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

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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A Course in Miracles

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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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 357
Truth answers every call we make to God.
Responding first with miracles, and then
Returning unto us to be Itself.

1 Forgiveness, truth's reflection, tells me how to offer miracles and thus escape the prison house in which I think I live. Your holy Son is pointed out to me, first in my brother, then in me. Your Voice instructs me patiently to hear Your Word and give as I receive. And as I look upon Your Son today, I hear Your Voice instructing me to find the way to You as You appointed that the way shall be: "Behold his sinlessness, and be you healed."

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ACIM Edmonton
Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 357
Truth answers every call we make to God.
Responding first with miracles, and then
Returning unto us to be Itself.

Sarah's Commentary:
Through the process of forgiveness, we escape the prison house we made. The truth is that we don't really live in the prison house of this world, although we think we are captive here. Through forgiveness, we are released from the prison of our own making. This requires that we question all concepts, values, and beliefs. We must recognize that we have made an adjustment to this seeming prison through our conditioning. Undoing this conditioned mind, and recognizing how wrong we have been about everything we think, is what is necessary to escape our sense of imprisonment in lack and limitation.
As Alan Cohen writes:

" We consider it admirable to be well-adjusted, but the real question is ' Well adjusted to what? ' If you are well-adjusted to pain, conflict, and poverty thinking, you are not well-adjusted at all. If, however, you are well-adjusted to listening to your inner voice and acting on it, you are well-adjusted, indeed.
We drift spiritually when we accept things that hurt us for so long that we lose our ability to feel pain. While pain is not our natural state or our destiny, and we are certainly not meant to live in pain, it is the signal that we must make a change. We cannot afford to lose the ability to hear that signal.
To avoid drift, begin to tell the truth about your experiences. If you let yourself feel your feelings, you will discover valuable messages that will guide you to be in your right place with the right people at the right time. Many people have told me they had a bad intuition about being in a relationship or entering into a business venture, but they overrode their gut feelings and regretted it later. Your body will speak to you. Your gut may say "Yes!" or "Not for me!” and it is up to you to hear and act on the voice of love and wisdom from within; it is your best friend. "
Every doubt thought we hold about ourselves must be questioned. We need to ask ourselves often, "Is this belief I hold the truth? Is this doubt thought I hold true? Is this problem that I think I have really a problem? Is who I think I am really me?" When we question our thoughts, our doubts, our false beliefs, and all our self-concepts and bring them to the truth, the truth dawns on our mind. Our part is to look at our conditioned thoughts with honesty and sincerity and be willing to surrender them to the Holy Spirit. He does the rest.
In every situation, we have the opportunity to choose to hold onto our ideas or to give them over for His Correction. By our decision, we become a demonstration of the choice we have made. We demonstrate to our brothers that anyone can make the same choice we have made, and thus, we become an example of this choice.
"Your holy Son is pointed out to me, first in my brother; then in me." (W.357.1.2) Our doubts and fears are projected onto our brothers, which is the first place we will see them. I see sin in my brother, which is how I see my projections of my own self-condemnation. Yet if I take back what I project and recognize that it is my judgment of myself, I can choose to give it over. This may seem to be a painful process at first, and in fact, it may engender fear because instead of seeing sin and guilt in our brothers, we now see it in ourselves. When we allow our private, deeply hidden parts of our mind to surface and look at them without judgment, then the miracle shows us our divine innocence. We cannot take charge of that part. We leave Correction to the Holy Spirit. Our part is simply to bring our false thoughts to truth. We cannot correct ourselves or do the work of trying to fix and improve ourselves. The ego promotes that we keep working on ourselves as that keeps its identity safe. It wants to be in control of the process. True forgiveness puts the Holy Spirit in charge. It requires submission on our part, which is not easy for us, as it takes us into the unknown, which brings up fear.
We think our perceptions are the truth. We rationalize and justify the way we see things. We defend the objectivity of our perceptions because we want to be right. That is why letting go is so hard because essentially it is the letting go of who we think we are. The prison house in which we think we live has been constructed by false beliefs. Every time we choose to forgive, it is our call to God, and it is always answered. When we can "Behold his [our brother's] sinlessness," (W.357.1.5) we behold our own innocence. With willingness, desire, and great humility, we come to experience the healing that returns us to the gates of Heaven. Be as little children. "Be humble before Him, and yet great in Him." (T.15.IV.3.1) (ACIM OE T.15.V.37) We are guided every step of the way, and with His guidance, we learn to give as we receive.
The miracle undoes our misperceptions. The whole Course is about shifting our perception so we might see that nothing real can be threatened and nothing unreal exists. It results in a shift in how we perceive the world, ourselves, others, and every event and circumstance in our lives. It all starts with what is in front of us now and what we are believing about our experiences. Jesus clarifies how our false beliefs were made. We believe we are bodies, living in this world with others who hurt us, betray us, upset us, and victimize us. These beliefs are what we are being called to investigate. We are now learning how to forgive, so we can see our brother, who seems to be responsible for our pain, as God's Son. We are not separate. The process of forgiveness, a reflection of God's Love in this world, allows a new perception to come forth, so we can see our brother as sinless. But first, we need to see how we are currently judging our brother and then be willing to ask for a new perception.
The Course is not about denying the way we see now. It is about taking those judgments and questioning them. We are called to not make the error real, meaning to not see our judgments about someone or something as true. If we want to know our own innocence, we need the help of the Holy Spirit to undo our misperceptions. All that is needed is desire and motivation to truly see who our brother is.
Our greatest opportunity to learn forgiveness is from those very people whom we would rather not see---those whom we would rather avoid, ignore, dislike, dismiss, fear, hate, and condemn, as well as those with whom we make comparisons by seeing ourselves as superior and special. These are the people who offer us another opportunity to look at the judgments we are holding in our own mind and the pain of our own self-condemnation. As Jesus reminds us, "Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation." (T.17.VII.4.1) (ACIM OE T.17.VIII.67) All seemingly unhappy circumstances are there for our awakening. "What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain." (T.7.X.3.6) (ACIM OE T.7.XI.101) He has taught us that we can't tell our greatest advances from our biggest retreats on this journey of healing.
To see divinity in our brothers is to recognize the same divinity must be in us. If we attack our brother and demean him, if we are mean and spiteful, or if we are falsely empathetic and we identify with his weakness, then clearly, we see this capacity in ourselves; and we will decide that we can't possibly be God's Son. We thus deny ourselves our inherent innocence. When we extend forgiveness, love, and acceptance to our brothers, the path is cleared for that same love and acceptance for ourselves. We are constantly assessing our own behavior towards others, and on that basis, we judge ourselves. We simply cannot behave in a mean, spiteful, and attacking way and still see ourselves as innocent. It is not God's judgment on us, but our own that we then hold against ourselves. And whether we judge ourselves or our brother, it is the same. Healing requires that we see our mean and spiteful behavior and choose to turn our hateful thoughts to the Holy Spirit without judging ourselves. If anything, be glad to see what is in your mind, as this is the only way healing can be achieved.
"Your Voice instructs me patiently to hear Your Word, and give as I receive." (W.357.1.3) Jesus asks us to listen to the Voice for God, which is constantly instructing us to find our way back to Him by beholding our brother's sinlessness. The law of love affirms that what I see in my brother, I receive for myself. That is why we need our brothers as a projection screen on which we can see our guilt, as well as find our innocence. We won't find it in ourselves alone. We must see it in our brothers first, so we can then know it in ourselves. "And as I look upon Your Son today, I hear Your Voice instructing me to find the way to You, as You appointed that the way shall be: 'Behold his sinlessness, and be you healed.'" (W.357.1.4-5) It is not always possible in our current state to see our brother sinless, but it is possible to want to see him that way and that is what we can ask for. "Ask only, 'Do I really wish to see him sinless?'" (T.20.VII. 9.2) (ACIM OE T.20.VIII.66)
This Course is ultimately very practical. Our brother shows us the way home. Our brother is our savior. Our process is not an abstract one, which focuses on a mystical experience of union with God. While that kind of experience is motivating and has value, our path is not solitary. We find God through forgiveness of those around us in our everyday, ordinary lives. Pursuing the spiritual experience without the focus on all our relationships and encounters will only delay our healing. In this season of Christmas, we learn that the Christ is born in the holy relationship. Where an ancient hatred has become a present love is truly holy ground where the Christ in us is born.
Love and blessings, Sarah


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