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11.1 The exercises in this Course of Love are few, and they are contained within the Course itself rather than separated from it. There are but a few reasons for this method. The first is your attitude toward instruction, and the fact that you do not really desire it. What you desire is what cannot be given from anywhere but your own Source. Again you realize this aspect of creation, and it has helped to solidify your stance against union and your lack of desire for instruction. This is due to your confusion about your source. All of your fierce determination to hang on to your individuality stems from this confusion. If your “source” were truly your body and the brain that causes it to function, then you would indeed be required to learn things on your own, for all true learning must come from your Source.
11.2 You think your source and your Creator are two separate things, and too seldom remember even that you are not your own creator. You have made this separation based on the idea that what created you cannot be one with you. Again this only points to your lack of recognition of what creation really is. And yet when you would practice creativity you realize it is a celebration of the creator—and when you honor artists of all kinds you honor but this fact. Every poem bears the mark of its creator, as does each work of art you would gaze upon and call a masterpiece, as well as those creations of little hands you hang on refrigerator doors or office walls. You did not create your Self, and yet you make of life a recreation of yourself and in so doing try to prove that “you” are your own source.
11.3 This is one reason you do not like the idea that those who would instruct you know more than you now know, and why you begin each new course of learning by feeling as if you have less. You then begin your attempts to acquire what you lack, so that you no longer have less than anyone else. Some of you may be confident in your learning skills and rush in to conquer this new territory as you have others that have come before. These would read each book as quickly as they can, with highlighter in tow, and when they have turned the last page be done with learning what this book would have to teach and rush on to the next. Those of you less confident may quit before you begin in order to keep from failing one more time. Even those who feel the power of these words within their hearts and vow to go slowly and carefully through each page and section, giving total dedication to what this text would have them do, are at risk of trying too hard to be earnest rather than simply desiring to learn.
11.4 Each one of these risks I have sought to limit by limiting the exercises to a simple few that will stay with you when all hurrying, fear of failing, and earnest attempts at trying hard have long been past. Each exercise is but an idea, and ideas leave not their source. All ideas here are but ideas of union come to replace ideas of separation. This will happen of its own without your understanding as long as you remain willing for the ideas to dwell within you, and you do not try to shut them out. Realize that the ideas of both success and failure are detrimental here. To feel you have achieved success in learning what love is all about is as ridiculous as feeling as if you have failed to learn what love is. Neither can happen. And your perception that either can will shut out all ideas of union.
11.5 What love is cannot be taught. Remember that your task here is to remove the barriers that keep you from realizing what love is. That is the learning goal of this Course—your awareness of what love is—and no earthly course can take you beyond this goal. It is only your willingness that is required.
11.6 Willingness must thus be talked about and separated from what you would have it be. Willingness and faith go together. What you have faith in, you will see. This Course asks for your willingness to have faith in something new. You have placed your faith in what you have made, and while it remains there you remain unwilling to relinquish illusion’s hold on you. You can be faithful to but one thought system. One is the thought system of the separated self and is based on separation. The other is the thought system of creation and is based on union. Your faith in what you have made has been shaken now, and you realize you would like to place your faith elsewhere. You would like to, but you have your doubts, and this is where you become confused on the issue of willingness.
11.7 Willingness does not arise from conviction but brings conviction. Willingness is your declaration of openness, not necessarily of firm belief. You see free will and willingness together and while they are the same, their application is quite different.
11.8 Your free will you guard most closely, knowing this is what made the separation possible. You regard it as your one protection from God, the one thing that allows you to be other than what God would have you be. It is your “God given” right of independence, that which allowed you to leave God’s side the way a child reaching the age of adulthood has the right to leave her parents’ home.
11.9 To think you must protect anything from God is insane, and you know that this is so. But because you view free will as all you have that God cannot take away from you, you have not yet given up its protection. It does not matter to you that it is insane to think that He who has given you everything seeks to take anything away from you. While you still view yourself as a body, you cannot help but think of God as a vengeful God whose final vengeance is your own death. While you still think of your self as a body, it is easier to accept that your banishment from paradise was God’s decision, not your own. You think you can be grateful to Him for some things and blame Him for others. Yes, perhaps this God you think you know has given you everything, but He can also take it all away, and in the end He surely will. He then will judge you and determine if you should be rewarded for a life of goodness or punished for a life of evil. He might accept you back, but He might not. A God such as this would seem to have little faith in you and to deserve little of your faith in return.
11.10 And so you give to God a little faith and cherish your free will, the true god of the separated self. You think at times that this was God’s mistake, the one weakness in His plan, and one that you would use. At other times you think that this was but God’s curse on you, a thing to tempt you to the life of desperation that you live. But your strongest perception of your free will is of its power. No matter what God wants of you, you can use your free will to rebel and to make your own choices, choices different than those your Creator would make for you. This right to make your own decisions, and the power to flaunt them before God, is all that makes your little separated self feel powerful at all.
11.11 You do not see that what you choose to do with your free will matters not to God at all, for what you have chosen to use it for is the one thing that it cannot provide—your separation from your Creator. He remains as He is, as you remain as you are.
11.12 It is true that your free will is powerful as it is part, but only part, of what has allowed you to believe in your separated state. While you could have used your free will to create like unto your Father, by choosing to make yourself separate from Him—something that could never truly occur—you have chosen instead to do nothing at all with your free will but make this one insane choice. Your willingness to make a new choice is what will once again make your free will like unto your Father’s will, which is one with it in truth.
11.13 Your protectiveness of your free will is why we must separate willingness from your perception of free will. Your free will is the last bastion of your separate army, the final line of defense, the site where the final battle will take place. Before this final battle is reached your willingness to change your mind about its need to be fought is what is desired by your Father and this Course.
11.14 God will never wrestle your free will from you, or fight battles to win it for Himself. This final battle is in your own mind, and it is a figment of the illusions you have made. Let this prophecy you have made go, and realize that willingness does not negate free will. Yet even while you cannot yet quite give up your guardianship of it, it is sufficient to begin with a temporary choice, though a lasting choice will be required before you will feel the shift of cause and quit worrying about effect. For now what you desire are effects, without realizing cause must shift to change the effects you would have come about. This matters not at this point. You are offered the opportunity to make a temporary decision that can be rescinded at any time. Your temporary willingness will be enough to begin to effect cause and in so doing bring some sanity to your restless mind and heart.
11.15 What willingness is it that you are asked to give? It can come in many manners and be given many forms. It can be called a willingness to change your mind, or to allow yourself to be open to new possibilities. It can be called a change of heart, or a willingness but to, for a little while, withdraw your fear and your protection from it. But what this willingness really does is allow your call to be sounded, your call to love and to be loved. It is a willingness to receive love from your Source and to be loved for who you are. Is this so much to ask?
11.16 It is a call that comes not from weakness but from strength, and that goes out to truth and not illusion. It is a call whose answer will come to you quickly on the wings of angels, a fluttering your heart will feel, for angels too are one with you. It may feel like loneliness compounded for the brief instant you await its coming and feel the emptiness that has been opened for its coming.
11.17 This is a call that requires you to do nothing but to remain faithful to it. You do not need to think about it, but only let it be. You need put no words on it, for words cannot express it any more than words can teach you what love is—or that love is. You need not concentrate on where to find love, for love will find you. You need not concentrate on giving love, for you cannot give what you do not yet know, and when you know it you need not give it, for it will extend from you naturally in miracles called love. Love is all that will fill your emptiness, and all that will never leave you empty again as it extends from you to your brothers and sisters. Love is all that will not leave you wanting. Love is all that will replace use with unity.
11.18 You exist, quite simply, because of your relationship with love. Love is the unity you seek. In having chosen separation over unity, you but chose fear over love. When you let go of fear and invite unity to return, you but send out an invitation to love and say you are welcome here. What is a dinner party where love is not? It is merely a social obligation. But a dinner party where love is welcomed to take its place becomes a celebration. Your table becomes an altar to the Lord and grace is upon it and the Lord is with you.
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