It can be but my gratitude I earn.
Here is the second step we take to free your mind from the belief in outside force pitted against your own. You make attempts at kindness and forgiveness. Yet you turn them to attack again, unless you find external gratitude and lavish thanks. Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn. And so you think God’s gifts are loans at best; at worst, deceptions which would cheat you of defenses, to ensure that when He strikes He will not fail to kill.
How easily are God and guilt confused by those who know not what their thoughts can do. Deny your strength, and weakness must become salvation to you. See yourself as bound, and bars become your home. Nor will you leave the prison house, or claim your strength, until guilt and salvation are not seen as one, and freedom and salvation are perceived as joined, with strength beside them, to be sought and claimed, and found and fully recognized.
The world must thank you when you offer it release from your illusions. Yet your thanks belong to you as well, for its release can only mirror yours. Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. Is it this you would undo by taking back your gifts, because they were not honored? It is you who honor them and give them fitting thanks, for it is you who have received the gifts.
It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you. It does not matter if your gifts seem lost and ineffectual. They are received where they are given. In your gratitude are they accepted universally, and thankfully acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself. And would you take them back, when He has gratefully accepted them?
God blesses every gift you give to Him, and every gift is given Him, because it can be given only to yourself. And what belongs to God must be His Own. Yet you will never realize His gifts are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love and adding to your never-ending joy while you forgive but to attack again.
Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. But learn to let forgiveness take away the sins you think you see outside yourself, and you can never think the gifts of God are lent but for a little while, before He snatches them away again in death. For death will have no meaning for you then.
And with the end of this belief is fear forever over. Thank your Self for this, for He is grateful only unto God, and He gives thanks for you unto Himself. To everyone who lives will Christ yet come, for everyone must live and move in Him. His Being in His Father is secure, because Their Will is One. Their gratitude to all They have created has no end, for gratitude remains a part of love.
Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God. For as you were created, you contain all things within your Self. And you are still as God created you. Nor can you dim the light of your perfection. In your heart the Heart of God is laid. He holds you dear, because you are Himself. All gratitude belongs to you, because of what you are.
Give thanks as you receive it. Be you free of all ingratitude to anyone who makes your Self complete. And from this Self is no one left outside. Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self. All that you do is given unto Him. All that you think can only be His Thoughts, sharing with Him the holy Thoughts of God. Earn now the gratitude you have denied yourself when you forgot the function God has given you. But never think that He has ever ceased to offer thanks to you.
INITIAL INSIGHT: We do not understand gratitude. Because we tend to give with an expectation of gratitude from the receiver, if we don’t get that gratitude, we attack (even if it is only in our mind.) So, we think that God is the same. We think that God gives only to take away. I have always heard the saying that God gives and God takes away. Maybe you have, too. This is where that expectation originated. We think that what we do is what God does.
As Jesus says, “How easily are God and guilt confused by those who know not what their thoughts can do.” How is it that we should use gratitude? How about if we are grateful for our brothers, grateful to shower them with the gifts of love and acceptance, grateful for the chance to honor them? This is a gift truly given and thus received.
“It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you.”
Disregard the reaction you get when you give. Even if it seems that your gift is rejected, that is meaningless. Where given it is received. So, for instance, if I am kind to someone and they reject my kindness, I can ignore the rejection knowing that there is a part of his mind that joins with mine in thanking me.
He may become aware of this at another time or another lifetime, who knows. But the gift is given and, on some level, received. There is a bonus if we remain in gratitude; they are accepted universally and Jesus says that they are thankfully acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself. Wow! Now, who wants to withdraw the gift?
When we give to anyone, we give to God and what perfect sense that makes when we remember that we are all part of God. We are His forever, so what is His is ours. This makes me want to give and give and give. When we finally realize our oneness with all, giving is easily recognized as receiving. If the one we give cannot yet accept, I can understand that. I’ve been there and I know how it feels to be stuck in a defensive mode.
This made me think of a time in my life when I was really mad at God. I was miserable and my life showed it. My mom told me she was praying for me and I told her to stop it! That just made me angrier. Of course, she didn’t stop, and later I was very grateful to her for her faithfulness. No matter how foolish I became my mom never gave up on me. She never even doubted me. What a gift! I don’t doubt that she was instrumental in my eventual turnaround.
“8 Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God. For as you were created, you contain all things within your Self. And you are still as God created you. Nor can you dim the light of your perfection. In your heart the Heart of God is laid. He holds you dear, because you are Himself. All gratitude belongs to you, because of what you are.”
Wow! Wow! Wow! Jesus really spells it out here, doesn’t he? I am as God created me. I made an ego-self but that changes nothing. It is a temporary aberration and will be gone as soon as I am through experimenting with it. I am my Self and all things are contained within me.
How about this, in me, the Heart of God is laid. Do you see how impossible it is for any of us to be the ego even if we decide to identify with that? Could the Heart of God be in the ego? And then the next sentence tells me that God holds me dear because I am Himself. Oh, my. How many times a day do I deny God and deny my Self out of sheer arrogance and ignorance? And when I deny my brother, I do this again.
Give, give, and give some more and never look back. You do this for yourself, for your brother and for God. As I give, I make myself complete. In giving, I live as my Self. What more could I ask for? This reminds me of something Regina suggested. She said to live as if you are enlightened. So, if I feel my gift is not received or even if it seems to be outright rejected, I will ask myself how I would respond if I were enlightened, and then I will do that.
DAILY APPLICATION: When I give, I give to myself because the recipient is one with me. I am one with all that is, and there is nothing outside me. When I give love and kindness, I am the recipient even if it seems to be someone else because we are one with each other. When I give love to anyone, I give it to God because that one belongs to God.
And when I give, it is received even if the recipient is unaware on a conscious level. Knowing this, it does not matter how the other person responds to the gift, nor does it make sense to give in order to receive their gratitude. I am already receiving in the giving because in giving love I am learning that I am love. I need nothing else.
If I give guilt and fear, then what I am receiving is reinforcement in the belief in guilt and fear. I may tell myself that the recipient deserves what I give and that he gave it to me first and I am just protecting myself, but it is just a story, a way to pretend that the evil I imagine is in me is really in someone else. If I think I am attacked, it is because I hold attack in my mind and so that is what I give to “others” and ultimately to myself.
If I give generously and then withdraw the gift because I seem not to receive gratitude in return, I have not truly given, and I have convinced myself that this is how God gives. I will then be unable to believe in His gifts to me, expecting them to be withdrawn.
One time, I had something happen that parallels this lesson perfectly. I paid a compliment to a co-worker, and that co-worker seemed to reject the compliment, and to me, that seemed to mean that he rejected me. I say “seem” because I am fully aware that the rejection was in my own mind regardless of what he meant, and he may have meant nothing by it.
I, never the less, felt the sting of rejection. For a while then, the ego-mind kept bringing out the memory of the exchange, looking at it from every angle to glean some deeper meaning from the few words that were said. Then one morning I sat with it and saw the depth of my upset. Not only was I upset about that exchange, but the ego-mind was really going into defensive mode, wanting to close ranks, fortify the walls, avoid him and everyone else, not say anything lest the wrong thing is said. Protecting the image, not appearing as a fool, seemed way more important than continuing to be love.
Watching the mind as all this passed through it, I could see what Jesus means in this Lesson. I went from wondering what that guy meant by the one sentence he said in response to my one sentence, to wanting to defend myself from everyone. I was questioning everything I said to everyone that week. Could it be a stretch to say that if the gift of love I have learned from the Course (from God) to give were so rejected, then that means I cannot trust God or His Love either?
By the next morning, I was fully engaged in building walls against everyone and feeling besieged, not only by all sorts of people in my life but also by memories of past insults. It was all, past and present and future alike, coming up for me to look at with the Holy Spirit. It feels really uncomfortable, like cleaning something disgustingly dirty. You hate getting your hands in the yuck, but you know the reward will be worth it.
As often happens when I reject the ego view of things, the ego brings out the big guns trying to keep me engaged in its drama, but if that doesn’t work, it offers suggestions for letting it all go. That’s funny because the ego is not going to undo the ego. I had a moment of trying to be “forgiving” and of trying not to feel like I felt. Then I looked over at my remember board and I found Nouk’s prayer of Atonement.
“Holy Spirit, please help me to forgive myself for using (this situation with my co-worker) to attack myself and to separate from your Love as my Holy Self.
Releasing the ego interpretation of the event to the Holy Spirit is the solution and the only solution that works. I was cleansed of the sense of rejection, the fear and guilt, and the need to defend. It was just all gone.
GRATITUDE: “Thank you, God. I love you, God. And I am learning to trust Your Love.”
Two days ago we practiced right-gratitude for a day. Yesterday, we used right-awareness to increase our willingness to let go of attack. Today, we bring together right-gratitude and our willingness to let go of attack, so that gratitude can strengthen our determination to heal misperceptions and false beliefs.
We learned that right-gratitude is gratitude for awareness-life-presence as it is. That is the purest essence of gratitude and an aspect of truth. However, in this world where untruth reigns, truth has reflections, which are illusions, but they are illusions that point toward truth.
Right-reasoning is one example of an illusion that points toward truth. Forgiveness is another. A third illusion that points toward truth is an extension of right-gratitude. It is gratitude for everything that reminds you of your spiritual purpose and gratitude for every opportunity to practice your spiritual purpose. When right-gratitude is extended in this way, you can be grateful for every circumstance that arises, and that gratitude strengthens your spiritual resolve.
Let me provide an example. Let’s imagine that I hired a contractor to build a sunroom as an addition to my house. He required that I pay him 50% up front, and I did. He framed the sunroom and started the roofing work, but then he and his crew quit coming. I called him, but he didn’t return my calls.
This may feel like a very big situation to me. All kinds of thoughts may be swirling in my mind. I may feel anger and fear, and I might feel both stupid and like a victim at the same time. But then I pause. I remember what I truly want—freedom, awakening. I realize this situation is providing me with an opportunity to heal my mind, so I shift into gratitude. I let myself feel grateful for the gift of this situation, which is helping me to achieve my goal. After feeling genuine gratitude for this opportunity, I move into self-inquiry, I open up and rest with my feelings, or I engage in another spiritual practice that feels right for me in the moment.
Right-gratitude has strengthened my spiritual resolve and turned an opportunity to attack into an opportunity to heal.
Today’s lesson says, “Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self.” And countless channels abound! If we are willing to use right-gratitude for every opportunity to heal our mind, healing is accelerated.
Today’s lesson also points out a mistake regarding gratitude. The mistake is expecting gratitude from others as you begin to transform through spiritual practice.
We may think that our friends, family , and co-workers should notice as we become softer, gentler and kinder. We may want to hear some expression of gratitude from them for the change in us. However, often people don’t notice that we have given up attack for peace. After all, peace is quieter and easier not to notice.
If we expect gratitude or praise from others for becoming more peaceful, and it isn’t forthcoming, this could lead us to slip back into attack.
The lesson says, “Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. … It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. … Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. But learn to let forgiveness take away the sins you think you see outside yourself, and you can never think the gifts of God are lent but for a little while…”
You don’t need the gratitude of others. It’s the ego that seeks gratitude from others, and so it is the ego that is strengthened by external gratitude. You need your own gratitude—gratitude for awareness-life-presence, gratitude for everything that reminds you of your spiritual purpose, and gratitude for opportunities to practice and heal. It’s your gratitude that opens your heart, strengthens your spiritual resolve and moves you toward awakening.