"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

V. The Escape from Fear

56 If you cannot hear the Voice of God, it is because you do not choose to listen. The fact that you do listen to the voice of your ego is demonstrated by your attitudes, your feelings, and your behavior. Your attitudes are obviously conflicted, your feelings have a narrow range on the negative side but are never purely joyous, and your behavior is either strained or unpredictable. Yet this is what you want. This is what you are fighting to keep and what you are vigilant to save. Your minds are filled with schemes to save the face of your egos, and you do not seek the Face of God. The glass in which the ego seeks to see its face is dark indeed. How can it maintain the trick of its existence except with mirrors? But where you look to find yourself is up to you.

57 We have said that you cannot change your mind by changing your behavior, but we have also said, and many times before, that you can change your mind. When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be. In every case you have thought wrongly about some Soul that God created and are perceiving images your ego makes in a darkened glass. Think honestly what you have thought that God would not have thought and what you have not thought that God would have you think. Search sincerely for what you have done and left undone accordingly, and then change your minds to think with God's.

58 This may seem hard to you, but it is much easier than trying to think against it. Your mind is one with God's. Denying this and thinking otherwise has held your ego together but has literally split your mind. As a loving brother, I am deeply concerned with your mind and urge you to follow my example as you look at yourselves and at each other and see in both the glorious creations of a glorious Father.

59 When you are sad, know that this need not be. Depression always arises ultimately from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. Know you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise.

60 When you are anxious, know that all anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego and need not be. You can be as vigilant against the ego's dictates as for them.

61 When you feel guilty, know that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not. Leave the sins of the ego to me. That is what Atonement is for. But until you change your mind about those your ego has hurt, the Atonement cannot release you. As long as you feel guilty, your ego is in command because only the ego can experience guilt. This need not be.

62 Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego and do not be deceived by it. Know it offers you nothing. When you have given up this voluntary dispiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal. Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself. This need not be.

63 The habit of engaging with God and His creations is easily made if you actively refuse to let your minds slip away. The problem is not one of concentration; it is the belief that no one, including yourself, is worth consistent effort. Side with me consistently against this deception, and do not permit this shabby belief to pull you back. The disheartened are useless to themselves and to me, but only the ego can be disheartened. Have you really considered how many opportunities you have to gladden yourselves and how many of them you have refused? There is no limit to the power of a Son of God, but he himself can limit the expression of his power as much as he chooses.

64 Your mind and mine can unite in shining your ego away and releasing the strength of God into everything you think and will and do. Do not settle for anything less than this, and refuse to accept anything but this as your goal. Watch your minds carefully for any beliefs that hinder its accomplishment, and step away from them. Judge how well you have done this by your own feelings, for this is the one right use of judgment. Judgment, like any other defense, can be used to attack or protect, to hurt or to heal. The ego should be brought to your judgment and found wanting there. Without your own allegiance, protection, and love, it cannot exist. Judge your ego truly, and you must withdraw allegiance, protection, and love from it.

65 You are mirrors of truth in which God Himself shines in perfect light. To the ego's dark glass you need but say, "I will not look there because I know these images are not true." Then let the Holy One shine on you in peace, knowing that this and only this must be. His Mind shone on you in your creation and brought your mind into being. His Mind still shines on you and must shine through you. Your ego cannot prevent Him from shining on you, but it can prevent you from letting Him shine through you.

66 The first coming of Christ is just another name for the creation, for Christ is the Son of God. The second coming of Christ means nothing more than the end of the ego's rule over part of the minds of men and the healing of the mind. I was created like you in the first, and I have called you to join with me in the second. If you will think over your lives, you will see how carefully the preparations were made. I am in charge of the second coming, and my judgment, which is used only for protection, cannot be wrong because it never attacks. Yours is so distorted that you believe I was mistaken in choosing you. I assure you this is a mistake of your egos. Do not mistake it for humility.

67 Your egos are trying to convince you that they are real and I am not because, if I am real, I am no more real than you are. That knowledge, and I assure you that it is knowledge, means that Christ must come into your minds and heal them. Although I am not attacking your egos, I am working with your higher mind whether you are asleep or awake, just as your ego does with your lower mind. I am your vigilance in this, because you are too confused to recognize your own hope. I was not mistaken. Your minds will elect to join with mine, and together we are invincible.

68 You will yet come together in my name, and your sanity will be restored. I raised the dead by knowing that life is an eternal attribute of everything that the living God created. Why do you believe it is harder for me to inspire the dispirited or to stabilize the unstable? I do not believe that there is an order of difficulty in miracles; you do. I have called, and you will answer. I know that miracles are natural because they are expressions of love. My calling you is as natural as your answer and as inevitable.

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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 44
God is the Light in which I see.

1 Today we are continuing with the idea for yesterday, adding another dimension to it. You cannot see in darkness, and you cannot make light. You can make darkness and then think you see in it, but light reflects life and is therefore an aspect of creation. Creation and darkness cannot coexist, but light and life must go together, being but different aspects of creation.

2 In order to see, one must recognize that light is within, not without. You do not see outside yourself, nor is the equipment for seeing outside you. An essential part of this equipment is the light that makes seeing possible. It is with you always, making vision possible in every circumstance.

3 Today we are going to attempt to reach that light. For that purpose, we will use a form of practice which has been suggested once before and which we will utilize increasingly. It is a particularly difficult form for the undisciplined mind because it represents a major goal of mind training. It embodies precisely what the untrained mind lacks. Yet the training must be accomplished if you are to see.

4 Have at least three practice periods today, each lasting three to five minutes. A longer time is highly recommended, but only if you find the time merely slipping by with little or no sense of strain. The form of exercise we will use today is the most natural and easy one in the world for the trained mind, just as it seems to be the most unnatural and difficult for the untrained mind.

5 Your mind is no longer wholly untrained. You are quite ready to learn the form of exercise we will use today, but you may find that you will encounter strong resistance. The reason is very simple. While you practice in this form, you leave behind everything that you now believe and all the thoughts which you have made up. Properly speaking, this is the release from hell. Perceived through the ego's eyes, it is loss of identity and a descent into hell.

6 If you can stand aside from the ego ever so little, you will have no difficulty in recognizing that its opposition and fears are meaningless. You might find it helpful to remind yourself from time to time that to reach light is to escape from darkness, whatever you may believe to the contrary. God is the Light in which you see. You are attempting to reach Him.

7 Begin the practice period by repeating today's idea with your eyes open and close them slowly, repeating the idea several times more. Then try to sink into your mind, letting go every kind of interference and intrusion by quietly sinking past them. Your mind cannot be stopped in this unless you choose to stop it. It is merely taking its natural course. Try to observe your passing thoughts without involvement and slip quietly by them.

8 While no particular form of approach is advocated, what is needful is a sense of the importance of what you are doing, its inestimable value to you, and an awareness that you are attempting something very holy. Salvation is your happiest accomplishment. It is also the only one that has any meaning because it is the only one that has any use to you at all.

9 If resistance rises in any form, pause long enough to repeat today's idea, keeping your eyes closed unless you are aware of fear. In that case, you will probably find it more reassuring to open your eyes briefly. Try, however, to return to the exercises as soon as possible.

10 If you are doing the exercises correctly, you should experience some sense of relaxation and even a feeling that you are approaching if not actually entering into light. Try to think of light, formless and without limit, as you pass by the thoughts of this world. And do not forget that they cannot hold you to the world unless you give them the power to do so.

11 Throughout the day, repeat the idea often with eyes open or closed as seems better to you at the time. Do not forget. Above all, be determined not to forget today.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 44
God is the Light in which I see.

We are getting in touch here with real seeing called vision. Vision comes from right-minded thought and has nothing to do with the external world. Jesus is talking about spiritual sight and not with what we call seeing. Rather, it is about connecting to the light within us. In other words, it is to connect with the right mind where God's love is reflected in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit as a symbol of His love. It is an inner seeing. "You are a mirror of truth, in which God Himself shines in perfect light." (T.4.IV.9.1) (ACIM OE T.4.V.65) What this means is, it is not something we have to seek. What we are doing in our practice, with this and every other Lesson, is attempting to reach the light within us. God is the Source of our seeing. If we truly want to connect with this inner light and with vision, we must make contact with our Source, because it is His light that makes our seeing possible. We don't make this light. It is not something that comes from without nor is it part of our separated self. This kind of seeing has nothing to do with "the equipment for seeing," (W.44.2.2) which relates to our sensory organs.
 
What we now think of as light is not light at all, and what we currently think of as seeing is not seeing at all. This seems like an affront to everything we currently believe about our lives and the world. We do believe we think, see, and perceive correctly because we are the ones who made it all up, and we want to be right about what we made. We see it, so we believe it is real. Again, the light we are trying to reach is not physical. It is our spiritual light. It is the light we see when we are illuminated by spiritual sight. "In order to see, you must recognize that light is within, not without." (W.44.2.1) To reach that light is of "inestimable value" to us. (W.44.8.1) If we want to find God, we must let go of our identification with the darkness, symbolized by the ego thought system. The way to reach the light, which is just a symbol of the thought system of the Holy Spirit, is to go past our thoughts to the light within.
 
We are still at the beginning of our mind training. As such, Jesus recognizes the difficulty we will run into in the form of the exercise suggested here. It is hard for us to remember God throughout the day. It is difficult for us since we are still not sufficiently motivated because of our resistance to the truth. We are still very much attached to our own judgments, opinions, and values. Our minds are, as yet, undisciplined, and our motivation shaky, but with each Lesson that we apply as outlined, we are developing the discipline required to stay vigilant. When we bring our thoughts to the light, they will be reinterpreted by the Holy Spirit. Jesus recognizes our resistance and is patient and gentle with us. He knows we have over-learned the ego's lessons. He knows our minds are conditioned by past learning and our addiction to the ego is strong. He knows we will forget to do the lesson throughout the day as prescribed, but he does not want this to induce more guilt in us. It is helpful for us to see how much we do forget as long as we just observe ourselves without judgment.
 
It is helpful for us to recognize why we have so much resistance. We say we want peace and joy in our lives. We say we want to know our own innocence. We say we want this connection to our Source, yet we resist the practice of undoing the blocks. Why? Jesus says, "The reason is very simple. While you practice in this way, you leave behind everything that you now believe, and all the thoughts that you have made up. Properly speaking, this is the release from hell. Yet perceived through the ego's eyes, it is loss of identity and a descent into hell." (W.44.5.3-6) We are clearly attached to the self we think we are, so we protect and defend our individual identity. Think about how you defend what you think and what you believe and how difficult it is to change your mind. We love our own thoughts and opinions. They seem to define who we think we are. While Jesus tells us that his teaching is our release from the hell we have made, loss of our identity is a threat to us. The self-concept we have established and defend so vigorously is our identity. If we allow this teaching to take hold, the image of who we think we are would start to crumble, and to the ego, this would be "a descent into hell." (W.44.5.6) We still don’t recognize that the guilt currently in our minds is, in fact, the experience of hell.
 
Jesus reminds us, ". . . its opposition and its fears are meaningless." (W.44.6.1) He speaks to the fear in us, to the belief we can't do this, and to our resistance, which is that we don't really want to do it. He helps us see that if we can "stand aside from the ego by ever so little," (W.44.6.1) we will see these fears are meaningless. To do so is to be the watcher from above the battleground, and from this place, we can actually smile at the silliness of the ego thoughts we hold, even in the grimmest of situations.
 
I remember so clearly when my husband died, and I was alone, feeling the grief of my loss. Then for a moment came the question from within, "How much longer do you need to cry?" The question was very gentle and supportive and not at all demanding. In that moment, I realized that in answering the question I was speaking to the thought of grief in my mind, and thus stepping aside from it for an instant. The idea seemed strange, yet funny in a way, as I searched for an answer to that question. The answer that came to me was to take another ten minutes to weep. The whole thing seemed so absurd that I could no longer carry on with the weeping. Instead, I burst into laughter at the whole scenario of myself as the character in the dream 'I' was witnessing. The witness is the awareness behind the character. To me, this was an example of standing aside from the ego and looking at myself through the gentle eyes of Jesus. To look from that vantage point is to look with the light of truth beside us. This light brings no judgment. Space was thus made for the miracle to shine forth. The grief dissolved completely in that moment of laughter. I had put away what Jesus calls our "sharp edged children’s toys." (W.P.II.Q4.5.2)
 
We choose to do these Lessons because we are motivated to escape from the guilt and pain of our lives. The drama no longer interests us. We are no longer indulging the ego. "Salvation is your happiest accomplishment. It is also the only one that has any meaning, because it is the only one that has any real use to you at all." (W.44.8.2-3) We are realizing we no longer want the suffering in our lives. "The Son of God may play he has become a body, prey to evil and to guilt, with but a little life that ends in death. But all the while his Father shines on him, and loves him with an everlasting Love which his pretenses cannot change at all. " (W.P.II.Q4.4.3-4)
 
I love his encouragement in this Lesson, that we are attempting something very holy here as we sink into our minds, recognizing if we don't stop them, our minds are just taking their natural course. We are trying to slip by the thoughts of this world and enter into this place of light, into this place of limitlessness, and into the home of holiness. He recognizes this is still difficult for us and urges us to be determined and not forget the Lesson throughout the day. When we have had even the slightest experience of the peace and joy that comes from being lifted out of the body and the world, we will want more. Our own thoughts bring stress and suffering and keep us from peace. He is showing us the way out of this hell right now. This teaching is still foreign to us and we may feel awkward and yes, even fearful. To the extent this teaching has reached us, there will be fear because we are recognizing we leave behind everything we now hold as true .

Love and blessings, Sarah
 
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