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

4. What Are the Characteristics of God's Teachers?
CONTINUED

Generosity

18 The term generosity has special meaning to the teacher of God. It is not the usual meaning of the word; in fact, it is a meaning that must be learned and learned very carefully. Like all the other attributes of God's teachers, this one rests ultimately on trust, for without trust, no one can be generous in the true sense. To the world, generosity means "giving away" in the sense of "giving up." To the teachers of God, it means "giving away" in order to keep. This has been emphasized throughout the text and the workbook, but it is perhaps more alien to the thinking of the world than many other ideas in our curriculum. Its greater strangeness lies merely in the obviousness of its reversal of the world's thinking. In the clearest way possible and at the simplest of levels, the word means the exact opposite to the teachers of God and to the world.

19 The teacher of God is generous out of self-interest. This does not refer, however, to the self the world speaks of. The teacher of God does not want anything he cannot give away because he realizes it would be valueless to him by definition. What would he want it for? He could only lose because of it. He could not gain. Therefore he does not seek what only he could keep because that is a guarantee of loss. He does not want to suffer. Why should he ensure himself pain? But he does want to keep for himself all things that are of God and therefore for His Son. These are the things that belong to him. These he can give away in true generosity, protecting them forever for himself.

Patience

20 Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety. Patience is natural to the teacher of God. All he sees is certain outcome, at a time perhaps unknown as yet but not in doubt. The time will be as right as is the answer. And this is true for everything that happens now or in the future. The past as well held no mistakes—nothing that did not serve to benefit the world as well as him to whom it seemed to happen. Perhaps it was not understood at the time. Even so, the teacher of God is willing to reconsider all his past decisions if they are causing pain to anyone. Patience is natural to those who trust. Sure of the ultimate interpretation of all things in time, no outcome already seen or yet to come can cause them fear.

Faithfulness

21 The extent of the teacher of God's faithfulness is the measure of his advancement in the curriculum. Does he still select some aspects of his life to bring to his learning while keeping others apart? If so, his advancement is limited and his trust not yet firmly established. Faithfulness is the teacher of God's trust in the Word of God to set all things right—not some but all. Generally, his faithfulness begins by resting on just some problems, remaining carefully limited for a time. To give up all problems to one Answer is to reverse the thinking of the world entirely. And that alone is faithfulness. Nothing but that really deserves the name. Yet each degree, however small, is worth achieving. Readiness, as the text notes, is not mastery.

22 True faithfulness, however, does not deviate. Being consistent, it is wholly honest. Being unswerving, it is full of trust. Being based on fearlessness, it is gentle. Being certain it is joyous, and being confident, it is tolerant. Defenselessness attends it naturally, and joy is its condition. Faithfulness, then, combines in itself the other attributes of God's teachers. It implies acceptance of the Word of God and His definition of His Son. It is to them that faithfulness in the true sense is always directed. Toward them it looks, seeking until it finds. And having found, it rests in quiet certainty on that alone to which all faithfulness is due.

Open-Mindedness

23 The centrality of open-mindedness, perhaps the last of the attributes the teacher of God acquires, is easily understood when its relation to forgiveness is recognized. Open-mindedness comes with lack of judgment. As judgment shuts the mind against God's Teacher, so open-mindedness invites Him to come in. As condemnation judges the Son of God as evil, so open-mindedness permits him to be judged by the Voice for God on His behalf. As the projection of guilt upon him would send him to hell, so open-mindedness lets Christ's image be projected on him. Only the open-minded can be at peace, for they alone see reason for it.

24 How do the open-minded forgive? They have let go all things that would prevent forgiveness. They have in truth abandoned the world and let it be restored to them in newness and in joy so glorious they could never have conceived of such a change. Nothing is now as it was formerly. Nothing but sparkles now which seemed so dull and lifeless before. And above all are all things welcoming, for threat is gone. No clouds remain to hide the face of Christ. Now is the goal achieved. Forgiveness is the final goal of the curriculum. It paves the way for what goes far beyond all learning. The curriculum makes no effort to exceed its legitimate goal. Forgiveness is its single aim at which all learning ultimately converges. It is indeed enough.

25 You may have noticed that the list of attributes of God's teachers does not include those things which are the Son of God's inheritance. Terms like love, sinlessness, perfection, knowledge and eternal truth do not appear in this context. They would be most inappropriate here. What God has given is so far beyond our curriculum that learning but disappears in its presence. Yet while its presence is obscured, the focus properly belongs on the curriculum. It is the function of God's teachers to bring true learning to the world. Properly speaking it is unlearning that they bring, for that is "true learning" in the world. It is given to the teachers of God to bring the glad tidings of complete forgiveness to the world. Blessed indeed are they, for they are the bringers of salvation.

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Part II
What is A Miracle?

1 A miracle is a correction. It does not create nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception nor exceed the function of forgiveness. Thus it stays within time's limits. Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love's awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it gives.

2 A miracle contains the gift of grace, for it is given and received as one. And thus it illustrates the law of truth the world does not obey because it fails entirely to understand its ways. A miracle inverts perception which was upside-down before, and thus it ends the strange distortions that were manifest. Now is perception open to the truth. Now is forgiveness seen as justified.

3 Forgiveness is the home of miracles. The eyes of Christ deliver them to all they look upon in mercy and in love. Perception stands corrected in His sight, and what was meant to curse has come to bless. Each lily of forgiveness offers all the world the silent miracle of love. And each is laid before the Word of God upon the universal altar to Creator and creation, in the light of perfect purity and endless joy.

4 The miracle is taken first on faith because to ask for it implies the mind has been made ready to conceive of what it cannot see and does not understand. Yet faith will bring its witnesses to show that what it rested on is really there. And thus the miracle will justify your faith in it and show it rested on a world more real than what you saw before—a world redeemed from what you thought you saw.

5 Miracles fall like drops of healing rain from Heaven on a dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures came to die. Now they have water. Now the world is green. And everywhere the signs of life spring up to show that what is born can never die, for what has life has immortality.

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Lesson 343
I am not asked to make a sacrifice
To find the mercy and the peace of God.

1 The end of suffering cannot be loss. The gift of everything can but be gain. You only give. You never take away. And You created me to be like You, so sacrifice becomes impossible for me as well as You. I too must give, and so all things are given unto me forever and forever. As I was created, I remain. Your Son can make no sacrifice, for he must be complete, having the function of completing You. I am complete because I am Your Son. I cannot lose, for I can only give. And everything is mine eternally.

2 The mercy and the peace of God are free. Salvation has no cost. It is a gift that must be freely given and received, and it is this that we would learn today.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 343
I am not asked to make a sacrifice
To find the mercy and the peace of God.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
Christmas is fast approaching and so is the end of this year of Lessons. It has been wonderful to witness the release from fear, healing, miracles, holy instants, peace, joy, willingness, and readiness to forgive. With each miracle that shows up for anyone, we are all blessed as One Self. "The new beginning now becomes the focus of the curriculum. The goal is clear, but now you need specific methods for attaining it. The speed by which it can be reached depends on this one thing alone; your willingness to practice every step. Each one will help a little, every time it is attempted. And together will these steps lead you from dreams of judgment to forgiving dreams and out of pain and fear. They are not new to you, but they are more ideas than rules of thought to you as yet. So now we need to practice them awhile, until they are the rules by which you live. We seek to make them habits now, so you will have them ready for whatever need." (T.30.IN.1‑8) (ACIM OE T.30.I.1)
 
While there is still fear and resistance as we approach the threshold of the gate to Heaven, there is also growing confidence and trust. What is the fear about? This Lesson speaks about fear of loss and the belief we hold that we will have to sacrifice our own self-interests and desires for the peace of God. Jesus assures us that God has given us everything and never takes anything away. He is everything, as are we, and thus, there is nothing to be sacrificed except suffering and lack that are part of the human condition. If He can only give and never take away, sacrifice cannot be required. Yet to us, there is fear that God will take something from us when we decide for Him, and thus we fear that we will lose what we value.
 
"It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact that the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean?" (Manual for Teachers.13.2.1‑2)
 
"God’s teachers can have no regret on giving up the pleasures of the world. Is it a sacrifice to give up pain? Does an adult resent the giving up of children’s toys? Does one whose vision has already glimpsed the face of Christ look back with longing on a slaughterhouse?" (M.13.4.1-3)
 
He goes on to say that what we sacrifice when we identify with the false self is peace, freedom, hope of Heaven, and remembrance of God’s Love. "Who in his sane mind chooses nothing as a substitute for everything?" (M.13.4.10)
 
We believe that to receive we must pay, and then we will suffer. We think we will have to sacrifice perceived pleasures. What we increasingly have come to realize is that these perceived pleasures are the source of pain. The only real joy is to connect to the truth of what we are. When we experience the connection to the Divine within, nothing can substitute for the joy of that experience. Jesus wants us to recognize that we have already given up what has infinite value, which is our eternal Self. Of course, it is not something that is possible for us to give up, but we became unaware of our reality when we chose to separate and follow the dictates of the ego.
 
Jesus is helping us to see that the world we have come to is "a dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die." (W.PII.Q13.What is a Miracle?5.1) We blame God for the suffering that we experience in the world where everything ends in death. We cry out to Him as if He were responsible for our condition. We cry out to Him asking why He is putting us through this suffering. We believe that He has something to do with it, like a giant puppeteer in the sky, pulling our strings and bringing us hard lessons for our own good; but Jesus reminds us that it is our choice to be here and everything that seems to happen to us is by our own request. We have set up the drama of our existence here. When we are ready to return to sanity and to know our true Self is our choice to make. This is generally when we come to a place of disillusionment, finding that nothing in this world works to bring a sense of deep contentment. "An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit." (T.2.III.3.4-5) (ACIM OE T.2.II.48) We have been given the help we need from outside our own limited thinking to release our imprisoned will. We have been shown the means for undoing all that brings us pain.
 
Forgiveness and miracles pave the way for the Atonement. God has not put us here. We made the decision to separate, and then we promptly forgot we had anything to do with it, and instead, we blamed God for abandoning us to this world of pain and suffering. Yet He offers us only blessings. He only gives. In the world, we think that God gives but to take away. We say that when we die He takes us home. We think that resurrection comes through death. We think that He is the One that chooses who will continue to live and who will die. We believe that life ends when we die, and now we must pay for what we took from Him when we left our home in Heaven. We see this as part of the Last Judgment and as a terrifying process rather than the blessing, which it is.
 
To the world, Jesus was seen to have sacrificed his body for everlasting life. Thus, we see everything that comes from God as requiring some kind of sacrifice. Yet, again and again, we are assured, "Decide for God, and everything is given you at no cost at all. Decide against Him, and you choose nothing at the expense of the awareness of everything." (M.13.8.2-3) When we attack a brother, we have denied our holiness and no longer feel safe.
 
There is no death, only eternal life. "Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end? " (M. 27.1.1-2) Yet that is how we think. Now we are called to raise it to question. We take it all as the Will of God, but Jesus tells us that no loving Creator would will this. We are called to exhume from our mind all the false notions we hold of who God is and who we are. We can only do that when we investigate our deeply held beliefs and fears. To think of God as holding our "little life in his hand but by a thread, ready to break it off without regret or care, perhaps today" (M.27.2.3) is to fear Him.
 
This Lesson tells us that we have not changed ourselves. "As I was created I remain." (W.343.1.8) Because we have the same characteristics as God since we are an extension of Him, we simply can't lose what we have been given. We cannot be incomplete because God is complete. When we feel less than whole, innocent, and peaceful, we know we are listening to untrue thoughts and holding beliefs that are false. Jesus tells us, "Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear, and frightened people can be vicious. Sacrificing in any way is a violation of my injunction that you should be merciful even as your Father in Heaven is merciful." (T.3.I.4.1-3) (ACIM OE T.3.III.21)
 
Nelson Mandela recognized this when he said how fearful were his enemies. He saw that, in their fear, they could do nothing but defend and attack. He called for mercy and in return, through the reconciliation commission, mercy was given because he gave it. It was all about healing the past. When the past is healed, "Miracles fall like drops of healing rain from Heaven on a dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die." (W.PII.Q13.5.1) We are called daily to release our judgments and offer mercy to our brothers so we can know ourselves. This is not a sacrifice, but a gift we give ourselves.
 
We believe we have to suffer when we have made mistakes in our lives and hurt someone, but the miracle "merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false." (W.PII.Q13.1.3) When we have wronged someone, we believe that we have to do penance rather than choose forgiveness. We demand of ourselves long periods of suffering in order to be sufficiently remorseful. Or, if someone has hurt us, don’t we want them to suffer to atone for the sin they have committed against us? Yet this Lesson tells us, "Salvation has no cost," (W.343.2.2) which means that mercy and peace are immediately available. Nothing more is required of us than to accept the Atonement for ourselves; this is to remember who we are. Salvation has no cost. There is nothing to pay. It is not to be reserved for those who are special or deserving. Love is not specific. Love gives all to all. It is universal. It is indifferent. It shines on everyone. No one is more special than anyone else. We are all innocent. We can all choose our innocence now.
 
Let us today be willing to look at our mistakes as mistakes and be merciful to ourselves and to others. Simply through our Being, we are to be the purveyors of peace in the world. We do this in our willingness to be a communication device for the Holy Spirit so His light can shine through us. God makes no demands on us. He only gives. When we crucify ourselves for our anger, our mistakes, our grievances, our losses, or crucify others for theirs, we keep ourselves in hell. God waits on our decision to take ourselves, and others, off the cross. He welcomes us to come home and remember our true identity. There is no cost. There is no sacrifice. There is no demand for penance of any kind. What I give to you, I receive for myself. What a gift!
 
Now, we just need to recognize that our desire will return us home. We must release our fear of what we believe will be demanded of us by the wrathful image of the god we made up. This god was made by the ego to keep us in a state of sacrifice and fear. It is a god that gives life and takes it away. It is a god the ego says is justified in taking back the life we stole from Him. It is not the loving God, Who has given us all things and holds us safe in His embrace, forever and ever .
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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