"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

VII. The Savior's Vision

68 Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognize. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation's task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world's concepts are the guilty "bad;" the "good" are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the "good" to pardon him the "bad." Nor does he trust the "good" in anyone, believing that the "bad" must lurk behind. This concept emphasizes treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the "bad" in you .

69 You could not recognize your "evil" thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another "crime." You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed . Your "evil" thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer did you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you gave your trust to what is good in him, you gave it to the good in you.

70 In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the "baser" part of you and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself , when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid that God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.

71 You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself which can be interchanged, but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you . For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.

72 Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him that you may not be frightened by your "evil" thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself which now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one which brings the peace of God.

73 The concept of yourself which now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world instead of as salvation's enemy?

74 The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images because you look on them as through a barrier which dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release—the sight, the vision, and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you and the universe with them.

75 Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a savior to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this One. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.

76 The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error—that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself which holds him off from you and you away from him. The sword of judgment is the weapon which you give to the illusion of yourself that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is and thus what you must be.

77 What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a savior to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial savior would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given each of you to save are everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are, all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet, the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.

78 Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the savior of the Son of God? How would you know his holiness while you see him apart from yours? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon that he may be what they expect of him. This is the savior's vision—that he see his innocence in all he looks upon and sees his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.

79 Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self which you are not. And from that wish, a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you . For vision can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see or keep yourself apart and separate.

80 The savior's vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgment made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognizing this, it merely asks, "What is the meaning of what I behold?" Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks in innocence to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.

81 Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing which you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain, and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die and end the dream of fear. This is temptation, nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against ? Consider what temptation is , and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one .

82 Let not the world's light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the savior's vision is withheld, and what they see is death. Their savior stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, "Release My Son!" be tempted not to listen when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?

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Part II
What is the Ego?

1 The ego is idolatry—the sign of limited and separated self, born in a body, doomed to suffer and to end its life in death. It is the will that sees the Will of God as enemy and takes a form in which It is denied. The ego is the "proof" that strength is weak and love is fearful, life is really death, and what opposes God alone is true.

2 The ego is insane. In fear it stands beyond the Everywhere, apart from All, in separation from the Infinite. In its insanity it thinks it has become a victor over God Himself, and in its terrible autonomy, it "sees" the Will of God has been destroyed. It dreams of punishment and trembles at the figures in its dreams, its enemies who seek to murder it before it can ensure its safety by attacking them.

3 The Son of God is egoless. What can he know of madness and the death of God when he abides in Him? What can he know of sorrow and of suffering when he lives in eternal joy? What can he know of fear and punishment, of sin and guilt, of hatred and attack when all there is surrounding him is everlasting peace, forever conflict-free and undisturbed in deepest silence and tranquillity?

4 To know Reality is not to see the ego and its thoughts, its works, its acts, its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes, its plans for its salvation, and the cost belief in it entails. In suffering, the price for faith in it is so immense that crucifixion of the Son of God is offered daily at its darkened shrine and blood must flow before the altar where its sickly followers prepare for death.

5 Yet will one lily of forgiveness change the darkness into light, the altar to illusions to the shrine of Life Itself. And peace will be restored forever to the holy minds which God created as His Son, His dwelling-place, His joy, His love, completely His, completely one with Him.

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Lesson 333
Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here.

1 Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, nor hidden by deceit of any kind if it would be escaped. It must be seen exactly as it is, where it is thought to be, in the reality which has been given it, and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. For only then are its defenses lifted and the truth can shine upon it as it disappears.

2 Father, forgiveness is the light You chose to shine away all conflict and all doubt and light the way for our return to You. No light but this can end our evil dreams. No light but this can save the world. For this alone will never fail in anything, being Your gift to Your beloved Son.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 333
Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
 
This lesson can be understood within the context of the original conflict that came with the decision to separate from God and choose the ego instead. With this decision, conflict arose in the mind. The decision to leave God's Kingdom resulted in a separate will, where we chose to make it on our own. The result of this decision was a mind full of guilt and fear. Now, our will seemed to be in opposition to God, and thus, conflict arose in the mind. This conflicted mind shows up in our relationships and in the circumstances and events of our lives. We live in fear of the attacks we think are coming at us and rightly deserved. We fear harm to ourselves that we believe is being initiated by others, although they all originate in our own mind. But now to protect ourselves from the perceived attacks, we set up defenses, both physical and psychological. We feel at the mercy of the world, not recognizing that the conflict in our own mind is the cause of all we perceive. This is precisely why the problem must be resolved in the mind and not in the world. When the mind is quiet, the problems of the world are no longer perceived as problems. We no longer give meaning to them.
 
This world is made up of separate and clashing wills because that is the essence of life in a world projected from a conflicted mind. It is also why conflicts can never be resolved in the world. They must be resolved at the source, which is in our own mind. In this dream, conflict is inevitable because the world is rooted in conflict. When we step outside the dream, we see the illusory nature of this world. What appeared as blocks, now are seen as opportunities for healing. When we don't defend or attack, when we take no offense, and when we turn to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation of the events in our lives, the way is made easy. "We have come to gentler pathways and to smoother roads." (W.123.1.2) "The Thought of God protects you, cares for you, makes soft your resting place and smooth your way, lighting your mind with happiness and love." (W.165.2.6) This becomes apparent to us when we do the work of watching the mind and bringing all perceived blocks to love.
 
Today, we are encouraged to look squarely at the conflict in our minds without evading it, setting it aside, denying it, disguising it, seeing it elsewhere, calling it by another name, or hiding it. "Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, or hidden by deceit of any kind, if it would be escaped." (W.333.1.1-2) In other words, we must undo our denial of where the conflict is which is always in our own mind.
 
We are being asked to give up our stories of victimhood and being unfairly treated and see instead that it is our own mind that is the source of all conflict. There is no one to blame and no one to be held responsible. Conflict in our relationships may sound something like this, "You never listen to me." "You are always leaving the TV on." "You never pay any attention to me." "I don't have a problem. You're the one who is angry" "Leave me alone. I'm having a bad day!" "Not now, I have a headache." "If you weren't so distant, I wouldn't have a problem!" "You are always blaming me for everything." "It is not my fault!"
 
We evade conflict by avoiding, walking away, or distracting ourselves with other things. We set the conflict aside for later, without necessarily addressing it later. We deny our anger by covering it over and pretending that everything is fine. We disguise it by blaming it on other things: hormones, bad drivers, a headache, or our need to be nice, polite, and sweet, even though there is inner rage going on. We see it somewhere else by blaming someone else, or we just call it something else such as my truth, setting boundaries, or being right.
 
Yet Jesus reminds us again and again that the conflict in our mind must be seen and not denied. He says that conflict must be resolved, which means we must take responsibility for the source of the conflict since it will never be resolved outside our own mind. We must be willing to look at our projections and whatever triggers us and bring it all back to our mind. In this way, the conflict can be released. It must first be brought to awareness and then given over to the Holy Spirit. It is only through forgiveness that conflict can be resolved. Conflict is an outside picture of our inward condition. When the inner conflict is healed, we may still witness what looks like a problem, but it will have no effect on us.
 
The other day, I was in an argument with my partner. and we were both angry at each other. The next day, after some period of withdrawal and silence, we came together seemingly in peace, but my mind was still obsessing about the problem as I perceived it. I continued to feel that there was a need for some kind of resolution. In my meditation, I heard, "What do you want? Do you want peace, or do you want resolution in your way?" When I chose to let go of my need for resolution and chose peace as my only goal, I realized there truly was no problem except in my own mind. Nothing needed to be solved in the world. With this shift, nothing changed in form, but I no longer defined it as a problem. All was well. "What could you not accept, if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good?" (W.135.18.1) The only problem is when we determine what things should look like or when we decide what we need, what is good, and what is bad in our lives.
 
Why do we deny the anger, rage, and hostility in our minds? We have such a desire to be innocent and to look good that we cover up the ego by holding up a façade, which Jesus calls the "face of innocence." We cover over our inner turmoil and deny the anger, but we need to look under this image and expose the ego for what it really is. This can seem difficult especially if we judge ourselves for what we see behind our defenses. We may start to feel discouraged about this journey when we judge what we uncover within ourselves. We won't make progress unless we accept that to look at the ego with honesty and courage is the only way to know our true innocence. We must look squarely at our hostility and see it as the nature of the character, but not what we are. We must see conflict exactly as it is and where it is thought to be---in the reality that has been given it and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. We must hide nothing from ourselves.
 
When we find ourselves in a power struggle and blame our brother for how we feel, the only answer is to uncover our painful, needy side rather than use our brother to distract us from the need for healing. By taking back our projected pain, it can be healed. Looking directly at thoughts and feelings, with total honesty and courage, is a very important aspect of healing. With the courage to look at our thoughts and to take responsibility for everything that "seems" to be happening to us, we can look at the conflict from outside this dream and recognize its unreality. All conflict we see "out there" is entirely internal. If we are raging at our spouse, a friend, a parent, or whomever, we must admit that it is our rage. We must uncover every aspect of our thoughts around the situation and recognize the purpose being served by this conflict. Everything we do has some purpose, but we often hide this purpose from ourselves. Our purpose with conflict is to stay invested in the dream, and with forgiveness, it is a strong desire to awaken from the dream by accepting the Atonement.
 
Several years ago, I was dealing with a situation where my mother was placed in a care facility because the active treatment hospital would not continue to keep her there. The policy in this province is to move a person from active treatment to the first available bed no matter how inappropriate it is. The person languishes there until an appropriate placement can be made, which can be as long as six months. In this situation, my mother was moved to a locked dementia placement, even though she was very bright, alert, and capable, with no indication of dementia. Her only problem was her advanced age and her requirement for considerable amount of care with bodily needs. After trying any number of solutions and experiencing many bureaucratic blocks, I felt defeated and in a lot of despair.
 
In my meditation, the despair showed up as murderous rage. Going deeper, I felt an ocean of sadness that felt almost unbearable. Then a wave of guilt washed over me with the realization that the sadness I felt came from the separation and it all felt very real. I felt profound pain over the belief that I had left God and was on my own. "Oh my God, what have I done?" It was all so very painful, I could hardly breathe. While I have written about the separation, I have never felt it so acutely. It is what Jesus says is at the core of our being in our separated state, even though none of it is the truth, as we have never left Heaven. It seems the situation with my mother was just another opportunity to experience the feeling of being abandoned by God and left all alone to deal with this crazy life. In the end, we sprung mom loose from this facility and the situation was resolved. Everyone was very helpful and cooperative in assisting in her transfer out of there. It was another situation that provided me a perfect classroom for going deep into the mind and undoing false beliefs. No matter what it may look like in the moment, it is all perfectly orchestrated for our highest good if we choose to see it that way.
 
I love the Section in Chapter 27 called, "The Quiet Answer," which speaks beautifully about the issue of conflict. Basically, Jesus says that when you are in conflict, "in your state of mind, solution is impossible." (T.27.IV.2.2) (ACIM OE T.27. V.37) What is to be done? The answer is in the holy instant. "Attempt to solve no problems but within the holy instant's surety." (T.27.IV.3.1) (ACIM OE T.27.V.38) We are called to bring our conflicts to the light and, through forgiveness, rise above the battleground to a place in our minds where the quiet answer can be heard. This is the only place where we can ask a real question. This question comes from a mind not already positioning its own answer to the conflict. "A question asked in hate cannot be answered because it is an answer in itself." (T.27.IV.4.2) (ACIM OE T.27.V.38) In other words, if I ask Jesus to help me solve a particular problem, I have already told him through my question the answer I have determined I need in order to be happy. When a question is asked in honesty, it is to ask to see truly. Holy Spirit, how would You have me see this situation?
 
"Father, forgiveness is the light You chose to shine away all conflict and all doubt, and light the way for our return to You. No light but this can end our evil dream. No light but this can save the world. For this alone will never fail in anything, being Your gift to Your beloved Son." (W.333.2.1-4) Forgiveness is about seeing our brother in the light of truth; and as we reach out to the holiness in his mind, we recognize our own holiness. In that experience, we know we are the same---divine, innocent beings. The spark of truth is in all of us. We all share One Self. The power of forgiveness is the power to heal the conflict that seems to be between us, yet it is just an aspect of our own mind. The temptation is always to see this conflict as the responsibility of someone else. Whatever comes up today as a difficulty that you perceive with anyone, recognize that it all starts in your mind. When the barriers in your own mind are brought to light, love will come streaming in where the hatred previously took up residence.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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