[acimlessons_list] Lesson 343 - December 9
sue at circleofa.org
Fri Dec 8 06:03:14 EST 2006
LESSON 343 - DECEMBER 9
"I am not asked to make a sacrifice
To find the mercy and the peace of God."
See complete instructions in separate document.
A short summary:
* Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.
* Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.
* Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in
Open Mind Meditation.
* Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in
* Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.
* Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.
* Read the "What Is" section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.
The whole idea of loss or sacrifice is foreign to the Course. It tells us,
"Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God" (T-3.I.4:1). As the first
line of the lesson points out, how could ending suffering be a loss? How can
happiness be gained by sacrificing? It's ridiculous when you look at it, and
yet for centuries many religions have believed that in order to find God's
mercy you have to give up something, usually something really valuable. You
have to suffer to attain Heaven. You have to pay for your mistakes.
Heaven, or salvation, must be only gain. How could it be a loss and still be
Heaven? Let me affirm to my Father:
You only give. You never take away. And You created
me to be like You, so sacrifice becomes impossible for
me as well as You. I, too, must give. (1:3-6)
Someone just today was telling me how they got trapped in a mental loop of
feeling as though God had given them a dirty deal by creating them capable
of experiencing this dream of suffering; it was as if God was putting us
through all this for selfish reasons, or at least allowing us to go through
this for selfish reasons, for what He can get out of it. But God only gives;
He does not take away. Let me not think otherwise.
And what God gives is given forever:
As I was created I remain. Your Son can make no
sacrifice, for he must be complete, having the
function of completing You. (1:8-9)
I can't lose what I am; I can't sacrifice something of value and become
incomplete, because that would be contrary to my function of completing God.
For God to be complete (which of course He must be, being God), I must be
complete, for He created me to complete Himself! Therefore, I cannot
sacrifice; I must remain complete.
We are beset with the notion that somehow we have to earn the mercy and the
peace of God. Especially when I've been off on some ego detour, I always
feel as if I have to "go through" something to find my way back. I need to
have a proper period of remorse and feeling guilty. At least I have to sleep
it off! It just doesn't seem right to snap instantly from ego madness to a
state of peace and joy without paying some kind of penalty first. Yet:
The mercy and the peace of God are free. Salvation
has no cost. It is a gift that must be freely given
and received. And it is this that we would learn today.
Because they have no cost, mercy and peace are immediately available in
every instant. I need only to be willing to freely give them and receive
In this instant, right now, let me give mercy to myself. Let me see my
childish heart in pain over what it thinks it has done, and let me spread
mercy across it like a warm blanket. Let me embrace myself with love and
affirm my own innocence again. Have I forgotten who I am? That's okay. Have
I been angry at a brother? I still merit mercy and peace. Have I betrayed a
friend? God still counts me as His own. No sacrifice is asked; no penance;
no "decent" period of mourning. I can simply, trustingly open my mind to my
Friend and find welcome. I can come home to God. What am I waiting for? Let
me come to Him now.
WHAT IS A MIRACLE?
Part 3: W-pII.13.2:1-2
One of the most frequently repeated lessons of the entire Course is that
giving and receiving are the same: "To give and to receive are one in truth"
(W-pII.108.Heading). This lesson, one of the most basic the Holy Spirit
wants to teach us (it is the first lesson of the Holy Spirit in Chapter 6:
"To have, give all to all"-T-6.V(A).5:13), is also one of the hardest for us
to learn because it is the antithesis of our normal way of thinking.
A miracle contains the gift of grace, for it is given and
received as one. (2:1)
To receive a miracle, we must give it; to give it, we must receive it.
Receiving a miracle and giving a miracle are one thing, not two. Many of us
get wrapped up in trying to figure out whether I must forgive myself first
to forgive someone else, or whether I have to forgive the other person
before I can forgive myself. The answer is, neither and both. To forgive
yourself you must forgive the other person, but to forgive the other person,
you must forgive yourself. They are one. They seem to be two distinct
actions but they are not; they are one action because my brother and I are
one Self. It may often seem, within time, that one precedes the other, but
in reality, both happen simultaneously.
"And thus it illustrates the law of truth the world does not obey, because
it fails entirely to understand its ways" (2:2). The "law of truth" is, I
think, the same as the "law of love" mentioned in the title of Lesson 344:
"What I give my brother is my gift to me." Were we to completely appropriate
this one thought, we would be out of here, done with the curriculum. A
miracle illustrates this law; it gives a pictorial representation of it, a
demonstration of it. When I give a miracle to a brother, I am looking on his
devastation and realizing that what I see is false (1:3). I am seeing his
wholeness rather than the illusion of his lack. My seeing that for someone
else reminds them to see it for themselves, if they wish to. And when they
receive the miracle, <I> am blessed. I am reminded of who I am.
The world does not obey this law, nor understand it. Unlearning the world's
way of thinking about this is what the Course calls "undoing the getting
concept" (T-6.V(B).3:1). It calls this the first step in the reversal of our
ego's thinking. Miracles are important to us because they illustrate this
law; they help us know, by experience, that giving is receiving; that I keep
what I want by giving it away.
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