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

CHAPTER 7
The Consistency of the Kingdom
PAUSED FOR WEEKEND

VIII. The Total Commitment

70 Whenever you deny a blessing to a brother, you will feel deprived. This is because denial is as total as love. It is as impossible to deny part of the Sonship as it is to love it in part. Nor is it possible to love it totally at times . You cannot be totally committed sometimes . Remember a very early lesson—"Never underestimate the power of denial." It has no power in itself, but you can give it the power of your mind, whose power is without limit of any kind. If you use it to deny reality, reality is gone for you. Reality cannot be partly appreciated . That is why denying any part of it means you have lost awareness of all of it.

71 That is the negative side of the law as it operates in this world. Yet denial is a defense, and so it is as capable of being used positively as it is of being used destructively. Used negatively it will be destructive because it will be used for attack, but in the service of the Holy Spirit, the law requires you to recognize only part of reality to appreciate all of it. Mind is too powerful to be subject to exclusion. You will never be able to exclude yourself from what you project.

72 When a brother acts insanely, he is offering you an opportunity to bless him. His need is yours . You need the blessing you can offer him. There is no way for you to have it except by giving it. This is the law of God, and it has no exceptions. What you deny you lack , not because it is lacking, but because you have denied it in another and are therefore not aware of it in you . Every response you make is determined by what you think you are, and what you want to be is what you think you are. Therefore, what you want to be determines every response you make.

73 You do not need God's blessing since that you have forever, but you do need yours. The picture you see of yourselves is deprived, unloving, and very vulnerable. You cannot love this. Yet you can very easily escape from it or, better, leave it behind. You are not there , and that is not you . Do not see this picture in anyone, or you have accepted it as you. All illusions about the Sonship are dispelled together, as they were made together. Teach no one that he is what you would not want to be. Your brother is the mirror in which you will see the image of yourself as long as perception lasts. And perception will last until the Sonship knows itself as whole.

74 You made perception, and it must last as long as you want it. Illusions are investments. They will last as long as you value them. Values are relative, but they are powerful because they are mental judgments. The only way to dispel illusions is to withdraw all investment from them, and they will have no life for you because you have put them out of your mind . While you include them in it, you are giving life to them, except there is nothing there to receive your gift.

75 The gift of life is yours to give because it was given you. You are unaware of your gift because you do not give it. You cannot make nothing live since it cannot be enlivened. Therefore, you are not extending the gift you both have and are, and so you do not know your being. All confusion comes from not extending life, since that is not the Will of your Creator. You can do nothing apart from Him, and you do do nothing apart from Him. Keep His way to remember yourselves and teach His way, lest you forget yourselves. Give only honor to the Sons of the living God and count yourselves among them gladly.

76 Only honor is a fitting gift for those whom God Himself created worthy of honor and whom He honors. Give them the appreciation which God accords them always because they are His beloved Sons in whom He is well pleased. You cannot be apart from them because you are not apart from Him. Rest in His love and protect your rest by loving. But love everything He created of which you are a part, or you cannot learn of His peace and accept His gift for yourself and as yourself. You cannot know your own perfection until you have honored all those who were created like you.

77 One Child of God is the only teacher sufficiently worthy to teach another. One Teacher is in all your minds, and He teaches the same lesson to all. He always teaches you the inestimable worth of every Son of God, teaching it with infinite patience born of the infinite love for which He speaks. Every attack is a call for His patience, since only His patience can translate attack into blessing. Those who attack do not know they are blessed. They attack because they believe they are deprived . Give therefore of your abundance and teach your brothers theirs . Do not share their delusions of scarcity, or you will perceive yourself as lacking.

78 Attack could never promote attack unless you perceived it as a means of depriving you of something you want . Yet you cannot lose anything unless you did not value it and therefore did not want it. This makes you feel deprived of it, and by projecting your own rejection, you believe that others are taking it from you. One must be fearful if he believes that his brother is attacking him to tear the Kingdom of Heaven from him. This is the ultimate basis for all of the ego's projection.

79 Being the part of your mind which does not believe it is responsible for itself and being without allegiance to God, the ego is incapable of trust. Projecting its insane belief that you have been treacherous to your Creator, it believes that your brothers, who are as incapable of this as you are, are out to take God from you. Whenever a brother attacks another, this is what he believes. Projection always sees your will in others. If you will to separate yourself from God, that is what you will think others are doing to you.

80 You are the Will of God. Do not accept anything else as your will, or you are denying what you are. Deny this and you will attack, believing you have been attacked. But see the love of God in you, and you will see it everywhere because it is everywhere. See His abundance in everyone, and you will know that you are in Him with them. They are part of you, as you are part of God. You are as lonely without understanding this as God Himself is lonely when His Sons do not know Him. The peace of God is understanding this. There is only one way out of the world's thinking, just as there was only one way into it. Understand totally by understanding totality .

81 Perceive any part of the ego's thought system as wholly insane, wholly delusional, and wholly undesirable, and you have correctly evaluated all of it. This correction enables you to perceive any part of creation as wholly real, wholly perfect, and wholly desirable. Wanting this only , you will have this only, and giving this only you will be only this. The gifts you offer to the ego are always experienced as sacrifices, but the gifts you offer to the Kingdom are gifts to you. They will always be treasured by God because they belong to His beloved Sons who belong to Him. All power and glory are yours because the Kingdom is His.

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A Course in Miracles
WORKBOOK

Part I
Review II

1 We are now ready for another review. We will begin where our last review left off and cover two ideas each day. The earlier part of each day will be devoted to one of these ideas, and the latter part of the day to the other. We will have one longer exercise period and frequent shorter ones in which we practice each of them.

2 The longer practice periods will follow this general form: take about 15 minutes for each of them, and begin by thinking about the idea and the comments which are included in the assignments. Devote about three or four minutes to reading them over slowly, several times if you wish, and then close your eyes and listen. Repeat the first phase if you find your mind wandering, but try to spend the major part of the practice period listening quietly but attentively.

3 There is a message waiting for you. Be confident that you will receive it. Remember that it belongs to you and that you want it. Do not allow your intent to waver in the face of distracting thoughts. Realize that, whatever form they take, they have no meaning and no power. Replace them with your determination to succeed. Do not forget that your will has power over all fantasies and dreams. Trust it to see you through and carry you beyond them all.

4 Regard these practice periods as dedications to the way, the truth, and the life. Refuse to be side-tracked into detours, illusions, and thoughts of death. You are dedicated to salvation. Be determined each day not to leave your function unfulfilled.

5 Reaffirm your determination in the shorter practice periods as well, using the original form of the idea for general application and a more specific form when needed. Some specific forms will be included in the comments. These, however, are merely suggestions. It is not the particular words you use that matter.

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Lesson 83
[Review of Lessons 65-66]

1 Today let us review these ideas:

[65] My only function is the one God gave me.

2 I have no function but the one God gave me. This recognition releases me from all conflict because it means I cannot have conflicting goals. With one purpose only, I am always certain what to do, what to say, and what to think. All doubt must disappear as I acknowledge that my only function is the one God gave me.

3 More specific applications of this idea might take these forms:

4 My perception of this does not change my function. This does not give me a function other than the one God gave me. Let me not use this to justify a function God did not give to me.

[66] My happiness and my function are one.

5 All things that come from God are one. They come from Oneness and must be received as one. Fulfilling my function is my happiness because both come from the same Source. And I must learn to recognize what makes me happy if I would find happiness.

6 Some useful forms for specific applications of this idea are:

7 This cannot separate my happiness from my function. The oneness of my happiness and my function
 remains wholly unaffected by this. Nothing, including this, can justify the illusion of happiness
 apart from my function.

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Sarah's Reflections

Lesson 83
Review II ~ Lessons 65-66

In the introduction to this review, we are again reminded that we must be determined not to be sidetracked in applying these Lessons to the people and situations in our lives. We have the power of decision so that it is up to us to make a choice to give up the ego by being vigilant in watching the mind for thoughts of guilt and fear. When we notice such thoughts, we turn them over to the Holy Spirit. His light will shine them away. There is nothing more for us to do. Indeed, there is nothing more we can do. Our part is to bring awareness to our fearful thoughts and take responsibility for them. Our minds are powerful. When we give power to our fearful thoughts, they keep us in misery.

We believe that we have sinned in choosing separation and now we must escape from God and hide in the body and the world where we will be safe from His wrath. We bought into the belief that we could leave God and with this belief came a load of guilt. We believe we have done something so horrendous that we could no longer return to our pristine home in God. We have made Him into a punishing God, and we fear His punishment. Not only do we feel that we have done something terribly wrong, but we are wrong in our very being. With this thought comes all of suffering and feelings of unworthiness, shame, depression, anxiety, lack, abandonment, stress, frustration, worry, resentment, and disappointment. Who of us doesn’t experience these kinds of feelings? Yet none of them reflect the truth of who we are.

Now we are choosing to listen to the appeal Jesus makes to us in the Course. He asks us to see what havoc and suffering have come to our lives as a result of the choice we made to believe we are separate from love and thus guilty. Jesus is showing us how the ego has led us to believe that we could find some level of happiness in the world, and we should continue to seek outside ourselves for that happiness. What the ego does not want us to see is the true source of happiness that can only come by choosing against its counsel. Its whole focus is to lead us away from our true power, which is in our right minds.

We can never find lasting happiness in the things of this world. As long as we look for our completion in the world, instead of turning within, we will never find what we are looking for. "The freedom to leave behind everything that hurts you and humbles you and frightens you cannot be thrust upon you, but it can be offered you through the grace of God." (T.11.VI.6.3) (ACIM OE T.10.VII.64) No one is going to hurl us into Heaven. ". . . you have no commander except yourself," (T.6.IV.9.4) (ACIM OE T.6.V.53) but we have a mighty Guide whenever we are ready to turn to Him for help. He will take us as quickly or slowly as our fear will allow. We are in charge of our salvation. No one is coming to save you except your Self. It is the Holy Spirit in your mind that you can always turn to.

In this Lesson, Jesus is telling us that our only function is the one God gave us, and that function is to forgive. We have many and varied functions in the world related to goals we have for our lives and for our daily activities. These goals are about achieving happiness by managing and controlling external events. If they go our way, we feel a level of satisfaction. When they fail to meet our needs, we suffer. This morning I had many goals for myself to get some things done, including this commentary. However, a friend called and asked for some of my time. When we met, she asked me to do some errands for her. I felt some distress, thinking about the amount of time this would all take and about the goals I had set for myself. However, I felt the prompt to respond to her call; so I chose to release my investment in what I deemed important to get done. The ego reminded me of my many tasks, but I chose not to listen, though initially there was a sense of anxiety. Yet in choosing to go with my friend, I felt the peace and joy that came with spending time with her. I notice life becomes much clearer and sweeter when I live in the moment and release the future and my own plans. So often, the things we feel we need to accomplish just fall away or their importance is no longer there.

Having said that, if we respond to a request because we are trying to be nice or "people-pleasing," it is not an authentic response but a response based on guilt. We always need to be very discerning as to whether we are listening to the ego or to the Holy Spirit when we choose to say "yes" to a request. This is not always easy to see. The important thing is to reflect on what we are feeling. If I say yes and mean no, there will be a grievance and resentment. On the other hand, sometimes I ask myself if my salvation depends on saying "no." Jesus reminds us to do what our brother asks as long as it does not hurt us or our brother. "His very insistence should tell you that he believes salvation lies in it. If you insist on refusing and experience a quick response of opposition, you are believing that your salvation lies in not doing it." (T.12.III.2.2 3) (ACIM OE T.11.IV.25) "Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him and receiving it yourself." (T.8.III.4.7) (ACIM OE T.8.IV.19) It is all about discernment, which takes a lot of practice and vigilance in watching our thoughts and feelings. If we are not at peace with our decision, we need to recognize there are conflicting wishes in the mind. We may be doing one thing behaviorally, but our thoughts are not consistent with our behavior.

Our only goal is to be happy, peaceful, content, and totally unaffected by events, plans, and intentions. How much does my happiness depend on whether I do my shopping, write my commentary, do my income tax, or any number of tasks on my list today? Does my salvation depend on these things? Remembering my one important function releases me from making all these goals the reason for my life. It is not that we don't have things we need to attend to in our lives. What I find for myself is that I just need to use every situation as an opportunity to learn to be at peace. Now peace becomes the priority in all things, and I remember my only function is the one God gave me. This is where my happiness lies. When I was not accomplishing what I thought was important to get done this morning, I needed to let go of my idea of what was important and instead, act on what my heart was calling me to do.

Happiness is truly a choice I can make in any moment when I am choosing with the Holy Spirit. Unhappiness is also a decision based on needing to be right about my story with regard to any situation. When we ask for guidance about where we are to go and what we are to do, we are no longer relying on our own judgments. Instead, we rely on the Holy Spirit, rather than our own idle wishes. When we listen to the ego, we are doing things out of guilt. Now we are called to take responsibility for our own lack of peace, rather than making someone else responsible for how we feel.

We may think we can resolve our conflicts by making a decision about which of our goals have priority, and then we think the conflict will dissipate. However, we will still feel the stress of all of the remaining goals that are left undone. Jesus urges us to remember that it is not about reducing conflict in our lives but releasing it all by remembering our true purpose in this world. If our only purpose is to forgive, love, choose happiness and peace in every moment, and to follow the prompts of the Holy Spirit, our doubts and fears disappear.

When we have conflicting goals, we are torn in many directions. We've all experienced this. The more fundamental these goals are, the more painful the situation becomes. Jesus says it causes all kinds of problems for us. We become uncertain in what to say and what to do. We are filled with doubt, and we become distressed. The conflict comes from whether we choose God's way or the ego's way. This is the fundamental, divided condition of our minds. When the conflict in our minds becomes acute, our motivation to choose the function God has given us increases because we recognize that this is where our happiness lies. It lies in our decision to forgive.

If I have an argument of any kind, I would rather lose the argument and win at choosing peace. Thus, it is about choosing our divinity over winning at the urging of the ego. With the ego, we choose to attack, blame, and hold a grievance. When we blame and hold grievances, we just gather more guilt, which keeps us further invested in the illusion. That is what our attraction to guilt is about. The choice for peace seems like the obvious choice until we are in the battle. When we are, it seems to us that happiness lies in winning the battle and getting our way. That is why it is important to prepare our minds with the specific application of the idea for the day. Otherwise, we will be tempted to forget our function.

"My happiness and my function are one." (W.83.3.1) My only function is an internal change of mind and change of teacher, choosing no longer to listen to the ego and turning instead to the Holy Spirit. The ego tells us our happiness comes from things going well in the world. Clinging to anything external that we want to go our way will never work and will keep us in the conflict. The external world has only one helpful purpose, which is to be a reflection of what is going on in our own minds. Now we can see where healing is needed so we can bring our dark thoughts to light. Our happiness comes only through forgiveness. Does this mean we give up things we think we want in the world? No. We are only asked to look internally to see what our thoughts are about any situation.

The Course is about applying this teaching to every situation in our lives. Jesus is helping us understand that even though we might get some pleasure in the world, it is transitory. The only true pleasure is found in our choice for peace. When something is disturbing our peace, we are asked to apply the Lesson. We will increasingly see that true happiness comes from letting go of guilt. Our guilt is what must be undone. The things outside ourselves that seem to have power over us are illusions that we have given power to. We react to these things as if they were real, and we give them the power to make us unhappy. Whatever form of upset we experience, we need to recognize that it has no power to impact our happiness. These Lessons are showing me where my happiness truly lies. "And I must learn to recognize what makes me happy, if I would find happiness." (W.83.3.5) The only thing that can make us happy is to forgive.

The belief in the power of our minds to choose forgiveness, to choose to release the belief in the illusion, and to bring us the happiness we seek, is something we are not completely ready for. We still cling to things that we seek in the world for our happiness and still work to strategize how to acquire happiness through the events and people we manipulate in the world. Sometimes it will work temporarily for us, but this happiness is neither consistent nor reliable, changing from moment to moment and situation to situation. The idea here is not that we should give up anything we think we want, but to see that the Course is offering us hope for real happiness. When we see that, we become increasingly motivated to turn over our way for His way.

Today, as we go through our day, we are asked to stay vigilant with regard to anything that seems to make us unhappy or brings upset to our minds. When we do the work daily by applying our Lessons, we remind ourselves, "Nothing, including this, can justify the illusion of happiness apart from my function." (W.83.4.4) Today, let forgiveness lead you to the happiness within. The peace of God is waiting for your acceptance, which means anything that gets in the way is another opportunity to release how the ego would have you see it. We need to be happy learners, which for me means staying vigilant, being patient with myself, and being willing to accept every opportunity that shows up to learn forgiveness.

Love and blessings, Sarah
 
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