM OE T.20.V.35) This is how it looks to us when we are in the flow. We learn through inspiration rather than through pain. We are happy learners where all is well even when it does not appear that way to the ego mind.
Remember, today you are deserving of joy. You are still as God created you, and nothing can alter the truth. Only your own thoughts can hurt you, but we have a remedy, and that remedy is forgiveness. Have you perceived someone today as attacking you in any way? Do you have grievances showing up against a brother? Did someone do something to irritate or upset you? In Chapter 25, Jesus asks, "How can misperception [by a brother] be a sin? Let all your brother's errors be to you nothing except a chance for you to see the workings of the Helper [Holy Spirit] given you to see the world He made instead of yours. What then, is justified? What do you want? [Only our Love, Forgiveness, Holiness, Peace, and Joy] For these two questions are the same. And when you see them as the same, your choice is made. For it is seeing them as one that brings release from the belief there are two ways to see. This world has much to offer to your peace, and many chances to extend your own forgiveness. Such its purpose is, to those who want to see peace and forgiveness descend on them, and offer them the light." (T.25.III.7.1) (ACIM OE T.25.IV.28)
The only way to know our holiness is to use every opportunity that seems to justify our attack and instead see it as an opportunity to forgive and receive the miracle. It can all be used as a gift to open the door to the peace and happiness within. That is what this worldly classroom is for, and there is only one lesson to be learned. The lesson is to forgive. Forgiveness, in the Course, does not mean forgiving anything real. It is not about overlooking what we have made real in the mind, but it is to recognize that all attack is a call for love. It is about releasing our judgments, grievances, and interpretations of a situation. Forgiveness is to recognize that what we thought our brother has done to us has not occurred because it is all our own dream. Holiness is always in us and only obscured by our thoughts. When they are released for healing, the holy Self we are is experienced and the light in us can shine bright and clear.

Love and blessings, Sarah


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