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

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 336
Forgiveness lets me know that minds are joined.

1 Forgiveness is the means appointed for perception's ending. Knowledge is restored after perception first is changed and then gives way entirely to what remains forever past its highest reach. For sights and sounds at best can serve but to recall the memory that lies beyond them all. Forgiveness sweeps away distortions and opens the hidden altar to the truth. Its lilies shine into the mind and call it to return and look within, to find what it has vainly sought without. For here and only here is peace of mind restored, for this the dwelling-place of God Himself.

2 In quiet may forgiveness wipe away my dreams of separation and of sin. Then let me, Father, look within and find Your promise of my sinlessness is kept; Your Word remains unchanged within my mind; Your Love is still abiding in my heart.

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Lesson 336
Forgiveness lets me know that minds are joined.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
 
Our misperceptions keep our minds separate. In truth, we are One and our minds are joined. We recognize this when we forgive because only then are the blocks to love released. Forgiveness wipes away the belief in sin. Sin is just another name for the separation. It came with the belief that we had done such an awful thing to leave God. To leave God is to think we left who we really are in truth---the eternal Son. The reality is that it is impossible to leave our Source, as we are a thought in the Mind of God. There can be no separation because we are One with Him. All minds are joined in the Oneness we are. Sin and separation simply are not real. What is required is a willingness and a desire to shift our perception from what is false to that which is true. The means for this is forgiveness, which ultimately takes us to the end of perception. Knowledge is then restored and the illusion is no more.
 
Our perceptions, by their very nature, are distortions. We need the Holy Spirit to help shift these perceptions from what is false and restore them to the truth. Perceptions are rife with judgments. These distorted perceptions are healed through forgiveness, which "opens the hidden altar to the truth." (W.336.1.4) This altar is in the mind, where the choice for separation was originally made. When our unhealed perceptions of our brothers are healed and our body has served its purpose as a vehicle for joining, then perception disappears, and all that is left is the truth of what we are as one eternal Christ Self.
 
We are called to let the mind "return and look within, to find what it has vainly sought without." (W.336.1.5) This reminds me of what Eckhart Tolle tells us when he says, "Stop looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love—you have the treasure within that is infinitely greater than anything the world has to offer." Jesus also taught that the kingdom of God is within. To search outside ourselves is to search in vain. We are called to release all the thoughts that keep us separate and keep us feeling very much alone. They are our judgments, comparisons, needs, specialness, jealousies, expectations, fears, competition, demands, anger, misunderstandings, hurts, grievances, conflicts, hates, defenses, and on and on. Such thoughts keep us in the clutches of the ego and separate from each other.
 
We all have stories of victimization. While they appear to have different forms, the content is all the same—an emphasis on our innocence, the reason we protest it, claiming it was not our fault, and our justification on why we need to attack and defend. We may have believed we were not adequately loved or were rejected outright. "It is not my fault" is the mantra of the ego. Sickness is by far the most evident reason to prove that it is not our fault. We believe sickness proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not our fault since it is caused by viruses and bacteria. We do not see that only guilt is the cause of our suffering. "Of one thing you were sure: Of all the many causes you perceived as bringing pain and suffering to you, your guilt was not among them. " (T.27.VII.7.4) (ACIM OE T.27.88)
 
Our goal is to see that we are the same Christ Self. Jesus describes what happens when we are joined in a holy relationship as follows: "For what one thinks, the other will experience with him. What can this mean except your mind and your brother's are one? Look not with fear upon this happy fact, and think not that it lays a heavy burden on you. For when you have accepted it with gladness, you will realize that your relationship is a reflection of the union of the Creator and His Son. From loving minds there is no separation. And every thought in one brings gladness to the other because they are the same." (T. 22.VI.14.2-7) (ACIM OE T.22.VII.64) In essence, it only takes one willing person to heal any relationship. My partner will experience what I am thinking. While this may bring fear, it is powerful to recognize that as we take responsibility for our ego-driven perceptions, we invite the miracle. The miracle removes the barriers that keep us separate and allows the holy light to infuse the dark places we hold against a brother.
 
When we perceive our brother through the lens of the ego, we can’t know him. What we do is put our false distortions on him. We see him through our projected biases and our own self-judgments. Forgiveness is about having our perception of our brother changed from one of sinfulness to one of sinlessness. Our part is to bring our distorted perceptions to the Holy Spirit, who is always there, consistently and patiently, waiting for us to bring our misperceptions to Him. He is not outside of our minds. He is the light of truth shining within the mind. Changing perception from the wrong mind to the right mind is a precondition to knowledge. "Knowledge is restored after perception first is changed, and then gives way entirely to what remains forever past its highest reach." (W.336.1.2)
 
Forgiveness, from a Course perspective, is based on the fact that nothing real has happened. It is all a dream. If I had truly sinned, I could not "look within, and find Your promise of my sinlessness is kept; Your Word remains unchanged within my mind, Your Love is still abiding in my heart." (W.336.2.2)
 
If this were not so, it would mean that we really had changed ourselves. It would mean that our character traits and our personality is, for the most part, fixed. It would mean that we have sinned and deserve punishment, and that what we think about ourselves is the truth. Forgiveness is based on the fact that nothing we think about ourselves is true, despite what we have done in the dream. We have not sinned. This harkens back to the Atonement Principle that says, no matter what we think about ourselves, the reality is that we cannot and have not changed ourselves. Our purity is guaranteed by God in our creation.
 
We see ourselves as sinful, which is why we need forgiveness to sweep away our misperceptions of our brothers and ourselves. We need to look at our unforgiving thoughts and ask for help of the Holy Spirit to shine them away. This is a process of acknowledging our upsets and seeing that they are just our inner call for healing. When conflict shows up in our lives, we generally see it as something someone has done to us. Yet Jesus invites us to see that all conflict comes from within our own minds and healing is about taking responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. We are not the victims of the world we see. We have set up a pattern of behavior to defend ourselves against the pain of unmet past needs. We have developed strategies to protect ourselves, which can never work. Now we are given a process to release the pain of past associations and bring them to the truth. This is how forgiveness works. Our part is to bring awareness to the patterns played out in our lives that keep us from peace. The Holy Spirit does the rest.
 
Because we think our inner altar has been defiled, we are afraid to look within. We think that what we will see is vile and will lead us to want to kill ourselves. Yet when "Its lilies [of forgiveness] shine into the mind," (W.336.1.5) we find what we have "vainly sought without." (W.336.1.5) There is no peace of mind found by looking outside ourselves for anything in this world. Looking within may seem frightening; yet through the process of forgiveness, we come to recognize the good and pure and divine Self we are. We recognize our intrinsic worth. Now we are less afraid to approach the altar within---the holy place where the truth about us shines forth.
 
"In quiet may forgiveness wipe away my dreams of separation and of sin. Then let me, Father, look within, and find Your promise of my sinlessness is kept; Your Word remains unchanged within my mind, Your Love is still abiding in my heart." (W.336.2.1-2)
 
We know we need to forgive when we are not at peace. When we want peace more than we want to be right about how we see things, we invite the Holy Spirit to look with us at our misperceptions. Our views are based on what the ego tells us, and it always speaks first and is always wrong. Now we are invited to turn to the Holy Spirit and ask how He would have us see this situation. He will reinterpret what the ego insists is the truth if we are willing to be wrong.
 
When we are willing to look at our fears, our judgments, our self-attacks, and our distress together with the Holy Spirit/Jesus, He shows us the unreality of it all. Thus, we can see our wrong-minded perspectives while not judging ourselves for them. As we look at the darkness, despite our feelings of pain, anxiety, unworthiness, anger, guilt or doubt, we open to receive healing through the miracle in this instant. We look with Spirit past ego appearances and accept the Atonement.
 
Ultimately, the way I see anyone is the way I see myself. Today, we reclaim responsibility for our projections onto others and recognize that we are only affected by our interpretations. With forgiveness, our mind can be healed so we see everything that seems to be happening to us as an expression of love or a call for love. Thus, we come to know ourselves as the love we are and always have been. We have simply forgotten. The reality of awakening is certain because it is guaranteed by God.
 
Nouk Sanchez offers a beautiful prayer to Spirit within that fits so well with this process:
 
"Spirit, I accept your Atonement. I accept your divine correction of error in my mind, and I allow your healing to flow through my mind. I accept that you have already healed both the cause and symptoms (effects) of this problem; the decision and its shadow. If the problem's 'appearance' continues, or if there are continuing 'symptoms' (appearances) that cause me to doubt, I then offer these doubts to you as well, to correct in my mind. I remember in any holy instant that as I sincerely accept Atonement, it is done! To continue to be concerned after I have forgiven and accepted Atonement is to doubt your Love and prolong the illusion of time and suffering. Remember: Love without trust is impossible; doubt and trust cannot coexist. I remember this and I have gratitude that Spirit has already healed my mind and I accept with this, the healing of all symptoms (effects). It is done! "
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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