"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

VIII. Choose Once Again

83 Temptation has one lesson it would teach in all its forms wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this:

84 Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or would remain in hell and hold your brothers there.

85 For He has come, and He is asking this.

86 How do you make the choice? How easily is this explained! You always choose between your weakness and the strength of Christ in you. And what you choose is what you think is real. Simply by never using weakness to direct your actions, you have given it no power. And the light of Christ in you is given charge of everything you do. For you have brought your weakness unto Him, and He has given you His strength instead.

87 Trials are but lessons which you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before, you now can make a better one and thus escape all pain which what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, "My brother, choose again." He would not leave one source of pain unhealed nor any image left to veil the truth. [He would remove all misery from you, whom God created altars unto joy.] He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your minds from everything that hides His face from you. His holiness is yours because He is the only power that is real in you. His strength is yours because He is the Self that God created as His only Son.

88 The images you make can not prevail against what God Himself would have you be. Be never fearful of temptation then, but see it as it is—another chance to choose again and let Christ's strength prevail in every circumstance and every place you raised an image of yourself before. For what appears to hide the face of Christ is powerless before His majesty and disappears before His holy sight. The saviors of the world who see like Him are merely those who chose His strength instead of their own weakness, seen apart from Him. They will redeem the world, for they are joined in all the power of the Will of God. And what they will is only what He wills.

89 Learn then the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words:

90 I am as God created me. His Son can suffer nothing. And I am His Son.

91 Thus is Christ's strength invited to prevail, replacing all your weakness with the strength that comes from God and that can never fail. And thus are miracles as natural as fear and agony appeared to be before the choice for holiness was made. For in that choice are false distinctions gone, illusory alternatives laid by, and nothing left to interfere with truth.

92 You are as God created you, and so is every living thing you look upon, regardless of the images you see. What you behold as sickness and as pain, as weakness and as suffering and loss is but temptation to perceive yourself defenseless and in hell. Yield not to this, and you will see all pain in every form wherever it occurs but disappear as mists before the sun. A miracle has come to heal God's Son and close the door upon his dreams of weakness, opening the way to his salvation and release. Choose once again what you would have him be, remembering that every choice you make establishes your own identity as you will see it and believe it is.

93 Deny me not the little gift I ask when in exchange I lay before your feet the peace of God and power to bring this peace to everyone who wanders in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. For it is given you to join with him, and through the Christ in you unveil his eyes and let him look upon the Christ in him. My brothers in salvation, do not fail to hear my voice and listen to my words. I ask for nothing but your own release. There is no place for hell within a world whose loveliness can yet be so intense and so inclusive it is but a step from there to Heaven. To your tired eyes I bring a vision of a different world, so new and clean and fresh you will forget the pain and sorrow that you saw before. Yet this a vision is which you must share with everyone you see, for otherwise you will behold it not. To give this gift is how to make it yours. And God ordained in loving kindness that it be for you.

94 Let us be glad that we can walk the world and find so many chances to perceive another situation where God's gift can once again be recognized as ours! And thus will all the vestiges of hell, the secret "sins," and hidden hates be gone. And all the loveliness which they concealed appear like lawns of Heaven to our sight to lift us high above the thorny roads we travelled on before the Christ appeared. Hear me, my brothers, hear and join with me. God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content. For you will hear, and you will choose again. And in this choice is everyone made free.

95 I thank You, Father, for these holy ones who are my brothers as they are Your Sons. My faith in them is Yours. I am as sure that they will come to me as You are sure of what they are and will forever be. They will accept the gift I offer them because You gave it me on their behalf. And as I would but do Your holy Will, so will they choose. And I give thanks for them. Salvation's song will echo through the world with every choice they make. For we are one in purpose, and the end of hell is near.

96 In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy. Give me my own, for they belong to You. And can You fail in what is but Your Will? I give You thanks for what my brothers are. And as each one elects to join with me, the song of thanks from earth to Heaven grows from tiny scattered threads of melody to one inclusive chorus from a world redeemed from hell and giving thanks to You.

97 And now we say "Amen." For Christ has come to dwell in the abode You set for Him before time was, in calm eternity. The journey closes, ending at the place where it began. No trace of it remains. Not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ from anyone. Thy Will is done, complete and perfectly, and all creation recognizes You and knows You as the only Source it has. Clear in Your Likeness does the Light shine forth from everything that lives and moves in You. For we have reached where all of us are One, and we are home, where You would have us be.

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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 334
Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives.

1 I will not wait another day to find the treasures which my Father offers me. Illusions must be vain and dreams are gone, even while they are woven out of thoughts that rest on false perception. Let me not accept such meager gifts again today. God's Voice is offering the peace of God to all who hear and choose to follow Him. This is my choice today. And so I go to find the treasures God has given me.

2 I seek but the eternal. For Your Son can be content with nothing less than this. What then can be his solace but what You are offering to his bewildered mind and frightened heart, to give him certainty and bring him peace? Today I would behold my brother sinless. This Your Will for me, for thus will I behold my sinlessness.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 334
Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
 
In an interview, Seinfeld said he had never thought he wanted to marry. Then he came to a place where he realized he had everything in the world that money could buy, which brought him to wonder, "What do I do now?" Since marriage wasn't on his agenda, there seemed nothing else in the world to have, and so life, although abundant in the material realm and in power and prestige, lost its luster. He had everything, yet he felt very alone and unfulfilled, and so he did marry and now has a wife and family and has expanded his interests to include others. I'm not saying a special relationship is the answer to this feeling of emptiness. I’m only saying that when we get what we think we want in this world, which can include the special relationship, the sense of lack and unfulfillment continues until we get on the path of awakening from this dream and claim the gifts forgiveness gives.
 
We think we would be happy if all our dreams were met and we got everything we wanted, yet as Seinfeld illustrated in this interview, eventually disillusionment set in. Eventually, "Illusions are all vain, and dreams are gone even while they are woven out of thoughts that rest on false perceptions." (W.334.1.2) Our false perceptions are based on what the ego tells us to pursue in the world. The ego is always about having more. There is never enough to fill the lack we feel within. The ego wants more, whether it is more power, prestige, attention, adventure, thrills, or even more distress, victimhood, or illness, hard as that is to believe. When we live in false perception, which is the world of illusion, we are never satisfied. There is a restlessness we feel, with no certainty of what will finally fulfill the sense of lack and need. Until we seek to know the eternal Self that we are, we will never be content. We will wonder what is wrong, yet have no answer. The only answer that brings certainty and peace is to know our sinlessness. It is to know who we really are. "Let me not accept such meager gifts today" of the ego. (W.334.1.3)
 
There will always be an emptiness within when we identify with the body and personality. This emptiness needs to be filled with something. It may be food, drugs, sex, power, fame, prestige, attention, or any number of things that we pursue in the belief that they will fulfill us. The ego is a wanting machine. I recall reading in the book, A Million Little Pieces , about James Frey's recovery from drug use. He said how he could never put enough food into himself to fill the empty void. No matter how much he ate, and he ate a lot, there was still this empty place in him, yearning for fulfillment. This place cannot be filled by anything except God. We all have this yearning for spiritual fulfillment.
 
This Lesson says that the treasures being offered us by our Father are eternal. The goal of this Course is peace, and peace is available to us as we release our judgments and false perceptions. Imagine how beautiful the gift of innocence is, where we feel totally clean of all negative thoughts, all grievances, all issues, all guilt, and all judgment. When we know that we are on the right path and have chosen the right teacher, we no longer wonder about the future, our goals, and our direction in life. More and more we experience ease, spaciousness, and a feeling of being in the flow. We see that everything that shows up for us has a divine purpose. It can all be used for healing, so we can come to know deep abiding peace where nothing can disturb the tranquility of our minds.
 
Jesus teaches that we are incapable of wanting less than the eternal. Everything else is a poor substitute. When we realize that substitutes can never satisfy us, we naturally want the authentic, real, and substantial, which are the eternal. Once we realize that we have the power to choose, we learn to discern what has eternal value and what is useless, valueless, and false and offers us the fleeting, meager "gifts" of the ego. When we see this contrast, we are motivated to respond more fully to the call within to "choose to follow Him." (W.334.1.4) How do we do that? Only by releasing expectations, issues, grievances and, in fact, all the thoughts that block awareness of who we are in truth can the gifts of God spring forth. It takes surrender and humility. We need to admit that we truly don't know what will make us happy because we have been wrong about ourselves. We are as God created us, not what we have made of ourselves. Forgiveness is the process of releasing all the false beliefs that we hold. What gives them power is only our investment in the false as true. We have the power to choose what to accept as true.
 
As Lesson 231 says, "What can I seek for, but Your Love?" (W.231.1.1) What we truly want is to know our own will, which is one with God's. We must come to see that we all share the same one Will. Sameness reflects the Oneness we share. If we crucify our brother in any way today, we do so based on our belief in differences and separation. This is how we reinforce specialness and false innocence---by seeing ourselves as better than those we judge. It is how we express our individuality when we believe we can hurt our brother and maintain our innocence, but all that happens is that we accumulate more guilt.
 
We simply can't change what we are as God created us, no matter how much we avoid, distract, pursue our own goals, or hold onto our beliefs and perspectives. As Jesus says in Chapter 29, "The changelessness of Heaven is in you, so deep within that nothing in this world but passes by, unnoticed and unseen. The still infinity of endless peace surrounds you gently in its soft embrace, so strong and quiet, tranquil in the might of its Creator, nothing can intrude upon the sacred Son of God within." (T.29.V.2.3-4) (ACIM OE T.29.VI.32)
 
This is such a beautiful affirmation of the truth. As we open more and more to the truth, keep surrendering our way, and keep asking for help, the obsessive voice of the ego gets more and more irrelevant. In other words, we turn away from it, choosing not to give it attention. This voice can be very loud, raucous, obsessive, and persistent. All past conditioning has convinced us that we are what we are not. We have become accustomed to this voice with its constant chatter that plays incessantly in the mind. It is like background noise. Unless we tune into it, we don't even hear it anymore. All the thoughts and beliefs of the unwatched mind get dumped into the unconscious mind and continue to run our lives. Thus, if we are not vigilant in watching our thoughts, our lives seem to be on autopilot where we react without even thinking. As Jesus says, truth comes to the silent mind, and the mind is silenced when we bring the content of egoic our thoughts to the truth.
 
I recently had a very difficult challenge in my life where I felt that I was being ignored and neglected by a professional whom I was depending on to address a matter of some importance. I noticed the obsessive thoughts I was holding about this situation. There were thoughts of revenge, guilt, strategies to solve the problem, fear, concern, and worry. The mind was very much in turmoil. When we identify with this constant turmoil, we ensure that truth cannot reach our awareness. Only when we bring these disturbing thoughts to the Holy Spirit can space be opened for the gentle, changeless peace to envelop us in its embrace. It is all based on what we desire---peace or our own way.
 
"The bridge that He would carry you across lifts you from time into eternity. Waken from time, and answer fearlessly the call of Him Who gave eternity to you in your creation. On this side of the bridge to timelessness you understand nothing. But as you step lightly across it, upheld by timelessness, you are directed straight to the Heart of God. At its center, and only there, you are safe forever, because you are complete forever. There is no veil the Love of God in us together cannot lift. The way to truth is open. Follow it with me." (T.16.IV.13.4-11) (ACIM OE T.16.V.42)
 
When we keep trying to find in the world of time what can only be found in the eternal, we stay in the endless loop of the ego; and what we find there are only substitutes for the real thing. Our special relationships hold us in time, but if we open to the holy instant, we begin to allow the Holy Spirit to use all relationships for the healing of our minds. Through forgiveness, we come to see our brothers as innocent, and in turn, we see ourselves the same.
 
Today, I am looking at all the things that are keeping me from claiming my gifts. I value the way I see things. I value my own point of view. This keeps me from asking for His guidance. I want things to go the way I set them up for myself. I want things to go according to my plan in the world. I notice an unwillingness to give up my authority over the decisions in my life. I trust my own judgment. I believe my preferences are important. I hold onto concepts and ideas of how things should be. That is why today I affirm, "I will not wait another day to find the treasures that my Father offers me." (W.334.1.1) I increasingly recognize my way will never bring me the happiness I seek. Through forgiveness, the memory of my own innocence is awakened. By undoing my perception of guilt in others, I can access my own eternal gifts.
 
It is important to start the day with a focus on what kind of day we want and to remind ourselves, "If I make no decisions by myself, this is the day that will be given me." (T.30.I.4.2) (ACIM OE T.30.II.8) Today can be a day in which we claim the eternal gifts of peace, innocence, and certainty. Is any argument, any disagreement, or any conflict worth giving up peace? Are judgments, grievances, or issues with anyone worth trading for His eternal gifts? Do I really want to hurt myself in this way? We recognize today that everything in our lives offers us the perfect opportunity for making new choices by being willing to replace grievances, judgments, neediness, and demands with the willingness to receive the miracle and thus perceive our brother as the same as ourselves. When we join in recognition of our Oneness, we claim the gifts forgiveness gives.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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