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

CHAPTER 31
The Simplicity of Salvation

IV. The Real Alternative

33 There is a tendency to think the world can offer consolation and escape from problems which its purpose is to keep . Why should this be? Because it is a place where choice among illusions seems to be the only choice. And you are in control of outcomes of your choosing. Thus you think within the narrow band from birth to death a little time is given you to use for you alone, a time when everyone conflicts with you, but you can choose which road will lead you out of conflict and away from difficulties which concern you not. Yet they are your concern. How then can you escape from them by leaving them behind? What must go with you, you will take with you whatever road you choose to walk along.

34 Real choice is no illusion. But the world has none to offer. All its roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness, and death. There is no choice in its alternatives. Seek not escape from problems here. The world was made that problems could not be escaped. Be not deceived by all the different names its roads are given. They have but one end. And each is but the means to gain that end, for it is here that all its roads will lead, however differently they seem to start, however differently they seem to go. Their end is certain, for there is no choice among them. All of them will lead to death. On some you travel gaily for a while before the bleakness enters. And on some the thorns are felt at once. The choice is not what will the ending be but when it comes.

35 There is no choice where every end is sure. Perhaps you would prefer to try them all before you really learn they are but one. The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when everyone begins to see how like they are to one another. Men have died on seeing this because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope. And yet this was the time they could have learned their greatest lesson. All must reach this point and go beyond it. It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself. The lesson has a purpose, and in this you come to understand what it is for .

36 Why would you seek to try another road, another person, or another place when you have learned the way the lesson starts but do not yet perceive what it is for? Its purpose is the answer to the search that all must undertake who still believe there is another answer to be found. Learn now, without despair, there is no hope of answer in the world. But do not judge the lesson which is but begun with this. Seek not another signpost in the world which seems to point to still another road. No longer look for hope where there is none. Make fast your learning now, and understand you but waste time unless you go beyond what you have learned to what is yet to learn. For from this lowest point will learning lead to heights of happiness in which you see the purpose of the lesson shining clear, and perfectly within your learning grasp.

37 Who would be willing to be turned away from all the roadways of the world unless he understood their real futility? Is it not needful that he should begin with this, to seek another way instead? For while he sees a choice where there is none, what power of decision can he use? The great release of power must begin with learning where it really has a use . And what decision has power if it be applied in situations without choice?

38 The learning that the world can offer but one choice, no matter what its form may be, is the beginning of acceptance that there is a real alternative instead. To fight against this step is to defeat your purpose here. You did not come to learn to find a road the world does not contain. The search for different pathways in the world is but the search for different forms of truth. And this would keep the truth from being reached.

39 Think not that happiness is ever found by following a road away from it. This makes no sense and cannot be the way. To you who seem to find this course to be too difficult to learn, let me repeat that to achieve a goal you must proceed in its direction, not away from it. And every road that leads the other way will not advance the purpose to be found. If this be difficult to understand, then is this course impossible to learn. But only then. For otherwise, it is a simple teaching in the obvious.

40 There is a choice which you have power to make when you have seen the real alternatives. Until that point is reached, you have no choice, and you can but decide how you would choose the better to deceive yourself again. This course attempts to teach no more than that the power of decision cannot lie in choosing different forms of what is still the same illusion and the same mistake. All choices in the world depend on this—you choose between your brother and yourself, and you will gain as much as he will lose, and what you lose is what is given him. How utterly opposed to truth is this, when the lesson's purpose is to teach that what your brother loses you have lost and what he gains is what is given you .

41 He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love. No pathway in the world can lead to Him, nor any worldly goal is one with His. What road in all the world will lead within, when every road was made to separate the journey from the purpose it must have unless it be but futile wandering? All roads that lead away from what you are will lead you to confusion and despair. Yet has He never left His Thoughts to die, without their Source forever in themselves. He has not left His Thoughts! He could no more depart from them than they could keep Him out. In unity with Him do they abide, and in their Oneness both are kept complete.

42 There is no road that leads away from Him. A journey from yourself does not exist. How foolish and insane it is to think that there could be a road with such an aim! Where could it go? And how could you be made to travel on it, walking there without your own reality at one with you? Forgive yourself your madness and forget all senseless journeys and all goal-less aims. They have no meaning. You can not escape from what you are. For God is merciful and did not let His Son abandon Him. For what He is, be thankful, for in that is your escape from madness and from death. Nowhere but where He is can you be found. There is no path that does not lead to Him.

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Part II
What is Creation?

1 Creation is the sum of all God's Thoughts, in number infinite and everywhere without all limit. Only Love creates and only like Itself. There was no time when all that It created was not there. Nor will there be a time when anything that It created suffers any change. Forever and forever are God's Thoughts exactly as they were and as they are, unchanged through time and after time is done.

2 God's Thoughts are given all the power that Their own Creator has. For He would add to Love by its extension. Thus His Son shares in creation, and must therefore share in power to create. What God has willed to be forever one will still be one when time is over and will not be changed throughout the course of time, remaining as it was before the thought of time began.

3 Creation is the opposite of all illusions, for Creation is the truth. Creation is the holy Son of God, for in Creation is His Will complete in every aspect, making every part container of the whole. Its oneness is forever guaranteed inviolate, forever held within His holy Will beyond all possibility of harm, of separation, imperfection, and of any spot upon its sinlessness.

4 We are Creation---we the Sons of God. We seem to be discrete and unaware of our eternal unity with Him. Yet back of all our doubts, past all our fears, there still is certainty. For Love remains with all Its Thoughts, Its sureness being theirs. God's memory is in our holy minds, which know their oneness and their unity with their Creator. Let our function be only to let this memory return, only to let God's Will be done on earth, only to be restored to sanity, and to be but as God created us.

5 Our Father calls to us. We hear His Voice, and we forgive creation in the name of its Creator, Holiness Itself, Whose holiness His own creation shares; Whose holiness is still a part of us.

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Lesson 330
I will not hurt myself again today.

1 Let us this day accept forgiveness as our only function. Why should we attack our minds and give them images of pain? Why should we teach them they are powerless when God holds out His power and His Love and bids them take what is already theirs? The mind that is made willing to accept God's gifts has been restored to Spirit and extends its freedom and its joy, as is the Will of God united with its own. The Self which God created cannot sin and therefore cannot suffer. Let us choose today that He be our identity and thus escape forever from all things the dream of fear appears to offer us.

2 Father, Your Son cannot be hurt. And if we think we suffer, we but fail to know our one Identity we share with You. We would return to It today, to be made free forever from all our mistakes and to be saved from what we thought we were.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 330
I will not hurt myself again today.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
 
Today, I will comment on the Lesson line by line. The overall message in the Lesson is for us to be aware of how we hurt ourselves when we attack and hold grievances, or when we focus on our specialness, pleasures, and perceived needs. We suffer when we want something, and we suffer when we get it because then we fear losing it.
 
Jesus reminds us that we are not the victims of anything in this world and that we choose to suffer. Our suffering is the "proof" that we exist as separate, individual identities, and we make others responsible for our pain. We insist that people and events outside us are the cause of our suffering. To invite pain into our lives, which may be under the guise of pleasure, is a way to establish that we exist as bodies and personalities in the world. We set up defenses against aging, disease, decay, and death and try to control events to keep ourselves safe.
 
Jesus reminds us, "Truth cannot deal with errors that you want." (T.3.IV.7.2) (ACIM OE T.3.VI.48 -> " Truth cannot deal with unwilling error because it does not will to be blocked out. ") In other words, as long as we want to hang onto the separate self, our defenses, and our belief that we are victims of the world, there can be no Correction possible. We must want the Atonement/Correction in order to receive it. We must be willing to release the blocks we hold against the truth if we want to know our reality as created by God.
 
"Let us this day accept forgiveness as our only function." (W.330.1.1) Jesus reminds us that the only way to escape the pain of our lives is to accept forgiveness as our only function. To refuse to forgive is one way we hurt ourselves, as forgiveness is only for ourselves. In Lesson 328, Jesus said that by choosing our own independent will, we bring about sickness, suffering, loss, and death. Our independent will reflects the desire to gain at someone else's expense. By bringing our unloving thoughts to the light of truth, we see our brothers as guiltless. This is salvation's simple formula because when we see our brother as innocent, we come to know our own innocence and thus our own divine nature that has never left its Source.
 
"Why should we attack our minds, and give them images of pain?" (W.330.1.2) This raises the question of "how" we attack our minds. Every time I attack someone, defend myself, make a judgment, make myself better or more righteous, hold onto anger, hold grievances, hurt anyone, blame anyone, or obsess about my fears and expectations, I am attacking my mind. The Course is clear that anything I do to my brother I am doing to myself. If I hurt you in any way, I am hurting myself. If I expect or demand anything from you, I am seeing myself as lacking. Our attacks on our brothers reflect the guilt in our own mind. When we attack, we believe we deserve punishment in return. If we clearly saw this was the case, would we want to continue to attack?
 
"The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. 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.10.1-6) (ACIM OE T.27.IX.86)
 
"Why should we teach them [our minds] they are powerless, when God holds out His power and His Love, and bids them take what is already theirs?" (W.330.1.3) Jesus reminds us again in Lesson 329, we are already One with God. We can't change our reality as His Son, but we can remain unaware of who we really are. We have chosen to forget. Our minds are as powerful as God's. What we have done is made a choice for the ego and interposed a second will as powerful as God's. God can't overpower our will. His gift to us is the freedom to do as we want. We are the ones who made our bodies to suffer and die to prove we really aren't the unlimited, powerful, and eternal beings God says we are. Who is right---God or the ego?
 
Jesus tells us, the only source of happiness is to know our own true will. When we attack, we feel guilty, and guilt demands punishment that we believe we deserve. Thus, we fear the future. The ego has set up a cycle of sin, guilt, and fear. As long as we are caught up in this loop, we can never be free. We never experience the present moment. We feel powerless and victimized by the seeming reality of the human condition. We feel at the mercy of the world. The truth is that we are only at the mercy of our own thinking. What we experience all starts in our own mind. We are the only ones who can choose to break this cycle.
 
Jesus invites us to do just that by realizing we are not the characters in this dream who seem to suffer and die. We are, in fact, the dreamer of the dream. We can take responsibility for everything that seems to happen to us, recognizing it all starts in our own minds. Now we have a choice. We can choose to see with the ego or with the Holy Spirit. We either allow the ego to interpret events for us, or we choose to turn to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation. When we release our mistaken perceptions given us by the ego and give them over to the Holy Spirit, our minds are healed. The world has not hurt us. All our suffering comes only from our own wrong-minded choices. "To place your hopes where no hope lies must make you hopeless. Yet is this hopelessness your choice, while you would seek for hope where none is ever found." (T.25.II.2.5-6) (ACIM OE T.25.III.13)
 
"The mind that is made willing to accept God's gifts has been restored to spirit, and extends its freedom and its joy, as is the Will of God united with its own." (W.330.1.4) Our minds are made willing through forgiveness. Every time we resist the temptation to defend ourselves, every time we resist the temptation to attack, every time we show willingness to release grievances, and every time we are willing to extend love and to surrender our way and ask for help, we make our minds ready and willing to accept the gifts God holds out to us. We can't take hold of these gifts while we still justify our anger, see ourselves as victims, and continue to hold onto judgments.
 
Every time we bring images of pain back to the mind where another choice can be made, the mind is restored, and we are united with the Will of God. It is all about willingness. Notice how much we resist. Notice how we relish our resentments and even nurture them, and how we hurt ourselves in doing so. Studies have shown that people initially experience revenge as sweet. It ignites the same pleasure sensors in the brain as does eating chocolate. However, it is only a temporary high because with it comes more self-attack and more guilt. We hurt ourselves again and again when we retaliate. We do it all to ourselves as we actively keep ourselves from the peace and joy that is our inheritance!
 
"The Self which God created cannot sin, and therefore cannot suffer." (W.330.1.5) Only in this dream do we hold the belief of sin and, as a result, suffer the consequences. But Jesus asks, "How can a misperception 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 given you to see the world He made instead of yours." (T.25.III.7.1-2) (ACIM OE T.25.IV.28) When we accept forgiveness into the mind, we demonstrate that we are not powerless, and there is another way to perceive. We suffer when we attack. When we forgive and experience our innocence, we connect with the Self behind the image of this seeming body and personality, and our suffering is released. This is the way out of the ego cycle of sin, guilt, and fear. The door is open and Jesus invites us to make this choice to enter the holy sanctuary. The means are offered us in every person and situation we encounter in the classroom of our lives. We always make the choice to condemn or forgive. "The time he chooses can be any time, for help is there, awaiting but his choice. And when he chooses to avail himself of what is given him, then will he see each situation that he thought before was means to justify his anger turned to an event which justifies his love." (T.25.III.6.4-5) (ACIM OE T.25.IV.28) As we forgive, we are using time for its intended purpose, and now our relationships and the world have new meaning.
 
"Let us choose today that He [the Self that God created] be our Identity, and thus escape forever from all things the dream of fear appears to offer us." (W.330.1.6) While we believe that we deserve to be hurt and punished because of what we have done, Jesus keeps reminding us that we can escape this dream by making another choice in this instant. We need not wait. There is nothing we need to atone for. We are innocent now, no matter what we think we have done wrong. We don't always want to forgive, and we delay because we resist letting go of our way of seeing. The temptation to attack is very strong in us. We want to gain at the expense of others. While it may look like we have gained at the expense of our brothers, all we have acquired is more pain and suffering. We think we can buy our innocence by projecting guilt onto others and thus making ourselves feel more righteous or superior. This is our perceived payoff, but it is a false innocence.
 
Our motivation to forgive must be strengthened through application. Motivation becomes stronger when, through forgiveness, we feel redeemed. Our happiness and our peace are established when our attack thoughts are released. When we choose to forgive, we are choosing the miracle. We are choosing to see with the eyes of Christ. We are choosing to accept the Atonement (the Correction) for ourselves. We are choosing to know the truth of who we are as unlimited, pristine, eternal, and divine beings of light and love. We are choosing to know ourselves as the powerful, eternal beings we are and thus we "escape forever from all things the dream of fear appears to offer us." (W.330.1.6)
 
"Father, Your Son can not be hurt." (W.330.2.1) The "me" who seemingly can be hurt is simply the identity I know as Sarah---a body, a concept I hold about myself, and a personality that holds a bundle of values and beliefs. What can't be hurt is the eternal Self that I have blocked with images I have made of myself and the mistaken thoughts and beliefs I hang onto. The truth is that we can awaken to the reality of our Self as pure love, at One with all that is, and forever changeless. Until that time, we need to recognize that, by our own decision, we limit and hurt ourselves. Now we can take responsibility for this decision. We can choose to surrender our way and to forgive our misperceptions. It is a process. We will not be hurled into Heaven. We will only go as slowly or as quickly as our fear will allow.
 
" And if we think we suffer, we but fail to know our one Identity we share with You. We would return to It today, to be made free forever from all our mistakes, and to be saved from what we thought we were. " (W.330.2.2-3)
 
Healing requires a willingness to be very honest with ourselves about our hurts and allow whatever feelings there are surrounding them to be brought to awareness. We acknowledge them fully and investigate them without allowing ourselves to be distracted from what we feel. We need to express what we feel without going into indulgence where we enjoy the drama. If the charge is still there, there is something to release. It is not enough to manage the feelings that hurt us. We are good at protecting ourselves from pain, but that is how we keep it. What is important is to acknowledge what we are feeling and investigate the thoughts we are holding and the beliefs and values that accompany them. Thus, we can choose to go deeper into the mind each time we are triggered. I acknowledge that I don't know what is best for me. I don't know what anything is for, and I don't know what God's Will for me looks like in this situation. Thus, I see that my attachment to outcomes makes me blind to what is always possible---the miracle.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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