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

8. How Can the Perception of
Order of Difficulties be avoided?

1 The belief in order of difficulties is the basis for the world's perception. It rests on differences; on uneven background and shifting foreground, on unequal heights and diverse sizes, on varying degrees of darkness and light, and thousands of contrasts in which each thing seen competes with every other in order to be recognized. A larger object overshadows a smaller one. A brighter thing draws the attention from another with less intensity of appeal. And a more threatening idea or one conceived of as more desirable by the world's standards completely upsets the mental balance. What the body's eyes behold is only conflict. Look not to them for peace and understanding.

2 Illusions are always illusions of differences. How could it be otherwise? By definition, an illusion is an attempt to make something real that is regarded as of major importance but is recognized as being untrue. The mind therefore seeks to make it true out of its intensity of desire to have it for itself. Illusions are travesties of creation, attempts to bring truth to lies. Finding truth unacceptable, the mind revolts against truth and gives itself an illusion of victory. Finding health a burden, it retreats into feverish dreams. And in these dreams, the mind is separate, different from other minds, with different interests of its own and able to gratify its needs at the expense of others.

3 Where do all these differences come from? Certainly they seem to be in the world outside. Yet it is surely the mind that judges what the eyes behold. It is the mind that interprets the eyes' messages and gives them "meaning." And this meaning does not exist in the world outside at all. What is seen as "reality" is simply what the mind prefers. Its hierarchy of values is projected outward, and it sends the body's eyes to find it. The body's eyes will never see except through differences. Yet it is not the messages they bring on which perception rests. Only the mind evaluates their messages, so only the mind is responsible for seeing. It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful.

4 It is in the sorting out and categorizing activities of the mind that errors in perception enter. And it is here correction must be made. The mind classifies what the body's eyes bring to it according to its preconceived values, judging where each sense datum fits best. What basis could be faultier than this? Unrecognized by itself, it has itself asked to be given what will fit into these categories. And having done so, it concludes that the categories must be true. On this the judgment of all differences rests because it is on this that judgments of the world depend. Can this confused and senseless "reasoning" be depended on for anything?

5 There can be no order of difficulty in healing merely because all sickness is illusion. Is it harder to dispel the belief of the insane in a larger hallucination as opposed to a smaller one? Will he agree more quickly to the unreality of a louder voice he hears than to that of a softer one? Will he dismiss more easily a whispered demand to kill than a shout? And do the number of pitchforks the devils he sees carrying affect their credibility in his perception? His mind has categorized them as real, and so they are real to him. When he realizes they are all illusions, they will disappear. And so it is with healing. The properties of illusions which seem to make them different are really irrelevant, for their properties are as illusory as they are.

6 The body's eyes will continue to see differences, but the mind which has let itself be healed will no longer acknowledge them. There will be those who seem to be "sicker" than others, and the body's eyes will report their changed appearances as before. But the mind will put them all in one category—they are unreal. This is the gift of its Teacher—the understanding that only two categories are meaningful in sorting out the messages the mind receives from what appears to be the outside world. And of these two, but one is real. Just as reality is wholly real, apart from size and shape and time and place—for differences cannot exist within it—so too are illusions without distinction. The one answer to sickness of any kind is healing. The one answer to all illusions is truth.

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A Course in Miracles
MANUAL for TEACHERS

9. Are Changes Required
in the Life Situation of God's Teachers ?

1 Changes are required in the minds of God's teachers. This may or may not involve changes in the external situation. Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God's plan. It is most unlikely that changes in his attitudes would not be the first step in the newly-made teacher of God's training. There is however no set pattern, since training is always highly individualized. There are those who are called upon to change their life situation almost immediately, but these are generally special cases. By far the majority are given a slowly-evolving training program in which as many previous mistakes as possible are corrected. Relationships in particular must be properly perceived and all dark cornerstones of unforgiveness removed. Otherwise, the old thought-system still has a basis for return.

2 As the teacher of God advances in his training, he learns one lesson with increasing thoroughness. He does not make his own decisions; he asks his Teacher for His answer, and it is this he follows as his guide for action. This becomes easier and easier as the teacher of God learns to give up his own judgment. The giving up of judgment, the obvious prerequisite for hearing God's Voice, is usually a fairly slow process, not because it is difficult, but because it is apt to be perceived as personally insulting. The world's training is directed toward achieving a goal in direct opposition to that of our curriculum. The world trains for reliance on one's judgment as the criterion for maturity and strength. Our curriculum trains for the relinquishment of judgment as the necessary condition of salvation.

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WORKBOOK

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 346
Today the peace of God envelops me,
And I forget all things except His Love.

1 Father, I wake today with miracles correcting my perception of all things. And so begins the day I share with You as I will share eternity, for time has stepped aside today. I do not seek the things of time, and so I will not look upon them. What I seek today transcends all laws of time and things perceived in time. I would forget all things except Your Love. I would abide in You and know no laws except Your law of Love. And I would find the peace which You created for Your Son, forgetting all the foolish toys I made as I behold Your glory and my own.

2 And when the evening comes today, we will remember nothing but the peace of God. For we will learn today what peace is ours when we forget all things except God's Love.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 346
Today the peace of God envelops me,
And I forget all things except His Love.

 Sarah's Commentary:
 
What a great way to wake up with a reminder of the peace of God enveloping us in each moment. All we must do to have this peace is to bring to awareness that miracles are always available to us. Today, we set the intention that no matter what happens in our day, we can choose to see it all for our good. We can turn every misperception over to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation so we can see it all as serving our healing. We can be a passerby today---not letting anything interfere with our peace, overlooking all that is false. "I do not seek the things of time, and so I will not look upon them." (W.346.1.3)
 
I often wake up with thoughts of how to handle my busy day, and if I don't remember to turn my mind to thoughts of God, I start to feel anxious. Don and I started this morning talking about how we saw a situation that happened yesterday and we both laughed when we realized how each of us saw it so very differently. Of course, both of us were wrong because perception is always wrong. We were simply playing with our projections. When we seek the things of time, we seek to be right and to affirm our image of how we believe things are. With this, our focus is on the things of the world that we think serve the body and the image we hold of ourselves. When we come to the realization that the things we pursue don't bring peace but more suffering, they drop away. Our interest in the things of time diminishes.
 
To abide in the peace of God is a decision we make today. We have been given everything. Nothing is lacking. We can’t be alone. We can only be unaware of the peace and love that surround us in every moment. Today, we let go of the temptation to engage in arguments, dismiss thoughts of worry and feelings of anxiety, and stay vigilant for God and His Kingdom. Each time something comes up to disturb our peace, we take the time to step back and rest the mind, accept what we see, and trust that all is as it needs to be. (Rest, Accept, and Trust) "And [in that process] I would find the peace which You created for Your Son, forgetting all the foolish toys I made as I behold Your glory and my own." (W.346.1.7) The foolish toys we made are simply our ideas of what we think we need for happiness. They are the sharp-edged children's toys of sin and guilt that are called toys because we still are attached to them and don't completely understand that they bring nothing but more suffering and loss. As our holy minds are occupied by these trivial goals, our inherent glory is obscured.
 
At any time throughout the day, we can “begin again,” just as Jesus tells us in the Chapter 30 Section, "Rules for Decision." He acknowledges that it is much easier to start the day right in the first place, but we can still accept the Correction anywhere along the way in our day when we get off track. Our true desire is for peace, but this desire can be so quickly replaced by our perceived needs, desires, and temptations. We are tempted to throw away peace in the face of perceived difficulties. When we decide that our purpose for the day is only peace, everything becomes a perfect opportunity to learn it. Nothing is wrong. Everything is perfectly orchestrated for our good as we come to realize that all things work together for good no matter what it looks like. It is all a witness to our state of mind. When we make it about our specialness instead, we forget who we are, and we lose awareness of His Ever-present Love. When everything in the day is used for forgiveness, the world takes on a new purpose and everything is helpful for awakening. It becomes a perfect classroom, with optimum karmic opportunity in every situation. I love how Eckhart Tolle put it when he encourages us to accept whatever the present moment contains and accept it as if you had chosen it since this will miraculously transform your whole life. There is no reason not to be a happy learner when everything that has been chosen is used for forgiveness.
 
"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.1.1‑8) (ACIM OE T.30.I.1)
 
We forget God's Love every time we project guilt onto others and see the world as a place to satisfy our needs for specialness by using others for that purpose. Now we can choose to use every situation as an opportunity for undoing the ego thought system. It is a question of purpose. Why am I here? Is it to focus on finding my way back to my Self or is it to satisfy every desire? Today, we practice the holy instant to help us remember that there is another way of looking at the world.
 
"Your practice must therefore rest upon your willingness to let all littleness go. The instant in which magnitude dawns upon you is but as far away as your desire for it. As long as you desire it not and cherish littleness instead, by so much is it far from you. By so much as you want it will you bring it nearer. Think not that you can find salvation in your own way and have it. Give over every plan you have made for your salvation in exchange for God’s. His will content you, and nothing else can bring you peace. For peace is of God, and no one beside him " (T.15.IV.2.1-8) (ACIM OE T.15.V.36)
 
Now, the events of the world become the backdrop to our lives, and what is going on in the mind becomes the foreground of where we put our awareness.
 
Christmas can serve as a great backdrop for looking at our conditioned responses. I find that over the years things have shifted for me around this event. I no longer spend a lot of time on decorating my home, buying gifts, baking up a storm, attending events, or shopping. Clearly, there is nothing wrong with any of these activities. In fact, they can serve as a backdrop for watching whatever is coming up in the mind as we engage in them. It is not that we are required to stop the behavior as much as we choose to watch how certain things lose their value as we progress on this path.
 
Purpose is everything, so we are reminded to ask in everything, "What is it for?" "Will this bind me more deeply to the illusion or will it serve to bring me closer to truth?" It is not what we do but with whom we do it---with the Holy Spirit or with the ego? In everything we do, it is important to ask, "Am I aligned with Love or with fear in every moment?" It takes a lot of vigilance to stay focused on watching the mind.
 
This does not mean we don’t attend to what is to be done, but we ask if it could be done easily from a place of peace. "This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent." (T.18.VII.8.3) (ACIM OE T.18.VIII.70) It is not at all what we do, but with what mindset we do it. Is the guidance coming from the ego or the Holy Spirit? We do not have to withdraw from any activity, whether it is going to movies, watching TV, participating in sports, or any other kind of entertainment; but we ask ourselves, what is the activity used for? If the focus is on Atonement, then it does not matter what we spend the day doing. What does matter is that we remember to smile gently at the silliness of the ego and take ourselves lightly through the day?
 
"And when the evening comes today, we will remember nothing but the peace of God. For we will learn today what peace is ours, when we forget all things except God's Love." (W.346.2.1-2)
 
This is when we step outside the dream and recognize it is our dream. Everything is orchestrated by our own minds, and we receive everything that we have asked for.
 
"Everyone will receive what he requests. But he can be confused indeed about the things he wants; the state he would attain." (W.339.1.5-6)
 
The holy instant is a moment outside of time. It is where peace awaits us. Thus, we accept everything in our day as another opportunity to learn that we are here to be released from fear and to remember the love we are. The means are given us that this may be accomplished as we are reminded once again, "Today the peace of God envelops me, and I forget all things except His Love." (W.346) That is the experience of the holy instant, where the activities of the day move into the background, and the focus becomes one of recognizing that our reality is outside of time and space.
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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