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

CHAPTER 8
The Journey Back

X. The Acceptance of Reality

90 Fear of the Will of God is one of the strangest beliefs that the human mind has ever made. This could not possibly have occurred unless the mind were already profoundly split, making it possible for the mind to be afraid of what it really is. It is apparent that reality cannot "threaten" anything except illusions, since reality can only uphold truth. The very fact that the Will of God, which is what you are , is perceived as fearful to you demonstrates that you are afraid of what you are. It is not, then, the Will of God of which you are afraid, but yours . Your will is not the ego's, and that is why the ego is against you. What seems to be the fear of God is really only the fear of your own reality .

91 It is impossible to learn anything consistently in a state of panic. If the purpose of this course is to learn what you are and if you have already decided that what you are is fearful, then it must follow that you will not learn this course. Yet you might remember that the reason for the course is that you do not know who you are. If you do not know your reality, how would you know whether it is fearful or not?
 
92 The association of truth and fear, which would be highly artificial at most, is particularly inappropriate in the minds of those who do not know what truth is . All that this kind of association means is that you are arbitrarily endowing something quite beyond your awareness with something you do not want . It is evident, then, that you are judging something of which you are totally unaware . You have set this strange situation up so that it is completely impossible to escape from it without a Guide who does know what your reality is. The purpose of this Guide is merely to remind you of what you want . He is not attempting to force an alien will upon you. He is merely making every possible effort, within the limits you impose on Him, to re-establish your own will in your consciousness.

93 You have imprisoned your will in your unconscious , where it remains available but cannot help you. When we said that the Holy Spirit's function is to sort out the true from the false in your unconscious, we meant that He has the power to look into what you have hidden and perceive the Will of God there. His perception of this Will can make it real to you because He is in your mind and therefore He is your reality. If, then, His perception of your mind brings its reality to you , He is teaching you what you are.

94 The only source of fear in this whole process can only be what you think you lose . Yet it is only what the Holy Spirit sees that you can possibly have . We have emphasized many times that the Holy Spirit will never call upon you to sacrifice anything . But if you ask the sacrifice of reality of yourself , the Holy Spirit must remind you that this is not God's Will because it is not yours. There is no difference between your will and God's. If you did not have split minds, you would recognize that willing is salvation because it is communication. It is impossible to communicate in alien tongues. You and your Creator can communicate through creation because that, and only that, is your joint Will.

95 Divided wills do not communicate because they speak for different things to the same mind . This loses the ability to communicate simply because confused communication does not mean anything . A message cannot be said to be communicated unless it makes sense. How sensible can your messages be when you ask for what you do not want? Yet as long as you are afraid of your will, this is precisely what you will ask for. You may insist that the Holy Spirit does not answer you, but it might be wiser to consider the kind of asker you are.

96 You do not ask only for what you want. This is solely because you are afraid you might receive it, and you would . That is really why you persist in asking the teacher who could not possibly teach you your will. Of him you can never learn it, and this gives you the illusion of safety. Yet you cannot be safe from truth but only in it. Reality is the only safety. Your will is your salvation because it is the same as God's. The separation is nothing more than the belief that it is different .

97 No mind can believe that its will is stronger than God's. If, then, a mind believes that its will is different from His, it can only decide either that there i s no God or that God's Will is fearful . The former accounts for the atheist and the latter for the martyr. Martyrdom takes many forms, the category including all doctrines which hold that God demands sacrifices of any kind. Either basic type of insane decision will induce panic, because the atheist believes he is alone, and the martyr believes that God is crucifying him. Both really fear abandonment and retaliation, but the atheist is more reactive against abandonment and the martyr against retaliation.

98 The atheist maintains that God has left him, but he does not care. He will, however, become very fearful and hence very angry if anyone suggests that God has not left him. The martyr, on the other hand, is more aware of guilt and, believing that punishment is inevitable, attempts to teach himself to like it. The truth is, very simply, that no one wants either abandonment or retaliation. Many people seek both, but it is still true that they do not want them. Can you ask the Holy Spirit for "gifts" such as these and actually expect to receive them? He cannot make you want something you do not want. When you ask the Universal Giver for what you do not want, you are asking for what cannot be given because it was never created . It was never created because it was never your will for you .

99 Ultimately everyone must remember the Will of God because ultimately everyone must recognize himself. This recognition is the recognition that his will and God's are one . In the presence of truth, there are no unbelievers and no sacrifices. In the security of reality, fear is totally meaningless. To deny what is can only seem to be fearful. Fear cannot be real without a cause, and God is the only Cause. God is Love, and you do want Him. This is your will. Ask for this and you will be answered because you will be asking only for what belongs to you.

100 When you ask the Holy Spirit for what would hurt you, He cannot answer because nothing can hurt you and so you are asking for nothing . Any desire which stems from the ego is a desire for nothing and to ask for it is not a request . It is merely a denial in the form of a request. The Holy Spirit is not concerned with form at all, being aware only of meaning . The ego cannot ask the Holy Spirit for anything because there is complete communication failure between them. Yet you can ask for everything of the Holy Spirit because your requests are real, being of your will. Would the Holy Spirit deny the Will of God? And could He fail to recognize it in His Sons?
 
101 The energy which you withdraw from creation you expend on fear. This is not because your energy is limited but because you have limited it . You do not recognize the enormous waste of energy which you expend in denying truth. What would you say of someone who persisted in attempting the impossible, believing that to achieve it is success ? The belief that you must have the impossible in order to be happy is totally at variance with the principle of creation. God could not will that happiness depended on what you could never have .

102 The fact that God is love does not require belief, but it does require acceptance. It is indeed possible for you to deny facts, although it is impossible for you to change them. If you hold your hands over your eyes, you will not see, because you are interfering with the laws of seeing. If you deny love, you will not know it, because your cooperation is the law of its being . You cannot change laws you did not make, and the laws of happiness were created for you, not by you.

103 Attempts of any kind to deny what is are fearful, and if they are strong, they will induce panic. Willing against reality, though impossible, can be made into a very persistent goal, even though you do not want it . But consider the result of this strange decision. You are devoting your mind to what you do not want. How real can this devotion be ? If you do not want it, it was never created. If it was never created, it is nothing. Can you really devote yourself to nothing?
 
104 God in His devotion to you created you devoted to everything and gave you what you are devoted to. Otherwise, you would not have been created perfect. Reality is everything , and therefore you have everything because you are real. You cannot make the unreal, because the absence of reality is fearful, and fear cannot be created. As long as you believe that fear is possible, you will not create . Opposing orders of reality make reality meaningless , and reality is meaning.

105 Remember, then, that God's Will is already possible and nothing else will ever be. This is the simple acceptance of reality because only this is real. You cannot distort reality and know what it is. And if you do distort reality, you will experience anxiety, depression, and ultimately panic, because you are trying to make yourself unreal. When you feel these things, do not try to look beyond yourself for truth, for truth can only be within you. Say, therefore,

106 Christ is in me and where He is God must be, for Christ is part of Him.

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A Course in Miracles
WORKBOOK

Lesson 99
Salvation is my only function here.

1 Salvation and forgiveness are the same. They both imply that something has gone wrong—something you need to be saved from or forgiven for, something amiss that needs corrective change, something apart or different from the Will of God. Thus do both terms imply something impossible but yet which has occurred, resulting in a state of conflict between what is and what could never be.

2 Truth and illusions both are equal now, for both have happened. The impossible becomes the thing you need forgiveness for, salvation from. Salvation is the borderland between the truth and illusion. It reflects the truth because it is the means by which you can escape illusions. Yet it is not truth because it undoes what was never done.

3 How could there be a meeting place at all where earth and Heaven can be reconciled within a mind where both of them exist? The mind that sees illusions thinks them real. They have existence in that they are thoughts. And yet they are not real because the mind that thinks these thoughts is separate from God.

4 What joins the separated mind and thoughts with Mind and Thought which are forever one? What plan could hold the truth inviolate, yet recognize the need illusions bring and offer means by which they are undone without attack and with no touch of pain? What but a Thought of God could be this plan by which the never done is overlooked and sins forgotten which were never real?

5 The Holy Spirit holds this plan of God exactly as it was received of Him within the Mind of God and in your own. It is apart from time in that its Source is timeless. Yet it operates in time because of your belief that time is real. Unshaken does the Holy Spirit look on what you see—on sin and pain and death, on grief and separation, and on loss. Yet does He know one thing must still be true—God still is Love, and this is not His Will.

6 This is the Thought which brings illusions to the truth, and sees them as appearances behind which is the changeless and the sure. This is the Thought which saves and which forgives, because it lays no faith in what is not created by the only Source it knows. This is the Thought whose function is to save by giving you its function as your own.

7 Salvation is your function with the One to Whom the plan was given. Now are you entrusted with this plan, along with Him. He has one answer to appearances regardless of their form, their size, their depth, or any attribute they seem to have:

8 Salvation is my only function here. God still is Love, and this is not His Will.

9 You who will yet work miracles, be sure you practice well the idea for today. Try to perceive the strength in what you say, for these are words in which your freedom lies. Your Father loves you. All the world of pain is not His Will. Forgive yourself the thought He wanted this for you. Then let the Thought with which He has replaced all your mistakes enter the darkened places of your mind which thought the thoughts that never were His Will.

10 This part belongs to God, as does the rest. It does not think its solitary thoughts and make them real by hiding them from Him. Let in the light, and you will look upon no obstacle to what He wills for you. Open your secrets to His kindly Light, and see how bright this Light still shines in you.

11 Practice His Thought today, and let His Light seek out and lighten up all darkened spots and shine through them to join them to the rest. It is God's Will your mind be one with His. It is God's Will that He has but one Son. It is God's Will that His one Son is you.

12 Think of these things in practicing today, and start your longer practice periods with this instruction in the way of truth:

13 Salvation is my only function here. Salvation and forgiveness are the same.

14 Then turn to Him who shares your function with you, and let Him teach you what you need to learn to lay all fear aside and know your Self as Love Which has no opposite in you.

15 Forgive all thoughts which would oppose the truth of your completeness, unity, and peace. You cannot lose the gifts your Father gave. You do not want to be another self. You have no function that is not of God. Forgive yourself the one you think you made. Forgiveness and salvation are the same. Forgive what you have made, and you are saved.

16 You have a special message for today which has the power to remove all forms of doubt and fear forever from your mind. If you are tempted to believe them true, remember that appearances cannot withstand the truth these mighty words contain:

17 Salvation is my only function here. God still is Love, and this is not His Will.

18 Your only function tells you you are one. Remind yourself of this between the times you give five minutes to be shared with Him Who shares God's plan with you. Remind yourself:

19 Salvation is my only function here.

20 Thus do you lay forgiveness on your mind and let all fear be gently laid aside that Love may find Its rightful place in you and show you that you are the Son of God.

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Lesson 99
Salvation is my only function here.

"Salvation and forgiveness are the same." (W.99.1) Both are undoing the thought system of separation and guilt, which we have made real. "They both imply that something has gone wrong; something to be saved from; forgiven for; something amiss that needs corrective change; something apart or different from the Will of God." (W.99.1.1-2) The situation that needs correction is the belief that God is now our enemy. In truth, nothing needs to be done because nothing has come between us and God; but for us, illusion has become the truth, and now we need salvation to undo our false beliefs.

Forgiveness is the means of escape from the false identity and from this world we think is real---a world that could never be. Thus, what is being undone is "a state of conflict seen between what is and what could never be." (W.99.1.3) To us, "Truth and illusion are equal now, for both have happened."

Salvation and forgiveness are both illusions because they undo what never was; yet while they are both illusory, they are the means to bring an end to all illusion. They are only necessary while we think we are in this dream. What we think we have done and what has been done to us is not the truth. It has never happened. "Salvation now becomes the borderland between the truth and the illusion. It reflects the truth because it is the means by which you can escape illusions. Yet it is not yet the truth because it undoes what was never done." (W.99.2.5) In effect, we need salvation from what never happened. (W.99.2.2) To us, it seems "Truth and illusions both are equal now, for both have happened." (W.99.2.1) That is how we experience it. We experience both truth and illusion as coexisting, meaning we believe there is both a state of separation and a loving God; yet they are mutually exclusive. They can't coexist, but to the ego, both truth and illusion seem to exist. Thus, we try to meld God with the world and the body. Despite the fact that only one is true, we see them both as real. Oneness and duality can't both be true. It is one or the other. There is no "me" in Oneness. If duality were true, there could be no God; and if God were true, there could be no duality.

"The mind that sees illusions thinks them real. They have existence in that they are thoughts." (W.99.3.2-3) Our thoughts seem very real to us. They have existence because we give them the power of our mind. Now we are asked to "Open your secrets to His kindly light, and see how bright this light still shines in you." (W.99.8.4) This is the only way we can know the light that shines in us. Our thoughts block this light. As long as we hold onto thoughts, we will not be aware of this kindly light that shines in our minds all the time. We need the Holy Spirit as a bridge to bring us to the experience of our loving Self.

Through forgiveness, we achieve Christ's vision, even though we are actually forgiving something that has never happened. "Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred." (W.PII. What is Forgiveness Q1.1.1) We are therefore called to release our brothers from our perceptions of them. We take back our projections of our own self attacks that we prefer to see in others rather than in ourselves. "Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you." (Clarification of Terms.C5.5.8)

Yet what we don't want to do is dismiss everything as an illusion and thus tell ourselves there is nothing to forgive. It is true there is nothing real to forgive, but to dismiss what we still believe is to deny its hold on our minds. Having said that, neither is it helpful to make the error real and believe we are forgiving a real offense. Jesus is teaching us not to take either side. He wants us to recognize that although what seems to have happened is not real, we have given it reality in our experience and suffered as a result. Jesus speaks about this in Chapter 20, where he says, "Your question should not be, 'How can I see my brother without a body?' Ask only, 'Do I really wish to see him sinless?'" (T.20.VII.9.1-2) (ACIM OE T.20.VIII.66) In other words, we will see people in the illusion acting out behaviors that we judge. It is not about denying what our body's eyes show us and what our brain interprets as good or bad but being willing to let these judgments go. What we see in our brothers is our own guilt projected onto them. It all starts in our own minds. None of it is real. "The mind that sees illusions thinks them real." (W.99.3.2) Don't deny what you see or how you feel, but just be willing to have it all reinterpreted for you by the Holy Spirit. "Holy Spirit, how would you have me see this situation? What am I to learn from it? What concepts and beliefs am I holding that I have kept hidden that you would have me see? I want your peace that I may know my Self."

Jesus says, "Unshaken does the Holy Spirit look on what you see; on sin and pain and death, on grief and separation and on loss." (W.99.5.4) He is completely unshaken by it because "He knows one thing must still be true; God is still Love, and this is not His Will." (W.99.5.5) He sees it all as we see it, yet He holds the truth for us of who God is. That is what really strikes me most about this Lesson. God did not give us any of the pain and suffering we experience. We made it all up. And because we are the ones who made it up, we have the power to release it.

By bringing all the darkness of our secret thoughts to the light for healing, they are released through His power. Jesus tells us that this is the best use we can make of time. The plan operates in time because we believe time is real, yet the plan is really apart from time. The Holy Spirit works outside of time as that is the only way change can be made.

So often things seem to happen to us or to others, and we say it must be God's Will. We just accept that God would bring grief and loss into our lives and that He would choose these things for us. We might then believe we just need to accept that He wills this for us in order to bring trials for our "character development." This is the belief that what does not kill you will make you stronger. The Lesson disputes this commonly held view. God wills only our happiness. He only gives us what is changeless. He did not create this world. This world is not real because it is a state of separation from God. "All the world of pain is not His Will. Forgive yourself the thought He wanted this for you." (W.99.7.4-5) Now it is up to us to accept the healing for our wrong minded perspective.

Whatever loss and suffering we feel in our lives or whatever loss or suffering we see in the world, we really need to understand that none of it is God's Will. Obviously, if we believe the world is of His making, we will hold Him responsible for the mess this world is in and for all the pain and suffering here. What comfort can anyone get by being told that the terrible things they are enduring are God's Will? The truth is that "God still is Love, and this is not His Will." (W.99.6.8)

We hear that the trials and tribulations of our lives are there to teach us something God would have us learn. Sometimes, we think we deserve the painful experiences of our lives. Other times, we feel angry and resentful that God has seemingly sent this adversity into our lives. We may also wonder what we have done to deserve this and end up feeling lost and confused as to why something like this tragic event would happen to us. We either become resigned to the experience, blame ourselves, or blame God for it. Jesus asks us to "Forgive yourself the thought He wanted this for you." (W.99.7.5) Our most profound pain is that we think God wants this for us. We are punishing ourselves, yet we believe it is coming from Him!

When we experience any kind of pain, it is important to keep reminding ourselves that God does not want this for us. Sin, pain, grief, depression, anxiety, separation, death, and loss are not His Will. We are not asked to overlook or deny pain and suffering but to look on it and realize it is not the truth and therefore cannot exist. The ego says that it is all real, but when we look at it with Jesus, we see it has no effect. He is showing us that we can look beyond appearances when we look with him. God is our refuge. He is our loving and compassionate Father. To think otherwise is to make Him into a capricious God who hands out punishment and goodies at will, so that only some of us can claim to be blessed while others wonder why God is punishing them. Or we may think of a God Who gives, but then takes away. If we have money, we say God has blessed us with abundance; and when it is lost, we blame God for having taken it away from us. None of this is true. His only Will for us is perfect happiness and perfect peace. He knows us as forever innocent and always worthy of His Love.

We have made God in our own image, which just makes him a bigger ego. To us, love is uncertain, full of fear, changing, not to be relied on, and altogether imperfect. Now we think this is how God is, because this is our experience of love in the world. We project onto God our own understanding of love as capricious and constantly changing, and we tell Him that is what His love is like. We have projected our idea of love onto Him, and now we think His love can't be trusted, just as we don't trust our own love.

Freedom, happiness, and salvation all lie in understanding that the world is not of God's making. We made it. It is an illusion. It exists as a result of our thoughts of sin and guilt. Our thoughts need correction, and we do this by recognizing that what we are seeing is not the truth. We need to withdraw our investment in the stories we have made up. We need to withdraw our investment in what we see with the body's eyes. The images we see on TV, the tragedies we hear in the news, the things going on around us in our lives, and our own sad stories of how we see ourselves as victims of the world, are all untrue. They are all fearful images that we project as a result of our fearful thoughts. We do this in order to keep the light of truth away from ourselves. It is all because we still fear God. If you wonder if this could be true, I suggest you look at the feelings that come up as you reflect on turning over everything in your life to Him. Reflect on the fear that shows up in you if you were to give Him total control over your money, relationships, material things, and every aspect of your life. What do you fear might happen? This is the fear of Love.

What we need is the willingness to look behind our defenses. We must have the courage and honesty to bring our ego thoughts to the Holy Spirit for Him to shine His light onto all the dark places in our minds. It is through this process that we experience our healing. When we don't judge our pain, don’t hate our hatred, aren’t angry about our anger, and don’t deny our suffering, it can be the doorway out of the illusion. When we choose to use all our difficulties for the purpose of releasing our guilt and fear, then what we really are is revealed to us.

We are asked to practice the Lesson well today, so we can ". . . yet work miracles." (W.99.7.1) That is our function. That is why we need to accept the Atonement for ourselves; so we can recognize ourselves as the dreamer of this dream. When we do, the love we are shines forth in the world. "Salvation is my only function here. God still is Love, and this is not His Will." (W.99.11.3-4) We are told these are mighty words and should be repeated often as we take five minutes every hour. Remind yourself of this thought throughout the day, and respond with these words to any temptation to hold painful thoughts or experience painful events.

We left Bozeman, Montana one Saturday afternoon, believing Don's cousin, who was coming to the end of his life, was doing better. Our time with him was very lovely, with lots of sharing. We were able to be helpful to him in resolving some of his issues, so we felt very good about our visit. However, later, after we returned home, we learned he had taken a turn for the worse and was returned from rehab back to emergency and then placed in intensive care. I felt anxious as we were leaving him, so I turned to the Holy Spirit and asked how I should see this. I received a reassuring message in response to my feelings of anxiety. What I heard was, "Be still. Know that all is well. There is nothing to be done. You are loved and gratitude is offered. Your brother's time is coming to a close. He is ready. Do not interfere. Thy will be done." Within a day of our return, we learned he had passed away. Sadness came over me, and then I was reminded of Lesson 97, "I Am Spirit." (W.97) "Spirit am I, a holy Son of God, free of all limits, safe and healed and whole, free to forgive, and free to save the world." (W.97.7.2) We are free because the only truth is, we are Spirit. As one of our dear ones seemed to leave, we were informed of the birth of a long-awaited baby, who is a friend's first grandson. The Holy Spirit gives us symbols of seeming comings and goings in this dream. We truly can be grateful. Only eternal life is real.

Jesus reminds us, "There is no death because what God created shares His life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are One." (W.167.1.5-7) Anything that seems to cause me sadness, worry, guilt, or frustration, can never be the truth. There is no cause outside of my own mind. "Salvation is my only function here. God still is Love, and this is not His Will." (W.99.6.7-8) If this were the case, God could never let this death, this suffering, this sadness, and this guilt be real. If we really want to experience His peace, we must bring to the light these dark thoughts that obscure the truth and allow the healing to be. Jesus tells us, "Thus do you lay forgiveness on your mind and let all fear be gently laid aside, that love may find its rightful place in you and show you that you are the Son of God." (W.99.12.5) Our dark thoughts of fear and guilt have not changed us. Forgive yourself for believing you could be anything else but Love.

Love and blessings, Sarah

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