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

20. What is the Peace of God?

1 It has been said that there is a kind of peace that is not of this world. How is it recognized? How is it found? And being found, how can it be retained? Let us consider each of these questions separately, for each reflects a different step along the way.

2 First, how can the peace of God be recognized? God's peace is recognized at first by just one thing—in every way it is totally unlike all previous experiences. It calls to mind nothing that went before. It brings with it no past associations. It is a new thing entirely. There is a contrast, yes, between this thing and all the past. But strangely, it is not a contrast of true differences. The past just slips away and in its place is everlasting quiet. Only that. The contrast first perceived has merely gone. Quiet has reached to cover everything.

3 How is this quiet found? No one can fail to find it who but seeks out its conditions. God's peace can never come where anger is, for anger must deny that peace exists. Who sees anger as justified in any way or any circumstance proclaims that peace is meaningless and must believe that it cannot exist. In this condition peace cannot be found. Therefore forgiveness is the necessary condition for finding the peace of God. More than this, given forgiveness there must be peace. For what except attack will lead to war? And what but peace is opposite to war? Here the initial contrast stands out clear and apparent. Yet when peace is found, the war is meaningless. And it is conflict now that is perceived as non-existent and unreal.

4 How is the peace of God retained once it is found? Returning anger in whatever form will drop the heavy curtain once again, and the belief that peace cannot exist will certainly return. War is again accepted as the one reality. Now must you once again lay down your sword, although you may not recognize that you have picked it up again. But you will learn, as you remember even faintly now what happiness was yours without it, that you must have taken it again as your defense. Stop for a moment now, and think of this: is conflict what you want, or is God's peace the better choice? Which gives you more? A tranquil mind is not a little gift. Would you not rather live than choose to die?

5 Living is joy, but death can only weep. You see in death escape from what you made. But this you do not see—that you made death, and it is but illusion of an end. Death cannot be escape because it is not life in which the problem lies. Life has no opposite, for it is God. Life and death seem to be opposites because you have decided that death ends life. Forgive the world, and you will understand that everything which God created cannot have an end, and nothing He did not create is real. In this one sentence is our course explained. In this one sentence is our practicing given its one direction. And in this the Holy Spirit's whole curriculum is specified exactly as it is.

6 What is the peace of God? No more than this—the simple understanding that His Will is wholly without opposite. There is no thought that contradicts His Will yet can be true. The contrast between His Will and yours but seemed to be reality. In truth there is no conflict because His Will is yours. Now is the mighty Will of God Himself His gift to you. He does not seek to keep it for Himself. Why would you seek to keep your tiny, frail imaginings apart from Him? The Will of God is one and all there is. This is your heritage. The universe beyond the sun and stars and all the thoughts of which you can conceive belong to you. God's peace is the condition for His Will. Attain His peace, and you remember Him.

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MANUAL for TEACHERS

21. What is the Role of Words in Healing?

1 Strictly speaking, words play no part at all in healing. The motivating factor is prayer, or asking. What you ask for, you receive. But this refers to the prayer of the heart, not to the words you use in praying. Sometimes the words and the prayer are contradictory; sometimes they agree. It does not matter. God does not understand words, for they were made by separated minds to keep them in the illusion of separation. Words can be helpful, particularly for the beginner, in helping concentration and facilitating the exclusion or at least the control of extraneous thoughts. Let us not forget, however, that words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality.

2 As symbols, words have quite specific references. Even when they seem most abstract, the picture that comes to mind is apt to be very concrete. Unless a specific referent does occur to the mind in conjunction with the word, the word has little or no practical meaning and thus cannot help the healing process. The prayer of the heart does not really ask for concrete things. It always requests some kind of experience, the specific things asked for being the bringers of the desired experience in the judgment of the asker. The words, then, are symbols for the things asked for, but the things themselves but stand for the experiences which are hoped for.

3 The prayer for things of this world will bring experiences of this world. If the prayer of the heart asks for this, this will be given because this will be received. It is impossible that the prayer of the heart remain unanswered in the perception of the one who asks. If he asks for the impossible, if he wants what does not exist or seeks for illusions in his heart, all this becomes his own. The power of his decision offers it to him, as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven. The sleeping Son of God has but this power left to him. It is enough. His words do not matter. Only the Word of God has any meaning because it symbolizes that which has no human symbols at all. The Holy Spirit alone understands what this Word stands for. And this, too, is enough.

4 Is the teacher of God then to avoid the use of words in his teaching? No, indeed. There are many who must be reached through words, being as yet unable to hear in silence. The teacher of God must, however, learn to use words in a new way. Gradually, he learns how to let his words be chosen for him by ceasing to decide for himself what he will say. This process is merely a special case of the workbook lesson "I will step back and let Him lead the way." The teacher of God accepts the words which are offered him and gives as he receives. He does not control the direction of his speaking. He listens and hears and speaks.

5 A major hindrance in this aspect of his learning is the teacher of God's fear about the validity of what he hears. And what he hears may indeed be quite startling. It may also seem to be quite irrelevant to the presented problem as he perceives it, and may, in fact, confront him with a situation that appears to be very embarrassing. All these are judgments which have no value. They are his own, coming from a shabby self-perception that he would leave behind. Judge not the words that come to you, but offer them in confidence. They are far wiser than your own. God's teachers have God's Word behind their symbols. And He Himself gives to the words they use the power of His Spirit, raising them from meaningless symbols to the call of Heaven itself.

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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 359
God's answer is some form of peace. All pain
Is healed; all misery replaced with joy.
All prison doors are opend. And all sin
Is understood as merely a mistake.

1 Father, today we will forgive Your world and let creation be Your own. We have misunderstood all things. But we have not made sinners of the holy Sons of God. What You created sinless so abides forever and forever. Such are we. And we rejoice to learn that we have made mistakes which have no real effects on us. Sin is impossible, and on this fact forgiveness rests upon a certain base more solid than the shadow world we see. Help us forgive, for we would be redeemed. Help us forgive, for we would be at peace.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 359
God's answer is some form of peace. All pain
Is healed; all misery replaced with joy.
All prison doors are opend. And all sin
Is understood as merely a mistake.

Sarah's Commentary:
 
We know that we have received God's answer to the prayer of the heart when we have peace, when pain is healed, and when we experience joy in the place of any kind of sorrow, misery, grief, worry, or distress of any kind. This shift in the mind is what the miracle is. It is when our will, which is imprisoned by our angst, our worry, our sadness, or whatever else blocks our joy, is set free. We have the answer now because the answer is already in our mind, where it has always been. When we don't experience the miracle, it is because we are invested in our own thinking and our own answers. When these blocks to love are removed with a willingness to surrender our need to be right, our will is set free. In that freedom, we experience Oneness with God's Will, which is our own.
 
Now, no conflict is possible. "All prison doors are opened." (W.359) The chains that have kept us bound to the ego are now released. The realization dawns on our mind that nothing that we have ever done or could ever do has changed our reality. We realize, "all sin is understood as merely a mistake." (W.359) The mistake we made was to believe the lies of the ego. It is when we listen to and believe our own thoughts. Only we can choose not to listen to what is false; and when we realize there is another way of seeing, we recognize this choice we have made in the mind. Acceptance of the truth within our mind comes through forgiveness when we put all that is false on the inner altar for healing. Space is now made in the mind for truth to come in. With acceptance of the truth within, love is extended through us to all our brothers.
 
The love of this world is all special love. It is all about bargaining and is focused on those whom we believe can meet our needs. Special love has an object and it has a focus. "Ego illusions are quite specific, although the mind is naturally abstract." (T.4.VII.1.2) (ACIM OE T.4.VIII.94) We determine "how, what and with whom communication is judged to be worth undertaking." (T.4.VII.4.2) (ACIM OE T.4.VIII.98) Special love thus comes with fear of loss, which it tries to mitigate by maintaining the relationship through guilt. By putting guilt on our specific love partner, we try to ensure the continuity of the relationship. It is how we try to maintain our safety. Guilt is the only need the ego has. It is the means the ego uses to sustain itself, and it is how the separation is maintained. Now we are called to do the forgiveness work specifically with those people with whom we try to maintain specialness. God's Love is nonspecific. His Love is inclusive, where no one loses and there is nothing to fear. When His love is extended through us, freedom is given all brothers. Now the prison doors are opened, and no one is held by guilt.
 
We see their sins are merely mistakes, just like our own. Now, instead of seeing our brother as intentionally trying to hurt us, we see someone who is mistaken and calling for our love and understanding. They do not know they have another choice, as their only option seems to be to follow the dictates of the ego. They have simply forgotten who they are. The same spark is in them as is in us. Their call is our call, and when we see this, we respond with kindness and compassion. Although we may see that they are intentionally causing harm, we recognize it is because they have misunderstood who they are, just as we have. We are all the same. When we can overlook their mistakes and remember who they are, we hold the same compassion for ourselves. While no real harm is done because it is all just a dream and nothing can change our pristine nature, in this seeming reality harm can be inflicted. Thus, it is not helpful to dismiss our hurtful behavior as unimportant.
 
The Lesson reminds us that we remain as we were created. We cannot be anything but sinless because we were created in God's image, and like Him, we share in His Holiness. We are God's Son. This dawns on our minds more and more as we do the forgiveness work, but we can’t do it without help. We require this help from outside of the closed system of the ego. "But there is need for help beyond yourself as you are circumscribed by false beliefs of your Identity, which God alone established in reality." (Clarification of Terms 5.1.2)
 
When we call on the Holy Spirit, He releases the world from all we thought it was, and we experience the solid foundation of His Love. This foundation rests on reality rather than illusion. "Sin is impossible, and on this fact forgiveness rests upon a certain base more solid than the shadow world we see." (W.359.1.7) It may seem to us that forgiveness has no real strength against a seemingly solid world. In this world, anger seems to have more power than love, but we have it backward. Nothing of this world has any power while forgiveness has all the power of God behind it. This is so different from how we see now, but Jesus assures us that we can trust in the power of forgiveness.
 
To us, the illusion seems so very solid and intractable. God's world seems less certain and less solid. We are not sure forgiveness has the power that we give to attack. "Its whole function, in the end, is to help the patient deal with one fundamental error; the belief that anger brings him something he really wants, and that by justifying attack he is protecting himself." (Psychotherapy Pamphlet.2.IN.1.5) Yes, we have indeed made mistakes. We have hurt people intentionally. We have tried to win at our brother's expense, but none of this has changed who we are as created by God. Jesus says that we should rejoice that this is so. He is not saying to deny our mistakes. It is not that we should see our mistakes as good, but only to see that they are not sins and that they can be helpful for our healing when we take responsibility for the Correction. It is not about doing whatever we want and dismissing it all as just a mistake. We need to see our true motives, yet recognize that they have no real effect on us. Therefore, we can rejoice that everything can be used to remember who we are. The only purpose this world has is to help us to return to our Self.
 
"Help us forgive, for we would be redeemed. Help us forgive, for we would be at peace." (W.359.8-9) We need the Holy Spirit's help because we have made the error real. We think real harm has happened, and thus, we believe it is too difficult to overlook. We think we must forgive others rather than our own judgments of the situation. We don't recognize that it is our guilt that is acted out in the world. To us, it seems like attack has happened and has caused real harm. All our senses give us clear evidence of this. Therefore, we need help from Someone outside of this perceptual realm. He is the One that brings the miracle. Our part is to bring our anger, our judgments, and our hateful thoughts to Him. When we pray with sincerity for help in shifting our perception of events, He gives us the answer. The answer is always a shift in our perception.
 
In this blessed season of Christmas, we are asked to lay all our burdens at the feet of Jesus. He asks no adulation. He has no ego. He only wants us to release our problems and issues to him that we may be freed from our prison-house. He asks that we recognize that we are like him and the birth of Christ in him is the birth we can know in ourselves as we release guilt and fear. God's Word "is written on our hearts." (W.PII.Q14.5.1) What that means is that His Word is the very fabric of our being. Our function is to discover the truth of this so we can bring this message to everyone who is sent to us. We are called to be an example of a mind that has chosen the Holy Spirit and can now bring peace.
 
The only purpose for our time here is to heal the guilt and fear in our minds so love can extend through us. It is to recognize that the law of love is to give as we would receive so that, ultimately, we can know and recognize the true nature of our being. Our true will is expressed when peace and love are extended through us.
 
May the angels watch over us today because this can be the day in which we can experience Christ's birth in us. It is, therefore, as holy as any day can be. "Let all God's holy Thoughts surround me, and be still with me while Heaven's Son is born." (W.303.1.2)
 
The ego is loud and boisterous in us. By finding the stillness in our mind, which is symbolized by withdrawal from the world when giving birth, truth is welcomed in. The ego does not want peace, yet God's answer is always some form of peace. It is the place of stillness in us. It is the holy ground, the altar to truth deep in our mind, waiting to be uncovered. It means we need to take time from all of the activity and rest in God.
 
As we release the ego's darkness, we experience the light that we are. It is a question of willingness. "It is in your power to make this season holy, for it is in your power to make the time of Christ be now." (T.15.X.4.1) (ACIM OE T.15.X.94) May this day be one of peace and holiness that Jesus invites us to experience today and every day. This peace is available to us anytime we release our grievances and allow joy back into our mind. It is the coming of the Christ Self we all share.
 
Love and blessings, Sarah

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