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

17. How do God's Teachers Deal With Their Pupils'
Thoughts of Magic?

1 This is a crucial question both for teacher and pupil. If this issue is mishandled, the teacher has hurt himself and has also attacked his pupil. This strengthens fear and makes the magic seem quite real to both of them. How to deal with magic thus becomes a major lesson for the teacher of God to master. His first responsibility in this is not to attack it. If a magic thought arouses anger in any form, God's teacher can be sure that he is strengthening his own belief in sin and has condemned himself. He can be sure as well that he has asked for depression, pain, fear, and disaster to come to him. Let him remember, then, it is not this that he would teach because it is not this that he would learn.

2 There is, however, a temptation to respond to magic in a way that reinforces it. Nor is this always obvious. It can, in fact, be easily concealed beneath a wish to help. It is this double wish that makes the help of little value and must lead to undesired outcomes. Nor should it be forgotten that the outcome that results will always come to teacher and to pupil. How many times has it been emphasized that you give but to yourself? And where could this be better shown than in the kinds of help the teacher gives to those who need his aid? Here is his gift most clearly given him. For he will give only what he has chosen for himself. And in this gift is his judgment upon the holy Son of God.

3 It is easiest to let error be corrected where it is most apparent, and errors can be recognized by their results. A lesson truly taught can lead to nothing but release for teacher and pupil who have shared in one intent. Attack can enter only if perception of separate goals has entered. And this must indeed have been the case if the result is anything but joy. The single aim of the teacher turns the divided goal of the pupil into one direction, with the call for help becoming his one appeal. This then is easily responded to with just one answer, and this answer will enter the teacher's mind unfailingly. From there it shines into his pupil's mind, making it one with his.

4 Perhaps it will be helpful to remember that no one can be angry at a fact. It is always an interpretation that gives rise to negative emotions, regardless of their seeming justification by what appears as facts. Regardless, too, of the intensity of the anger that is aroused. It may be merely slight irritation, perhaps too mild to be even clearly recognized. Or it may also take the form of intense rage accompanied by thoughts of violence, fantasized or apparently acted out. It does not matter. All of these reactions are the same. They obscure the truth, and this can never be a matter of degree. Either truth is apparent or it is not. It cannot be partially recognized. Who is unaware of truth must look upon illusions.

5 Anger in response to perceived magic thoughts is the basic cause of fear. Consider what this reaction means, and its centrality in the world's thought system becomes apparent. A magic thought, by its mere presence, acknowledges a separation from God. It states in the clearest form possible that the mind which thinks it believes it has a separate will that can oppose the Will of God and succeed. That this can hardly be a fact is obvious. Yet that it can be believed as fact is surely so. And herein lies the birthplace of guilt. Who usurps the place of God and takes it for himself now has a deadly "enemy." And he must stand alone in his protection and make himself a shield to keep him safe from fury that can never be abated and vengeance that can never be satisfied.

6 How can this unfair battle be resolved? Its ending is inevitable, for its outcome must be death. How then can one believe in one's defenses? Magic again must help. Forget the battle. Accept it as a fact, and then forget it. Do not remember the impossible odds against you. Do not remember the immensity of the "enemy," and do not think about your frailty in comparison. Accept your separation, but do not remember how it came about. Believe that you have won it, but do not retain the slightest memory of Who your great "opponent" really is. Projecting your "forgetting" onto Him, it seems to you He has forgotten too.

7 But what will now be your reaction to all magic thoughts? They can but reawaken sleeping guilt, which you have hidden but have not let go. Each one says clearly to your frightened mind, "You have usurped the place of God. Think not He has forgotten." Here we have the fear of God most starkly represented. For in that thought has guilt already raised madness to the throne of God Himself. And now there is no hope. Except to kill. Here is salvation now. An angry Father pursues His guilty Son. Kill or be killed, for here alone is choice. Beyond this there is none, for what was done cannot be done without. The stain of blood can never be removed, and anyone who bears this stain on him must meet with death.

8 Into this hopeless situation God sends His teachers. They bring the light of hope from God Himself. There is a way in which escape is possible. It can be learned and taught, but it requires patience and abundant willingness. Given that, the lesson's manifest simplicity stands out like an intense white light against a black horizon, for such it is. If anger comes from an interpretation and not a fact, it is never justified. Once this is even dimly grasped, the way is open. Now it is possible to take the next step. The interpretation can be changed at last. Magic thoughts need not lead to condemnation, for they do not really have the power to give rise to guilt. And so they can be overlooked and thus forgotten in the truest sense.

9 Madness but seems terrible. In truth it has no power to make anything. Like the magic which becomes its servant, it neither attacks nor protects. To see it and to recognize its thought system is to look on nothing. Can nothing give rise to anger? Hardly so. Remember then, teacher of God, that anger recognizes a reality that is not there, yet is the anger certain witness that you do believe in it as fact. Now is escape impossible until you see you have responded to your own interpretation which you have projected on an outside world. Let this grim sword be taken from you now. There is no death. This sword does not exist. The fear of God is causeless. But His love is Cause of everything beyond all fear and thus forever real and always true.

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Part II
What Am I?

1 I am God's Son, complete and healed and whole, shining in the reflection of His Love. In me is His creation sanctified and guaranteed eternal life. In me is love perfected, fear impossible, and joy established without opposite. I am the holy home of God Himself. I am the Heaven where His Love resides. I am His holy sinlessness itself, for in my purity abides His own.

2 Our use for words is almost over now. Yet in the final days of this one year we gave to God together, you and I, we found a single purpose that we shared. And thus you joined with me. So what I am are you as well. The truth of what we are is not for words to speak of nor describe. Yet we can realize our function here, and words can speak of this and teach it, too, if we exemplify the words in us.

3 We are the bringers of salvation. We accept our part as saviors of the world, which through our joint forgiveness is redeemed. And this, our gift, is therefore given us. We look on everyone as brothers and perceive all things as kindly and as good. We do not seek a function that is past the gates of Heaven. Knowledge will return when we have done our part. We are concerned only with giving welcome to the truth.

4 Ours are the eyes through which Christ's vision sees a world redeemed from every thought of sin. Ours are the ears that hear the Voice of God proclaim the world as sinless. Ours the minds which join together as we bless the world. And from the oneness that we have attained we call to all our brothers, asking them to share our peace and consummate our joy.

5 We are the holy messengers of God who speak for Him, and carrying His Word to everyone whom He has sent to us, we learn that it is written on our hearts. And thus our minds are changed about the aim for which we came and which we seek to serve. We bring glad tidings to the Son of God, who thought he suffered. Now is he redeemed. And as he sees the gate of Heaven stand open before him, he will enter in and disappear into the Heart of God.

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Lesson 355
There is no end to all the peace and joy
And all the miracles that I will give
When I accept God's Word. Why not Today?

1 Why should I wait, my Father, for the joy You promised me? For You will keep Your Word You gave Your Son in exile. I am sure my treasure waits for me, and I need but reach out my hand to find it. Even now my fingers touch it. It is very close. I need not wait an instant more to be at peace forever. It is You I choose and my identity along with You. Your Son would be Himself and know You as his Father and Creator and his Love.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 355
There is no end to all the peace and joy
And all the miracles that I will give
When I accept God's Word. Why not Today?


Sarah's Commentary:
 
Jesus is helping us to see that, beyond this seeming reality of the body and the world of suffering and pain, peace, joy, and miracles are being held out to us in this very moment. He says, "Why not claim them?" "Do we like what we have made?" "Is our experience here one of consistent peace?" "What keeps us from accepting the truth about ourselves and who we really are as the perfect glorious Self at peace forever?" Clearly, we are not yet completely convinced. We fear that if we let go of what we are holding onto, we will disappear. As Byron Katie asks, "Who would you be without that thought?"
 
Jesus understands our fear and trepidation, which is why he keeps assuring us of what awaits us. He keeps reminding us that this is a world of pain and ultimately death. Even though none of it is real, we still experience it that way. Ultimately, he knows that we will make the choice to embrace who we are and to return to our Creator, whom we have never left, except in dreams. God has kept His Word, which came with us in our seeming exile, that we are exactly as we were created. We have all the attributes of God. Now Jesus waits patiently and lovingly and will wait as long as it takes for us to accept the truth of what we are. But as long as there is fear in the mind, there is healing to be undertaken. Fear is what keeps love at bay.
 
When the desire is strong and the motivation and willingness to undertake the discipline called for is consistent, we are ready to take the hand of Jesus, who helps us look at everything from his perspective. He helps us to see its nothingness. He awaits the memory to return to us of who we are---the One Son who never left our Father. His patience with us is infinite, but why would we want to wait any longer to release pain and suffering. We can choose to ignore the temptations that come our way to throw away our peace.
 
As I write this, I am feeling irritation that Don is late coming home and has not called. Finally, the phone rings. In this moment, I recognize I can throw some guilt his way. I can remind him that he is late and has reneged on his commitment to being home at a certain time. I recognize I now have a choice to go with the temptation to throw guilt at him or to choose to step back and bring peace. I can simply express gratitude for the call. Who will I turn to for guidance in this moment? Will it be the ego or the Holy Spirit? My decision will determine the outcome that I experience. Happiness is not contingent on what my brother does or does not do. My decision to free him frees us both. What I give I receive. That is the law of love. When we see how unhappy listening to the ego has made us and how much we suffer, we become more willing to choose another way. We choose to let Spirit guide us. Jesus asks, why would we want to continue to invite pain when we have another choice that we can make. We must be willing to look with honesty and courage at our motivation. Peace and joy are in us, awaiting our acceptance. When I can’t make the choice in the moment, I recognize that I must be honest with my brother in expressing what I am feeling. The purpose of such expression is to use it for the purpose of recognizing that I am responsible for how I feel, not him. It is all for healing my mind. It is not for making my brother feel more guilt.
 
The reality is that we are always choosing between two thought systems. We are at every moment, choosing the ego or the Holy Spirit. Which side of the ledger am I on at any moment? Am I choosing peace, love, joy, forgiveness, ease, kindness, and truth, or am I choosing the ego programming, which keeps me in fear and distress? Our egoic reactions appear to be involuntary, yet they are under our own control. We are responsible for the decisions that keep us unaware of the state of peace and joy that can be chosen at any moment. Why not now? "Why should I wait, my Father, for the joy You promised me?" (W.355.1.1)
 
Jesus reminds us, "Being afraid seems to be involuntary; something beyond your own control. Yet I have said already that only constructive acts should be involuntary. My control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose. Fear cannot be controlled by me, but it can be self-controlled. Fear prevents me from giving you my control." (T.2.VI.1.1-5) (ACIM OE T.2.IV.72 "You believe that ' being afraid' is involuntary...") Jesus is dedicated to helping us, but he needs our help to do so. If I am not experiencing the peace and joy available to me right now, it is by my own decision. It is all about willingness. If I am not willing to humble myself, see how wrong I am about everything I perceive, release my ideas of how to respond to situations in my life, allow myself to be vulnerable, give up control over my own life, and accept everything happening as perfect and necessary for my classroom, then I am keeping myself in fear. Every minute of my day, I am making this choice. It is a choice to attack or to forgive. It is a choice to release my fearful thoughts to the Holy Spirit, or to hold onto grievances.
 
Everyone in this world is searching for peace, joy, and happiness. Everything we do or have done in this world is about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, yet our efforts are misguided because we are looking to the wrong guide for the answers. The ego is always willing to come to the rescue with another idol, but Jesus keeps reminding us that the ego's mantra is, "Seek, but do not find." Because we do not know who we are, we can't know our own best interests. As the Course reminds us, our greatest advances, in our eyes, can be our biggest setbacks, and what we judge to be our biggest setbacks can be our greatest advances. When we admit that we don't know and are willing to surrender to another Teacher, we "step back and let Him lead the way," (W.155) instead of relying on our very limited understanding.
 
"Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way." (T.2.III.3.5-6) (ACIM OE T.2.II.48 "Pain thresholds can be high...") In that realization, we become more willing and ready to hear God's Word. His Word reflects the Atonement Principle. This Principle affirms that we have never changed ourselves. We remain as we were created. As we accept this truth, our motivation to be disciplined in our practice of the Lesson is enhanced.
 
Our part is to become aware of how the ego thought system came about and to recognize how it works in our own lives. To break the cycle of sin, guilt, and fear, we are called to take responsibility for our projections. Forgiveness requires that we see what is in our unconscious minds, be willing to release it to the Holy Spirit, and leave it with Him. The error we make is to think we can fix ourselves, but it is not our job to do so. In fact, the ego will never undo itself. It is the Holy Spirit that shines away the darkness when we give it over to Him. It requires trust in being willing to surrender our own answers for our lives and turn to One Who knows. He needs our cooperation in this process, so He can lead us gently and patiently to the truth of who we are. The Holy Spirit helps us to see that the peace, joy, and love we seek is already in us. There is nothing in the world, in any form, whether it is the right partner, the right job, the right house, or the right stuff, or even everything going our way, that can bring us these gifts.
 
I recently watched the Michael Morton story on CNN called, The Unreal Dream . He was wrongly accused of murdering his wife and as a result, spent 25 years in prison. Most of those years were spent in anger at the injustice of it all. He said he held up fairly well, learning the ways of the prison system and, ultimately, getting a college degree. Over time, he adjusted to prison life and even developed some strong friendships. It was not until his only son wrote to tell him that he no longer wished to be his son that he totally broke down. In other words, he finally let himself become completely undone and called out to God. He heard nothing but silence until ten days later, on a normal day of regular routines, something changed. He went to bed, plugged into a radio station, and remarkably heard harp music, which he says he had never heard before. Then everything around him lit up in a golden light, and he knew he was in the presence of God. Of course, everything changed after that. He was released, reunited with his son, and knew with certainty that God is all there is and can be totally trusted. "Tolerance for pain may be high but it is not without limit." (T.2.III.3.5-6) (ACIM OE T.2.II.48) Every situation, even prison, can be used for our highest good. He said it had become a kind of Ashram for him, where distractions of normal life in the world were severely limited, and this gave him a perfect opportunity to look within. As he left the prison, his fellow inmates wept as they saw what a gift he had been in their lives through his demonstration.
 
Our function is to "look on everyone as brother, and perceive all things as kindly and as good." (W.PII.What Am I?Q14.3.4) In the face of attacking behaviors from others, to look on all things kindly can be challenging because we still believe the cause of lack of peace in our lives comes from outside our own mind. We have reversed cause and effect when we see the cause of our lack of peace in outside events that seem to be happening to us. Yet when we take responsibility for our projections, we have gratitude for every brother who shows us a reflection of what is in our own mind. Our only responsibility, as miracle workers, is to accept the Atonement for ourselves. There is no one to blame.
 
We see violence and injustice in the world, and we blame others for what seems to be happening. We want to see it fixed. We don't want to accept that it is our own perfect script. What we do is to try to manage effects rather than the cause of our own self-attacking thoughts. The only place where peace can be found is in our own mind. What the miracle does is that "It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false." (W.PII.What Is a Miracle?Q13.1.2) Only through forgiveness and willingness to surrender our way can we remember who we are.
 
While the ego would use the world to forget God, the Holy Spirit uses all of our experiences to help us remember God. It is up to us, but we are not alone in this. The truth is already in us, waiting for its acceptance. Why wait? Why not accept God’s word today?
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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