"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
Course in Miracles
The Root of All Evil
VII. The Constant State
It cannot be emphasized too often that correcting perception is merely a temporary expedient. It is necessary to do so only because misperception is a block to knowledge, while accurate perception is a stepping-stone
it. The whole value of right perception lies in the inevitable judgment which it entails that it
unnecessary. This removes the block entirely. You may ask how this is possible as long as you appear to be living in this world, and since this is a sensible question, it has a sensible answer. You must be careful, however, that you really understand the question. What
the "you" who are living in this world?
Immortality is a constant state. It is as true now as it ever was or ever will be because it implies
no change at all
. It is not a continuum nor is it understood by being compared to an opposite. Knowledge never involves comparisons. That is its essential difference from everything else the mind can grasp. "A little knowledge" is not dangerous except to the ego. Vaguely it senses threat and being unable to realize that "a little knowledge" is a meaningless phrase since "all" and "a little" in this context are the same, the ego decides that, since "all" is impossible, the fear does not lie there. "A little," however, is a scarcity concept, and
the ego understands well. "A little," then, is perceived as the real threat.
The essential thing to remember is that the ego
does not recognize
the real source of its perceived threat, and if
associate yourself with the ego,
do not perceive the whole situation as it is. Only your allegiance to it gives the ego
power over you.
We have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly and must realize how much of your thinking is ego-directed. We cannot safely let it go at that, however, or you will regard yourselves as necessarily conflicted as long as you are here, or more properly, as long as you
that you are here.
The ego is nothing more than a
of your belief about yourselves. Your other life has continued without interruption and has been and always will be totally unaffected by your attempts to disassociate. The ratio of repression and dissociation varies with the individual ego-illusion, but dissociation is always involved or you would not believe that you
here. In learning to escape from the illusions you have made, your great debt to each other is something you must never forget. It is exactly the same debt that you owe to me. Whenever you react egotistically towards each other, you are throwing away the graciousness of your indebtedness and the holy perception it would produce.
The term "holy" can be used here because as you learn how much you
indebted to the whole Sonship, which
me, you come as close to knowledge as perception ever can. The gap is then so small that knowledge can easily flow across it and obliterate it forever. You have very little trust in me as yet, but it will increase as you turn more and more often to me
of your egos for guidance. The results will convince you increasingly that your choice in turning to me is the only sane one you can make. No one who has learned from experience that one choice brings peace and joy while another brings chaos and disaster needs much conditioning.
The ego cannot withstand the conditioning process because the process itself
that there is another way. Conditioning by rewards has always been more effective than conditioning by pain because pain is an ego-illusion and can never induce more than a temporary effect. The rewards of God, however, are immediately recognized as eternal. Since this recognition is made by you and
the ego, the recognition
establishes that you and your ego
be identical. You may believe that you have already accepted the difference, but you are by no means convinced as yet. The very fact that you are preoccupied with the idea of escaping
the ego shows this.
escape from the ego by humbling it or controlling it or punishing it. Remember that the ego and the Soul
do not know
each other. The separated mind cannot maintain the separation
by dissociating. Having done this, it utilizes repression against all truly natural impulses, not because the
is a separate thing, but because you want to believe that
are. The ego is a device for maintaining this belief, but it is still only
willingness to use the device that enables it to endure.
My trust in you is greater than yours in me at the moment, but it will not always be that way. Your mission is very simple. You have been chosen to live so as to demonstrate that you are
an ego. I repeat that I do not choose God's channels wrongly. The Holy One shares my trust and always approves my Atonement decisions because my will is never out of accord with His. I have told you before that I am in charge of the whole Atonement. This is
because I completed my part in it as a man and can now complete it through other men. My chosen receiving and sending channels cannot fail because I will lend them
strength as long as theirs is wanting.
I will go with you to the Holy One, and through
perception, He can bridge the little gap. Your gratitude to
is the only gift I want. I will bring it to God for you, knowing that to know your brother
to know God. A little knowledge is an all-encompassing thing. If you are grateful to each other, you are grateful to God for what He created. Through your gratitude, you can come to know each other, and one moment of real recognition makes all men your brothers because they are all of your Father. Love does not conquer all things, but it
set all things right. Because you are all the Kingdom of God, I can lead you back to your own creations, which you do not yet know. What has been dissociated is still there.
As you come closer to a brother, you
approach me and, as you withdraw from him,
become distant to you. Your giant step forward was to insist on a "collaborative venture." This does not go against the true spirit of meditation; it is inherent in it. Meditation is a collaborative venture with God. It
be undertaken successfully by those who disengage themselves from the Sonship because they are disengaging themselves from me. God will come to you
as you will give Him to your brothers. Learn first of them, and you will be ready to hear God as you hear them. That is because the function of love is one.
How can you teach someone the value of something he has deliberately thrown away? He must have thrown it away because he did not value it. You can only show him how miserable he is without it and bring it near very slowly, so he can learn how his misery lessens as he approaches it. This conditions him to associate his misery with its absence and to associate the opposite of misery with its presence. It gradually becomes desirable as he changes his mind about its worth.
I am conditioning you to associate misery with the ego and joy with the Soul. You have conditioned yourselves the other way around. A far greater reward, however, will break through any conditioning if it is repeatedly offered whenever the old habit pattern is broken. You are still free to choose, but can you really
the rewards of the ego in the presence of the rewards of God?
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A Course in Miracles
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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God is the Love in which I forgive.
God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.
Although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns, and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.
Today's exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods and as many shorter applications as possible. Begin the practice periods by repeating today's idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter "how much" you have not forgiven. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.
If you are doing the exercises well, you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name and say:
God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].
The purpose of the first phase of today's practice is to put you in the best position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea for today to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself,
God is the Love in which I forgive myself.
Then devote the remainder of the practice period to offering related ideas such as:
God is the Love with which I love myself.
God is the Love in which I am blessed.
The form of the applications may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:
I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because Love has forgiven me.
The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today's idea as originally stated.
The shorter applications may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, or in more specific applications if needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In this event, tell him silently,
God is the Love in which I forgive you.
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God is the Love in which I forgive.
How do you think about who God is? If you think He made this world where people suffer and die, you may wonder what kind of God would let all that happen. He cannot be perfect love and still be responsible for the condition of this world. God is not both wrathful and loving. God is only Love, and there is no separation between this God of Love and the Self we are. If we buy into the story of Adam and Eve, we buy into the concept that God banished them from paradise for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This means God set up this scenario in the first place and tested Adam and Eve to see if they would do the wrong thing. God, being God, would have known this temptation would lead to their fall, wouldn't He? Why would we trust a God as manipulative as that? A loving God would not do that.
In the book,
Disappearance of the Universe
by Gary Renard, Arten describes the situation like this:
"And so God goes on and creates Adam and then gets him a date, Eve. Life is paradise. But God gives them this one rule. Do anything you want kids, knock yourselves out, but don't you dare eat the fruit from that tree of knowledge over there. So the serpent does its thing. Eve takes a bite and tempts Adam who takes a bite.
"Now there's hell to pay. Big angry Maker kicks Adam and Eve out of paradise. He even tells Eve she's going to suffer terrible pain during childbirth just for good measure. That will teach her! But wait just a minute here. If God is God, wouldn't He be perfect? And if He is perfect, then wouldn't He know everything? Even today's parents know the surest way to get children to do something is to tell them they can't. So if God is God and He knows everything, then what has He done here?"
Even though we may not have been raised on this Biblical version, it is in our culture and constitutes part of our thinking. It is the God the ego has made. Then, we tell God Who He is and require Him to accept our version of Him. We've made Him up in our own image and insist we are right. It is the God as defined in the Bible. How can we trust a God like that? The story is symbolic of the making of the world of bodies and of the unconscious mind. In the Course, the story concludes with the statement that nowhere does it say, when Adam fell asleep, he ever woke up. This is symbolic of the mind that has fallen asleep and has not woken up as yet. But now we are on the path of awakening, and in this process, we take the small steps each day the Course prescribes, as a way to remember who we really are as spiritual beings.
We are called to look at our relationship to God and who we think He is. This Lesson affirms that God has never condemned. He is not the vengeful, punishing, and angry God we have made Him to be. He does not bring us Lessons. He does not bring us suffering for our own good. He is only Love. We don't need His forgiveness because He has never condemned, contrary to the story of Adam and Eve.
In the story of the life of C.S. Lewis, as portrayed in the movie,
, he questions how a loving God would bring all the suffering into people's lives. It reflects the generally held view of God Who brings lessons and makes us suffer, for our own good and to build our character. This is really a twisted perspective of a loving God. Only our unhealed mind with all its guilt creates suffering. We are shown in this Lesson the way out. Jesus is showing us how we can learn to forgive ourselves and thus recognize,
"God is the Love with which I love myself."
(W.46.5.5) Let's look more closely at this Lesson to understand how we can apply it to our lives as part of our awakening to the truth of who we are.
In this Lesson, we are being introduced to a new way of looking at forgiveness. We see that forgiveness is not something we need from God. We only need it for ourselves. We also learn that forgiveness has nothing to do with anyone else. What we are forgiving is our own guilt that we have projected onto another.
"There is no relationship between what is real
and what you think is real,"
(W.45.1.3) which are all the things that seem to happen to us in this world. In today's Lesson, Jesus tells us,
"Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions."
(W.46.1.3) What we are doing when we forgive is releasing this world of illusions by releasing our thoughts about it. This world seems very real to us, but it is not. Its origin is our belief in sin, which will be undone through forgiveness.
If the world is not real, anything we think we have done has not happened, and anyone we think we have wronged has not been wronged. We will understand this more fully in later Lessons. Right now, we need to understand that the only one being hurt by the lack of forgiveness is ourselves. Our lack of forgiveness keeps us in chains, bound, and fearful. Forgiveness undoes all this. This Lesson says fear is what has produced all our illusions.
"Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear."
(W.46.2.2-5) Forgiveness undoes fear and hate, held in our wrong-minded belief system. When the fear and hate are undone, all that remains is love. God does not save us from our sin because it never happened and is not real. The truth is we have not sinned. We have just bought into the myth of the ego that we have done something terrible and must now run away into the body and the world and hide from God. What we are saved from is the belief in sin and guilt and thus belief in the reality of this world.
How does all this apply to our view of God? In traditional religious views, God forgives our sins, which means we truly have sinned, sin is real, and thus we are guilty. If we really are guilty, there is no basis for forgiveness. God would first have to affirm our guilt as deserved and then forgive it. It would mean the world is real and God would have to save us from our sinfulness. What Jesus is telling us is sin has no reality.
We are told in the Course that the Principle of Atonement means we have never left our Source.
was in effect long before the Atonement began. The principle was love and the Atonement was an
of love. Acts were not necessary before the separation, because belief in space and time did not exist. It was only after the separation that the Atonement and the conditions necessary for its fulfillment were planned. Then a defense so splendid was needed that it could not be misused, although it could be refused. Refusal could not, however, turn it into a weapon of attack, which is the inherent characteristic of other defenses. The Atonement thus becomes the only defense that is not a two-edged sword. It can only heal.
(T.2.II.4.2-9) (ACIM OE T.2.II.36)
We continue to be holy and innocent, still in the mind of God. In our belief, we separated from His love. We now think we have done something terribly wrong and deserve punishment. Forgiveness helps us remember we could not separate from love, and we are not guilty. To accept the Atonement is to accept the truth about ourselves. The Atonement is the Correction of our wrong-minded thinking.
"Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself."
(W.46.1.4-5) What we do in the illusion is project our guilt onto others and make them responsible for our situation. We make others responsible for what is actually in our own minds. In effect, we are not forgiving anyone outside of us, but only our own projections.
Many opportunities for forgiveness arise in our relationships with the people who we believe have done something to us. It may be people we don't like, people we actively condemn, or people who we think we love who anger us.
"Mention each one by name, and say:
God is the Love in which I forgive you, (name)’.
"It does not matter 'how much' you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all."
(W.46.3.4-5) When we see them as separate from us and project guilt onto them, it is because we don't want to acknowledge it in ourselves. Thus, we condemn ourselves together with them by holding them responsible for our guilt.
We do this because we can't accept the burden of guilt in ourselves and do not want to take responsibility for it. We are not aware of the extent of guilt in ourselves when we project it onto others, but when we take responsibility for our projections, we put ourselves in a position where we can now see our own guilt that others mirror back to us. Without this reflection, we would not be able to see it in ourselves. Only when we release our guilt, by taking responsibility for it, can we know the truth that we are already forgiven. When our guilt is released from our own minds through forgiveness, we can know
"God is the Love in which I love myself,"
"I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God
," (W.46.6.3) and "
I have already been forgiven."
When we carry anger toward someone, we are burdened with a heavy layer of guilt. Releasing this is truly a liberating thing that blesses us. We have all experienced this kind of release and the joy that comes from letting go of our anger and our hate. It is only our own self-condemnation we put on others. It is always ourselves we forgive. Everyone is a mirror who reflects what is in our minds. Through forgiveness, we take responsibility for our projections of the guilt that is in our own minds. We recognize there is no one out there.
"The purpose of the first phase of today's practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself."
(W.46.5.1) Today, we can take an important step in this process and remind ourselves we are releasing ourselves from the thinking of the world, from the illusion that what we experience in the world is real, and from the thoughts that keep us in hell.
We go together, you and I, either in bondage or in freedom. One brings continued aloneness, depression, anger, and sadness, and the other brings God's peace, connection, joy, and freedom. The practice for today involves bringing our grievances, judgments, anger, frustrations, and specialness to the light of God's Love in our minds. When we are willing to bring our projections to the light of God's Love, He shines them away.
Love and blessings, Sarah
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