I bless the world because I bless myself.
1. No one can give unless he has. ²In fact, giving is proof of having. ³We have made this point before. ⁴What seems to make it hard to credit is not this. ⁵No one can doubt that you must first possess what you would give. ⁶It is the second phase on which the world and true perception differ. ⁷Having had and given, then the world asserts that you have lost what you possessed. ⁸The truth maintains that giving will increase what you possess.
2. How is this possible? ²For it is sure that if you give a finite thing away, your body’s eyes will not perceive it yours. ³Yet we have learned that things but represent the thoughts that make them. ⁴And you do not lack for proof that when you give ideas away, you strengthen them in your own mind. ⁵Perhaps the form in which the thought seems to appear is changed in giving. ⁶Yet it must return to him who gives. ⁷Nor can the form it takes be less acceptable. ⁸It must be more.
I understand and accept that when we share an idea, or we give love or kindness, it increases. It increases outwardly as more of the Sonship now has this and thus can pass it on, and inwardly as it becomes stronger in my mind. Here, Jesus tells us that even things increase as we give them. This is because they are ideas before they are things. I have an idea of what I want and that idea is projected into the world. I give that thing away but the idea is still in my mind because thoughts don’t leave their source. And the idea is stronger now for having been given away.
For instance, a friend of mine admired and really longed for something I owned, so I gave it to her. That thing did not return to me, but many other things have. What I gave seemed to be a material object, but in this case, it represented an act of loving kindness, and my life is filled with acts of loving kindness toward me. Giving it represented the belief in abundance and though I cannot have that particular representation, my life is filled with an abundance of love and that is far more valuable. Because I give generously without expectations, I receive in the same way and my needs are generously met.
3. Ideas must first belong to you, before you give them. ²If you are to save the world, you first accept salvation for yourself. ³But you will not believe that this is done until you see the miracles it brings to everyone you look upon. ⁴Herein is the idea of giving clarified and given meaning. ⁵Now you can perceive that by your giving is your store increased.
Giving salvation is our responsibility and our honor, but first, we must accept salvation ourselves. We can tell when we have accepted salvation by the miracles it brings to others. The clearer my mind becomes, the more loving I am and the more peaceful. I see this reflected in family members and friends and I become aware that something amazing is happening to me.
Or I find myself in a difficult situation and instead of lashing out, I feel empathy for everyone involved and I am able to stay peaceful. The situation is relieved and everyone involved relaxes and I realize that my peaceful presence is helping others to accept their salvation so I must be saved. I don’t have to be saved all the time for me to be helpful.
I can have moments of upset in which I add nothing helpful to the situation and in those times, I am not a savior. But the more I do this work, the more often I am that peaceful presence, or that I have the words needed to calm the situation. Seeing how important it is, I am highly motivated to continue to accept the healing of my mind.
4. Protect all things you value by the act of giving them away, and you are sure that you will never lose them. ²What you thought you did not have is thereby proven yours. ³Yet value not its form. ⁴For this will change and grow unrecognizable in time, however much you try to keep it safe. ⁵No form endures. ⁶It is the thought behind the form of things that lives unchangeable.
5. Give gladly. ²You can only gain thereby. ³The thought remains, and grows in strength as it is reinforced by giving. ⁴Thoughts extend as they are shared, for they can not be lost. ⁵There is no giver and receiver in the sense the world conceives of them. ⁶There is a giver who retains; another who will give as well. ⁷And both must gain in this exchange, for each will have the thought in form most helpful to him. ⁸What he seems to lose is always something he will value less than what will surely be returned to him.
For me to be aware of this happy exchange, I must understand that form is not important, that it changes, but that it is the thought behind the form that matters. My brother and sister-in-law did something very kind for me. They went far out of their way to do me this favor and they expressed their love for me in words as well.
Something about this incident opened my heart in a way that has been permanent. Some defensive walls came tumbling down and love took their place. The favor they did for me and even the kind words are not repeated, but the love behind them is what matters and what is given and received over and over and has spread farther than can be seen.
6. Never forget you give but to yourself. ²Who understands what giving means must laugh at the idea of sacrifice. ³Nor can he fail to recognize the many forms which sacrifice may take. ⁴He laughs as well at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death. ⁵He recognizes sacrifice remains the one idea that stands behind them all, and in his gentle laughter are they healed.
Here is something that happened one day. I had a really busy weekend and was tired and ready to relax. I had just settled down to watch a favorite tv show when I got a call from a friend who needed to talk things out. She wanted to know if this was a good time. I felt a pang of disappointment but then laughed at it because I’ve learned that what I give is given to myself. We sat there and talked for good while and I felt better and better as we did so. I think she did, too.
For just a moment at the beginning of the conversation, I thought that a sacrifice was being asked of me, that I would give my time and thus lose my time, give up my plans and so feel the loss of them. But that is the way I used to think when I believed in sacrifice and loss. I knew it wasn’t true because I have put it to the test many times. Little things like this have taught me that I cannot sacrifice in giving. I won’t say that I laugh at all the forms that the idea of sacrifice takes, but I am moving in that direction.
7. Illusion recognized must disappear. ²Accept not suffering, and you remove the thought of suffering. ³Your blessing lies on everyone who suffers, when you choose to see all suffering as what it is. ⁴The thought of sacrifice gives rise to all the forms that suffering appears to take. ⁵And sacrifice is an idea so mad that sanity dismisses it at once.
8. Never believe that you can sacrifice. ²There is no place for sacrifice in what has any value. ³If the thought occurs, its very presence proves that error has arisen and correction must be made. ⁴Your blessing will correct it. ⁵Given first to you, it now is yours to give as well. ⁶No form of sacrifice and suffering can long endure before the face of one who has forgiven and has blessed himself.
When someone is talking to me about their present sacrifice, something happening in their life that they think shouldn’t be happening, my mind goes past that belief to the lesson that it holds for them. If they are interested in what I see, I share it with them and if they accept it, I am enriched by the giving. This is one of the ways that I am learning to laugh at the idea of sacrifice in my own life. As over and over again, I am laughing with others at the idea of sacrifice that belief becomes stronger in my own mind.
9. The lilies that your brother offers you are laid upon your altar, with the ones you offer him beside them. ²Who could fear to look upon such lovely holiness? ³The great illusion of the fear of God diminishes to nothingness before the purity that you will look on here. ⁴Be not afraid to look. ⁵The blessedness you will behold will take away all thought of form, and leave instead the perfect gift forever there, forever to increase, forever yours, forever given away.
Lilies in the Course, represent forgiveness. Sometimes when I am working with someone, together we forgive an idea, and that forgiveness is the lovely lily that, together, we place on the altar. Sometimes, I will have a misunderstanding with someone, and making amends, we forgive it and a lily is placed on the altar. The ego-mind is not interested in forgiveness and is afraid to look upon the altar and so is always encouraging grievances to keep us focused on the world instead. But it is safe to look because we will see our purity when we do and the fear of God diminishes to nothing.
10. Now are we one in thought, for fear has gone. ²And here, before the altar to one God, one Father, one Creator and one Thought, we stand together as one Son of God. ³Not separate from Him Who is our Source; not distant from one brother who is part of our one Self Whose innocence has joined us all as one, we stand in blessedness, and give as we receive. ⁴The Name of God is on our lips. ⁵And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father’s Love.
The emphasis in this paragraph is oneness. We are instructing our minds to focus on oneness instead of separation. What if I accidentally hurt someone’s feelings. The ego argues that it is their fault for being so sensitive and insists that just need to get over it. But that attitude is not something I want to foster in my mind because it doesn’t bring us together. So, instead, I apologize and together we look at the source of our disagreement and let love heal it.
Before, we were in competition to who was right and so separate. Now we are in agreement as to what it is that is really important and what it is we really want. Now we are not separate. Experiencing the release of the need to be right and to win and learning that it isn’t a sacrifice and in fact, is our happiness, motivates us to go further with it and to always seek oneness over separation. These moments of joining with each other, help us to remember our one Self and to release the fear of our oneness with our Creator.
11. Now are we blessed, and now we bless the world. ²What we have looked upon we would extend, for we would see it everywhere. ³We would behold it shining with the grace of God in everyone. ⁴We would not have it be withheld from anything we look upon. ⁵And to ensure this holy sight is ours, we offer it to everything we see. ⁶For where we see it, it will be returned to us in form of lilies we can lay upon our altar, making it a home for Innocence Itself, Who dwells in us and offers us His Holiness as ours.
I notice that the happier I am, the more I want everyone to experience this. I do whatever I can to help anyone interested in forgiveness to experience this, too.