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

CHAPTER 4
The Root of All Evil

I. Introduction

1 The Bible says that you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks. It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey. Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either. It can lead only to mutual progress. The result of genuine devotion is inspiration, a word which properly understood is the opposite of fatigue. To be fatigued is to be dis -spirited, but to be inspired is to be in the spirit. To be egocentric is to be dispirited, but to be Self-centered in the right sense is to be inspired, or in the Soul. The truly inspired are enlightened and cannot abide in darkness.

2 You can speak from the Soul or from the ego, precisely as you choose. If you speak from the Soul, you have chosen "to be still and know that I am God." These words are inspired because they come from knowledge. If you speak from the ego, you are disclaiming knowledge instead of affirming it and are thus dispiriting yourself. Do not embark on foolish journeys because they are indeed in vain. The ego may desire them, but the Soul cannot embark on them because it is forever unwilling to depart from its Foundation.

3 The journey to the cross should be the last foolish journey for every mind. Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. If you can accept it as your own last foolish journey, you are also free to join my resurrection. Human living has indeed been needlessly wasted in a repetition compulsion. It reenacts the separation, the loss of power, the foolish journey of the ego in an attempt at reparation, and finally the crucifixion of the body or death.

4 Repetition compulsions can be endless unless they are given up by an act of will. Do not make the pathetic human error of "clinging to the old rugged cross." The only message of the crucifixion was that we can overcome the cross. Unless you do so, you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. But this is not the Gospel I intended to offer you. We have another journey to undertake, and if you will read these lessons carefully, they will help to prepare you to undertake it.

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II. Right Teaching and Right Learning

5 We have spoken of many different human symptoms, and at this level there is almost endless variation. There is, however, only one cause of all them. The authority problem is "the root of all evil." Money is but one of its many reflections and is a reasonably representative example of the kind of thinking which stems from it. The idea of buying and selling implies precisely the kind of exchange that the Soul cannot understand at all because its supply is always abundant and all its demands are fully met.

6 Every symptom which the ego has made involves a contradiction in terms. This is because the mind is split between the ego and the Soul, so that whatever the ego makes is incomplete and contradictory. This untenable position is the result of the authority problem which, because it accepts the one inconceivable thought as its premise, can only produce ideas which are inconceivable. The term "profess" is used quite frequently in the Bible. To profess is to identify with an idea and offer the idea to others to be their own. The idea does not lessen; it becomes stronger .

7 A good teacher clarifies his own ideas and strengthens them by teaching them. Teacher and pupil are alike in the learning process. They are in the same order of learning, and unless they share their lessons, they will lack conviction. A good teacher must believe in the ideas which he professes, but he must meet another condition; he must also believe in the students to whom he offers his ideas. Many stand guard over their ideas because they want to protect their thought systems as they are, and learning means change. Change is always fearful to the separated ones because they cannot conceive of it as a change towards healing the separation. They always perceive it as a change towards further separation because the separation was their first experience of change.

8 You believe that if you allow no change to enter into your ego, your Soul will find peace. This profound confusion is possible only if one maintains that the same thought system can stand on two foundations. Nothing can reach the Soul from the ego, and nothing from the Soul can strengthen the ego or reduce the conflict within it. The ego is a contradiction. Man's self and God's Self are in opposition. They are opposed in creation, in will, and in outcome. They are fundamentally irreconcilable because the Soul cannot perceive and the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication. Nevertheless, the ego can learn because its maker can be misguided but cannot make the totally lifeless out of the life-given. The Soul need not be taught, but the ego must .

9 The ultimate reason why learning is perceived as frightening is because learning does lead to the relinquishment ( not destruction) of the ego to the light of the Soul. This is the change the ego must fear because it does not share my charity. My lesson was like yours, and because I learned it, I can teach it. I never attack your egos, but I do try to teach you how their thought system arose. When I remind you of your true creation, your egos cannot but respond with fear.

10 Teaching and learning are your greatest strengths now because you must change your mind and help others change theirs. It is pointless to refuse to tolerate change because you believe you can demonstrate that by doing so the separation has not occurred. The dreamer who doubts the reality of his dream while he is still dreaming is not really healing the level-split. You have dreamed of a separated ego, and you have believed in a world which rests upon it. This is very real to you. You cannot undo this by doing nothing and not changing.

11 If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian[s] of your thought system[s] and open [them] to me, I will correct [them] very gently and lead you home. Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own thinking that they will one day no longer need him. This is the one real goal of the parent, teacher, and therapist. This goal will not be achieved by those who believe that they will lose their child or pupil or patient if they succeed. It is impossible to convince the ego of this because it goes against all of its own laws. But remember that laws are set up to protect the continuity of the system in which the law-maker believes.

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A Course in Miracles
WORKBOOK

Part I
I. Introduction

1 A theoretical foundation such as the text is necessary as a background to make these exercises meaningful. Yet it is the exercises which will make the goal possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of these exercises to train the mind to think along the lines which the course sets forth.

2 The exercises are very simple. They do not require more than a few minutes, and it does not matter where or when you do them. They need no preparation. They are numbered, running from 1 to 365. The training period is one year. Do not undertake more than one exercise a day.

3 The purpose of these exercises is to train the mind to a different perception of everything in the world. The workbook is divided into two sections, the first dealing with the undoing of what you see now and the second with the restoration of sight. It is recommended that each exercise be repeated several times a day, preferably in a different place each time and, if possible, in every situation in which you spend any long period of time. The purpose is to train the mind to generalize the lessons, so that you will understand that each of them is as applicable to one situation as it is to another.

4 Unless specified to the contrary, the exercise should be practiced with the eyes open, since the aim is to learn how to see. The only rule that should be followed throughout is to practice the exercises with great specificity. Each one applies to every situation in which you find yourself and to everything you see in it. Each day's exercises are planned around one central idea, the exercises themselves consisting of applying that idea to as many specifics as possible. Be sure that you do not decide that there are some things you see to which the idea for the day is inapplicable. The aim of the exercises will always be to increase the application of the idea to everything. This will not require effort. Only be sure that you make no exceptions in applying the idea.

5 Some of the ideas you will find hard to believe, and others will seem quite startling. It does not matter. You are merely asked to apply them to what you see. You are not asked to judge them, nor even to believe them. You are asked only to use them. It is their use which will give them meaning to you, and show you they are true. Remember only this—you need not believe them, you need not accept them, and you need not welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter nor decrease their efficacy. But allow yourself to make no exceptions in applying the ideas the exercises contain. Whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than this is required.

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Lesson 38
There is nothing my holiness cannot do.

1 Your holiness reverses all the laws of the world. It is beyond every restriction of time, space, distance, and limits of any kind. Your holiness is totally unlimited in its power because it establishes you as a Son of God, at one with the Mind of his Creator. Through your holiness, the power of God is made manifest. Through your holiness the power of God is made available. And there is nothing the power of God cannot do.

2 Your holiness, then, can remove all pain, can end all sorrow, and can solve all problems. It can do so in connection with yourself and with anyone else. It is equal in its power to help anyone because it is equal in its power to save anyone. If you are holy, so is everything God created. You are holy because all things He created are holy. And all things He created are holy because you are.

3 In today's exercises, we will apply the power of your holiness to all problems, difficulties, or suffering in any form that you happen to think of in yourself or someone else. We will make no distinctions because there are no distinctions.

4 In the four longer practice periods, each preferably to last a full five minutes, repeat the idea for today, close your eyes, and then search your mind for any sense of loss or unhappiness of any kind as you see it. Try to make as little distinction as possible between a situation that is difficult for you and one that is difficult for someone else. Identify the situation specifically and also the name of the person concerned. Use this form in applying the idea for today:

5 In the situation involving ______ in which I see myself, there is nothing that my holiness cannot do. In the situation involving ______ in which _____ sees himself, there is nothing my holiness cannot do.

6 From time to time you may want to vary this procedure and add some relevant thoughts of your own. You might like, for example, to include thoughts such as:

7 There is nothing my holiness cannot do because the power of God lies in it.

8 Introduce whatever variations appeal to you, but keep the exercises focused on the theme "There is nothing my holiness cannot do." The purpose of today's exercises is to begin to instill in you a sense that you have dominion over all things because of what you are.

9 In the frequent shorter applications, apply the idea in its original form unless a specific problem concerning you or someone else arises or comes to mind. In that event, use the more specific form of application.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 38
There is nothing my holiness cannot do.

The purpose of today's exercises is to begin to instill in us a sense that we have dominion over all things because of what we are as a Son of God, at One with the Mind of the Creator. Does this kind of power seem arrogant to you? Our belief in our littleness is, in fact, what arrogance really is. In Chapter 9, "Grandeur Versus Grandiosity" , Jesus says, "To accept yourself as God created you cannot be arrogance, because it is the denial of arrogance. To accept your littleness is arrogant, because it means that you believe your evaluation of yourself is truer than God's." (T.9.VIII.10.8) (ACIM OE T.9.VII.57) When we accept our littleness, we attest that we are right about who we are and that we know better than God. We defend our littleness and believe our power is limited. Why would we do that? We do it because we are actually afraid of the power of our own minds. If we maintain our smallness, we don't have to take responsibility for our lives, our circumstances, or our situation; nor do we have to take responsibility for our biggest fear, which is that we have left God by our own volition and can never return to face Him. It was our choice to leave, and now it must be our decision to undo what we believe we have done. As we read in Chapter 5, "I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace. I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise." (T.5.VII.6.7-8) (ACIM OE T.5.IX.96) We continue to decide wrongly every time we choose the ego. With this choice, we cannot know peace; but when we choose to forgive, the Holy Spirit will lead us back to where we never left.
 
Let's look at the ego more fully. What are some of the characteristics of the ego? The ego compares, wants, strives, demands, feels guilty, wants to be special, has needs, is acquisitive, feels inadequate, unworthy, narcissistic, predatory, dualistic, hateful, angry, sensory, proud, arrogant, resentful, feels lack, feels powerless, feels special, and much more. It is very noisy. When we sit quietly in meditation, it will tend to disturb us with its chatter. When we identify with the ego, we feel a deep sense that there is something lacking in us. Yet the only thing that is ever lacking is awareness of the holiness that envelops us. While we identify with the ego, it is not what we are. The "you" Jesus is addressing is the awareness that is always there. It is the observer, above the battleground. It is the dreamer of this dream and not the character in the dream we think we are.
 
When we identify with the ego, we feel this lack deeply, so we try to fill it up with things of the world. The ego's most boasted gift to fill this seeming void is the special relationship. In our special relationships, we try to steal the love we think we lack, and in doing so, we become predatory and competitive. I see you as having something I want or having power over me. I can only see in this way when I identify with the ego. A first step in distancing myself from the problems I perceive is to become the observer. To do so is to look at it the ego calmly and with great honesty. The one doing the looking is the "you" who is not the ego.
 
Jesus explains to us how the ego operates so we will not be caught up in its game. He constantly reminds us of who we are. The more we learn to notice how we react to people and events in our lives and watch our minds without judgment, the more healing happens. When we resist the ego, or we try to fight it, we make it real rather than just withdrawing belief from it or refusing to listen to its lies. If we can look at it calmly, without judgment, we will start to see how it operates in our lives. To forgive is to accept that what we see in ourselves is not the truth. The only truth is, we have never left God, and we are still His One Son.
 
It is not helpful to take a position on the ego like, "I love it," or "I hate it." What that does is make it real when all that the ego is is a meaningless thought. Our only interest should be to transcend it by forgiving ourselves for our mistaken perceptions. We are essentially wrong about everything we perceive. The reason is that our assessment of everything in our lives is given us by the ego. For example, it will tell us we should be jealous, envious, upset, disturbed, or feel superior about a situation we experience, but we don't have to listen. The ego always speaks first, meaning it tells us how we should see a situation. Yet when we turn to the Holy Spirit and ask Him how to perceive the situation from a right-minded perspective, His interpretation will always negate the ego. The ego made our senses to prove that what we perceive is true. Now we are being called to watch our thoughts and recognize that the ego is invested in having us see others as the cause of our problems, rather than to see our minds are the cause. As we give these thoughts to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation, we are given a new perspective. He reminds us that nothing outside of us can disturb our peace unless we give it the power to do so.
 
In Chapter 6, Section IV, "The Only Answer," we are told, "The ego always speaks first." (T.6.IV.1.2) (ACIM OE T.6.V.45) It is capricious and does not mean its maker well. It believes, correctly, that its maker may withdraw support from it at any moment. As Jesus says, we make illusion as a result of our guilt, but we do not see ourselves as the maker nor do we see the mind as the cause. We see the cause as outside and separate from our own minds, but we don't have to listen to the ego's interpretation of events. While the first interpretation is always the one the ego shows us, it will always be wrong. When we realize this, we will turn to the truth within and choose to have our misperceptions healed. Jesus reminds us that we are holy and so is everything that God created. We are all the same.
 
A difficult situation showed up for me as I was writing this commentary. My mother has a delivery service for her home care products. I regularly put in the request for what she needs, but it turned out they were not delivered as expected. When I called the company, I was told that since it was a holiday weekend, they would not be delivering. This meant I would have to go out to pick them up and deliver them myself. I had many things to attend to since I was leaving for a week so I felt the stress of this additional responsibility. As I was talking on the phone to the agent, I was feeling this should not have happened, I should be upset, and they were not taking responsibility for the error. There was a strong temptation to act on these feelings. However, this Lesson came to mind as I was actually in the middle of this commentary at the time. It was very helpful to be reminded that no situation need be seen as negative. In the holy instant, there are no problems. I don't need to see this situation as a problem, nor make the person on the phone guilty, unless I want to reinforce the separation. It is always a choice between the ego and the holiness of who we are. Which do I want for myself today? Do I want guilt or peace?
 
"Your holiness reverses all the laws of the world. It is beyond every restriction of time, space, distance and limits of any kind. Your holiness is totally unlimited in its power because it establishes you as a Son of God, at one with the Mind of his Creator." (W.38.1.1-3) Thus, "In today’s exercises, we will apply the power of your holiness to all problems, difficulties or suffering in any form . . ." (W.38.3.4) It is really the same as a miracle. There are no restrictions. The reason there is nothing our holiness cannot do is because it has no limitations. It emanates from our right minds when we connect with the truth of who we are. In this situation, belief in sin, guilt, and judgment are gone, and we experience ourselves as eternal beings of light and love. It is a state of miracle-mindedness. Our holiness can be anywhere at any time with no restrictions because it is beyond time and space. We won’t believe it until we experience it because we have learned limitation. What we believe and hold true for ourselves, we will defend, and what we fear, we will resist. This is why we need to look at all of our interfering thoughts that block the truth. The conditioned mind has been programmed so that our responses become automatic, based on our conditioning, but when we pay attention to them, we can make another choice.
 
"There is nothing in the world that has the power to make you ill or sad, or weak or frail. But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are." (W.190.5.5-6)
 
By choosing to release our wrong-minded perceptions, we recognize that in our holiness all things are blessed along with us. David Hawkins has said it is rare to hear the truth, but it is rarer to hear it and pursue it and thus undo the ego. We are fortunate the Course has found us so we can hear the truth and indeed do the work of healing the mind. Jesus says,  "Yet whether or not you recognize it now, you have agreed to cooperate in the effort to become both harmless and helpful, attributes that must go together." (T.4.II.5.5) (ACIM OE T.4.III.29) He recognizes that our attitudes are still conflicted because all attitudes are ego-based, but he assures us, this will not last. "Be patient a while and remember that the outcome is as certain as God." (T.4.II.5.8) (ACIM OE T.4.III.29) Why can he say this? He can say this because our fears and doubts will not last. Healing is certain. We have powerful Help and are not alone in this.
 
When we choose to realize our holiness and accept the Atonement (healing), the power of God is made manifest. By accepting our holiness, the power of God is made available and known to us. There is nothing the power of God cannot do. Through my acceptance of and joining with the holiness and power of God's Love, there can be no opposite. There can be no illusion of pain, sorrow, or problems because fear and Love cannot coexist. My holiness envelops everything because my holiness is everything. It is an experience out of time and space, which sees the characters in the dream from above the battleground. This is an experience of the holy instant. It is an experience beyond the body. Here, all problems are solved because the only problem is separation. There is no order of difficulty in miracles because all illusions are one. The size, shape, or description of the problem is irrelevant. Since the guilt in the mind is the source of all pain, sorrow, and problems of any kind, when the guilt is lifted from the mind, the cause of pain must also dissipate and be seen as unreal. The mind is cause and the world is effect. "This is a course in cause and not effect." (T.21.VII.7.8) (ACIM OE T.21.VIII.77)
 
Recently, I was on staff at a workshop, and I started to feel sick. I resisted the sickness for the whole day, continuing to support the process. Near the end of the day, the nausea took over and I succumbed to it. That evening I held in my mind the truth that there is no sickness in Love. God's Kingdom is devoid of sickness. The only truth is the love that I am, and sickness cannot be a part of His Kingdom. I denied the power of sickness to stop me from my function in being of support to others in the workshop. I woke up the next morning perfectly well. Many at the workshop indicated they too held the truth about me and knew I would be fine, and I was. There was no residue of sickness at all.
 
Today, we are asked to hold the truth about ourselves and be actively involved in the decision for peace. It is the decision to recognize the holiness that resides in the right mind, and in that recognition, we are joined with the Holy Spirit where holiness is accessed outside of time and space. It is to accept the truth of who we are as created by God. Specialness and individuality disappear when we join with the Holy Spirit. Holiness can then shine through and bring blessings to the world. Jesus invites us to choose healing in every circumstance so we can bring holiness to every situation we encounter. That is why we are here. Our experiences in the world become the theater for our healing. We come to see that we are the ones who made up this dream and are not simply the dream figures who are puppets in this theater. We are immense, powerful beings of light and love because that is how we were created.
 
In today's exercises, we will apply the power of our holiness: First, by accepting it as true through the Holy Spirit, then by applying it to all problems, difficulties, or suffering in any form that cross our minds, in ourselves, or anyone else. It is in our power because we are a Son of God, and we have His power because we are One with His Mind and all creation. Open your mind to the potential and possibility that there is nothing your holiness cannot do so that this thought can become a part of you. Open your mind sufficiently today to apply it sincerely to a situation, event, or person troubling you. "In today's exercises, we will apply the power of your holiness to all problems, difficulties or suffering in any form that you happen to think of, in yourself or in someone else." (W.38.3.4) Of course, this is because "there are no distinctions." (W.38.3.5) The Lesson tells us, it makes no difference if it is about us or someone else, there is no difference since we are really One.

Love and blessings, Sarah
 
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