I bless the world because I bless myself.
No one can give unless he has. In fact, giving is proof of having. We have made this point before. What seems to make it hard to credit is not this. No one can doubt that you must first possess what you would give. It is the second phase on which the world and true perception differ. Having had and given, then the world asserts that you have lost what you possessed. The truth maintains that giving will increase what you possess.
How is this possible? For it is sure that if you give a finite thing away, your body’s eyes will not perceive it yours. Yet we have learned that things but represent the thoughts that make them. And you do not lack for proof that when you give ideas away, you strengthen them in your own mind. Perhaps the form in which the thought seems to appear is changed in giving. Yet it must return to him who gives. Nor can the form it takes be less acceptable. It must be more.
Ideas must first belong to you, before you give them. If you are to save the world, you first accept salvation for yourself. But you will not believe that this is done until you see the miracles it brings to everyone you look upon. Herein is the idea of giving clarified and given meaning. Now you can perceive that by your giving is your store increased.
Protect all things you value by the act of giving them away, and you are sure that you will never lose them. What you thought you did not have is thereby proven yours. Yet value not its form. For this will change and grow unrecognizable in time, however much you try to keep it safe. No form endures. It is the thought behind the form of things that lives unchangeable.
Give gladly. You can only gain thereby. The thought remains, and grows in strength as it is reinforced by giving. Thoughts extend as they are shared, for they can not be lost. There is no giver and receiver in the sense the world conceives of them. There is a giver who retains; another who will give as well. And both must gain in this exchange, for each will have the thought in form most helpful to him. What he seems to lose is always something he will value less than what will surely be returned to him.
Never forget you give but to yourself. Who understands what giving means must laugh at the idea of sacrifice. Nor can he fail to recognize the many forms which sacrifice may take. He laughs as well at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death. He recognizes sacrifice remains the one idea that stands behind them all, and in his gentle laughter are they healed.
Illusion recognized must disappear. Accept not suffering, and you remove the thought of suffering. Your blessing lies on everyone who suffers, when you choose to see all suffering as what it is. The thought of sacrifice gives rise to all the forms that suffering appears to take. And sacrifice is an idea so mad that sanity dismisses it at once.
Never believe that you can sacrifice. There is no place for sacrifice in what has any value. If the thought occurs, its very presence proves that error has arisen and correction must be made. Your blessing will correct it. Given first to you, it now is yours to give as well. No form of sacrifice and suffering can long endure before the face of one who has forgiven and has blessed himself.
The lilies that your brother offers you are laid upon your altar, with the ones you offer him beside them. Who could fear to look upon such lovely holiness? The great illusion of the fear of God diminishes to nothingness before the purity that you will look on here. Be not afraid to look. The 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.
Now are we one in thought, for fear has gone. And here, before the altar to one God, one Father, one Creator and one Thought, we stand together as one Son of God. Not 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. The Name of God is on our lips. And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father’s Love.
Now are we blessed, and now we bless the world. What we have looked upon we would extend, for we would see it everywhere. We would behold it shining with the grace of God in everyone. We would not have it be withheld from anything we look upon. And to ensure this holy sight is ours, we offer it to everything we see. For 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.
INITIAL INSIGHT: “No form endures. It is the thought behind the form of things that lives unchangeable.”
“Give gladly. You can only gain thereby.”
In the first part of this lesson, Jesus explains how it is possible that you can give and yet not lose. Yes, if I give someone my favorite blouse, that blouse is gone, but the thought behind “favorite blouse” is not gone and it is that thought that is strengthened in my mind through the giving of it. That sounds strange to me. Why would I want the thought of a favorite blouse to endure?
If I look beneath that thought, I see what it represents. I feel happy when I wear my favorite blouse, so it represents happiness for me. It is happiness that I am reinforcing. Everything here is a symbol of a belief. A bird singing outside my window, the quiet of the early morning, a deeper than usual meditation, my granddaughter’s smile, and yes, a favorite shirt, all are symbols of happiness.
The blouse is a perfect example of form that will not endure. If I keep it, I will still lose it. It will fade and tear and wear thin. I will stop liking it as fashions change. But the thought of happiness just gets stronger as I share it in whatever form it happens to take at the moment. I was thinking about my Al-Anon group. I went there to get something and in the process I give. They receive, I receive and there is this perfect cycle that is going on. They give me their acceptance and their support. I give them my gratitude and love. And all of it just grows and grows.
“Illusion recognized must disappear. Accept not suffering, and you remove the thought of suffering.”
The next part of this lesson is focused on the idea of suffering. The fact is that all events are neutral until we impose our thoughts on them and thus give them meaning. Nothing that happens here is innately sacrificial and seems so only because we insist upon it. I am not saying that it is easy to see the neutrality of certain events, but how we choose to see it does not in any way change the facts. And the good news is that if we decide upon suffering then we can use that same power to change our mind about it.
What makes this hard is the narrative we tell ourselves. This narrative comes from the ego and the ego always wants fear and guilt. It always wants drama. It is uninterested in peace so it is not going to give us a narrative that will lead to peace. We have to learn to discern the ego thoughts and to reject them if we want to be at peace and if we want to stop suffering.
We can do this in a couple of ways. The first thing we have to do is become aware of when the ego thoughts of sacrifice enter our minds so that we can do something with them. What I did was to take these thoughts and their effects (the feelings and emotions) to the Holy Spirit. I would let the feelings come up, the fear and guilt, the rage, the hatred, the blame, all of it. I would feel it completely, recognize that I was sick of it and ready to be free and then I would give it to the Holy Spirit.
After a lot of the thoughts in my mind were healed, or when I noticed that I had gone from looking and feeling all of this for the purpose of healing to just wallowing in it, I changed my tactics. I learned to shift my attention. We know how to do this. We do it all the time. I am interested in getting some work done in my house and then I get the thought that I could go to the store and suddenly I have no interest in housework. I shifted my attention from housework to shopping.
I use this same ability to shift my attention from the thoughts in my head to something that is actually happening. Let’s face it, these meaningless thoughts, the constant chatter is most likely about something that already happened or something that could happen. They keep us from the reality of the moment and so we never actually live the life we came here to live. I have discovered that I can change that and at the same time, I can stop suffering. I don’t sacrifice anything in doing so.
Here is one way I have learned to accomplish that shift in thinking. I will start paying attention to the sounds around me, and to the sensations on or in the body. This takes me out of my head. The chatter in my mind will take me to an imagined world of pain and suffering. Getting out of my head is a good way of stopping the endless cycle of thoughts. Another way of doing this is to place my attention on a better thought.
I might start thinking about how there is nothing to fear. A good fifteen seconds of focus on that thought lifts me to a higher level and at the same time, it begins to rewire my brain which is good news as my brain has a bad habit of falling into fear. An additional benefit of this process is that it helps me to identify with the Self rather than the self. The Self is calm and peaceful. It is curious and accepting of whatever arises. On the other hand, the self is frantically judging and trying to control and this is suffering.
The thing is, we cannot actually sacrifice. Sacrifice is a lie. The only place we can sacrifice is in the ego-mind. It is a decision we make and then quickly decide to forget we made it and we pretend that life is the problem, the cause of the suffering and that we are helpless before our suffering. Without those thoughts, the idea of suffering would not exist because it doesn’t, in reality, exist. What is in my mind is also in the mind of the sleeping Son, the mind we all share. I don’t want to do anything to reinforce sacrifice and suffering. This is not what I want to receive, so I must not give it.
DAILY APPLICATION: Every “thing” is just a symbol of a thought. It is the out-picturing of a thought. So when I give some “thing” I cannot lose because the thing is renewable through the thought. The act of freely giving reinforces my belief in that thought. For instance, if someone needs my money and I feel afraid to give it to them it can only be that I think I am limited in how much money I can have. I constrict the idea that money is plentiful and so constrict the flow of money in my life.
If I give freely then I am expanding the idea that money is abundant and easily replaced. As I generously and fearlessly give money, I am really giving the belief of abundance. When I fearfully hold onto what I have I am giving the belief of lack and loss. What I give, I receive because, in giving, I give to myself.
Since I give always to myself there is no such thing as sacrifice. I give money to someone on the street and it seems to leave my hand and go into his and he walks away. There goes my money. But that is only an illusion. There goes the thought of abundance, shared and thus increased. That is the truth. And abundance will return to me, multiplied and increased, if not in the form of money, in a form that is most useful at the time it is received. I love to give and equally, I love to receive. It’s all the same.
My child wants me to do something for him and though I don’t really want to, it seems to be important to him, so I do it anyway. It might seem like a sacrifice on my part, but this act of love cannot be a sacrifice because it is given, equally, to myself. Love is returned in whatever form is most useful to me; a kind act, money, friendship, whatever represents love to me, and it is returned by the same child or by someone else.
The world always seeks to prove whatever I believe. As the idea of abundance grows in my mind, experiences of abundance appear in my life. If I act from contraction and fear, the world, which always reflects my beliefs, gives what I have asked for and experiences of less show up to prove the belief I currently choose to hold.
So what is sacrifice? It is only the belief that I can lose, and obviously, I cannot lose. If I do not care for the effects of my thoughts I can change my thoughts. But always the mind responds most generously to my thoughts, and the more I give those thoughts, the stronger my belief in them, and the more I receive what I have given. If the form in which I receive is different, it is because this different form is more useful.
Money can be an example of giving a thought in form, but material giving is not the only way to give. Sometimes the form can be generosity of spirit, peaceful and loving reactions, or certainty in the face of doubt. All thoughts are returned in their likeness, not in the same form necessarily, but in their essence.
I had an interesting example of this. I had someone call me to express anger at something he assumed I had done. He was very angry and expressed his rage loudly and long. I was in a very good place when this happened and although I felt the initial ego reaction of defense, I was also very aware of the Holy Spirit in my mind.
I listened quietly while he went on and on venting his rage until he had played it out. Instead of defending myself I asked him what I could do to fix this problem. After the call ended, I allowed myself to feel the disquiet this call caused me, and I asked the Holy Spirit to be with me while I did so.
It was a temptation to see it as an unfair attack on myself, but I was willing to see differently. I began to realize how fearful he must be to react in this way. I have acted out of fear before and often regretted it as I was sure he would when he calmed down. I empathized with him because I know how this feels, but I was also certain that I was not seeing his true Self in this angry fearful version. He would come to himself in time, and in the meantime, we both had a real opportunity for forgiveness here, and I was grateful for that.
In a bit, he called back and apologized for his behavior. He explained some of the pressure he had been under and then we discussed what we could do to fix the problem. I have many examples in my life of having given what I did not want and have seen clearly what that creates. But this was a beautiful example of giving love instead, and I will never forget it. It is the model I look to when I am sane enough to choose a better teacher. I remember this instance of sanity and I know what to do.
Even if he had not come to his senses and had chosen to justify his anger by continuing to see me wrong, I would still have given and received as I gave, because I would have taught myself that love is the only sane choice. Giving love would have reinforced in myself love. Giving love would have ensured that I received in kind, and love would take the form most needed at the moment.
INSIGHTS FROM JESUS: This is a message I received when I was still struggling with these ideas.
Me: Jesus, that instance was such a beautiful example of seeing a call for love rather than attack. Why can’t I always do this?
Jesus: Myron, you can always do this; you simply choose not to do so at times. Do not feel guilty for this but do notice when it happens. If you want me to, I will remind you that your brother deserves only your love. Just take a moment to step back and ask.
Sometimes you reverse the attack and make yourself wrong. Instead of feeling angry at the other person, you choose to feel guilty for your own behavior. In either case, you are giving a gift you do not want for yourself. Reconsider the consequences of your choice. Do you want to teach yourself attack or guilt? You can always choose again.
It is never too late to do this. Long after the incident appeared to happen, the memory of it may surface in your mind. Choose again at that time. Forgiveness knows no boundaries, not of time nor space. I am always with you. Just ask me to join you in forgiveness and I will.
GRATITUDE: Thank you, Brother.
Today’s lesson says, “Protect the things you value by the act of giving them away, and you are sure that you will never lose them.“
Although I highly support giving in the material way, and I like to live this value, I don’t think that’s what this lesson is really talking about. The clue to what this lesson means comes near the end of the lesson. It says, “And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father’s Love. … What we have looked upon we would extend, for we would see it everywhere. We would behold it shining with the grace of God in everyone. We would not have it withheld from anything we look upon. And to ensure this holy sight is ours, we offer it to everything we see.”
I am reminded of something I once heard. “Be enlightened now.” I think it was Byron Katie that said this, but I can’t be sure. The idea behind the statement was this: Stop waiting to be enlightened someday. Be enlightened now.
How do you do that? Let me give you a few examples:
- Someone says something to you that feels like a strong insult. Be enlightened now. Don’t be defensive. Relax. Be present. Be still. Be open. Watch the energies inside of you, but don’t become involved with them.
- You find out that a friend has been taking money and other things from you, a little at a time, so that you hadn’t noticed. Be enlightened now. Instead of seeing your friend as guilty or betraying you, notice that you are unharmed.
- You go with a friend to her elderly mother’s house to help clean the house. While dusting some collectables, one slips from your hand and breaks into dozens of pieces. Be enlightened now. Watch the energies that may arise inside you, but don’t become involved with them. Apologize to your friend and her mother. If they seem upset, turn to intuition for guidance.
- A friend feels he needs some money. You’ve had lack thoughts lately too. Be enlightened now. Help your friend by giving him some money, and realize you are always taken care of.
I could go on forever.
- Your computer breaks down. Be enlightened now.
- You lose your wedding ring. Be enlightened now.
- Your spouse has an affair. Be enlightened now.
- Someone tells an unflattering lie about you in Facebook. Be enlightened now.
Being enlightened now has nothing to do with pretending you are awake. It has everything to do with being consciously tuned in to spiritual intuition. It has everything to do with asking, “What am I to do now? How am I to see this? How shall I respond?” Etc.
Again, today’s lesson says, “Protect the things you value by the act of giving them away, and you are sure that you will never lose them.” The key here is to be aware of what you truly value.
In the Bible, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found … Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Going and selling all that he had represents letting go of his attachment to his personal thinking. Buying the field represents living as the ground in which the treasure exists. It represents living from spiritual intuition.
By living from spiritual intuition, you discover what is within you. After all, you could not be enlightened now if enlightenment were not already present.
Today’s lesson mentions sacrifice as the idea that blocks our ability to be enlightened now. For example, I may think that if I let someone spread a lie about me on Facebook, my reputation will be ruined, and that may feel like a sacrifice. I may also fear that I will lose friends, which is another sacrifice.
As you can see, believing this type of thinking is an obstacle that can get in the way of choosing to be enlightened now.
The lesson says, “Never believe that you can sacrifice. There is no place for sacrifice in what has any value. If the thought occurs, its very presence proves that error has arisen and correction must be made.”
This is a good time for some form of self-inquiry. You might choose to practice root cause inquiry. You might choose to notice the difference between the idea of sacrifice and you, the awareness that sees the thought. You might feel it’s best to do nothing except rest, accept and trust. The point is, when you see the idea of sacrifice as an error that needs correction, you will make another choice, and that is being enlightened now. In this way, you bless the world because you’ve blessed yourself.
Regina’s tips on this lesson were especially helpful, I thought. I love the idea of being enlightened now. I’m thinking of ways that I could apply that and I am open to discovering ways to do so as I go through my day.