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

Attack and Fear

V. The Only Answer

45 Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Answer, not the question. The ego always speaks first because it is capricious and does not mean its maker well. That is because it believes, and correctly, that its maker may withdraw his support from it at any moment. If it meant you well, it would be glad, as the Holy Spirit will be glad when He has brought you home, and you no longer need His guidance. The ego does not regard itself as part of you. Herein lies its primary perceptual error, the foundation of its whole thought system.

46 When God created you, He made you part of Him. That is why attack within the Kingdom is impossible. You made the ego without love, and so it does not love you . You could not remain within the Kingdom without love, and since the Kingdom is love, you believe that you are without it. This enables the ego to regard itself as separate and outside its maker, thus speaking for the part of your mind that believes you are separate and outside the Mind of God. The ego, then, raised the first question that was ever asked, but one which it can never answer. That question, "What are you?" was the beginning of doubt.

47 The ego has never answered any questions since, although it has raised a great many. The most inventive activities of the ego have never done more than obscure the question because you have the answer and the ego is afraid of you . You cannot understand the conflict until you fully understand one basic fact that the ego does not know. The Holy Spirit does not speak first, but He always answers . Everyone has called upon Him for help at one time or another and in one way or another and has been answered . Since the Holy Spirit answers truly, He answers for all time , which means that everyone has the answer now .

48 The ego cannot hear the Holy Spirit, but it does believe that part of the same mind that made it is against it. It interprets this as a justification for attacking its maker. It believes that the best defense is attack and wants you to believe it . Unless you do believe it you will not side with it, and the ego feels badly in need of allies though not of brothers. Perceiving something alien to itself in your mind, the ego turns to the body, not the mind, as its ally because the body is not part of you. This makes the body the ego's friend. It is an alliance frankly based on separation. If you side with this alliance, you will be afraid because you are siding with an alliance of fear.

49 The ego and the body conspire against your minds, and because the ego realizes that its "enemy" can end them both merely by knowing they are not part of him, they join in the attack together. This is perhaps the strangest perception of all if you consider what it really involves. The ego, which is not real, attempts to persuade the mind, which is real, that the mind is its own learning device and that the learning device is more real than it is. No one in his right mind could possibly believe this, and no one in his right mind does believe it.

50 Hear then the one answer of the Holy Spirit to all the questions which the ego raises. You are a Child of God, a priceless part of His Kingdom, which He created as part of Him. Nothing else exists, and only this is real. You have chosen a sleep in which you have had bad dreams, but the sleep is not real, and God calls you to awake. There will be nothing left of your dream when you hear Him because you will be awake. Your dreams have contained many of the ego's symbols, and they have confused you. Yet that was only because you were asleep and did not know . When you awake, you will see the truth around you and in you, and you will no longer believe in dreams because they will have no reality for you.

51 Yet the Kingdom and all that you have created there will have great reality for you because they are beautiful and true. In the Kingdom, where you are and what you are is perfectly certain. There is no doubt there because the first question was never asked. Having finally been wholly answered, it has never been . Being alone lives in the Kingdom, where everything lives in God without question. The time that was spent on questioning in the dream has given way to creation and to its eternity.

52 You are as certain as God because you are as true as He is, but what was once quite certain in your minds has become only the ability for certainty. The introduction of abilities into being was the beginning of un certainty because abilities are potentials, not accomplishments. Your abilities are totally useless in the presence of God's accomplishments and also of yours. Accomplishments are results which have been achieved. When they are perfect, abilities are meaningless. It is curious that the perfect must now be perfected. In fact, it is impossible. You must remember, however, that when you put yourselves in an impossible situation, you believed that the impossible was possible.

53 Abilities must be developed , or you cannot use them. This is not true of anything that God created, but it is the kindest solution possible to what you have made. In an impossible situation, you can develop your abilities to the point where they can get you out of it . You have a Guide to how to develop them, but you have no commander except yourself. This leaves you in charge of the Kingdom with both a Guide to find it and a means to keep it. You have a model to follow who will strengthen your command and never detract from it in any way. You therefore retain the central place in your perceived enslavement, a fact which itself demonstrates that you are not enslaved.

54 You are in an impossible situation only because you thought it was possible to be in one. You would be in an impossible situation if God showed you your perfection and proved to you that you were wrong. This would demonstrate that the perfect were inadequate to bring themselves to the awareness of their perfection and thus side with the belief that those who have everything need help and are therefore helpless. This is the kind of "reasoning" which the ego engages in, but God, Who knows that His creations are perfect, does not insult them. This would be as impossible as the ego's notion that it has insulted Him.

55 That is why the Holy Spirit never commands. To command is to assume in equality, which the Holy Spirit demonstrates does not exist. Fidelity to premises is a law of mind, and everything God created is faithful to His laws. Fidelity to other laws is also possible, however, not because the laws are true, but because you made them . What would be gained if God proved to you that you have thought insanely? Can God lose His own certainty? We have frequently stated that what you teach you are. Would you have God teach you that you have sinned? If He confronted the self you made with the truth He created for you, what could you be but afraid? You would doubt your sanity, which is the one thing in which you can find the sanity He gave you.

56 God does not teach. To teach is to imply a lack which God knows is not there. God is not conflicted. Teaching aims at change, but God created only the changeless. The separation was not a loss of perfection but a failure in communication. A harsh and strident form of communication arose as the ego's voice. It could not shatter the peace of God, but it could shatter yours. God did not blot it out because to eradicate it would be to attack it. Being questioned, He did not question. He merely gave the Answer. His Answer is your Teacher.

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A Course in Miracles

Lesson 68
Love holds no grievances.

1 You who were created by Love like Itself can hold no grievances and know your Self. To hold a grievance is to forget who you are. To hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body. It is the decision to let the ego rule your mind and to condemn the body to death.

2 Perhaps you do not yet fully realize just what holding grievances does to your awareness. It seems to split you off from your Source and make you unlike Him. It makes you believe that He is like what you think you have become, for no one can conceive of his Creator as unlike himself.

3 Shut off from your Self, Who remains aware of His likeness to His Creator, your Self seems to sleep, while the part of your mind that weaves illusions in its sleep appears to be awake. Can all this arise from holding grievances? Oh, yes! For he who holds grievances denies he was created by Love, and his Creator has become fearful to him in his dream of hate. Who can dream of hatred and not fear God?

4 It is as sure that those who hold grievances will redefine God in their own image as it is certain that God created them like Himself and defined them as part of Him. It is as sure that those who hold grievances will suffer guilt as it is certain that those who forgive will find peace. It is as sure that those who hold grievances will forget who they are as it is certain that those who forgive will remember. Would you not be willing to relinquish your grievances if you believed all this were so?

5 Perhaps you do not think you can let all your grievances go. That, however, is simply a question of motivation. Today we will try to find out how you would feel without them. If you succeed even by ever so little, there will never be a problem in motivation ever again.

6 Begin today's extended practice period by searching your mind for those against whom you hold what you regard as major grievances. Some of these will be quite easy to find. Then think of the seemingly minor grievances you hold against those you like and even think you love. It will quickly become apparent that there is no one against whom you do not cherish grievances of some sort. This has left you alone in all the universe in your perception of yourself.

7 Determine now to see all these people as friends. Say to them all collectively, thinking of each one in turn as you do so:

8 I would see you as my friend that I may remember you are part of me and come to know myself.

9 Spend the remainder of the practice period trying to think of yourself as completely at peace with everyone and everything, safe in a world which protects you and loves you and which you love in return. Try to feel safety surrounding you, hovering over you, and holding you up. Try to believe, however briefly, that nothing can harm you in any way. At the end of the practice period tell yourself:

10 Love holds no grievances. When I let all my grievances go, I will know I am perfectly safe.

11 The short practice periods should include a quick application of today's idea in this form, whenever any thought of grievance arises against anyone, physically present or not:

12 Love holds no grievances. Let me not betray my Self.

13 In addition, repeat the idea several times an hour in this form:

14 Love holds no grievances.
I would wake to my Self by laying all my
grievances aside and wakening in Him.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 68
Love holds no grievances.

Our natural inheritance, given us in our creation by Love Itself, is love. Yesterday's Lesson affirmed that we have all the characteristics of our Creator. Therefore, Kindness created us kind, Holiness created us holy, Joy created us joyful. Yet we also know that our concepts about ourselves as a result of our choice for the ego keep us from being aware and truly accepting the Self as we were created. We actually have forgotten who we are. We have seemingly split ourselves off from kindness, holiness, and perfection. We have forgotten our Source and are no longer aware of our very nature. Of course, the fact is that it is impossible for us to separate from God. We can only think we have. The separation did not actually occur except in our minds.
When we hold a grievance or a judgment, compare ourselves to others, try to gain at their expense, think we are more special, more spiritual, or more of anything, we deny our reality as love. We substitute idols for what we are. What is an idol? It is a false belief. "An idol is a means for getting more." (T.29.VIII.8.12) (ACIM OE T.29.IX.59 ) "It does not really matter more of what; more beauty, more intelligence, more wealth, or even more affliction and more pain. But more of something is an idol for." (T.29.VIII.8.8-9) (ACIM OE T.29.IX.59) We look to whatever we think will bring us happiness and security.
Idols are substitutes for God and instead of looking to God for fulfillment, we have chosen substitutes---the gods of sickness, depression, cruelty, fear, and death. It is hard to believe that these are the substitutes we worship. We give power to all these ideas. And equally, we give power to the central idol in the dream of death, which is the ego itself. "And fear, with ashen lips and sightless eyes, blinded and terrible to look upon, is lifted to the throne of love, its dying conqueror, its substitute, the savior from salvation."  (T.23.II.15.6) (ACIM OE T.23.III.33) "This is the mad idea you have enshrined upon your altars, and which you worship."  (T.21.II.6.7) (ACIM OE T.21.III.21)
In Lesson 50, we are told, "Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols; pills, money, ‘protective’ clothing, influence, prestige, being liked, knowing the ‘right’ people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness that you endow with magical powers." (W.50.1.3) "Be it a body or a thing, a place, a situation or a circumstance, an object owned or wanted, or a right demanded or achieved, it is the same."  (T.29.VIII.1.9) (ACIM OE T.29.IX.52)
The Circle of Atonement Glossary defines an idol as anything outside of us that we hope will make us complete. The thing is that we are willing slaves to these idols. In the end, anything we value is an idol to us in the hope that it will complete us and supply our lacks. Yet we just get more suffering because they all turn against us even though they have no power except the power of our thoughts. Jesus actually describes them as toys that dance a while for us before they eventually fall. One of those toys is our special love relationship, which is an idol that substitutes for God.
Seeing differences and holding grievances is what keeps our false self in place, so our perfection, our peace, our joy and happiness, and our sameness with everyone is hidden from our awareness. We want these differences we see in everyone, so we can say to God, "Look, He is the guilty one. Punish him for his sins. I am innocent by comparison. I would never do what he has done." Thus, judging our brothers and seeing differences becomes the condition of our lives in the false belief that we can only be innocent in God’s eyes if our brothers are found to be the guilty ones. While we judge and attack them, we also look to them to meet our needs based on our perceived lacks that come from our belief that we no longer have love and now must seek for it outside ourselves. We now look for special love---another idol---and use the special love partner to fulfill our needs, and when they no longer offer us what we want and need, the special love relationship turns to special hate.
In holy relationships, the happiness of the other is recognized as equal to our own. These are relationships in which we join for one purpose, which is to heal our minds. Thus, we see every relationship as an assignment whose purpose is to heal the separation. On the other hand, grievances are part of the ego's plan to preserve ourselves as separate identities. Our special relationships are set up for the purpose of gaining at someone's expense. These are relationships based on needs and lack. They are relationships that focus on differences. We see our needs as primary and expect them to be met by the other. We give as little as possible to get as much as possible. These are relationships of bargaining and reciprocity with the content of guilt.
We make others responsible for our lack of peace; but the fact is that if we don't have peace, it is because of the decision we have made to throw our peace away while blaming our brothers for taking it from us, and then we wonder why we don't have it. This is the craziness of ego thinking. When we are willing to take responsibility for our thoughts and really stay vigilant, we can observe them without judgment and smile gently at them. In other words, we look at our grievances and judgments while refraining from judging ourselves for having them. Instead, we release them to the Holy Spirit. That is what forgiveness is all about. When we do that, our peace is greatly increased.
It is apparent that by holding grievances, we are actively choosing to destroy the peace that is available to us in every moment. The ego does not want to let grievances go. Keeping our brother bound to his guilt is how we exercise control in our special relationships. This is why we are reluctant to release someone from responsibility for what they have done. The ego requires that love comes with conditions. It is all about our wish not to know our Self. This is our fear of love. It is why we hold grievances because they keep us bound to the body. "To hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body." (W.68.1.3)
The body is a symbol of separation. Now we have a specific target for our grievances and our attacks, but how can anything that anyone does injure our perfection, which is given us by God? That perfection is who we are. Can Spirit be insulted? Only our own thoughts can hurt us. It is only our own interpretations of the behavior of others that could hurt us. We never get upset at a fact, only at our own interpretations. Grievances start and end in our own minds. There is no one who could betray or victimize us if we choose to release thoughts of betrayal and victimization. Thus, it is only our own interpretations that must be forgiven, never the other who seems to have betrayed and hurt us.
While it may seem to us that grievances are in fact quite harmless, look at their devastating consequences. When we hold grievances, we have actually made a decision to forget our reality. Jesus asks us to consider whether grievances really can bring about all these dreadful consequences, which include forgetting who we are, believing we are a body condemned to death, and asleep to our true nature? " Oh Yes !" he says emphatically. These are the consequences, and they are devastating to us because they keep us unaware of the love that we are. Unhappy, alone, and believing we have enemies makes us feel unsafe and lacking in peace.
"Here the deathless come to die, the all-encompassing to suffer loss, the timeless to be made the slaves of time." (T.29.VIII.6.4) (ACIM OE T.29.IX.57) Jesus asks us, "Would you not be motivated to relinquish your grievances if you believed all this were so?" (W.68.4.1) When we see that we are only hurting ourselves, we will become motivated to let go of grievances. "Perhaps you do not yet fully realize just what holding grievances does to your mind." (W.68.1.5) In other words, we are not fully aware of the consequences of our attacks. When we fully realize that we are hurting ourselves with each grievance we hold, this will increase our willingness to let them go. That is why Jesus goes to some lengths to help us see how the ego operates.
Our minds are the cause, and the world of form is the effect. The guilt that is in our wrong minds is projected onto the world and the body. When we are annoyed or irritated with someone, impatient, frustrated, or angry, the result is that we are the ones who suffer; but we can change our minds, and bring our egoic thoughts of attack to the Holy Spirit. He is the symbol of healing in our minds and with His healing comes peace in the place of suffering. Why do we still choose to suffer? It seems that we are very wedded to our thoughts. They define our uniqueness as individuals, and we are still invested in our bodies and the world. "To hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body. To hold a grievance is to let the ego rule your mind and to condemn the body to death." (W.68.1.3-4) Notice how the mind holds onto seemingly justified anger. We love to tell our stories of what someone has done to us and how much we have been victimized. There is resistance to letting anyone, including ourselves, out of this prison of the mind even though we suffer in the process.
Death is the ego's final victory over God and the result of holding onto the belief in separation. This is because, in our minds, the guilt that comes with separation demands punishment, and we think God is the arbitrator of that punishment. "It is as sure that those who hold grievances will redefine God in their own image, as it is certain that God created them like Himself, and defined them as part of Him." (W.68.3.1) In other words, we think God is like us because we project onto Him who we think we are. We think God is punishing us. We blame Him for having abandoned us. We project all our fearful images onto Him. We ask, "God, why did you let this happen?" All the time we are the ones who are the image makers, but now we fear the god that we have made. We think He is like us---a holder of grievances. "It makes you believe that He is like what you think you have become, for no one can conceive of his Creator as unlike himself." (W.68.1.7)
When we dream of revenge on those we believe have wronged us in any way, our minds actually take on more guilt. Now we fear retaliation from the world that we think is like we are. This cycle of attack and revenge puts us in a cycle of fear and defensiveness, which is a painful mental state that we all know so well. Some obsess about the past events of their lives for years and years. To do so is to take the poison of anger and attack into our own minds but hope that it is the other person who will die. Yet these thoughts are killing us! Why? They are killing us because we blot out awareness of the beauty of who we are. We cover it over with dark thoughts of anger and revenge. "For he who holds grievances denies he was created by love, and his Creator has become fearful to him in his dream of hate." (W.68.2.4) And I am the one dreaming it. I am the one that can choose to awaken from this dream. That is all this illusion is---a dream. I am making it up every moment in my own mind with the thoughts that I hold.
Now we have a clue on how we can heal the separation from God. It is by releasing our grievances against our brothers so we can know the truth about ourselves. Then the light and the love we are is extended to the world through us, and in our innocence, we know we are invulnerable. We heal our relationships so that we can experience the peace, love, holiness, and innocence that we are. "It is as sure that those who hold grievances will forget who they are, as it is certain that those who forgive will remember." (W.68.3.3)
How do I know that I am holding a grievance? Quite simply: I am holding a grievance if I am not supremely and consistently happy and not experiencing joy and deep peace. Clearly, it is apparent to me that my mind is full of grievances, which shut me off from my Self. Thus, the Self that I am seems to be asleep, while the ego self is the one that seems to be awake, being annoyed, hurt, frustrated, irritated, scared, uncertain, jealous, depressed, impatient, excited, needy, and distracted; all of which are thoughts that shut me off from my reality and make me forget who I really am. In this process, we are choosing to make something other than love real, but when we let go of our attack thoughts that we hold against ourselves and others, Jesus tells us, "If you succeed even by ever so little, there will never be a problem in motivation ever again." (W.68.4.5)
Our biggest difficulty is when we insist on the reality of the situation as we define it. Our stubborn determination makes it challenging to give up our grievances. What is the payoff to the ego for holding onto our way of defining reality? What do we get from holding onto our story? We get to be right about the way we set the situation up, and we do want to be right. We get to be right about our situation and why we feel like failures. We get to tell our story and affirm our victimhood, and we feel we can get retribution for the injustice that we deem to have been meted out to us. This gives us some modicum of pleasure with the belief that revenge is sweet. I read about a study that showed that when one holds revenge thoughts, the same part of the brain lights up as that which comes from eating chocolate! But with it comes a terrible price we pay in guilt. We simply can't hold grievances and know ourselves, and yet that is precisely why we hold onto them. That is the ego's game---to keep us focused on the world and forget who we are.
We all have trouble with true intimacy, true love, and true friendship. We see in everyone what is in our own minds. We project our own hatred onto those we believe are to blame for our unhappiness. We think we are attacking someone specific, but "ideas leave not their source," meaning that the hatred starts in our own minds, and thus, we are only attacking ourselves. The effect of these attacks is pain and misery for us. The ego hides this from us, telling us we can safely attack and get rid of our own guilt, but if we truly knew that we were only keeping the guilt by doing so, would we not be motivated to let our attack thoughts go? The world is simply a projection of what is in our minds. Everything we see and make real outside of ourselves comes from within us. It is no different than the figures in our nighttime dreams that are all manufactured from our own minds.
I love the quote from the Course that says, "The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love." (T.26.IX.6.1) (ACIM OE T.26.X.82) All our hatreds are ancient. Isn't it time we laid them down, however big or small our grievances are? We really don't know our own best interests. Everything that seems to happen can be used by the Holy Spirit to serve those interests if we will let Him in.
There is no one we don't hold some grievance against. We don't always want to admit this, especially with our special relationships. Yet if are willing to look very honestly at ourselves, it will become apparent to us that we hold a grievance of some sort against everyone! Jesus says that not only do we hold grievances, but that we even cherish them! Today, you are asked not to dismiss grievances as minor. Everyone has, to some degree, failed to fulfill the function we have given them. Can you see how this is true? Recognize that there are no minor grievances. They all keep us from our true nature. "Then think of the seemingly minor grievances you hold against those you like and even think you love." (W.68.5.3)
So what do we do? We need to become very vigilant of our thoughts and not deny or dismiss them as trivial. "It will quickly become apparent that there is no one against whom you do not cherish grievances of some sort. This has left you alone in all the universe in your perception of yourself." (W.68.5.4-5) We are angry at everyone! Our egos have become civilized into being nice, polite, kind, and considerate, but underneath our civilized behavior are all kinds of disappointments, annoyances, irritations, unmet expectations, hurts, and jealousies, all stemming from grievances toward others. This is the shadow that we project onto others because we don’t want to see it in ourselves. We prefer our nice and polite persona that the Course calls the face of innocence under which is the enraged victim. This leaves us feeling very isolated in our seemingly separated states.
It takes great willingness to let go of our grievances. Am I willing to first admit my grievances so that they can be released? Are there some grievances I prefer to keep? How motivated am I really? The intent is not to feel guilty about having and holding grievances. The intent is to see the benefits of the gifts that are there for us when we choose to release them. Ultimately, the benefits are that we will feel safe and at peace. Everyone will be seen as a Friend. They are not separate but part of us, and only when we embrace them as our One Self can we know who we are. Our nature is love, and this nature must include our brothers. Love embraces all.
Some grievances are easy for us to find. Others look like our special love relationships, where we think we are only a little disappointed or a little sad with these people some of the time, but it is all the same. We must also look for the subtle hatreds with great honesty. If I hold hatred toward anyone, my image is one of self-hatred. " Love holds no grievances. I would wake to my Self by laying all my grievances aside and wakening in Him. " (W.68.7.5-6)

Love and blessings, Sarah

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