Lesson 139:

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Idea:

“I will accept Atonement for myself.”

Here is the end of choice. For here we come to a decision to accept ourselves as God created us. And what is choice except uncertainty of what we are? There is no doubt that is not rooted here. There is no question but reflects this one. There is no conflict that does not entail the single, simple question, “What am I?”

Yet who could ask this question except one who has refused to recognize himself? Only refusal to accept yourself could make the question seem to be sincere. The only thing that can be surely known by any living thing is what it is. From this one point of certainty, it looks on other things as certain as itself.

Uncertainty about what you must be is self-deception on a scale so vast, its magnitude can hardly be conceived. To be alive and not to know yourself is to believe that you are really dead. For what is life except to be yourself, and what but you can be alive instead? Who is the doubter? What is it he doubts? Whom does he question? Who can answer him?

He merely states that he is not himself, and therefore, being something else, becomes a questioner of what that something is. Yet he could never be alive at all unless he knew the answer. If he asks as if he does not know, it merely shows he does not want to be the thing he is. He has accepted it because he lives; has judged against it and denied its worth, and has decided that he does not know the only certainty by which he lives.

Thus he becomes uncertain of his life, for what it is has been denied by him. It is for this denial that you need Atonement. Your denial made no change in what you are. But you have split your mind into what knows and does not know the truth. You are yourself. There is no doubt of this. And yet you doubt it. But you do not ask what part of you can really doubt yourself. It cannot really be a part of you that asks this question. For it asks of one who knows the answer. Were it part of you, then certainty would be impossible.

Atonement remedies the strange idea that it is possible to doubt yourself, and be unsure of what you really are. This is the depth of madness. Yet it is the universal question of the world. What does this mean except the world is mad? Why share its madness in the sad belief that what is universal here is true?

Nothing the world believes is true. It is a place whose purpose is to be a home where those who claim they do not know themselves can come to question what it is they are. And they will come again until the time Atonement is accepted, and they learn it is impossible to doubt yourself, and not to be aware of what you are.

Only acceptance can be asked of you, for what you are is certain. It is set forever in the holy Mind of God, and in your own. It is so far beyond all doubt and question that to ask what it must be is all the proof you need to show that you believe the contradiction that you know not what you cannot fail to know. Is this a question, or a statement which denies itself in statement? Let us not allow our holy minds to occupy themselves with senseless musings such as this.

We have a mission here. We did not come to reinforce the madness that we once believed in. Let us not forget the goal that we accepted. It is more than just our happiness alone we came to gain. What we accept as what we are proclaims what everyone must be, along with us. Fail not your brothers, or you fail yourself. Look lovingly on them, that they may know that they are part of you, and you of them.

This does Atonement teach, and demonstrates the Oneness of God’s Son is unassailed by his belief he knows not what he is. Today accept Atonement, not to change reality, but merely to accept the truth about yourself, and go your way rejoicing in the endless Love of God. It is but this that we are asked to do. It is but this that we will do today.

Practice:
Five minutes in the morning and at night we will devote to dedicate our minds to our assignment for today. We start with this review of what our mission is:

“I will accept Atonement for myself,
For I remain as God created me.”

We have not lost the knowledge that God gave to us when He created us like Him. We can remember it for everyone, for in creation are all minds as one. And in our memory is the recall how dear our brothers are to us in truth, how much a part of us is every mind, how faithful they have really been to us, and how our Father’s Love contains them all.

In thanks for all creation, in the Name of its Creator and His Oneness with all aspects of creation, we repeat our dedication to our cause today each hour, as we lay aside all thoughts that would distract us from our holy aim. For several minutes let your mind be cleared of all the foolish cobwebs which the world would weave around the holy Son of God. And learn the fragile nature of the chains that seem to keep the knowledge of yourself apart from your awareness, as you say:

“I will accept Atonement for myself,
For I remain as God created me.”

Marianne Williamson:
According to the Course, every problem you have stems in some way from the fact that you have forgotten who you really are. As you accept the Atonement—praying to be reminded of your true identity as a son of God—you are released from the ego traps that keep you bound.

“If we wait for the world’s permission to shine, we will never receive it. The ego doesn’t give that permission. Only God does, and He has already done so. He has sent you here as His personal representative and is asking you to channel His love into the world. Are you waiting for a more important job? There isn’t one.”

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Lesson 138:

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Idea:

“Heaven is the decision I must make.”

In this world Heaven is a choice, because here we believe there are alternatives to choose between. We think that all things have an opposite, and what we want we choose. If Heaven exists there must be hell as well, for contradiction is the way we make what we perceive, and what we think is real.

Creation knows no opposite. But here is opposition part of being “real.” It is this strange perception of the truth that makes the choice of Heaven seem to be the same as the relinquishment of hell. It is not really thus. Yet what is true in God’s creation cannot enter here until it is reflected in some form the world can understand. Truth cannot come where it could only be perceived with fear. For this would be the error truth can be brought to illusions. Opposition makes the truth unwelcome, and it cannot come.

Choice is the obvious escape from what appears as opposites. Decision lets one of conflicting goals become the aim of effort and expenditure of time. Without decision, time is but a waste and effort dissipated. It is spent for nothing in return, and time goes by without results. There is no sense of gain, for nothing is accomplished; nothing learned.

You need to be reminded that you think a thousand choices are confronting you, when there is really only one to make. And even this but seems to be a choice. Do not confuse yourself with all the doubts that myriad decisions would induce. You make but one. And when that one is made, you will perceive it was no choice at all. For truth is true, and nothing else is true. There is no opposite to choose instead. There is no contradiction to the truth.

Choosing depends on learning. And the truth cannot be learned, but only recognized. In recognition its acceptance lies, and as it is accepted it is known. But knowledge is beyond the goals we seek to teach within the framework of this course. Ours are teaching goals, to be attained through learning how to reach them, what they are, and what they offer you. Decisions are the outcome of your learning, for they rest on what you have accepted as the truth of what you are, and what your needs must be.

In this insanely complicated world, Heaven appears to take the form of choice, rather than merely being what it is. Of all the choices you have tried to make this is the simplest, most definitive and prototype of all the rest, the one which settles all decisions. If you could decide the rest, this one remains unsolved. But when you solve this one, the others are resolved with it, for all decisions but conceal this one by taking different forms. Here is the final and the only choice in which is truth accepted or denied.

So we begin today considering the choice that time was made to help us make. Such is its holy purpose, now transformed from the intent you gave it; that it be a means for demonstrating hell is real, hope changes to despair, and life itself must in the end be overcome by death. In death alone are opposites resolved, for ending opposition is to die. And thus salvation must be seen as death, for life is seen as conflict. To resolve the conflict is to end your life as well.

These mad beliefs can gain unconscious hold of great intensity, and grip the mind with terror and anxiety so strong that it will not relinquish its ideas about its own protection. It must be saved from salvation, threatened to be safe, and magically armored against truth. And these decisions are made unaware, to keep them safely undisturbed; apart from question and from reason and from doubt.

Heaven is chosen consciously. The choice cannot be made until alternatives are accurately seen and understood. All that is veiled in shadows must be raised to understanding, to be judged again, this time with Heaven’s help. And all mistakes in judgment that the mind had made before are open to correction, as the truth dismisses them as causeless. Now are they without effects. They cannot be concealed, because their nothingness is recognized.

The conscious choice of Heaven is as sure as is the ending of the fear of hell, when it is raised from its protective shield of unawareness, and is brought to light. Who can decide between the clearly seen and the unrecognized? Yet who can fail to make a choice between alternatives when only one is seen as valuable; the other as a wholly worthless thing, a but imagined source of guilt and pain? Who hesitates to make a choice like this? And shall we hesitate to choose today?

Practice:
We make the choice for Heaven as we wake, and spend five minutes making sure that we have made the one decision that is sane. We recognize we make a conscious choice between what has existence and what has nothing but an appearance of the truth. Its pseudo-being, brought to what is real, is flimsy and transparent in the light. It holds no terror now, for what was made enormous, vengeful, pitiless with hate, demands obscurity for fear to be invested there. Now it is recognized as but a foolish, trivial mistake.

Before we close our eyes in sleep tonight, we reaffirm the choice that we have made each hour in between. And now we give the last five minutes of our waking day to the decision with which we awoke. As every hour passed, we have declared our choice again, in a brief quiet time devoted to maintaining sanity. And finally, we close the day with this, acknowledging we chose but what we want:

“Heaven is the decision I must make.
I make it now, and will not change my mind,
because it is the only thing I want.”

Marianne Williamson:
It is a fundamental tenet of the Course that we are 100 percent responsible for our emotions. Rather than waiting for circumstances to change so that then we can be happy, we consciously decide to be happy, and thus circumstances begin to transform.

“We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.”

Lesson 137:

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Idea:

“When I am healed I am not healed alone.”

Today’s idea remains the central thought on which salvation rests. For healing is the opposite of all the world’s ideas which dwell on sickness and on separate states. Sickness is a retreat from others, and a shutting off of joining. It becomes a door that closes on a separate self, and keeps it isolated and alone.

Sickness is isolation. For it seems to keep one self apart from all the rest, to suffer what the others do not feel. It gives the body final power to make the separation real, and keep the mind in solitary prison, split apart and held in pieces by a solid wall of sickened flesh, which it can not surmount.

The world obeys the laws that sickness serves, but healing operates apart from them. It is impossible that anyone be healed alone. In sickness must he be apart and separate. But healing is his own decision to be one again, and to accept his Self with all Its parts intact and unassailed. In sickness does his Self appear to be dismembered, and without the unity that gives It life. But healing is accomplished as he sees the body has no power to attack the universal Oneness of God’s Son.

Sickness would prove that lies must be the truth. But healing demonstrates that truth is true. The separation sickness would impose has never really happened. To be healed is merely to accept what always was the simple truth, and always will remain exactly as it has forever been. Yet eyes accustomed to illusions must be shown that what they look upon is false. So healing, never needed by the truth, must demonstrate that sickness is not real.

Healing might thus be called a counter-dream, which cancels out the dream of sickness in the name of truth, but not in truth itself. Just as forgiveness overlooks all sins that never were accomplished, healing but removes illusions that have not occurred. Just as the real world will arise to take the place of what has never been at all, healing but offers restitution for imagined states and false ideas which dreams embroider into pictures of the truth.

Yet think not healing is unworthy of your function here. For anti-Christ becomes more powerful than Christ to those who dream the world is real. The body seems to be more solid and more stable than the mind. And love becomes a dream, while fear remains the one reality that can be seen and justified and fully understood.

Just as forgiveness shines away all sin and the real world will occupy the place of what you made, so healing must replace the fantasies of sickness which you hold before the simple truth. When sickness has been seen to disappear in spite of all the laws that hold it cannot but be real, then questions have been answered. And the laws can be no longer cherished nor obeyed.

Healing is freedom. For it demonstrates that dreams will not prevail against the truth. Healing is shared. And by this attribute it proves that laws unlike the ones which hold that sickness is inevitable are more potent than their sickly opposites. Healing is strength. For by its gentle hand is weakness overcome, and minds that were walled off within a body free to join with other minds, to be forever strong.

Healing, forgiveness, and the glad exchange of all the world of sorrow for a world where sadness cannot enter, are the means by which the Holy Spirit urges you to follow Him. His gentle lessons teach how easily salvation can be yours; how little practice you need undertake to let His laws replace the ones you made to hold yourself a prisoner to death. His life becomes your own, as you extend the little help He asks in freeing you from everything that ever caused you pain.

And as you let yourself be healed, you see all those around you, or who cross your mind, or whom you touch or those who seem to have no contact with you, healed along with you. Perhaps you will not recognize them all, nor realize how great your offering to all the world, when you let healing come to you. But you are never healed alone. And legions upon legions will receive the gift that you receive when you are healed.

Those who are healed become the instruments of healing. Nor does time elapse between the instant they are healed, and all the grace of healing it is given them to give. What is opposed to God does not exist, and who accepts it not within his mind becomes a haven where the weary can remain to rest. For here is truth bestowed, and here are all illusions brought to truth.

Would you not offer shelter to God’s Will? You but invite your Self to be at home. And can this invitation be refused? Ask the inevitable to occur, and you will never fail. The other choice is but to ask what cannot be to be, and this can not succeed. Today we ask that only truth will occupy our minds; that thoughts of healing will this day go forth from what is healed to what must yet be healed, aware that they will both occur as one.

Practice:
We will remember, as the hour strikes, our function is to let our minds be healed, that we may carry healing to the world, exchanging curse for blessing, pain for joy, and separation for the peace of God. Is not a minute of the hour worth the giving to receive a gift like this? Is not a little time a small expense to offer for the gift of everything?

Yet must we be prepared for such a gift. And so we will begin the day with this, and give ten minutes to these thoughts with which we will conclude today at night as well:

“When I am healed I am not healed alone.
And I would share my healing with the world,
that sickness may be banished from the mind of
God’s one Son, Who is my only Self.”

Let healing be through you this very day. And as you rest in quiet, be prepared to give as you receive, to hold but what you give, and to receive the Word of God to take the place of all the foolish thoughts that ever were imagined. Now we come together to make well all that was sick, and offer blessing where there was attack. Nor will we let this function be forgot as every hour of the day slips by, remembering our purpose with this thought:

“When I am healed I am not healed alone.
And I would bless my brothers, for I would
be healed with them, as they are healed with me.”

Marianne Williamson:
All healing comes from joining, just as sickness comes from separation. As we let go of the barriers that hold healing at bay, we by definition rejoin the Sonship. Everyone is thereby in some way healed.

“The truth is, we’re just like everybody else. Knowing this—that we’re no better or worse than anyone else because we’re all essentially the same—is a thought lacking in luster only until we fully appreciate what kind of club we belong to. Humanity is a group of infinitely powerful creatures. ‘Our power, however, is in us but not of us.’ It is God’s spirit inside of us that enlightens and enlivens our lives. Of ourselves we’re really no big deal.”

Lesson 136:

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Idea:

“Sickness is a defense against the truth.”

No one can heal unless he understands what purpose sickness seems to serve. For then he understands as well its purpose has no meaning. Being causeless and without a meaningful intent of any kind, it cannot be at all. When this is seen, healing is automatic. It dispels this meaningless illusion by the same approach that carries all of them to truth, and merely leaves them there to disappear.

Sickness is not an accident. Like all defenses, it is an insane device for self-deception. And like all the rest, its purpose is to hide reality, attack it, change it, render it inept, distort it, twist it, or reduce it to a little pile of unassembled parts. The aim of all defenses is to keep the truth from being whole. The parts are seen as if each one were whole within itself.

Defenses are not unintentional, nor are they made without awareness. They are secret, magic wands you wave when truth appears to threaten what you would believe. They seem to be unconscious but because of the rapidity with which you choose to use them. In that second, even less, in which the choice is made, you recognize exactly what you would attempt to do, and then proceed to think that it is done.

Who but yourself evaluates a threat, decides escape is necessary, and sets up a series of defenses to reduce the threat that has been judged as real? All this cannot be done unconsciously. But afterwards, your plan requires that you must forget you made it, so it seems to be external to your own intent; a happening beyond your state of mind, an outcome with a real effect on you, instead of one effected by yourself.

It is this quick forgetting of the part you play in making your “reality” that makes defenses seem to be beyond your own control. But what you have forgot can be remembered, given willingness to reconsider the decision which is doubly shielded by oblivion. Your not remembering is but the sign that this decision still remains in force, as far as your desires are concerned. Mistake not this for fact. Defenses must make facts unrecognizable. They aim at doing this, and it is this they do.

Every defense takes fragments of the whole, assembles them without regard to all their true relationships, and thus constructs illusions of a whole that is not there. It is this process that imposes threat, and not whatever outcome may result. When parts are wrested from the whole and seen as separate and wholes within themselves, they become symbols standing for attack upon the whole; successful in effect, and never to be seen as whole again. And yet you have forgotten that they stand but for your own decision of what should be real, to take the place of what is real.

Sickness is a decision. It is not a thing that happens to you, quite unsought, which makes you weak and brings you suffering. It is a choice you make, a plan you lay, when for an instant truth arises in your own deluded mind, and all your world appears to totter and prepare to fall. Now are you sick, that truth may go away and threaten your establishments no more.

How do you think that sickness can succeed in shielding you from truth? Because it proves the body is not separate from you, and so you must be separate from the truth. You suffer pain because the body does, and in this pain are you made one with it. Thus is your “true” identity preserved, and the strange, haunting thought that you might be something beyond this little pile of dust silenced and stilled. For see, this dust can make you suffer, twist your limbs and stop your heart, commanding you to die and cease to be.

Thus is the body stronger than the truth, which asks you live, but cannot overcome your choice to die. And so the body is more powerful than everlasting life, Heaven more frail than hell, and God’s design for the salvation of His Son opposed by a decision stronger than His Will. His Son is dust, the Father incomplete, and chaos sits in triumph on His throne.

Such is your planning for your own defense. And you believe that Heaven quails before such mad attacks as these, with God made blind by your illusions, truth turned into lies, and all the universe made slave to laws which your defenses would impose on it. Yet who believes illusions but the one who made them up? Who else can see them and react to them as if they were the truth?

God knows not of your plans to change His Will. The universe remains unheeding of the laws by which you thought to govern it. And Heaven has not bowed to hell, nor life to death. You can but choose to think you die, or suffer sickness or distort the truth in any way. What is created is apart from all of this. Defenses are plans to defeat what cannot be attacked. What is unalterable cannot change. And what is wholly sinless cannot sin.

Such is the simple truth.  It does not make appeal to might nor triumph.  It does not command obedience, nor seek to prove how pitiful and futile your attempts to plan defenses that would alter it. Truth merely wants to give you happiness, for such its purpose is.  Perhaps it sighs a little when you throw away its gifts, and yet it knows, with perfect certainty, that what God wills for you must be received.

It is this fact that demonstrates that time is an illusion. For time lets you think what God has given you is not the truth right now, as it must be. The Thoughts of God are quite apart from time. For time is but another meaningless defense you made against the truth. Yet what He wills is here, and you remain as He created you.

Truth has a power far beyond defense, for no illusions can remain where truth has been allowed to enter. And it comes to any mind that would lay down its arms, and cease to play with folly. It is found at any time; today, if you will choose to practice giving welcome to the truth.

This is our aim today. And we will give a quarter of an hour twice to ask the truth to come to us and set us free. And truth will come, for it has never been apart from us. It merely waits for just this invitation which we give today. We introduce it with a healing prayer, to help us rise above defensiveness, and let truth be as it has always been:

“Sickness is a defense against the truth.
I will accept the truth of what I am,
and let my mind be wholly healed today.”

Healing will flash across your open mind, as peace and truth arise to take the place of war and vain imaginings. There will be no dark corners sickness can conceal, and keep defended from the light of truth. There will be no dim figures from your dreams, nor their obscure and meaningless pursuits with double purposes insanely sought, remaining in your mind. It will be healed of all the sickly wishes that it tried to authorize the body to obey.

Now is the body healed, because the source of sickness has been opened to relief. And you will recognize you practiced well by this: The body should not feel at all. If you have been successful, there will be no sense of feeling ill or feeling well, of pain or pleasure. No response at all is in the mind to what the body does. Its usefulness remains and nothing more.

Perhaps you do not realize that this removes the limits you had placed upon the body by the purposes you gave to it. As these are laid aside, the strength the body has will always be enough to serve all truly useful purposes. The body’s health is fully guaranteed, because it is not limited by time, by weather or fatigue, by food and drink, or any laws you made it serve before. You need do nothing now to make it well, for sickness has become impossible.

Yet this protection needs to be preserved by careful watching. If you let your mind harbor attack thoughts, yield to judgment or make plans against uncertainties to come, you have again misplaced yourself, and made a bodily identity which will attack the body, for the mind is sick.

Give instant remedy, should this occur, by not allowing your defensiveness to hurt you longer. Do not be confused about what must be healed, but tell yourself:

“I have forgotten what I really am, for I mistook my body for myself.
Sickness is a defense against the truth. But I am not a body.
And my mind cannot attack. So I can not be sick.”

Marianne Williamson:
You are learning to allow the Holy Spirit to heal your body by allowing Him to heal your mind. Only truth completely relaxes the mind, thereby de-stressing the body. As you embrace the truth, you decrease the power of unconscious fears to conspire with the forces of sickness.

“A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different than a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower. You didn’t have to struggle to make your face different than anyone else’s on earth. It just is. You are unique because you were created that way.”

Lesson 135:

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Idea:

“If I defend myself I am attacked.”

Who would defend himself unless he thought he were attacked, that the attack were real, and that his own defense could save himself? And herein lies the folly of defense; it gives illusions full reality, and then attempts to handle them as real. It adds illusions to illusions, thus making correction doubly difficult. And it is this you do when you attempt to plan the future, activate the past, or organize the present as you wish.

You operate from the belief you must protect yourself from what is happening because it must contain what threatens you. A sense of threat is an acknowledgment of an inherent weakness; a belief that there is danger which has power to call on you to make appropriate defense. The world is based on this insane belief. And all its structures, all its thoughts and doubts, its penalties and heavy armaments, its legal definitions and its codes, its ethics and its leaders and its gods, all serve but to preserve its sense of threat. For no one walks the world in armature but must have terror striking at his heart.

Defense is frightening. It stems from fear, increasing fear as each defense is made. You think it offers safety. Yet it speaks of fear made real and terror justified. Is it not strange you do not pause to ask, as you elaborate your plans and make your armor thicker and your locks more tight, what you defend, and how, and against what?

Let us consider first what you defend. It must be something that is very weak and easily assaulted. It must be something made easy prey, unable to protect itself and needing your defense. What but the body has such frailty that constant care and watchful, deep concern are needful to protect its little life? What but the body falters and must fail to serve the Son of God as worthy host?

Yet it is not the body that can fear, nor be a thing of fear. It has no needs but those which you assign to it. It needs no complicated structures of defense, no health-inducing medicine, no care and no concern at all. Defend its life, or give it gifts to make it beautiful or walls to make it safe, and you but say your home is open to the thief of time, corruptible and crumbling, so unsafe it must be guarded with your very life.

Is not this picture fearful? Can you be at peace with such a concept of your home? Yet what endowed the body with the right to serve you thus except your own belief? It is your mind which gave the body all the functions that you see in it, and set its value far beyond a little pile of dust and water. Who would make defense of something that he recognized as this?

The body is in need of no defense. This cannot be too often emphasized. It will be strong and healthy if the mind does not abuse it by assigning it to roles it cannot fill, to purposes beyond its scope, and to exalted aims which it cannot accomplish. Such attempts, ridiculous yet deeply cherished, are the sources for the many mad attacks you make upon it. For it seems to fail your hopes, your needs, your values and your dreams.

The “self” that needs protection is not real. The body, valueless and hardly worth the least defense, need merely be perceived as quite apart from you, and it becomes a healthy, serviceable instrument through which the mind can operate until its usefulness is over. Who would want to keep it when its usefulness is done?

Defend the body and you have attacked your mind. For you have seen in it the faults, the weaknesses, the limits and the lacks from which you think the body must be saved. You will not see the mind as separate from bodily conditions. And you will impose upon the body all the pain that comes from the conception of the mind as limited and fragile, and apart from other minds and separate from its Source.

These are the thoughts in need of healing, and the body will respond with health when they have been corrected and replaced with truth. This is the body’s only real defense. Yet is this where you look for its defense? You offer it protection of a kind from which it gains no benefit at all, but merely adds to your distress of mind. You do not heal, but merely take away the hope of healing, for you fail to see where hope must lie if it be meaningful.

A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone.

A healed mind is relieved of the belief that it must plan, although it cannot know the outcome which is best, the means by which it is achieved, nor how to recognize the problem that the plan is made to solve. It must misuse the body in its plans until it recognizes this is so. But when it has accepted this as true, then is it healed, and lets the body go.

Enslavement of the body to the plans the unhealed mind sets up to save itself must make the body sick. It is not free to be the means of helping in a plan which far exceeds its own protection, and which needs its service for a little while. In this capacity is health assured. For everything the mind employs for this will function flawlessly, and with the strength that has been given it and cannot fail.

It is, perhaps, not easy to perceive that self-initiated plans are but defenses, with the purpose all of them were made to realize. They are the means by which a frightened mind would undertake its own protection, at the cost of truth. This is not difficult to realize in some forms which these self-deceptions take, where the denial of reality is very obvious. Yet planning is not often recognized as a defense.

The mind engaged in planning for itself is occupied in setting up control of future happenings. It does not think that it will be provided for, unless it makes its own provisions. Time becomes a future emphasis, to be controlled by learning and experience obtained from past events and previous beliefs. It overlooks the present, for it rests on the idea the past has taught enough to let the mind direct its future course.

The mind that plans is thus refusing to allow for change. What it has learned before becomes the basis for its future goals. Its past experience directs its choice of what will happen. And it does not see that here and now is everything it needs to guarantee a future quite unlike the past, without a continuity of any old ideas and sick beliefs. Anticipation plays no part at all, for present confidence directs the way.

Defenses are the plans you undertake to make against the truth. Their aim is to select what you approve, and disregard what you consider incompatible with your beliefs of your reality. Yet what remains is meaningless indeed. For it is your reality that is the “threat” which your defenses would attack, obscure, and take apart and crucify.

What could you not accept, if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good? Perhaps you have misunderstood His plan, for He would never offer pain to you. But your defenses did not let you see His loving blessing shine in every step you ever took. While you made plans for death, He led you gently to eternal life.

Your present trust in Him is the defense that promises a future undisturbed, without a trace of sorrow, and with joy that constantly increases, as this life becomes a holy instant, set in time, but heeding only immortality. Let no defenses but your present trust direct the future, and this life becomes a meaningful encounter with the truth that only your defenses would conceal.

Without defenses, you become a light which Heaven gratefully acknowledges to be its own. And it will lead you on in ways appointed for your happiness according to the ancient plan, begun when time was born. Your followers will join their light with yours, and it will be increased until the world is lighted up with joy. And gladly will our brothers lay aside their cumbersome defenses, which availed them nothing and could only terrify.

We will anticipate that time today with present confidence, for this is part of what was planned for us. We will be sure that everything we need is given us for our accomplishment of this today. We make no plans for how it will be done, but realize that our defenselessness is all that is required for the truth to dawn upon our minds with certainty.

Practice:
For fifteen minutes twice today we rest from senseless planning, and from every thought that blocks the truth from entering our minds. Today we will receive instead of plan, that we may give instead of organize. And we are given truly, as we say:

“If I defend myself I am attacked.
But in defenselessness I will be strong,
and I will learn what my defenses hide.”

Nothing but that. If there are plans to make, you will be told of them. They may not be the plans you thought were needed, nor indeed the answers to the problems which you thought confronted you. But they are answers to another kind of question, which remains unanswered yet in need of answering until the Answer comes to you at last.

All your defenses have been aimed at not receiving what you will receive today. And in the light and joy of simple trust, you will but wonder why you ever thought that you must be defended from release. Heaven asks nothing. It is hell that makes extravagant demands for sacrifice. You give up nothing in these times today when, undefended, you present yourself to your Creator as you really are.

He has remembered you. Today we will remember Him. For this is Eastertime in your salvation. And you rise again from what was seeming death and hopelessness. Now is the light of hope reborn in you, for now you come without defense, to learn the part for you within the plan of God. What little plans or magical beliefs can still have value, when you have received your function from the Voice for God Himself?

Try not to shape this day as you believe would benefit you most. For you can not conceive of all the happiness that comes to you without your planning. Learn today. And all the world will take this giant stride, and celebrate your Eastertime with you. Throughout the day, as foolish little things appear to raise defensiveness in you and tempt you to engage in weaving plans, remind yourself this is a special day for learning, and acknowledge it with this:

“This is my Eastertime. And I would keep it holy.
I will not defend myself, because the Son of God
needs no defense against the truth of his reality.”

Marianne Williamson:
In this lesson, you will examine your own sense of being attacked and defending yourself. As this exercise teaches you to become defenseless as you listen to God and follow the light within, you learn to live in the reality and truth that God has created for you. By learning that you do not need to defend yourself but rather heal your mind, you experience peace.

“We can’t fake authenticity. We think we need to create ourselves, always doing a paste-up job on our personalities. That is because we’re trying to be special rather than real. We’re pathetically trying to conform with all the other people trying to do the same.”

Lesson 134:

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Idea:

“Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.”

Let us review the meaning of “forgive,” for it is apt to be distorted and to be perceived as something that entails an unfair sacrifice of righteous wrath, a gift unjustified and undeserved, and a complete denial of the truth. In such a view, forgiveness must be seen as mere eccentric folly, and this course appear to rest salvation on a whim.

This twisted view of what forgiveness means is easily corrected, when you can accept the fact that pardon is not asked for what is true. It must be limited to what is false. It is irrelevant to everything except illusions. Truth is God’s creation, and to pardon that is meaningless. All truth belongs to Him, reflects His laws and radiates His Love. Does this need pardon? How can you forgive the sinless and eternally benign?

The major difficulty that you find in genuine forgiveness on your part is that you still believe you must forgive the truth, and not illusions. You conceive of pardon as a vain attempt to look past what is there; to overlook the truth, in an unfounded effort to deceive yourself by making an illusion true. This twisted viewpoint but reflects the hold that the idea of sin retains as yet upon your mind, as you regard yourself.

Because you think your sins are real, you look on pardon as deception. For it is impossible to think of sin as true and not believe forgiveness is a lie. Thus is forgiveness really but a sin, like all the rest. It says the truth is false, and smiles on the corrupt as if they were as blameless as the grass; as white as snow. It is delusional in what it thinks it can accomplish. It would see as right the plainly wrong; the loathsome as the good.

Pardon is no escape in such a view. It merely is a further sign that sin is unforgivable, at best to be concealed, denied or called another name, for pardon is a treachery to truth. Guilt cannot be forgiven. If you sin, your guilt is everlasting. Those who are forgiven from the view their sins are real are pitifully mocked and twice condemned; first, by themselves for what they think they did, and once again by those who pardon them.

It is sin’s unreality that makes forgiveness natural and wholly sane, a deep relief to those who offer it; a quiet blessing where it is received. It does not countenance illusions, but collects them lightly, with a little laugh, and gently lays them at the feet of truth. And there they disappear entirely.

Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world. It sees their nothingness, and looks straight through the thousand forms in which they may appear. It looks on lies, but it is not deceived. It does not heed the self-accusing shrieks of sinners mad with guilt. It looks on them with quiet eyes, and merely says to them, “My brother, what you think is not the truth.”

The strength of pardon is its honesty, which is so uncorrupted that it sees illusions as illusions, not as truth. It is because of this that it becomes the undeceiver in the face of lies; the great restorer of the simple truth. By its ability to overlook what is not there, it opens up the way to truth, which has been blocked by dreams of guilt. Now are you free to follow in the way your true forgiveness opens up to you. For if one brother has received this gift of you, the door is open to yourself.

There is a very simple way to find the door to true forgiveness, and perceive it open wide in welcome. When you feel that you are tempted to accuse someone of sin in any form, do not allow your mind to dwell on what you think he did, for that is self-deception. Ask instead, “Would I accuse myself of doing this?”

Thus will you see alternatives for choice in terms that render choosing meaningful, and keep your mind as free of guilt and pain as God Himself intended it to be, and as it is in truth. It is but lies that would condemn. In truth is innocence the only thing there is. Forgiveness stands between illusions and the truth; between the world you see and that which lies beyond; between the hell of guilt and Heaven’s gate.

Across this bridge, as powerful as love which laid its blessing on it, are all dreams of evil and of hatred and attack brought silently to truth. They are not kept to swell and bluster, and to terrify the foolish dreamer who believes in them. He has been gently wakened from his dream by understanding what he thought he saw was never there. And now he cannot feel that all escape has been denied to him.

He does not have to fight to save himself. He does not have to kill the dragons which he thought pursued him. Nor need he erect the heavy walls of stone and iron doors he thought would make him safe. He can remove the ponderous and useless armor made to chain his mind to fear and misery. His step is light, and as he lifts his foot to stride ahead a star is left behind, to point the way to those who follow him.

Forgiveness must be practiced, for the world cannot perceive its meaning, nor provide a guide to teach you its beneficence. There is no thought in all the world that leads to any understanding of the laws it follows, nor the Thought that it reflects. It is as alien to the world as is your own reality. And yet it joins your mind with the reality in you.

Practice:
Today we practice true forgiveness, that the time of joining be no more delayed. For we would meet with our reality in freedom and in peace. Our practicing becomes the footsteps lighting up the way for all our brothers, who will follow us to the reality we share with them. That this may be accomplished, let us give a quarter of an hour twice today, and spend it with the Guide Who understands the meaning of forgiveness, and was sent to us to teach it. Let us ask of Him:

“Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.”

Then choose one brother as He will direct, and catalogue his “sins,” as one by one they cross your mind. Be certain not to dwell on any one of them, but realize that you are using his “offenses” but to save the world from all ideas of sin. Briefly consider all the evil things you thought of him, and each time ask yourself, “Would I condemn myself for doing this?”

Let him be freed from all the thoughts you had of sin in him. And now you are prepared for freedom. If you have been practicing thus far in willingness and honesty, you will begin to sense a lifting up, a lightening of weight across your chest, a deep and certain feeling of relief. The time remaining should be given to experiencing the escape from all the heavy chains you sought to lay upon your brother, but were laid upon yourself.

Forgiveness should be practiced through the day, for there will still be many times when you forget its meaning and attack yourself. When this occurs, allow your mind to see through this illusion as you tell yourself:

“Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.
Would I accuse myself of doing this?
I will not lay this chain upon myself.”

In everything you do remember this:

“No one is crucified alone, and yet no one
can enter Heaven by himself.”

Marianne Williamson:
It is through the practice of forgiveness that you learn to forgive. During the exercises today, as you look at other people and learn to see yourself, you become more forgiving and learn to perceive forgiveness as it is.

“Many of our traditional notions of success rely on our talking ourselves into the belief that we’re special and we have something special to offer. The truth is, none of us are special because special people would be different and separate from others. The oneness of Christ makes this impossible. The belief in specialness, therefore, is delusional and thus breeds fear.”

Lesson 133:

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Idea:

“I will not value what is valueless.”

Sometimes in teaching there is benefit, particularly after you have gone through what seems theoretical and far from what the student has already learned, to bring him back to practical concerns. This we will do today. We will not speak of lofty, world-encompassing ideas, but dwell instead on benefits to you.

You do not ask too much of life, but far too little. When you let your mind be drawn to bodily concerns, to things you buy, to eminence as valued by the world, you ask for sorrow, not for happiness. This course does not attempt to take from you the little that you have. It does not try to substitute utopian ideas for satisfactions which the world contains. There are no satisfactions in the world.

Today we list the real criteria by which to test all things you think you want. Unless they meet these sound requirements, they are not worth desiring at all, for they can but replace what offers more. The laws that govern choice you cannot make, no more than you can make alternatives from which to choose. The choosing you can do; indeed, you must. But it is wise to learn the laws you set in motion when you choose, and what alternatives you choose between.

We have already stressed there are but two, however many there appear to be. The range is set, and this we cannot change. It would be most ungenerous to you to let alternatives be limitless, and thus delay your final choice until you had considered all of them in time; and not been brought so clearly to the place where there is but one choice that must be made.

Another kindly and related law is that there is no compromise in what your choice must bring. It cannot give you just a little, for there is no in between. Each choice you make brings everything to you or nothing. Therefore, if you learn the tests by which you can distinguish everything from nothing, you will make the better choice.

First, if you choose a thing that will not last forever, what you chose is valueless. A temporary value is without all value. Time can never take away a value that is real. What fades and dies was never there, and makes no offering to him who chooses it. He is deceived by nothing in a form he thinks he likes.

Next, if you choose to take a thing away from someone else, you will have nothing left. This is because, when you deny his right to everything, you have denied your own. You therefore will not recognize the things you really have, denying they are there. Who seeks to take away has been deceived by the illusion loss can offer gain. Yet loss must offer loss, and nothing more.

Your next consideration is the one on which the others rest. Why is the choice you make of value to you? What attracts your mind to it? What purpose does it serve? Here it is easiest of all to be deceived. For what the ego wants it fails to recognize. It does not even tell the truth as it perceives it, for it needs to keep the halo which it uses to protect its goals from tarnish and from rust, that you may see how “innocent” it is.

Yet is its camouflage a thin veneer, which could deceive but those who are content to be deceived. Its goals are obvious to anyone who cares to look for them. Here is deception doubled, for the one who is deceived will not perceive that he has merely failed to gain. He will believe that he has served the ego’s hidden goals.

Yet though he tries to keep its halo clear within his vision, still must he perceive its tarnished edges and its rusted core. His ineffectual mistakes appear as sins to him, because he looks upon the tarnish as his own; the rust a sign of deep unworthiness within himself. He who would still preserve the ego’s goals and serve them as his own makes no mistakes, according to the dictates of his guide. This guidance teaches it is error to believe that sins are but mistakes, for who would suffer for his sins if this were so?

And so we come to the criterion for choice that is the hardest to believe, because its obviousness is overlaid with many levels of obscurity. If you feel any guilt about your choice, you have allowed the ego’s goals to come between the real alternatives. And thus you do not realize there are but two, and the alternative you think you chose seems fearful, and too dangerous to be the nothingness it actually is.

All things are valuable or valueless, worthy or not of being sought at all, entirely desirable or not worth the slightest effort to obtain. Choosing is easy just because of this. Complexity is nothing but a screen of smoke, which hides the very simple fact that no decision can be difficult. What is the gain to you in learning this? It is far more than merely letting you make choices easily and without pain.

Practice:
Heaven itself is reached with empty hands and open minds, which come with nothing to find everything and claim it as their own. We will attempt to reach this state today, with self-deception laid aside, and with an honest willingness to value but the truly valuable and the real. Our two extended practice periods of fifteen minutes each begin with this:

“I will not value what is valueless,
and only what has value do I seek,
for only that do I desire to find.”

And then receive what waits for everyone who reaches, unencumbered, to the gate of Heaven, which swings open as he comes. Should you begin to let yourself collect some needless burdens, or believe you see some difficult decisions facing you, be quick to answer with this simple thought:

“I will not value what is valueless,
for what is valuable belongs to me.”

Marianne Williamson:
By understanding the teaching that thought is the level of cause, you understand that whatever you choose to think about is what you value and what you will experience. Training your mind not to dwell on what is valueless will cause you to experience the world God created—a world of love and peace.

“You are powerful in whatever moment you choose to be. The choice to be used as an instrument of love, right here, right now, is a choice for personal empowerment.”