Handout_318-324

Workbook Lesson Support Notes

by Allen Watson


LESSON 318 • November 14

“In me salvation’s means and end are one.”

Practice instructions 

A short summary:

• Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.

• Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.

• Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.

• Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.

• Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.

• Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.

• Read the “What Is” section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.

Practice suggestion: In repeating today’s idea, I have found it helpful to reword it slightly: “I am the means of salvation and I am the end.”

Commentary

In other words, putting it very simply, the goal of salvation is what I already am, and the vehicle for bringing about salvation is also what I am. I am what salvation is, and I am the way to get there.

Salvation is the recognition of oneness; how, then, could there be any single part that stands alone, or that is more or less important than the rest? (1:2–3). The means of salvation is not in some other part of creation, upon which I am dependent. The wholeness is what it is all about; therefore the means of getting there and the “there” we are getting to must be all the same thing, and therefore must be within me.

“I am the means by which God’s Son is saved, because salvation’s purpose is to find the sinlessness that God has placed in me” (1:4).

The sinlessness is already there, in me, placed there by God. So since the purpose of salvation is finding that sinlessness, I must be the means by which salvation happens. I carry the Answer within myself.

I absolutely love these next few sentences. To me, if I can allow my disbelief to be suspended just for a moment, just long enough to feel the import of these words, I will “get” what they are saying:

I was created as the thing I seek. I am the goal the world is searching for. I am God’s Son, His one eternal Love. I am salvation’s means and end as well. (1:5–8)

I am the thing I seek because I have been It since I was created. I am seeking only for my Self, and where can my Self be but in me? This is a search that is guaranteed to succeed because I already am what I am seeking for. The only reason there appears to be a journey of seeking is because I have forgotten what I already am. There is really nowhere to go.

Try repeating to yourself, several times, “I am the goal the world is searching for.” Just try it and see how it feels. Notice the thoughts that come up in denial of what you are saying, and take a good look at them. Notice what it is you are believing about yourself that keeps you from saying these words and meaning them with all your heart, and without reservation.

We think we have a disease of sin that we are seeking to cure. A disease of guilt and of separation. But the seeking is part of the disease! In fact, there is no disease, and only the seeking makes it seem as if there is. If we can, for a moment, stop presupposing that we are separate, we will simply realize that we are not. Truth will dawn upon us of itself. Relax; you’re okay. We have no need but to accept the Atonement, to accept our oneness with God, to realize that enlightenment is only a recognition, and not a change at all. We don’t need to change; we need to accept what we have always been.

Let me today, my Father, take the role You offer me in Your request that I accept Atonement for myself. For thus does what is thereby reconciled in me become as surely reconciled to You. (2:1–2)

What Is the Last Judgment?

Part 8: W-pII.10.4:2–6

In the final evaluation, the Last Judgment is really just love. It is God, acknowledging His Son as His Son (4:3). God’s Love for us, in the last analysis, is the onlything that will “heal all sorrow, wipe away all tears, and gently waken” us from our dream of pain (4:3). We may think—and indeed, we dothink—that something other than God’s Love will be able to do that for us. We must think so, or else why would we spend so much time looking for it? Yet love stands, waiting for us to receive it. We keep looking elsewhere because, in our insanity, we are afraid of the love being offered to us.

Our egos have taught us to be afraid of God, and afraid of His Love. We are afraid it will somehow swallow us up and make us disappear. But would love do that, and still be love? Twice (4:2; 4:4) we are told not to be afraid of love. That is one way of looking at the whole of what we are learning: to not be afraid of love. Instead, we are asked to “give it welcome” (4:5). And it is your acceptance of love, and mine, that will save the world and set it free.

We are so afraid that, by really opening to love, we will be hurt. Taking the path of love so often seems to us to be taking the path of weakness. There is so much emphasis on watching out for Number One, on setting our boundaries, on keeping our distance, on avoiding being victimized. Those things have their place, to be sure, and yet sometimes I think they are excuses for separation, excuses for remaining isolated, excuses for avoiding love. Giving love seems difficult, and receiving it even more difficult. Yet in the end, opening to both giving and receiving love, which are the same in reality, is all that is needed. We arelove, and only in opening to love fully will we discover that truth of our own Being.


LESSON 319 • November 15

“I came for the salvation of the world.”

Practice instructions 

A short summary:

• Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.

• Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.

• Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.

• Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.

• Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.

• Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.

• Read the “What Is” section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.

Commentary

The Course is quite clear that our purpose here, every one of us, is the salvation of the world. This is quite different from the purpose for which the ego came to the world, which was to find a place where God could not enter; to hide from God, so to speak, and eventually, to die. But the Holy Spirit has a different purpose for everything the ego made for its nefarious purposes. Our purpose here is to bring the world back to light by allowing ourselves to be transformed, becoming God’s extensions in the dream to awaken all our brothers along with ourselves.

To say, “I am here to save the world,” which is just a slight paraphrase of the lesson title, sounds very arrogant to us. But “here is a thought from which all arrogance has been removed” (1:1). It is not arrogant because it is the truth; this is what God created us for, and the function He has assigned to us. To say otherwise is arrogance because it opposes the truth and tries to make for ourselves a role we do not have.

When our arrogance is removed, “truth will come immediately” (1:3) to fill up the empty spot left by it. Our self-appointed roles are blocking and interfering with the function given to us by God. The reason thinking that we are here to save the world is not arrogant is that “what one gains is given unto all” (1:6). So accepting our function as saviors means that we accept it for all; our brothers become our saviors just as we become theirs. If the Will of God is total (2:1), then the goal of God must be total; it must be the salvation of the entire world (2:3), not just of me and you and our sister Sue.

To bring the world home to oneness is God’s Will, and therefore it is “the Will my Self has shared with” Him (2:4). It is my will as well. We are here for the healing of all minds. Our will is that everyone awaken to love, and that is our only purpose in being here.

“I came for the salvation of the world.” Repeating this to myself, reminding myself of this, is an interesting exercise. Another way of saying it is, “I am here only to be truly helpful” (T-2.V(A).18:2). Let me remind myself of this today. I am not here to make a name for myself, to make money, or to achieve the temporal and temporary things I think of as my goals. I am here to help. I am here to heal. I am here to bless. I am here to save the world.

What Is the Last Judgment?

Part 9: W-pII.10.5:1

This is God’s Final Judgment: “You are still My holy Son, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure.”

I find myself reading this sentence over and over; I feel that I need to hear it often, because I am aware of the part of my mind that does not believe it.

I am forever innocent. And yet I still feel guilty at times. I have done things, in my life, that I am certainly not proud of. I have let others down. I’ve failed to be there for them when they expected me to be there. I’ve given up on love. I have said things calculated to hurt. I have been deceitful. Like everyone, I carry a certain amount of regret for some things in my past. But God sees me as forever innocent. To me, one of the most poignant lines in the Course is, “You have not lost your innocence” (W-pI.182.12:1). Sometimes I think that the best definition of “miracle” is the shift in perception that allows us to see ourselves as completely innocent. It is extremely difficult for us to see this about ourselves; to me, that is one of the prime values of a holy relationship. The Course tells us we cannot, alone, see ourselves as totally innocent; we need another with whom we can learn this together.

I am forever loving. Again, there seems to be evidence in my past to contradict this. The Course would say the evidence is false, that we are not seeing the whole picture, and that what appeared to be unloving was really our own fear and call for love. We are in pain over what we think we have done, but the Final Judgment will free us of that pain forever, and we will be able to see that we have always been loving, and are forever. Nothing we have done has changed this.

I am forever loved. Ah! This one is often hard to believe, and for all the same reasons; we do not feel loveable, and we sometimes do not love ourselves. I recall taking part in a guided meditation in which I was directed to extend love, blessing, and compassionate understanding to everyone else in the room, and then to the neighborhood, and finally to the world. And then, imagining myself looking down on the world from above, to see myself, sitting there, and to extend that same love, blessing, and compassionate understanding to myself. I felt a deep melting inside of me, the hardness of self-judgment giving way to compassion, and I wept. How hard we are on ourselves! And how seldom we realize just how tightly we hold ourselves in the vise of judgment.

I am as limitless as my Creator. That stretches my credibility and my comprehension. The place to which the Course is taking us, where this is understood and known as true, is far beyond what we even imagine.

I am completely changeless. The experience of constant change, of mood swings, of up and down, of high and low, is not who I really am. The Course tells me, “It is not youwho is so vulnerable and open to attack that just a word, a little whisper that you do not like, a circumstance that suits you not, or an event that you did not anticipate upsets your world, and hurls it into chaos” (T-24.III.3:1). That may be who I thinkI am, but that is not me, not my Self.

I am forever pure. Pure means unmixed, unadulterated. I often experience myself as an unwholesome mixture of good, bad, and indifferent. That is not who I am. I am pure; without mixture.

And in God’s Final Judgment, I will know all of this. I can know it now. I can hear His Word to me today, in the holy instant. This message is what is communicated to me, wordlessly, each time I enter His Presence. This message is what is given to me, and to you, to share with the world.


LESSON 320 • November 16

“My Father gives all power unto me.”

Practice instructions 

A short summary:

• Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.

• Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.

• Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.

• Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.

• Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.

• Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.

• Read the “What Is” section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.

Practice suggestion: Take a few moments and reflect on the following three questions, one at a time, using the questions beneath each one to guide your reflection. You may even want to write down your reflections.

Can His Will do all things in me?

If not, doesn’t that mean that I am not His creation?

If I am not His creation, where did I come from? Did I spring out of nowhere?

Can His Will reach through me to all the world?

If not, doesn’t that mean there are some places He cannot go?

Does that make sense?

Is there any limit on His Will?

Could God’s Will possibly be limited? Just one more limited will among many?

Reflecting on these questions has prepared you to fully accept today’s idea. Now repeat that idea in a special way: Imagine that you are the risen Jesus speaking those words. As Allen points out in his commentary today, today’s idea is an allusion to Jesus’ statement in the final scene of Matthew. There, Jesus appears to his disciples to send them out to “teach all nations,” and declares to them, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mt 28:18). So, as you repeat today’s idea, imagine that you are the risen Christ. Feel the exaltation. Feel the power you possess to illumine the entire world.

Commentary

Those of us who have not studied the Bible, or the Gospels in particular, may not recognize these words as a paraphrase of words spoken by Jesus shortly after the resurrection: “All power is given unto me” (Mt 28:18). I find it significant that the Course puts these words into ourmouths. It is an indication of the equal plane on which the Course places us, with Jesus. He was not anything we are not; all of us, along with him, are equal sons of God. He’s just a little further along in time (or perhaps out of time), but with the same raw material. We are all the Son of God, together, as God created us.

This lesson expands on the idea of the limitlessness of the Son of God that is mentioned in “What Is the Last Judgment?” There, God says, “You are still My holy Son…as limitless as your Creator” (W-pII.10.5:1). Here we are told we (as the Son of God) are “limitless” (1:1); without limit on any of our attributes, whether strength, peace, joy, or whatever. Limitless strength, limitless peace, limitless joy. To be honest, I can’t even conceive of what joy without limitsis like, and yet this lesson says it is mine. I know joy. I know a great deal of joy. Sometimes, I am so joyful I can scarcely contain it. But joy with no limit at all? What must that be like?

I think we all put mental limits on our strength, our peace, and our joy. And our happiness, for that matter. Haven’t you ever had the feeling that it is somehow dangerous to get toohappy? (What a strange juxtaposition of words is that phrase, “too happy!”) “Watch out!” we think. “We don’t want to become ‘bliss ninnies.’” Yet the characteristic of the Son of God is limitless joy. How will we ever come to know that as our own while we place limits on our joy? Our egos act like governors on the inner engine of happiness and joy; we can get just so happy, and then the power seems to cut out. We need to cut loose from the governor.

Do I really believe that what I will with my Creator “must be done” (1:3)? Do I believe that my holy will cannot be denied (1:4)? There are those who catch a glimpse of this, and they are those who seem to accomplish so much in their lives, refusing to believe that what they envision cannot come to pass. Instead they realize it mustcome to pass.

Of course, we are not speaking here in earthly terms alone. This isn’t the message of mastery of will, of the dominance of our environment by sheer force of will. This speaks of our “holy” will, joined with God’s Will, which is expressed in the extension of His Being. Here, we have unlimited power. In this, “Your Will can do all things in me, and then extend to all the world as well through me” (2:1). Each of us can be an unlimited force for good and for God in this world if we transcend our beliefs in limitations. The power of love, for instance, is without limit, because there is nothing realto oppose it.

Let me examine my thoughts today, my Father, for the beliefs in limits that hold back Your power working in me and through me. Let me recognize them as false, and open myself to Your great power, working through me, to extend into all the world.

What Is the Last Judgment?

Part 10: W-pII.10.5:2–3

“Therefore awaken and return to Me. I am Your Father and you are My Son.”

The Final Judgment of God ends with this, completing the statement we covered yesterday. All of the things God is here quoted as saying of us are things we have difficulty accepting about ourselves. We need to awaken from the dream in which their opposite seems true, and return to the Father Who has never ceased loving us with an everlasting love. “You are My Son.” That is what we all long to hear, and all of us, like the prodigal son in the Bible, fear that we have lost the right to hear them. The prodigal was so filled with guilt that he went back to his father hoping, at best, to be taken in and treated as the hired help. Instead, he was welcomed with a banquet. His father met him on the road.

Do we fear to approach God? Do we hesitate to turn to Him? Do we feel ashamed of how we have lived, and of what we have done with the gifts He has given us? He is not angry. He is not ashamed of us. He only knows that we are His children, His beloved. And He is forever calling to us to return to Him, out of the nightmare in which we have lost ourselves, waiting to welcome us once again into His loving arms.

Lesson 321 • November 17

“Father, my freedom is in You alone.”

Practice instructions 

A short summary:

• Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.

• Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.

• Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.

• Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.

• Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.

• Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.

• Read the “What Is” section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.

Commentary

This lesson, like many in this last part of the Workbook, is written from the perspective of a person who is entering the last stages of the journey home. Here is the song of one whose uncertainty has ended, whose decision for the Kingdom of God is strong and clear. In the words of “Development of Trust” in the Manual for Teachers: 

The teacher of God is now at the point in his progress at which he sees in it his whole way out. “Give up what you do not want, and keep what you do.” How simple is the obvious! And how easy to do! (M-4(A).6:5–8)

These are the words of someone who has realized that the peace of God is all that he wants.

“I did not understand what made me free, nor what my freedom was” (1:1). Our freedom is in God alone. At the start we believed the opposite. Being free seems to mean being independent. How could freedom be found in acceptance of God’s Will? Isn’t that enslavement? Only as we realize that our will is God’s Will, that our will and His are one and the same, can we realize that to do the Will of God is perfect freedom because it is what we truly want, and what we were created for. “Father, it is my will that I return” (1:9).

Not knowing what freedom was we have looked for it where it could not be found: in the exercise of our independent will in this world. Until we hear the Voice for God directing us, and respond, we cannot find freedom. “Now I would guide myself no more” (1:3). Our freedom is found in accepting a new Guide. It is found in resigning as our own teacher (see T-12.V.8:3) and accepting another Teacher. It is found in letting go of our independent goals and accepting the one goal we all share together.

Freedom is the liberty to be all that I am. Freedom is the liberty to express my nature without any hindrance. My nature is love; my nature is the holiness of God Himself. My only freedom is in being that which I am because God created me. To attempt to be something else is to enslave myself, to constrict my soul into a shape not its own. Freedom is to teach and offer only love, because that is what I am.

Let me, then, today, gladly surrender my opinions about what I am, and accept what God tells me I am. Let me readily relinquish the false and illusory freedom I have thought to pursue, and accept the only freedom that is real, in glad capitulation to my own nature. There is no surrender but to my Self. There is no sacrifice but of illusion. When I have reached the point of being willing to hear only the Voice for God, I will be able to say:

The way to You is opening and clear to me at last. (1:7)

What Is Creation?

Part 1: W-pII.11.1:1–2

The question itself is one that often comes up for Course students. The Course speaks often of “your creations,” and yet never seems to clearly say exactly what those creations are. It tells us that our creation process continues unabated despite our unawareness of our creations, and that they are all saved for us by the Holy Spirit. There is an image of us entering Heaven and being greeted by all our creations, as if they were living beings.

We have a fundamental misconception that makes it difficult for us to understand what creations are. For instance, we think God created this world. When we think of creation, therefore, we think of something physical and material. We think our creations must be something in this world. Yet the Course clearly tells us this entire world is an illusion, a miscreation of our mind. How could our creations be here?

My creations, then, cannot be something like a book I write, a relationship I form, a family, or a business. My creations are not objects at all. They must be thoughts.

Creation is the sum of all God’s Thoughts, in number infinite, and everywhere without all limit. (1:1)

“Thoughts” is capitalized, so we know this refers to God’s Son. The Christ. Again, we are not used to equating thoughts and living beings. We do not think of thoughts as beings who are alive; we do not think of living beings as “only” thoughts. The Course teaches us that we are only Thoughts in God’s Mind. We automatically assume some kind of material existence when we think of a living being. The Course, all through, is trying to teach us that living beings are indeed thoughts, or spirits, and not material at all. “You are not a body” (W-pI.91.5:2), means more than just an admonition not to be limited by our body; it means that we are something wholly other than material. The essential part of us is not material at all. We are spirit. We are thought.

Only Love creates, and only like itself. (1:2)

From just this much it should be clear that “creations” are “thoughts of love.” If only Love creates, creations must be the effects of Love. If creations are thoughts, then they must be thoughts of love.

“Only Love creates, and only like itself.” Love always creates more love. Creation, it seems to me, is a circular thing, like a self-sustaining energy field, each part of which is upholding the other part, an endless cycle of creation.

The Text teaches us that God, being Love, has no need except to extend Himself. Since we are extensions of His Being, we have a similar unique need: “With love in you, you have no need except to extend it” (T-15.V.11:3).

Like your Father, youare an idea. And like Him, you can give yourself completely, wholly without loss and only with gain. (T-15.VI.4:5–6)

This is what we learn through the experience of a holy instant. We are Thoughts of Love, with no need except to extend love. In our relationships, we are learning to let go of our imagined “personal” needs, and to dedicate our relationships to “the only need the Sons of God share equally” (T-15.VI.6:10)—the extension of love. Through this reflection of love here on earth, we learn to take our place again in the eternal creation of Heaven.


Lesson 322 • NOVEMBER 18

“I can give up but what was never real.”

Practice instructions 

A short summary:

• Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.

• Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.

• Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.

• Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.

• Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.

• Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.

• Read the “What Is” section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.

Practice suggestion: 

   Spend a moment imagining that you give your life, whole and complete, to God today, holding nothing back.

   As you imagine this, ask yourself what you fear you will have to give up, either outer or inner.

   With each thing, ask yourself, “Is this truly real?”

   Then repeat the idea.

Commentary

I cannot give up anything real: “As You created me, I can give up nothing You gave me” (2:3). The whole idea of sacrifice is alien to God and to the thought system of the Course. Oh, we are asked to give up things! The Course even asks us to give up the entire world—but “not to sacrifice” (T-30.V.9:5). The whole point of this lesson is quite simple. It is that nothing that I can give up was ever real in the first place. “I sacrifice illusions; nothing more” (1:1).

I remember once in a relationship in which I wanted marriage, and the lady in question did not, that I felt as if I were losing and sacrificing something by letting go of my dream. Then I realized that I was only giving up something I never had in the first place. It brought home with vivid force the familiar “wall plaque” saying that runs something like this: “If you love something, let it go. If it returns to you then it was truly yours, and if it does not, it was never yours at all.” In that circumstance I was able to give up the illusion, and in so doing, retain the reality of a profoundly loving relationship that was not meant to end in marriage, a relationship that lasted for years and brought me more true satisfaction than any marriage relationship I ever saw among my friends.

The illusions we hold on to are hiding the true gifts of God. The idea that we can find our happiness in a romantic relationship, for instance, is one of the ego’s substitutes for the reality of our relationship with God and with all living things. A close, loving relationship is a wonderful thing, but it can be an obstacle to our peace if we make an idol of it, expecting it to give us everything, or insisting that we know the form it must take to please us.

“And as illusions go I find the gifts illusions tried to hide, awaiting me in shining welcome, and in readiness to give God’s ancient messages to me” (1:2). We not only lose nothing in giving up illusions; we actually gain the reality of what the illusions were substituting for. This is a win-win situation!

The fear of sacrifice and loss is one of the greatest obstacles to our spiritual progress. And as long as we think we are losing something real, we will drag our feet. 

If this [relinquishment] is interpreted as giving up the desirable, it will engender enormous conflict. Few teachers of God escape this distress entirely. (M-4.I(A).5:2–3) 

The idea of sacrifice makes it impossible for us to make sensible judgments about what we do and do not want. That is why it is so important for us to refer all our decisions to the Holy Spirit. And when we do, often it will seem to us as if we are being asked to sacrifice something we value. What we do not realize is that the Holy Spirit is only teaching us that we do not really want what we think we want; He is only clarifying the intentions of our own right mind, which already knows there is no value in what we have been holding on to.

“And every dream serves only to conceal the Self Which is God’s only Son” (1:4). The gift behind every dream is the memory of Who I really am. Attachment to the ego’s “gifts” only serves to diminish my awareness of that Self. I am asking, not for too much, but for far too little. These gifts are not worthy of my Self. What God did not give has no reality (2:4). And so, today, let us give up every thought that anticipates any kind of loss, and recognize that, as God’s Sons, we cannot lose.

What loss can I anticipate except the loss of fear, and the return of love into my mind? (2:5)

What Is Creation?

Part 2: W-pII.11.1:3–5

There was no time when all that [love] created was not there. Nor will there be a time when anything that It created suffers any loss. (1:3–4) 

It is very difficult, if not impossible, for our minds to comprehend something that is outside of time. We can conceive of the idea, but to actually conceptualize it or to feel it is beyond minds that think solely in terms of time. The creations of Love are beyond time; they have always been, and they always will be. There is no before or after with Love and Its creations; it is an eternal now.

We think of creation as bringing into existence something that never was. But the Course’s conception of creation is something that is always complete, and that always exists now. All of creation has always been there, and always will be, and yet creation is continuous. Creation is a constant upsurge of beingness, never less, never more, never old, and always fresh. “Forever and forever are God’s Thoughts exactly as they were and as they are, unchanged through time and after time is done” (1:5).

God’s creations are unaffected by time. Time is part of our illusion, a way of making lack seem real by having things be “in the future,” and not now; or to make loss real by seeing them as “past.” When the lesson speaks of “God’s Thoughts” it is speaking of us. “We are creation; we the Sons of God” (4:1). It is saying, in other words, “I am as God created me” (Lessons 94, 110, 162). You and I are those creations, “unchanged through time and after time is done.” We are not beings under construction, with our reality still in the future, nor are we beings of corruption, with our purity past and gone. What we are is now, was before time, and will be when time is done. What changes is not me. To see ourselves as God’s creations is thus to free ourselves from the tyranny of time.

Father, I seek the peace You gave as mine in my creation. What was given then must be here now, for my creation was apart from time, and still remains beyond all change. The peace in which Your Son was born into Your Mind is shining there unchanged. I am as You created me. (W-pII.230.2:1–4)


Lesson 323 • NOVEMBER 19

“I gladly make the ‘sacrifice’ of fear.”

Practice instructions 

A short summary:

• Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.

• Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.

• Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.

• Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.

• Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.

• Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.

• Read the “What Is” section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.

Practice suggestion: Think of some resentment you are holding about someone. Because you find it hard to let go of this resentment, there must be some perceived payoff in it. Perhaps you think it buys you a sense of righteousness or a sense of entitlement, but if you didn’t see some sort of payoff in it, you’d easily and quickly let it go. Now realize that the real result of this resentment is fear. That is its real “payoff.” As you consider letting your resentment go, repeat these lines:

I gladly make the “sacrifice” of fear.

I freely let Your Love come streaming in.

Commentary

Yesterday’s lesson ended with the thought “What loss can I anticipate except the loss of fear?” and today’s lesson picks up on that idea. So I’m going to lose, but all I will lose is fear? I can live with that! Losing fear is no sacrifice. I will lose my fear with pleasure.

It may seem as if I am being asked to give up some pleasant and valuable things. All I am really being asked to give up is “all suffering, all sense of loss and sadness, all anxiety and doubt” (1:1). Attachment to things in this world, things that are fragile and that will not last, always brings with it suffering, loss, and anxiety. I may not realize it but the ego’s secret attraction to all such things is not the pleasure they bring me, but the pain. When I recognize that ego motivation, surely I will wisely and sanely let my attachment go.

And when I let go, God’s Love comes “streaming in to [my] awareness” (1:1). Do I want that today? God’s Love streaming in to my awareness? Do I perhaps, this morning, long for such an experience? Then let me gladly sacrifice my fear. Let me simply give it up. Let me recognize that in clinging to anything besides the goal of God I am clinging to fear, and let it go. Yes, my Father: today I am willing to make this “sacrifice.” Today I am willing to stop being afraid of Love.

I feel as though I need to remind myself that in letting go of these things I am not letting go of anything real. I am not really letting go at all. I am having an illusion of giving something up, but I never had anything real in the first place. All I am doing is “letting go of self-deceptions and of images [I] worshipped falsely” (2:1). This is just “a debt we owe to truth” (2:1). It is just being honest! And as I acquiesce to truth, truth returns to me “in wholeness and in joy” (2:1). The deception has ended and Love returns to my awareness. The fullness of the gift that is eternally mine—love—resurfaces in my memory. It makes a kind of natural sense that when I pay my debt to truth, truth returns to me.

When “fear has gone…only love remains” (2:4). “I gladly make the ‘sacrifice’ of fear.”

What Is Creation?

Part 3: W-pII.11.2:1–3

“God’s Thoughts” refers to us, the Thoughts of God. Creation is “the sum of all God’s Thoughts” (1:1), the sum total of all beings of all time.

The Course makes an amazing assertion here: “God’s Thoughts are given all the power that their own Creator has” (2:1). In the Bible it is recorded that Jesus said, toward the end of his life, “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth” (Mt 28:18). The Course says all power is given to us as the Sonship, not just to Jesus. What this is saying is that what God can do, we can do. We are simply His extensions. Therefore, as He creates, we create also.

The reason God shares His power with us is that “He would add to Love by its extension” (2:2). In other words, we have power in order to extend love. One short definition of creation might be the extension of love. But the form of love we share in this world is not Love’s reality; it is only a reflection of Heaven’s love. Our earthly experience of love is always in the context of separate beings exchanging love; in Heaven is only the awareness of perfect oneness. We can only imagine what love is like in that context. We can have glimpses of it in a holy instant, when the barriers between minds seem to disappear. In that moment, there is an awareness that the other person is you and you are the other person. You are the love in “you” extending to them; you are the love in “the other person” extending towards “you”; and you are the love in yourself loving yourself. It can be a disorienting experience because you literally start to lose track of who you are, in the context of individuals, while simultaneously you become aware of something much larger and more all-inclusive that is what you really are.

Those experiences are wonderful, and asking for them is not discouraged in the Course. But the main thing to realize here is that creation, as the Course talks about it, is not an experience on earth; it is an experience in Heaven. It is something that is always going on, and our dream of separation has not interrupted creation at all. Nothing has been lost or stopped by our illusion of separation. That is why the Course can tell us, as in last week’s topic (the Last Judgment), that the final judgment on this world is: 

It is wholly purposeless. Without a cause, and now without a function in Christ's sight, it merely slips away to nothingness. (W-pII.10.2:2–3)

If creation in Heaven means the extension of love, what is its parallel in our earthly experience? The Course says that the parallel to the extension of love is forgiveness. I think of forgiveness as recognizing creation, rather than actually creating.


Lesson 324 • NOVEMBER 20

“I merely follow, for I would not lead.”

Practice instructions 

A short summary:

• Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.

• Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.

• Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind Meditation.

• Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in meditation.

• Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.

• Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.

• Read the “What Is” section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.

Commentary

Learning to follow my inner guidance is a big part of doing the Course. That guidance is the Voice for God, the Holy Spirit. It is part of me and part of God. In the end all is one, but while I think of myself as separate I will experience that Voice as a separate voice, calling me back home: “Your loving Voice will always call me back, and guide my feet aright” (1:5).

Father, I need to learn that I am not on my own, and that Something or Someone has planned “the way I am to go, the role to take, and every step in my appointed path” (1:2). As Lesson 321 reminded me: “I have neither made nor understood the way to find my freedom” (W-pII.321.1:4). In fact, You have set the way, and the Holy Spirit is simply the Voice that speaks for You. So, then, let me follow “One Who knows the way” (2:1). What a relief it is to have this One to trust! When walking through a dark jungle with twisted and confusing pathways, what a comfort to know I have a Guide Who knows every detail of the path. Because of Him, “I cannot lose the way” (1:3).

Today let me remember that every step of my journey has been set by You. As I look back with You, I know that this is true: nothing I have ever done has ever been anything but for my own good; it has all worked together perfectly to get me exactly where I am now. Even my wanderings were perfectly designed to teach me the falsity of the illusions I was following. What I thought were detours away from You were really lessons bringing me closer to home, and I am grateful for them all. Let me now look to the future with the confidence imparted by that knowledge: I cannot lose the way. Every person, every event, and every circumstance of my life today can be, if seen with vision, a step towards home, a means of finding my way back to You.

If I wander today, Father, bring me back. I thank You for the blessed relief of knowing that I do not have to figure it all out. It’s been figured out for me. I can let the day unroll in whatever way it does, trusting that it is all perfectly planned by You to bring the memory of You most rapidly to my mind.

“I would not lead.” I don’t want to be known as a leader of others. I don’t know the way for myself; how can I know for anyone else? Some of my brothers may follow me; in fact You will bring them to me for that purpose. But all I am doing is following Your Voice; if anyone follows me in this path they are not following me, but You. Let me always remind them of that and never make anyone dependent upon me.

“We cannot stray except an instant from His loving Hand” (2:2). To Jesus, six billion years is “a tiny tick of time” (T-26.V.3:5) that is nothing in comparison to eternity, so small that “not one note in Heaven’s song was missed” (T-26.V.5:4). To us it seems we stray much longer than an instant. A mathematical example that comes to mind is this: When we divide one number by another, we are, in a sense, comparing them. One hundred divided by ten is ten; that means that compared to ten, one hundred is ten times bigger. The interesting thing about the number zero is that any number, compared to it mathematically, is infinite. If you imagine being able to divide a line into points with zero width, there are an infinite number of such points in the line, whether it is an inch long or a mile long.

The “tiny tick of time” is like zero. Eternity is infinite, and compared to it, all of time is literally nothing.There is no comparison. The time we spend in wandering, which seems so long to us, is nothing more than an instant, an infinitesimal piece of nothing, a fragment of a dream. We’ve all experienced dreams that seemed to last for hours or days, yet happened in a few seconds of “real” time. And that is all this time is: 

Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion in which figures come and go as if by magic. Yet there is a plan behind appearances that does not change. The script is written. (W-pI.158.4:1–3)

There is a plan behind the appearances, and that is what I can rely upon today. Following the Holy Spirit, I know that the ending is sure. He “guarantees a safe returning home” (2:4). I may feel really messed up and confused, but I just can’t really blow it! I’ve got a perfect Guide, and He is going to stick with me until I reach the end and fall once again into my Father’s Arms.

I merely follow, for I would not lead.

What Is Creation?

Part 4: W-pII.11.2:4

What God has willed to be forever One will still be One when time is over; and will not be changed throughout the course of time, remaining as it was before the thought of time began.

God has willed all Creation to be One. Therefore it is One. Time cannot change what God created in any way. Time and change seem inextricably related: change is what signifies the passage of time, and it seems impossible that time should pass without change. It is impossible that God’s creation should change. God’s creation is outside of the realm of time entirely, and time is simply an illusion, a dream in which change is possible.

What we are, together, as the one Son of God, existed before time was thought of, still exists during the apparent course of time, and will exist, still One, when time is over. The Son of God is as unaffected by what seems to occur during time as the sun is unaffected by my passing a few of its rays through a magnifying glass, and deflecting their path, or as the ocean is unaffected by a child who throws a stick into the water. In other words, not at all. That is the power of creation. It is immutable. Therefore, I am immutablewhen I recognize my Creator.

Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever. (W-pI.190.6:5)