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

CHAPTER 27
The Body and the Dream

IV. The Symbol of the Impossible

29 Power cannot oppose. For opposition would weaken it, and weakened power is a contradiction in ideas. Weak strength is meaningless, and power used to weaken is employed to limit. And therefore it must be limited and weak because that is its purpose. Power is unopposed, to be itself. No weakness can intrude on it without changing it into something it is not. To weaken is to limit and impose an opposite that contradicts the concept which it attacks. And by this does it join to the idea a something it is not and make it unintelligible. Who can understand a double concept, such as "weakened-power" or as "hateful-love?"

30 You have decided that your brother is a symbol for a "hateful-love," a "weakened-power," and above all, a "living-death." And so he has no meaning to you, for he stands for what is meaningless. He represents a double thought, where half is cancelled out by the remaining half. Yet even this is quickly contradicted by the half it cancelled out, and so they both are gone. And now he stands for nothing. Symbols which but represent ideas that cannot be must stand for empty space and nothingness. Yet nothingness and empty space can not be interference. What can interfere with the awareness of reality is the belief that there is something there .

31 The picture of your brother that you see means nothing. There is nothing to attack or to deny, love, or hate, or to endow with power or to see as weak. The picture has been wholly cancelled out because it symbolized a contradiction which cancelled out the thought it represents. And thus the picture has no cause at all. Who can perceive effect without a cause? What can the causeless be but nothingness? The picture of your brother that you see is wholly absent and has never been. Let then the empty space it occupies be recognized as vacant, and the time devoted to its seeing be perceived as idly spent, a time unoccupied.

32 An empty space which is not seen as filled, an unused interval of time not seen as spent and fully occupied, becomes a silent invitation to the truth to enter and to make itself at home. No preparation can be made that would enhance the invitation's real appeal. For what you leave as vacant, God will fill, and where He is, there must the truth abide. Unweakened power with no opposite is what creation is. For this there are no symbols. Nothing points beyond the truth, for what can stand for more than everything? Yet true undoing must be kind. And so the first replacement for your picture is another picture of another kind.

33 As nothingness cannot be pictured, so there is no symbol for totality. Reality is ultimately known without a form, unpictured and unseen. Forgiveness is not yet a power known as wholly free of limits. Yet it sets no limits you have chosen to impose. Forgiveness is the means by which the truth is represented temporarily. It lets the Holy Spirit make exchange of pictures possible until the time when aids are meaningless and learning done. No learning aid has use which can extend beyond the goal of learning. When its aim has been accomplished, it is functionless. Yet in the learning interval it has a use which now you fear, but yet will love.

34 The picture of your brother given you to occupy the space so lately left unoccupied and vacant will not need defense of any kind. For you will give it overwhelming preference. Nor delay an instant in deciding that it is the only one you want. It does not stand for double concepts. Though it is but half the picture and is incomplete, within itself it is the same. The other half of what it represents remains unknown but is not cancelled out. And thus is God left free to take the final step Himself. [For this you need no pictures and no learning aids.] And what will ultimately take the place of every learning aid will merely be . Forgiveness vanishes and symbols fade, and nothing which the eyes have ever seen, or ears have heard, remains to be perceived.

35 A Power wholly limitless has come, not to destroy, but to receive Its own. There is no choice of function anywhere. The choice you fear to lose you never had. Yet only this appears to interfere with power unlimited and single thoughts, complete and happy, without opposite. You do not know the peace of power which opposes nothing. Yet no other kind can be at all. Give welcome to the Power beyond forgiveness and beyond the world of symbols and of limitations. He would merely be , and so He merely is.



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CHAPTER 27
The Body and the Dream

V. The Quiet Answer

36 In quietness are all things answered and is every problem quietly resolved. In conflict there can be no answer and no resolution, for its purpose is to make no resolution possible and to ensure no answer will be plain. A problem set in conflict has no answer, for it is seen in different ways. And what would be an answer from one point of view is not an answer in another light. You are in conflict. Thus it must be clear you cannot answer anything at all, for conflict has no limited effects. Yet if God gave an answer, there must be a way in which your problems are resolved, for what He wills already has been done.

37 Thus it must be that time is not involved, and every problem can be answered now. Yet it must also be that in your state of mind solution is impossible. Therefore, God must have given you a way of reaching to another state of mind in which the answer is already there. Such is the holy instant. It is here that all your problems should be brought and left . Here they belong, for here their answer is. [And where its answer is, a problem must be simple and be easily resolved.] It must be pointless to attempt to solve a problem where the answer cannot be. Yet just as surely it must be resolved if it is brought to where the answer is .

38 Attempt to solve no problems but within the holy instant's surety. For there the problem will be answered and resolved. Outside there will be no solution, for there is no answer there that could be found. Nowhere outside a single simple question is ever asked. The world can only ask a double question with many answers, none of which will do. It does not ask a question to be answered, but only to restate its point of view. All questions asked within this world are but a way of looking , not a question asked. A question asked in hate cannot be answered, because it is an answer in itself. A double question asks and answers, both attesting the same thing in different form.

39 The world asks but one question. It is this: "Of these illusions, which of them are true? Which ones establish peace and offer joy? And which can bring escape from all the pain of which this world is made?" Whatever form the question takes, its purpose is the same. It asks but to establish sin is real and answers in the form of preference. "Which sin do you prefer? That is the one which you should choose. The others are not true. What can the body get that you would want the most of all? It is your servant and your friend. But tell it what you want, and it will serve you lovingly and well." And this is not a question, for it tells you what you want and where to go for it. It leaves no room to question its beliefs, except that what it states takes question's form .

40 A pseudo-question has no answer. It dictates the answer even as it asks. Thus is all questioning within the world a form of propaganda for itself. Just as the body's witnesses are but the senses from within itself, so are the answers to the questions of the world contained within the questions. Where answers represent the questions, they add nothing new, and nothing has been learned.

41 An honest question is a learning tool which asks for something that you do not know. It does not set conditions for response, but merely asks what the response should be. But no one in a conflict state is free to ask this question, for he does not want an honest answer where the conflict ends. Only within the holy instant can an honest question honestly be asked. And from the meaning of the question does the meaningfulness of the answer come. Here is it possible to separate your wishes from the answer, so it can be given you and also be received . The answer is provided everywhere. Yet it is only here it can be heard .

42 An honest answer asks no sacrifice because it answers questions truly asked. The questions of the world but ask of whom is sacrifice demanded, asking not if sacrifice is meaningful at all. And so unless the answer tells "of whom," it will remain unrecognized, unheard, and thus the question is preserved intact because it gave the answer to itself. The holy instant is the interval in which the mind is still enough to hear an answer which is not entailed within the question asked. It offers something new and different from the question. How could it be answered if it but repeats itself?

43 Therefore, attempt to solve no problems in a world from which the answer has been barred. But bring the problem to the only place which holds the answer lovingly for you. Here are the answers which will solve your problems because they stand apart from them, and see what can be answered—what the question is. Within the world the answers merely raise another question, though they leave the first unanswered. In the holy instant, you can bring the question to the answer and receive the answer that was made for you.

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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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Lesson 289
The past is over. It can touch me not.

1 Unless the past is over in my mind, the real world must escape my sight. For I am really looking nowhere, seeing but what is not there. How can I then perceive the world forgiveness offers? This the past was made to hide, for this the world that can be looked on only now. It has no past. For what can be forgiven but the past, and if it is forgiven, it is gone.

2 Father, let me not look upon a past that is not there. For You have offered me Your own replacement in a present world the past has left untouched and free of sin. Here is the end of guilt. And here am I made ready for Your final step. Shall I demand that You wait longer for Your Son to find the loveliness You planned to be the end of all his dreams and all his pain?

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Lesson 289
The past is over. It can touch me not.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
We have seen and read over and over again that only our thoughts cause us distress. Nothing that seems to be happening to us and nothing that we seem to have done has any real effects. However, our reactions to the seeming events in our lives, based on our interpretations, create distress for us. Yet these are exactly the perfect opportunities for healing. They are invitations to bring our distressing thoughts to awareness. The truth is already in our right minds and has always been there. When we are upset about anything, we can use these upsets to look at the self-attacking thoughts that we are using to block the love we are. When we no longer wish to defend our perceptions and instead look at them honestly with courage and no judgment of ourselves, healing happens. We are not the healers. The Holy Spirit is. Trust Him in this process, knowing that everything is released in His light.
 
Jesus tells us, "The escape from darkness involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness cannot hide. This step usually entails fear. Second, the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide even if you could. This step brings escape from fear. When you have become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter into communion but will also understand peace and joy." (T.1.IV.1) (ACIM OE T.1.I.22)
 
We think we can hide the dark thoughts we hold by putting on a "face of innocence" and a role of goodness and kindness. But our thoughts always have effects. The idea that there are no private thoughts brings up fear because we want to protect the image we have carefully cultivated. We are afraid of having our dark thoughts exposed. We hide under the "face of innocence," which is the carefully cultivated image of who we think we are. It is the nice persona that is a cover for the hateful, judgmental thoughts in the wrong mind. The idea that this image is not who we are brings fear. To expose and reveal the guilt and shame in the mind may seem terrifying and makes us feel very exposed and vulnerable. Yet when we see that there is nothing we want to hide, this is the escape from fear and liberates us from the bondage of the ego. Eventually, we come to a place where we welcome the hateful and judgmental thoughts because we recognize that, by seeing them and bringing them to the light, we are freed and come to see our magnificence.
 
There is a voice in you constantly talking, but you don't need to give it any power. You are the one observing this voice. You are not this voice. The voice is the stranger that has walked into your pristine home and made himself at home. If this voice was not in your mind, speaking to you all the time, but was someone outside of your mind talking to you, telling you what to worry about, who to judge and hate, who to dislike, and how to see your world, you would simply tell it to go away and leave you alone. In the same way, we can simply lose interest in the inner chatter so we can connect with the peace that is in us.
 
We do not see anything as it is. Everything we see is a projection of the thoughts in our mind, all coming from the past! Anything that seems to be happening that creates distress in us is an upset seen through the association with issues from the past. These issues started in the original moment when we chose the ego thought system and seemed to have left God. Now we believe we have done something irreparable. We have this overwhelming feeling that we have done something terribly wrong, but we don't have any conscious awareness of what that might be. As a result, we feel wrong and bad and we believe that there is something about us that needs to be fixed. We are overwhelmed by the guilt of this "sin," which is too much for us to bear.
 
The ego made this world of seeming differences where we can project guilt onto others in the belief that we are then getting rid of it in ourselves. What the ego never lets us know is that this is how we keep the guilt! We will only know the purity of our innocence, love, and light when we have healed the guilt in our mind by recognizing how the ego set all this up. It requires that we look at the unconscious mind. The ego's existence depends on us not looking at the guilt in the mind, but holding onto it, which we do when we keep it in the dark and see it in others rather than ourselves.
 
The only cause of any problem that we seem to have is not what is happening "out there," but the commotion created in our own minds. Now we are being called to recognize that our reactions are simply being triggered by an outside source, but the real source of our distress is coming from our own minds. We have given an interpretation to neutral events. We now have an opportunity to look more deeply at what we are thinking and believing. As long as we project the guilt, we keep it. When we see that this is how we keep hurting ourselves, we are motivated to choose forgiveness by recognizing that we are the observer of the voice and not the voice itself. We are not the ego, but the one observing the ego. When we do so without judging ourselves, we recognize that we have taken on a mistaken identity and have forgotten the truth about ourselves---that we are the Son of God.
 
How willing are you to let go of the pain of the past? This is all we are called to do. It is not necessarily an easy process, but the opportunities that show up in the people and situations in our lives are perfect for our healing, and through forgiveness, all the interference to the truth are undone. Through the process of forgiveness, we learn of our own true innocence. When we project guilt, we are trying to achieve innocence by seeing the guilt in our brothers. We want them to be punished for their sins and see them as the bad guys, while we see ourselves, by comparison, as superior and innocent. As long as we keep projecting guilt "out there," we are simply perpetuating the illusion.
 
When we learn that it is only ourselves that we hurt when we attack our brothers, we become more willing to give up our attacks. We cannot be innocent while seeing another guilty. When we see our brother's innocence, we know it is in us as well. This is the law of perception as described in Chapter 25, "You see what you believe is there, and you believe it is there because you want it there." (T.25.III.1.3) (ACIM OE T.25.IV.23) Now we ask, "How much do I want to see my brother's innocence so I can know my own? Or would I rather hold onto my stories and my grievances?" This is the choice I make in each situation I encounter.
 
A few years ago, I was at a Psychology of Vision workshop where we picked those in the group who reminded us of people in our families: an aunt, sister, cousin, parent, grandparent, or any significant person in our lives. Then, we looked at what we saw in them and who they reminded us of. For example, I saw in one man the characteristics of my father. It was a valuable process in helping me to appreciate how often "shadow figures" from the past are projected onto people currently in my life. With each "shadow figure," I had an association, which was either of special love or special hate. The extent of the feelings aroused was the extent of the grievances from the past that I was still holding onto. These were all unresolved emotions triggered by people from the past. My strongest reaction was to the person I picked as the father figure. Through this exercise, I realized how much was still unresolved in my feelings toward him. The person who was a shadow figure for my father was a perfect mirror for me to see my unresolved judgments from the past all coming from my own mind. It was a powerful opportunity to be released from the chains that kept me imprisoned to these past associations where I was still holding my father responsible for my unhappiness.
 
To forgive is to give up the wish that the past could be different. We forgive our brother's past so we can forgive our own. "The past is the ego's chief learning device, for it is in the past that you learned to define your own needs and acquired methods for meeting them on your own terms." (T.15.V.2.1) (ACIM OE T.15.VI.46) Thus, we developed strategies for having our needs met by using everyone in the present to support our specialness. Fortunately, we can undo any of these past associations and decisions we have made based on faulty perceptions. They are all faulty! Thus, it is never too late to have a happy childhood! We can release painful past memories through forgiveness any time we choose. This Lesson clearly states that if I am seeing the past, I am seeing what is not there and, in fact, never was. All there is of the past are only my thoughts based on faulty perceptions. I can elect to change those thoughts with the help of the Holy Spirit.
 
I recently received an email from a Course student that illustrates the power of forgiveness. It goes as follows:
 
"I don't know what happened last night for me but as I drove away from your home I suddenly began to feel and experience all the love that my family had given me over my life. It was so overpowering that I wept deeply while I drove. I realized that I had been looking all my life at the ego side of everyone and had not recognized the love that flowed freely from them. I find myself seeing the love in everyone I see and meet today instead of projecting all my judgments on them. I feel no stress just total acceptance of everyone by seeing their love rather than my anger. These words do not do justice to describing the experience I am having but I did want to share this with you. My only hope is to remain in this transformed state of love and peace."
 
Chances are we won't remain in this transformed state of peace and love, but that does not matter as long as we stay committed to continuing to watch our thoughts and do the forgiveness work so that we can remember, "In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, 'My brother, choose again.'" (T.31. VIII.3.2) (ACIM OE T.31.VIII.87) We keep making this choice until there is only one Voice that we listen to and there is nothing more to choose between. As the song says, "Even if you broke your vow a thousand times, all are welcome here."
 
The truth is that only our thoughts can hurt us---nothing else. As Jesus says over and over in the Course, nothing is outside of us. "He does not realize that he makes this world, for there is no world outside of him." (T.12.III.6.7) (ACIM OE T.11.IV.29) "If only the loving thoughts of God's Son are the world's reality, the real world must be in his mind." (T.12.III.7.1) (ACIM OE T.11.IV.30) "That is why you must realize that your hatred is in your mind and not outside it before you can get rid of it; and why you must get rid of it before you can perceive the world as it really is." (T.12.III.7.10) (ACIM OE T.11.IV.31) Yes, we are only hurt by our own thoughts. "You have chosen a sleep in which you have had bad dreams, but the sleep is not real and God calls you to awake." (T.6.IV.6.3) (ACIM OE T.6.V.50) We must not believe our own thoughts. Suffering comes from believing in what we are thinking.
 
Today, let us "Determine, then, to be not as we were. Use no relationship to hold us to the past, but with each one each day be born again." (T.13.X.5.1-2) (ACIM OE.T.13.IV.24) I love that. In each brother or sister that we encounter today, instead of seeing in them our past associations, we can take responsibility for our projections, turn them over to the Holy Spirit, and choose again. It is our determination not to use our brothers and sisters to keep us from the love we are and in that, we are born again. In that, we affirm the past is over. It can touch me not.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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