Lesson 196 2021

Lesson 196 

Yet your redemption, too, will come from you. 

It can be but myself I crucify. 

1. When this is firmly understood and kept in full awareness, you will not attempt to harm yourself, nor make your body slave to vengeance. ²You will not attack yourself, and you will realize that to attack another is but to attack yourself. ³You will be free of the insane belief that to attack a brother saves yourself. ⁴And you will understand his safety is your own, and in his healing you are healed. 

Over and over in many ways, Jesus helps us remember that we are one and that what we do to another, we do to ourselves. I know that once I figured that out, I stopped believing that I could save myself by attacking another. At first, it was the obvious attacks like saying something sharp in response to a perceived attack, or even just the thought of what I wished I had said. But over time, I began to recognize the more subtle attacks. 

After I got vaccinated, I stop wearing a mask when I was out and about. But yesterday, I decided that when I was in a crowded place, like shopping at Walmart, I would start wearing them again until more information was available about the Delta variant. What happened is that I started looking at others as different and separate from me because I was wearing a mask and they weren’t.  

There was a subtle judgment there and judgment is an attack. Attack makes me feel vulnerable and “they” seem to be the problem even if it makes no sense. With that first thought, “they are wrong” or even “they are not me” I crucified myself. 

2. Perhaps at first you will not understand how mercy, limitless and with all things held in its sure protection, can be found in the idea we practice for today. ²It may, in fact, appear to be a sign that punishment can never be escaped because the ego, under what it sees as threat, is quick to cite the truth to save its lies. ³Yet must it fail to understand the truth it uses thus. ⁴But you can learn to see these foolish applications, and deny the meaning they appear to have. 

The ego uses what we are learning to convince us that we are doomed. Have you ever started off excited about a lesson and then by the end of the day you realized you forgot all about it in the busyness of life? I know I have. The ego says this means I am a hopeless case and will never get this. But I didn’t give up. I went back to it and tried again and again until even I could see that the Course was working for me and I was changing. 

3. Thus do you also teach your mind that you are not an ego. ²For the ways in which the ego would distort the truth will not deceive you longer. ³You will not believe you are a body to be crucified. ⁴And you will see within today’s idea the light of resurrection, looking past all thoughts of crucifixion and of death, to thoughts of liberation and of life. 

4. Today’s idea is one step we take in leading us from bondage to the state of perfect freedom. ²Let us take this step today, that we may quickly go the way salvation shows us, taking every step in its appointed sequence, as the mind relinquishes its burdens one by one. ³It is not time we need for this. ⁴It is but willingness. ⁵For what would seem to need a thousand years can easily be done in just one instant by the grace of God. 

The undoing of the ego unfolds differently for different people. The way it has worked for me is that I moved slowly, changing a bit at a time. That was perfect for me and the only way that could have worked for me. But that is not the only there is to do it. Others move more quickly through their steps. And Jesus says that through the grace of God much can be undone in an instant. It is best not to think we know what our awakening should look like. I recommend just doing the best you can each step of the way and let the end be a surprise. 

5. The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on others and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross. ²Perhaps it seemed to be salvation. ³Yet it merely stood for the belief the fear of God is real. ⁴And what is that but hell? ⁵Who could believe his Father is his deadly enemy, separate from him, and waiting to destroy his life and blot him from the universe, without the fear of hell upon his heart? 

6. Such is the form of madness you believe, if you accept the fearful thought you can attack another and be free yourself. ²Until this form is changed, there is no hope. ³Until you see that this, at least, must be entirely impossible, how could there be escape? ⁴The fear of God is real to anyone who thinks this thought is true. ⁵And he will not perceive its foolishness, or even see that it is there, so that it would be possible to question it. 

This, at least, I can say I no longer believe. I know that when I attack anyone, I attack myself. I am nailing myself to the cross. I never doubt this and so I never hold a grievance. I might have thought that someone else is guilty but I immediately release that thought. There is never a justification for seeing my brother as guilty. That was not always true, of course. 

Almost all of my life I felt like my salvation depended on someone besides me being guilty. It never occurred to me what I was doing or why and certainly it didn’t occur to me that I was only hurting myself. Jesus says that this attack merely stood for the belief the fear of God is real. I can see that. It is like I was pointing my finger at the guilty party so that God would know it was them not me that was guilty. Though I would not have thought this out, I clearly was afraid of God’s condemnation and was perfectly willing to throw my brother under the bus if it protected me from God. 

7. To question it at all, its form must first be changed at least as much as will permit fear of retaliation to abate, and the responsibility returned to some extent to you. ²From there you can at least consider if you want to go along this painful path. ³Until this shift has been accomplished, you can not perceive that it is but your thoughts that bring you fear, and your deliverance depends on you. 

8. Our next steps will be easy, if you take this one today. ²From there we go ahead quite rapidly. ³For once you understand it is impossible that you be hurt except by your own thoughts, the fear of God must disappear. ⁴You cannot then believe that fear is caused without. ⁵And God, Whom you had thought to banish, can be welcomed back within the holy mind He never left. 

Now when I am upset by anyone else or by circumstances, if I point the finger I change my mind quickly. I withdraw my projections and bring them back into my mind. There I look with the Holy Spirit at my thoughts so that I can be corrected. At first, this was difficult and sometimes scary. The ego has us convinced that looking at our minds is a bad idea and that what we find there will surely condemn us.  

But after I did it a while, I realized that rather than condemning me, it freed me. I really did come to understand that the only thing that hurt me was my own thoughts. Once I saw that my mind was a safe place and that looking at my thoughts brought me relief, I stopped being afraid of God. I saw the fear of God as just another attempt of the ego mind to defend itself against God’s Love. 

9. Salvation’s song can certainly be heard in the idea we practice for today. ²If it can but be you you crucify, you did not hurt the world, and need not fear its vengeance and pursuit. ³Nor need you hide in terror from the deadly fear of God projection hides behind. ⁴The thing you dread the most is your salvation. ⁵You are strong, and it is strength you want. ⁶And you are free, and glad of freedom. ⁷You have sought to be both weak and bound, because you feared your strength and freedom. ⁸Yet salvation lies in them. 

10. There is an instant in which terror seems to grip your mind so wholly that escape appears quite hopeless. ²When you realize, once and for all, that it is you you fear, the mind perceives itself as split. ³And this had been concealed while you believed attack could be directed outward, and returned from outside to within. ⁴It seemed to be an enemy outside you had to fear. ⁵And thus a god outside yourself became your mortal enemy; the source of fear. 

Even though I used to completely believe that I was weak and helpless and that I was a victim and unfairly treated and had to defend myself at all costs, it is now hard to remember exactly what that felt like. My understanding is so different now that I don’t understand why it was so hard to let that belief go. Now I always turn all upsets around to see what it is in my mind that needs healing so I can go back to happiness and peace of mind. I don’t even consider doing otherwise. 

I think the political climate the last few years was my last big classroom for this idea. I was as polarized in my beliefs as was the rest of the nation. I was certain I was in the right and the other side was wrong. I was certain that salvation depended on my side ‘winning.’ But I also knew that I was wrong, that my salvation depended not on winning but on looking at the situation from the point of view that it was a lesson for me to learn.  

I worked vigilantly at doing so and now I am free of this painful need to defend myself and to attack those who think differently. When I would find myself caught in the ego web of deceit, I would step back from the story, and ask the Holy Spirit what I was supposed to learn from this. I would look for the lesson and in finding the lesson, I found my way to a major shift from guilt to innocence that has never again wavered. There is not a brother in the political arena that I would crucify because to do so would be to crucify myself. 

11. Now, for an instant, is a murderer perceived within you, eager for your death, intent on plotting punishment for you until the time when it can kill at last. ²Yet in this instant is the time as well in which salvation comes. ³For fear of God has disappeared. ⁴And you can call on Him to save you from illusions by His Love, calling Him Father and yourself His Son. ⁵Pray that the instant may be soon,—today. ⁶Step back from fear, and make advance to love. 

12. There is no Thought of God that does not go with you to help you reach that instant, and to go beyond it quickly, surely and forever. ²When the fear of God is gone, there are no obstacles that still remain between you and the holy peace of God. ³How kind and merciful is the idea we practice! ⁴Give it welcome, as you should, for it is your release. ⁵It is indeed but you your mind can try to crucify. ⁶Yet your redemption, too, will come from you. 

(ACIM, W-196.1:1–12:6

I know that I must remain vigilant for the ego desire to judge and condemn and for the ego belief that God is my enemy. I continue to pay close attention to my feelings and my thoughts. I watch for the belief that I need to defend myself and the belief that something outside my mind has attacked me. If I see any of these thoughts in my mind, I am quick to look with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to show me another way to see. I will not keep those thoughts because I am not giving up my peace of mind again. 

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