Lesson 181 2021

Lesson 181 

Artwork by Cate Grieves https://www.facebook.com/acimpaintings

I trust my brothers, who are one with me. 

1. Trusting your brothers is essential to establishing and holding up your faith in your ability to transcend doubt and lack of sure conviction in yourself. ²When you attack a brother, you proclaim that he is limited by what you have perceived in him. ³You do not look beyond his errors. ⁴Rather, they are magnified, becoming blocks to your awareness of the Self that lies beyond your own mistakes, and past his seeming sins as well as yours. 

Any attack I make on anyone limits my perception of myself. It literally blocks my awareness of my true Self. It binds me to the world and keeps me from entering the presence of God. If I feel like attacking someone, I have to ask myself if this makes sense in light of its cost to me. What forms does attack take in our lives? Of course, there is physical attack but that is not the most common form. Sometimes we attack someone’s reputation as we gossip and that is a more common form of attack. Judging them is an even more common form of attack and is an attack whether we speak the words aloud or think them. When we judge, we see them as sinners rather than as our dear brothers in error. 

2. Perception has a focus. ²It is this that gives consistency to what you see. ³Change but this focus, and what you behold will change accordingly. ⁴Your vision now will shift, to give support to the intent which has replaced the one you held before. ⁵Remove your focus on your brother’s sins, and you experience the peace that comes from faith in sinlessness. ⁶This faith receives its only sure support from what you see in others past their sins. ⁷For their mistakes, if focused on, are witnesses to sins in you. ⁸And you will not transcend their sight and see the sinlessness that lies beyond. 

How we perceive someone has a deliberate focus. When I think of my children or my grandchildren, my focus is one of love. I am aware of their errors but I dismiss them as unimportant. I simply see them as learning how to live in the world and learning the lessons that will help them wake up. I recognize that we all do this, that everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes it is hard to see our own errors and to correct them. When I see others in this way, I am kind to myself as well and accept my errors as only errors and not sins. This is the way I normally see all people now, but that was not always true. 

I have had other people in my life that I failed to see in a loving way. My focus was on their errors as sins. This is fear-driven and fear can make people vicious. When I was still working there were several people that I attacked. I was in sales and I attacked my competitors by saying that they were not honest or that they did not follow through on their sales and help their customers. While I was still attacking, I was always afraid of being attacked in return and I lived with that stress the whole time. It took me a long time to see the error in this behavior and to stop doing it.  

3. Therefore, in practicing today, we first let all such little focuses give way to our great need to let our sinlessness become apparent. ²We instruct our minds that it is this we seek, and only this, for just a little while. ³We do not care about our future goals. ⁴And what we saw an instant previous has no concern for us within this interval of time wherein we practice changing our intent. ⁵We seek for innocence and nothing else. ⁶We seek for it with no concern but now. 

What would our life be like if we chose to focus only on love and innocence? I almost always do this and I can tell you that life is so much better now, happier, more peaceful. But it did not just happen, I had to practice keeping my focus on innocence rather than sin. It was not that I was unaware of someone’s errors, I simply saw them as mistakes and nothing else. I knew that their errors did not define them and that their identity was always safe because it is held in the Mind of God. I failed at this many times before it became a habit and that’s OK, too. We succeed as we keep our focus on the moment we are experiencing. In this one moment, I seek for innocence in whoever I am with or whoever I am thinking about. 

4. A major hazard to success has been involvement with your past and future goals. ²You have been quite preoccupied with how extremely different the goals this course is advocating are from those you held before. ³And you have also been dismayed by the depressing and restricting thought that, even if you should succeed, you will inevitably lose your way again. 

5. How could this matter? ²For the past is gone; the future but imagined. ³These concerns are but defenses against present change of focus in perception. ⁴Nothing more. ⁵We lay these pointless limitations by a little while. ⁶We do not look to past beliefs, and what we will believe will not intrude upon us now. ⁷We enter in the time of practicing with one intent; to look upon the sinlessness within. 

One of the blocks to the awareness of innocence was that I was confused about my goal. For most of my life, I had a number of goals and often they conflicted. When at work, my goal was to make my bosses happy so I could keep my job. It was to get more customers and protect my present customers from my competitors. It was to be liked and appreciated, admired and respected, and to make more money. And then there were the goals outside of work having to do with my relationships and those were even more complicated. 

What made the change in focus possible for me was to choose one goal and stick with it. I chose to always seek the peace of God in everything I did, my work, and my relationships. The peace of God became not just one more thing I wanted, but the only thing I wanted. This simplified everything. If I thought about gossiping or bad-mouthing a competitor, I asked myself if that was going to bring me peace and I knew it wouldn’t so I didn’t do it. I did the same thing with all my relationships. How I chose to think about them and act within them was governed by that one goal, would this decision bring me the peace of God? If not, I would choose again, correcting each error in its turn. 

The other thing that made it difficult was that I seemed to fail at it a lot. I would get angry or depressed or frustrated about the same thing over and over until I would believe I couldn’t do this, that it was too hard or maybe not possible at all. I would bring a thought to the Holy Spirit and look at it with Him. I would know in that moment that I was willing to see it differently, but I would also harbor the fear that later I would forget my good intention and fall back into the old way of thinking. Eventually, though, because I persisted anyway, I discovered that each time I released a thought, healing was occurring. I discovered that it was better not to worry about future errors or to dwell on past errors.  

6. We recognize that we have lost this goal if anger blocks our way in any form. ²And if a brother’s sins occur to us, our narrowed focus will restrict our sight, and turn our eyes upon our own mistakes, which we will magnify and call our “sins.” ³So, for a little while, without regard to past or future, should such blocks arise we will transcend them with instructions to our minds to change their focus, as we say: 

⁴It is not this that I would look upon.
⁵I trust my brothers, who are one with me. 

7. And we will also use this thought to keep us safe throughout the day. ²We do not seek for long-range goals. ³As each obstruction seems to block the vision of our sinlessness, we seek but for surcease an instant from the misery the focus upon sin will bring, and uncorrected will remain. 

This was what worked for me and still works. If I notice a judgmental thought in my mind, I just focus on the truth. This is not what I want to see in my brothers and not what I want to see in myself. I choose to trust all who are one with me, regardless of what seems to be happening in the world. Sometimes it seems ridiculous to do this, the error seems so big or so persistent, but I do it anyway trusting that I am supported in my choice by He Who knows the truth for me. 

8. Nor do we ask for fantasies. ²For what we seek to look upon is really there. ³And as our focus goes beyond mistakes, we will behold a wholly sinless world. ⁴When seeing this is all we want to see, when this is all we seek for in the name of true perception, are the eyes of Christ inevitably ours. ⁵And the Love He feels for us becomes our own as well. ⁶This will become the only thing we see reflected in the world and in ourselves. 

9. The world which once proclaimed our sins becomes the proof that we are sinless. ²And our love for everyone we look upon attests to our remembrance of the holy Self which knows no sin, and never could conceive of anything without Its sinlessness. ³We seek for this remembrance as we turn our minds to practicing today. ⁴We look neither ahead nor backwards. ⁵We look straight into the present. ⁶And we give our trust to the experience we ask for now. ⁷Our sinlessness is but the Will of God. ⁸This instant is our willing one with His. 

(ACIM, W-181.1:1–9:8

I learned the meaning of miracles when I began to truly practice forgiveness and to trust the Holy Spirit to help me see differently. I would be so angry or so fearful and I would do this process anyway trusting that somehow the impossible would become possible and I would forgive and see with Christ’s vision. Then, incredibly, it would happen. All the anger or fear would disappear along with the belief that anyone was less than perfectly innocent. It was amazing! It still is. 

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