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Do not make the mistake of not taking your life seriously. Life is not given you to spend in idle pursuits, chasing after pleasure and fame. The most you can accomplish in such a life is to keep fear away from conscious awareness, and the idea of death suppressed. Stimulation of all kinds, goals to be achieved, and the collecting of possessions and accomplishments, do nothing but fill your time and provide the illusion of meaning. The meaning of life does not lie within the limitations of bodily existence. Within that narrow context of living and experiencing, all activity has but one purpose: to keep God away. It need not be so. All the activities of your life, mundane or otherwise, can take place within a frame of reference that is meaningful, and will bring real happiness. For that, a change of mind is necessary; a change of focus, perception, and understanding.
Everything takes place in mind, in awareness. All of your life is a play of consciousness. The essential point is this: where do you direct your awareness? How do you conceive of yourself in relation to life, the world, and ‘others’? What do you value above all else? All of these questions are really the same for they all arise from the original and most basic question: What am I, and what is the purpose of my life? Your answer to that is your life, and all of its conditions and circumstances are determined by the answer you have chosen.
There are only two answers to this fundamental and all important question. One answer is true and one is false. Sure it is there appears to be many, even an almost unlimited set of possible answers, yet that is just the confusion engendered by the many apparent forms that experience takes. Do not let the multiplicity of forms confuse and cloud your mind. That is their purpose, yet can you look beyond form and see the content the form conceals but represents. The content of all form, all activity, all experience, all thought, feeling and perception, is always and only one of two possibilities: Truth or illusion. Thus the answer to your question is always a choice for Truth, for your real identity and a life of true meaning, or it is a choice for illusion, the illusory self identity you have invented, and a life based on what has no meaning.
Which answer do you prefer? Life, and all its conditions, are always the result of choices you are making, though in both general and specific ways, that is not apparent to you. You think you have simply found yourself in a world not of your own making, into which you were born without any consent on your part. This forgetfulness and lack of recognition of total responsibility for your life in all its details, is a part of the dream. Ignorance allows the dream to continue unquestioned, with you playing the role of helpless pawn at the mercy of forces beyond your control. As long as you prefer the role of ‘victim’, however you may choose to glorify or grapple with it, you will be choosing illusion and meaninglessness.
Let’s make a clear, simple, and unmistakably accurate declaration: you are always doing exactly what you want to do. Always it is your choice that determines thinking, feeling, action and reaction. Though you may seem to be acting under duress, or forced to act against your will, you are nevertheless responsible for the conditions that seem to be forcing your choice. Hence you are still responsible for your decision. You would not react at all to the events of your life if you remembered you were dreaming. Your responsibility is total. In that lies your salvation.
Will you choose salvation by accepting Atonement for yourself, or will you choose to wander off awhile down the paths that lead nowhere? Even then you will be brought back eventually to the only choice that can be made. Why waste time? Choose now or choose later; one choice arising again and again, appearing as many due to the illusion of time, yet always one, always the one and only choice that can be made. The content of all you do, think, or experience, is either Truth or illusion. This is inescapable. In that is our salvation, for what could be simpler than to choose always, no matter the appearance, between two alternatives? And of these two but one is real. Please remember this, remember this always.
Only that which is real has any lasting significance for your life. All else, no matter how valued and esteemed at the time, will pass away and be no more. This includes your body which is not your home, but is rather a temporary learning aid, a means to learn and teach the Truth. Real communication is the body’s only function as the Holy Spirit sees it; therefore it is the body’s only function in truth. Use the body as He would have you use it, and its health is assured. If you do not misuse the body by assigning it roles it cannot fulfill, it will serve you faithfully as long as you have need of it.
Do you know the purpose of your life? The purpose of life, which is its meaning also, should be the foundation from which you live. Without a foundation, a real purpose, life becomes empty and meaningless. There are not many different purposes as the ego would have you believe. Chasing after various purposes, trying to find the one that is ‘right’ for you, is the way to avoid facing life’s only real purpose. The ego encourages you to do this, assuring you that purpose is yours to decide. Do not believe this. It is no more your role to assign life a purpose than it was your role to create yourself. The One Who created you and all life, has given that life its purpose.
Your role is to learn this purpose from the Voice for God, accept it fully, and build your life on that sure foundation. The purpose of life in this world is to return to God. The act of separating from Him, followed by a conscious decision to forget, resulted in your present condition of separation from all that is real. Separate from God, you have no real purpose though you have invented many. All are meaningless. You must return to Truth in which all meaning is found. The only purpose to be found in a world of separation is the escape from illusion and the return to what is real.
As has been so often stated in A Course in Miracles and this teaching, you cannot do this alone. God has given you the Answer to the dilemma you are in, and you must accept It if you are serious about restoring your life to what is meaningful. Let His Answer guide you in the ways of Truth. You do not know Truth from illusion; this you must learn and learn well. The sure understanding and recognition of the difference between them is absolutely essential. You will not learn this all at once; it takes time, perseverance, and consistent effort. If you truly want to learn, and apply yourself to the process, refusing to give up no matter what happens, you will learn what is needed and it will set you free.
Now is the time to devote yourself to doing what must be done. There are certain requirements that must be met in the journey back to God. They cannot be bypassed or ignored for the mind of separation, the self you have made, must be undone and all that is false corrected. Though the way the journey unfolds is highly individualized, the same corrections must be made and all the conditions of Truth must be met by all who would awaken. You cannot bargain with God nor evade His laws, and you cannot bargain with the ego in any of its forms. The ego must be renounced, its thought system undone, and all traces of its hold on your mind must be healed and released.
Do not try to make decisions on your own but let yourself be guided in all things by the One Who knows the way. He will lead you surely through every pitfall, past all resistance that arises in your mind, and give you the solution to all problems you may encounter. There is nothing you cannot do with His help. You cannot fail if you deeply and truly, with all your heart and mind, want only to be the Self created by God once again. If your purpose be strong, dedication unwavering, and your willingness reinforced and augmented by the Holy Spirit, you will gain the Kingdom.
The only thing you need do on your own, and even here you have help, is to turn over decision making to the Holy Spirit. This decision is only yours to make, and it must be repeated many, many times, for it is a process of surrender that proceeds gradually over time. Decide that you will not decide for yourself, but ask for His guidance in all things. The more consistent you are with this, the more quickly will you reach the goal. Nothing is more important than to consistently do, in all areas of your life, what you are guided to do. You may be asked to do something you do not understand. Do it anyway. You may be asked to do something you do not want to do. Do it anyway. You do not perceive your own best interest, but there is One Who does. He will guide you unerringly through all the dangers and obstacles that seem to block your path. He has the answer to all difficulties, the solution to all problems.
If you are to realize your true Self condition in this life, you must desire this above all things. Anything you would accomplish takes much time, effort, and right application of your mind in the learning process. Unless you strongly desire to achieve a result, you will not be willing to devote the necessary time and energy. To realize the Self is the only goal worth devoting your life to. Unlike all other goals, it must become the central focus of your life, and all other aspects of life must be arranged in right relationship to this goal. In other words, the other aspects of life must not hinder or obstruct, but rather support the accomplishing of spiritual awakening.
In truth, most of the factors of worldly life as is commonly lived, have as their purpose to conceal or deny spiritual reality by maintaining and reinforcing the experience of separation. This need not be. Much of what you have invented to take the place of Reality can be reinterpreted by the Holy Spirit and used instead to help bring about the ending of separation. You must, however, be willing to accept His interpretation, and learn how to use the factors of your life in a new way. To give something a new function which includes a different purpose, requires that it be used differently. This means learning.
Life in the world of separation demands constant learning due to its constant changes and often bewildering complexity. You have taught yourself to live as something you are not in a self invented context called the world, and in a condition that is the opposite of Truth in every way. This is a gigantic learning feat that establishes your remarkable ability to learn when you are motivated. You have learned your way into the condition you are in, so you will have to learn your way out.
This process requires you to ‘unlearn’, to let be undone all you learned before, that you may then learn what is true. The Atonement is an undoing, a correction of false thinking and perception that Truth may take its place, leading to a transformation of mind. Learning was invented to take the place of knowledge. Learning is variable and what you learn constantly changes. Knowledge is invariable and changeless. Learning is uncertain, knowledge is always certain. When you learned to be something you are not, knowledge was banished from your awareness.
The purpose of learning is to bring you to the end of learning that knowledge may return. When learning has accomplished its purpose, it is needed no more. Until then, you must learn, and learn well, all the lessons the Holy Spirit teaches. He will present you with true ideas, concepts that are expressed in words, yet are pointing to that which lies beyond the reach of concepts. Truth must be directly experienced; the purpose of conceptualizing about Truth is only to send you in Its direction. Your direct experience of what is real will bring conviction; and the Truth, when fully experienced, will free you from the bonds of earthly life.
To do what is necessary, you must first know what it is. You do not understand the way that leads out of illusion or what is required. A blind man cannot find his way out of a maze. He needs someone who stands above the maze, who sees the whole picture, to guide him to the exit. I am not exaggerating when I liken your position to that of a blind man. The mind of illusion is like a maze in which you are trapped. The maze is guarded by the ego whom you have chosen as your guide. The ego directs you so as to go round and round in circles, that you may not escape the maze, for its existence depends on it.
The first step out of the maze is to let go of the guide who helped you build it for the purpose of keeping you trapped forever. This is the obvious thing to do, yet is the obvious often the most difficult, due to the complexity and ignorance of the mind of illusion. So long identified with the ego mind, thinking of yourself as the body that houses the mind, you do not realize the absolute shift in identification that is required, nor do you have any idea of how to go about it. This is why the Atonement is an undoing, not a doing. As the ego, you are always involved with doing, hence the necessity of shifting to undoing.
The ego’s thought system must be undone thought by thought and its dark cornerstone, the belief in sin and guilt, must be healed. The fear which underlies and pervades its entire thought system, must be uncovered and recognized in all its forms. This requires time and consistent help from the Holy Spirit. The process of undoing can be painful at times, even disorienting, but you must go through it until you come out the other side. To stay where you are is also painful, though pain is often masked as pleasure. The pain of spiritual awakening, though intensely experienced at times, will come to an end and suffering will be no more. The pain of continuing bondage is unending.
To attain salvation, what is false must be given up entirely. All false beliefs, all values rooted in nothingness, all commitment to illusion in any form, must be renounced that Truth may take up its rightful place in your mind once again. Do not think you can keep the illusions you like and have Truth as well. To hold on to any illusion is to keep all of it. Illusion opposes Truth in every way. This will never change for illusions were made to take the place of Truth. One or the other, but not both, will rule your mind.
Hold no exceptions to Truth as valuable, for Truth is one seamless Whole. Its nature is to be all inclusive, without exceptions. Truth is all encompassing; what is not part of Truth is illusion. Anything that seems to stand outside of Truth is but projected illusion no matter how convincing the appearance or experience. The Truth as God created It, is all that is real; nothing unreal has been created by God, all that is unreal is not Truth and does not exist.
Your desire for illusion in place of Truth results in appearances that are real to you because you made them. Do not believe what your senses tell you; they were made to show you what is not there. Nothing your eyes see is real despite its appearance. A partial and fragmented perception will never allow you to see what is really there. You can learn to see Truth reflected in the world of illusion, if you are willing to let the unified vision of the Holy Spirit replace the way you see now.
All vision shows you the outpicturing of your state of mind. Through the body’s eyes you see the projection of the illusion of separation and its consequences. This picture of a ‘world’ is what you have chosen as your reality for so long. Never has it given you safety or Love. Never has it given you peace of mind and it never will. The world of separation represents the insanity that has gripped your mind since that moment of terror so long ago. The world cannot but outpicture the chaos, fear, and uncertainty, that characterize the mind that has rejected its Creator. To reject God is to reject Love, leaving only fear to take its place. Never have you seen the Truth reflected in this place of desolation, and you never will through the eyes that were made to look on fear only.
Real Vision, the Vision of Christ, is the Holy Spirit’s gift to those who want Truth, not illusion, and are willing to do what is necessary. Like all perception, even the unified Vision of Christ is illusion, meant to last only while it is necessary to fulfill a mighty purpose. There is one important difference however, between real vision and all other perception. Through the unified vision of the Holy Spirit, you see the Truth reflected in the world of illusion. His vision shows you the Light that is in your brother and all things. Unified vision is not knowledge, but it does not oppose knowledge in any way, and like knowledge, it is whole. Thus it is close enough to knowledge that it leads to knowledge and the end of perception.
To see the Light in your brother is to see him truly. In that shining Light, his innocence is reflected for you to see beyond the shadow of a doubt. The one Light and the innocence of the Christ shining there are also in you; through the willingness to see your brother as he truly is, you are able to see the Truth in yourself. This the gift every brother holds out to you. Accept it gratefully that you may be joined together as One, and together you will leave the world of fear and separation.
The present is the only part of time in which you actually live. This is self evidently true as you clearly do not live in past time nor are you living in future time. The present is the only moment in which you are actually here. Yet, strangely enough, the present is the part of time that is least experienced. If you were to watch your mind carefully, it would become very evident that you are seldom fully present. Your thoughts fluctuate wildly and unceasingly, absorbing your attention and diverting it from the present moment, from here and now. There is no way to be fully present to any great degree while you tolerate your wandering mind and let it dominate your awareness. To be present is to be aware, not lost in thought.
The constant activity of the thought process has the purpose of preventing you from being aware in the here and now. The untrained mind, stuck in a habitual pattern of remembering the past and imagining a future, can live an entire lifetime and never experience being fully present. Why is this so?
The mind of separation is a restless, chaotic process of constant thought, feeling, and impulse. Driven by unconscious fear and the need to get, to acquire, it is always in motion, never at rest. With little or no understanding of even its basic motivation, the mind is at the mercy of the past which drives it, and the conditions that surround it. Its responses are determined by past learning and associations that have become habitual tendencies through which it expresses and reacts. There is little room for spontaneity or real learning, both of which can happen only in the present. Such a mind is as good as dead as it lives out the past and plans for the future; never is it fully alive in the present, the only place it can be. To be alive is to live in present time, leaving the past behind and the future open.
What if there were no such thing as time, as past, present, and future? What if time were not sequential unless you imposed that order upon it? What if all time were over and gone, and you were just living out a memory of events long since vanished? This is actually what you are doing. Holding a memory in your mind of a moment of time in which everything that could happen to you in separation did happen, you are standing at the end of time, reviewing the journey in your mind, imagining that you are making it again, and breaking up time into past, present, and future. What happened simultaneously in that one moment of time is now broken up into discreet events that you review one by one, producing the illusion of a life lived in sequence from past to present to future.
You are thus retracing your steps in a journey that was over and gone long ago. Even what seems to you to have not happened yet, is past. If you have not yet reached that point in your memory, your review, there appears to be a part of time you call the future. Time is but illusion, a trick you play upon yourself. In your hands, time is a way to prolong a journey that never happened, so that life in separation can seem to continue into a far off, indefinite future.
The Holy Spirit has a better use for time. He can collapse time for you, and bring the end to your imaginary journey much more quickly if you will cooperate with Him. If you learn the lessons He gives you, and allow the correction of your mind, time becomes less and less necessary, for its only purpose is to aid your true learning. Eventually you will reach the end of learning; at that point, time is needed no more and it will come to an end. All of life in separation is the repetition of a journey that was never necessary. Due to your belief, however, the journey must be made until you want and need it no more. The sooner you realize its futility and become willing to let it go, the sooner it will end in the return to Truth.
Eternity intersects time in the present. The only moment of time that is real is where your life takes place, even in the dream. To let your mind wander, and keep your attention in the past or the imaginary future, is to avoid your own life. Living through a screen of chaotic mental activity, threading your way through the mass of egoic projections, is to spend life in a haze of distractions. You cannot afford to let the tendency of mind to overlook the present dominate your life; in so doing, you are assured of the continuation of the fear and confusion that make happiness impossible and suffering inevitable.
Through the return to the present, you are brought face to face with your own mind. Here is where it operates, now is when you can become aware of your mind in action. To see it as it is, in its continuous activity, is necessary if you wish to free yourself of its tyranny. Your awareness and attention are dominated by the ceaseless stream of thought, feeling, image, and impulse. While this is so, you are not free to experience your mind as it is, to understand yourself to any great degree, or to change the way you think and live. You are bound to an automatic and repetitive set of feelings and responses determined by your individual past and the general egoic mechanisms.
To return attention to the actual present and rest in awareness itself, is essential. Be vigilant in your mind for God and against the ego. You have been vigilant for the ego and against God. You must reverse this orientation, and begin to choose Truth over illusion, God over the ego. The ego is the source of the constant thought activity that so absorbs your energy and attention. You must make the decision to take them back; only thus can you return to freedom. There is no need to sleep walk through life, absorbed and controlled by what appears on the screen of inner awareness. Take back your mind, take back your attention. You will be amazed at what there is to discover.
To know your mind as it is, in its constant and unceasing activity, is your responsibility. You think that to have a mind is enough to understand it. You do not understand your mind; if you did, you would be free of the fear, conflict, and confusion that dominate it and keep you prisoner to what you do not understand. Your mind operates in a kind of automatic fashion, sweeping you along day after day. Living within the rigid and automatic patterns that dominate your mind, deprives you of real understanding and true freedom. The mind of separation is a creation of fear whose purpose is to exclude Love.
Love is not mechanical like the mind of separation. A mind operating as Love’s expression is free, spontaneous, and very alive. Always and only giving, the mind of Love is not concerned with getting. Love is fullness itself; giving to get as the ego does, is foreign to It. When your mind is filled with Love, overflowing with compassion and goodwill towards all, you will realize that you have everything. The motive to get, to take, to bargain, will disappear. You will live in the quiet certainty that you have all you need. Why would you want more than this? Contentment and gratitude for what you have, will fill your mind with joy and peace. What need have you for more than this?
“To those who have, much will be given.” What does this mean? Those who have the peace of God, who live in a state of Love, have become like an open door through which the gifts of God may be given to the world. Those who truly have, understand that the gifts they are .given are not for them alone. God’s gifts are for all, and must be freely shared if you are to have them for yourself. God only gives, and what He gives is unlimited and all encompassing. That is the nature of His gifts. To give away what you have been given, is the recognition and acceptance of the gifts of God for what they are. Nothing can be accepted except as it truly is.
The ego cannot accept anything for what it is. Always it must control and adjust, modifying everything to fit its perceived needs. In all your relationships is this evident. You do not accept your brother as he is; you reduce him to an image that pictures what you want him to be to you. To this image, made up of what you want him to be, you relate. The image you make of your brother always represents what you would have him be. It also represents what you think yourself to be.
The body is the basic image through which you think you live. From this image you relate to all the other images that seem to surround you. You have forgotten that you put them there for you to see. And so they seem real and independent of you, able to affect you against your will. They must then be controlled, not allowed to penetrate the defenses you have erected around your mind.
My brother, nothing can threaten or harm you ever under any circumstance. You are not the image you have made. There is only Love surrounding you on all sides. Your foolish defenses against what cannot attack, only strengthen the fear in your mind they were made to protect you from. The one thing they do, and do well, is keep Love away. That is their real purpose, to keep fear alive yet seemingly under control. As long as fear rules your mind and drives your behavior, Love will not be welcome.
You do not realize that Love is total, without exceptions of any kind. You think you can continue your allegiance to fear as motivator, and still have Love. This is impossible. While it is true that Love penetrates even the dream and makes its presence known, it is but a glimmer of what Love truly is. To know Love as It is, as Itself, you must refuse to countenance fear in all its forms, and choose Love as your only motivation. To choose Love only will lead you inexorably to the practice of forgiveness.
Forgiveness, not as the world understands it, but as it is in truth, is the highest form of Love attainable on earth. Forgiveness is given to all regardless of appearances; like Love, of which it is a part, its meaning lies in its all inclusiveness. Do not question the value of forgiveness; it will lead you back to God and perfect freedom. Without forgiveness, you are like a blind man trying to judge what he cannot see or understand, groping his way along through the darkness in which he lives. Forgiveness illuminates the darkness of human life, shining it away while restoring your mind to Love.
What in this world could offer you anything remotely as valuable as forgiveness? It will undo the hell which you have made; a place of fear and hatred, marked by conflict and sorrow, ending in death. Forgiveness will heal your mind of the deep sense of guilt you have carried so long. It will relieve you of self hate and the sense of unworthiness that drives you to project guilt and the need for punishment onto your brothers. Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict and pain, of lovelessness and isolation. It will bring you back to where you belong, where you become a shining beacon, lighting the way for your brothers to follow.
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