The choice to be upset

This blog obviously focuses on workbook lesson 5 in A Course in Miracles, with the infuriating title: “I am never upset for the reason I think.” Note that it does not say “almost never”; it makes no exceptions whatsoever. For almost all Course students, this is a most un-favorite lesson. We all like to think we are upset because of factors outside of us: you treated me unfairly; the weather turned bad; the stock market plummeted; my car broke down; and on and on. Since we obviously cannot control everything in the world around us (or so we reason), we won’t be able to avoid becoming upset from time to time.

In A Course in Miracles, Jesus taps us on the shoulder and explains to us that this only seems to be the case as long as we are firmly convinced that this dream world with its myriad bodies is our reality. In truth, we are quite capable to awaken from this dream and choose to remain at Home, as spirit, in the Heart of God where you and I belong. But we believe we don’t want that. We want to keep the silly notion of separation ongoing. We want to remain asleep so we can continue to experience ourselves as unique, special, autonomous individuals. To this end, we must engage in constant mind activity that ‘proves’ that the separation did indeed happen and is in fact reality.

Finding things to be upset about fits in nicely with this goal. If I can prove that there is a world that can hurt me, this clearly illustrates that (a) I exist as an individual body, and that (b) someone else is responsible for all the misery we experience in the dream. That’s the perennial goal of the ego. So Jesus is saying to us something like “Why not honestly admit that you want to be upset, so that you can keep up this silly ego-dream of time and space and individuality? It’s not a sin, but it is a tragic mistake. How long will you continue to crucify yourself this way?” Now we can see why, for most Course students, lesson 5 is a most un-favorite lesson: I’m never upset for the reason I think; I make the (unconscious) choice to be upset, so that I can keep up the illusion of my innocent separated self, and at the same time condemn my brother for his obvious sinfulness, so that God will send him to hell and allow me back into Heaven. “Behold me brother, at your hand I die,” we read in (T-27.I.4:6). My upset is fully justified!

This lesson is not meant to make us feel guilty. It does aim, however, at making us aware of the underlying guilt that we, as the Son of God, made in the ontological instant by seemingly choosing against our Creator (even though, in reality, this is impossible and never really happened). Once we realize that this original choice for guilt is the ultimate source of all our upsets, can we slowly begin to realize that all our upsets, big and small, really originate from the same cause. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter what seems to upset me, big or small: there is no hierarchy in illusions; they are all the same in content. This insight is the prerequisite for being able to let all upsets go. Once I realize that I am not upset because of what seems to happen outside, but only because of my unconscious though deliberate purpose to keep experiencing separation, I can choose to let it go and relax.

Before you and I reach that point, however, we must practice with great specificity in our daily lives, to fully realize that ‘a slight twinge of annoyance’ really is no different from ‘intense rage’ (WpI-21.2:5). At first it’s very, very hard to believe that, for example, being upset over a low cookie supply in the cupboard is really no different from being upset over a diagnosis of terminal cancer. The ego tells us that all attempts to see the sameness of these two cases are absurd and preposterous. To the happy learner part in my mind, however, this is merely a reminder that I’m obviously still firmly convinced I am a body living in a world that does have power to upset me. Again, this is hardly something to feel guilty about. In his Course, Jesus invites you and me to be mildly humble, and honestly acknowledge that (a) apparently I am still a spiritual infant, not a giant, and (b) I am in dire need of help on my spiritual path. Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) gladly serve as the perfect guide to this end; but must choose them; have to do the mind work.

A very useful insight this lesson offers is that a mere intellectual grasp of the truth of this lesson doesn’t mean we have mastered the complete change of mind that is the primary aim of this Course. Merely telling myself that “There are no small upsets. They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.” (WpI-5.4: 3), doesn’t mean I won’t feel upset by this or that tomorrow. But it does help me to switch teachers in my mind a little sooner than yesterday. This is why this is a Course in practicing self-forgiveness; day after day, year after year. Each time I become aware of an upset (i.e., a non-loving thought, a judgment), the first thing I do is becoming aware of that without guilt or judging myself. I’ll feel better instantly. This provides the space to choose to switch teachers and ask Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) for help in what to think, say or do instead.

A Course in Miracles teaches us to honestly see the ego and its purpose for what it is. Although we are ultimately asked to take the ego lightly because of the inherent silliness of the foundation on which it rests, we are also taught that we cannot dismiss the ego lightly, as long as we still identify with its premise of autonomous individuality. Being an effective Course student does not mean wanting to be enlightened overnight. Being an effective Course student means choosing to be a happy learner, placing full trust in the guidance of Jesus (or the Holy Spirit) to get us Home at the pace that we are ready to accept. And always remember that it is “a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed” (T-8.VI.9:7), since in reality you and I already are safely at Home in the Heart of God. So learn to gently smile about all your upsets a little sooner today!


 

See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

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Climbing the ladder

First-time readers of A Course in Miracles often express their confusion about their initial acquaintance with Jesus’ curriculum in terms such as: “All nice and well, but what must one actually do to master this Course?” The answer Ken Wapnick usually provided in his workshops, which boiled down to “You non-judgmentally watch just how judgmental your thoughts still are, and then you choose once again”, wasn’t exactly what they expected. “Yeah, but what do you then do in practical terms? Please tell me what to do.” They do not yet understand just what Jesus means when he assures us in chapter 18 of the text that we “need do nothing” (T-18.VII). We don’t have to change the world, we merely need to change our mind about the world (T-21.In:7).

One thing that Jesus in his Course makes abundantly clear is that you and I struggle with a split mind. First, there is the part of the mind that likes to be my special me. This part does not want the seeming separation from God healed at all. This part of my mind is needy, uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. This is because this special self feels guilty about the seeming separation from God. To drive this guilt out of sight and out of mind, I project it onto everything I perceive outside of me. This part of the mind, therefore, is constantly blaming and judging, even though it usually wears a mask of seeming innocence to ‘prove’ that it is kind and loving. It’s the part of the mind that indulges in chasing after idols and special relationships to find fulfillment. Again, everyone shares this part of the mind. It’s known as the large ‘iceberg’ under the watershed of conscious awareness.

The other part of the mind does want the seeming separation healed, and in fact understands that the seeming separation never happened in reality. This part of the mind sees everyone as the same, sharing the attributes of Christ, the Son of God Who is one with God in a ‘oneness joined as one’ (T-25.I.7:1). This part of the mind realizes that time and space are unreal and that perception lies. Therefore, anger is never justified,  fear is utterly unnecessary, and forgiveness is the ‘royal road’ to the experience of our natural state of lasting inner peace. This part of the mind regards the world as a useful classroom for learning the Holy Spirit’s Lessons of love (T-6). This we refer to as right-minded thinking, as opposed to the wrong-minded thinking of the other split part of the mind, which focuses solely on its own little egotistic self.

Finally, each seemingly separated split mind comes with a decision maker, which constantly chooses between these two split aspects of the mind. In A Course in Miracles, we read that this ongoing choice between two voices is the only choice we ever really make. When looking at our daily activities, this does not seem to be the case at first. It is only when we look at the purpose behind our daily decisions that the content of the split mind becomes apparent. Everything I do during the day is driven by either one of two purposes: to induce further separation, or to further undo separation between me and my brother. This is why Jesus says in the clarification of terms that our one remaining freedom is the freedom of this choice (C-1.7), and it is the choice between hell and heaven respectively.

To depict the spiritual maturity of the decision maker in choosing right-minded thinking ever more often, Jesus in A Course in Miracles uses the imagery of a ladder. At the bottom rung of the ladder, the decision maker constantly chooses selfish, wrong-minded thinking. This results in a daily dirge of constant problems and misery, the purpose of which is to show that (a) the separation from perfect oneness was indeed accomplished in reality, and (b) I cannot be held accountable for that, since evil is obviously in everyone and everything that I can point at. On the other hand, at the top of the ladder the decision maker constantly chooses right-minded thinking. Here there is no condemnation at all. Everyone and everything is perceived as the same, and I experience the real world, which is the gateway to Heaven, where the door to our Home is wide open.

In a sense, the purpose of the curriculum that is A Course in Miracles might be summarized as guiding the decision-making part of the mind from the bottom of the ladder to the top of the ladder, step by step (i.e., rung by rung). In other words, it’s a structured training program to help us totally undo wrong-minded thinking, and bring the mind to a state in which there is only right-minded thinking. The ladder as such is of course only a symbol. It is, however, a very helpful symbol in the sense that it illustrates that reaching the top of the ladder means there are quite a few rungs to take on the way up, and we can skip none. Differently stated: going from the ego’s darkness to the light of the real world is a slow process with many steps (rungs).

So what is a Course student to “do” to reach the next rung on this ladder? The work might be summarized in two words: looking and forgiving. “Looking” means constantly monitoring my thoughts for non-loving content, and then not judging what I observe. At the same time, it is crucial to understand why I engage in wrong-minded thinking that obviously results in misery. Again, I secretly revel in misery because it “proves” that the separation was accomplished in reality and therefore I exist, apart from God. Forgiving, then, is only about forgiving myself for every non-loving thought that I chose to this end.

The difficulty in this process is our fear of losing our deeply cherished unique, special, autonomous individual self. Each higher rung on the ladder heralds the loss of my self, or so the ego (the voice for separation) counsels. Since in our dualistic state of experience we cannot really imagine what the real world is like, let alone the state of the oneness of God, it’s no wonder we so often choose the seemingly safer option of wrong minded thinking. Who would I be without my problems? Since giving up my precious individual self is too fearful, I’ll cope with the misery that comes with it; day after day, year after year, life after life.

The conflict, or dilemma, lies in the wish to experience the peace of God, but on my own terms. I want the best of both! However, since the two parts of the mind are diametrically opposed, and the conflict becomes increasingly intolerable, sooner or later I will have to make a choice. Jesus presents us this choice as follows: “Do you want to be right or happy?” (T-29.VII.1). As we progress with the Course, we come to realize that it isn’t a choice at all, for: “…still deeper than the ego’s foundation, and much stronger than it will ever be, is your intense and burning love of God, and His for you.” This is what every seemingly separated life form will choose sooner or later. And since time is itself illusory, the right choice has already been made. The attainment of the real world is guaranteed for everyone. Only to the extent that we still wish to experience time, does this seem a long way off and does the ladder seem very, very high.

It’s quite understandable that from this point of view, we’d like to reach the top rung of the ladder as soon as possible. But as Ken Wapnick often remarked, we cannot skip steps. The fear and resistance are simply too great to easily lay aside. A Course in Miracles guides its students at their own pace. As Jesus explains as early as chapter 1 of the text: “It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific. Healing is of God in the end. The means are being carefully explained to you.” (T-1.VII.5:8-10). You and I don’t get enlightened overnight. We may tell ourselves we want to, but in the iceberg under the watershed we do not.

So that’s why it is so helpful to monitor my own thoughts, to see which guide I choose. “‘Who walks with me?’ This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace.” (W-pI.156-8:1). To consistently choose against darkness in my mind requires, above all, that I fully realize the extent of that darkness. This requires that I look: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” (T-16.IV.6:1). Therefore, even noticing that I do not really like this or that person is a clarion call for mind training, by forgiving myself for my non-loving thought, and then choose once again the teacher of Love. This I repeat again and again, slowly making my way up the rungs of the ladder, until I reach the top where “…not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ from anyone” (T-31.VIII.12:5). So give yourself some slack, and practice peaceful patience. You and I will reach the top of the ladder together!


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Confusing pain and joy

When asked what brings joy to their daily life, most people come up with things that either minimize pain or maximize pleasure: being healthy; enjoying an exciting relationship; having a certain lifestyle; doing something meaningful in the world. One might summarize that we experience joy once we think we achieve what we feel is important. In other words, I expect to feel joy as long as I feel my needs and wishes are met. Psychology schools tell us that our needs are always driven by two forces, which are really opposite sides of the same coin: the need to minimize pain and the desire to gain pleasure.

We should be aware, however, that needs and wishes can be conscious as well as unconscious. And there’s a big difference between them. Consciously we think we need, for example, food, shelter, appreciation and love. Unconsciously, however, our needs and wishes are not so positive. As Jesus in A Course in Miracles patiently explains, our unconscious needs boil down to snatching from others what they have because we feel we lack so much, combined with feeling victimized because we feel so unfairly treated by people and circumstances. While we think we spend our days meeting our conscious needs, we are told in the Course that we are really spending our days in having our unconscious needs met; at least while we’re in a wrong-minded mode of thought, which is about 99% of the time.

On surface reading, this sounds preposterous. Why would we spend our days wallowing in such negativity? A Course in Miracles is one of the few spiritualities that succinctly unravel the reasons why we are motivated for such unconscious thought mechanisms. And Kenneth Wapnick is one of the few teachers that emphasize the importance of looking at our motivation for choosing such self-sabotaging thoughts. The reason for this motivation is that we associate joy with identifying with the ego, which is the symbol of separation from oneness through rejection and attack. Our very individuality and autonomy was, after all, obtained at the expense of attacking our Creator.

As long as we want to be a special individual, we will do anything to uphold our firm belief that the ontological separation indeed happened, and, through projection, hold that someone else is responsible for that sin. And so we stubbornly keep believing in the cosmos, in our body, and in the ‘laws of nature’ that govern the birth and death of life, time, and space, just to affirm to ourselves that we do exist. Or, as Jesus explains in chapter 23, we firmly believe in the five ‘laws of chaos’ that seem to keep our individual autonomy alive and well, albeit at the cost of the loss of lasting peace.

Unconsciously, we associate joy to anything that supports this belief. So every time I feel unfairly treated, I am really saying to myself that obviously the world is real, my body is real, evil is outside of me, and God should have mercy on my poor soul and accept me back into Heaven, while condemning others to oblivion or hell. To the ego, that’s joy! And giving up what we cherish we regard as painful. A major burden of Jesus as my other Teacher is to train my mind to want to reverse this pain-joy association: anything the ego teaches me will lead to pain, while anything that the Holy Spirit teaches will lead to real joy. Period.

The problem is we still firmly believe it’s the other way around. As Jesus explains in chapter 7 of the text: “You no more recognize what is painful than you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain.” (T-7.X.3:4-6). In other words, as long as we do not know we are pure spirit, but still believe we are a separated body, we will associate the ego’s hell with joy and seek for it; at the same time we will keep self-sabotaging our seemingly sincere practice of A course in Miracles. Jesus holds our own prison door wide open for us, but we still hesitate to walk out into real freedom with him.

Remember, while the primary goal of the Course is to ready our minds for the acceptance of the Atonement (the principle that holds that the separation from God never happened and that we, as one Son, are still safe at Home with God) through practicing forgiveness, we cannot truly forgive and be healed unless we fully realize the extent of the unforgiveness in the mind. If we merely focus our days on wanting to express love, without fully realizing why we simultaneously want to cling to these five vicious laws of chaos, we will make very slow progress on the ladder that ultimately leads to the “real world” of total non-judgment. That’s why I could study A Course in Miracles for ten, twenty or thirty years, really grasping its metaphysics, and diligently ‘doing’ all the workbook lessons, and yet make very little progress, since I remain too fearful to really look at what I would be giving up, since I still associate my personal self with joy.

Jesus is therefore trying in his Course to convince us, first, that a state of separated individuality is not joyful at all; it only leads to pain. Secondly, accepting the lessons of Love of the Holy Spirit that ultimately lead me entirely out of the world, back Home to my real Identity as the extension of God’s Love, will only be joyful. We just need a little convincing (only a slight understatement) that by crossing the bridge Home, back to undifferentiated Oneness, we will realize, “…, in glad astonishment, that for all this you gave up nothing!” (T-16.VI.11:4). As long we choose the wrong-minded ego thought-mode, we believe we are asked to give up our entire world, which is ultimate pain.

Our motivation for holding on to our individual personality is nicely summarized in chapter 13 of the text: “Under the ego’s dark foundation is the memory of God, and it is of this that you are really afraid. For this memory would instantly restore you to your proper place, and it is this place that you have sought to leave. Your fear of attack is nothing compared to your fear of love. You would be willing to look even upon your savage wish to kill God’s Son, if you did not believe that it saves you from love. For this wish caused the separation, and you have protected it because you do not want the separation healed.” (T-13.III.2:1-5). Ouch! The purpose of the workbook is to motivate us to reverse exactly that association. In our right minds we do want the separation healed. Each time we honestly practice the workbook lessons, we bring this conviction a little more to the foreground, and the ego’s “dark foundation” a bit more to the background.

So each time you notice you forget to apply the workbook lesson for the day, don’t feel guilty — be honest and grateful because at least now you realize why you did that! Say something to yourself like: “I obviously still choose to have a conflicted mind. The part of my mind that likes to be me simply doesn’t want the separation to be healed, which is understandable. I’m also still confused about joy and pain. There is a part of my mind that realizes that only the Holy Spirit will lead to lasting joy, while the separated world of attack and condemnation can only lead to pain. Therefore, my only function here is to learn to choose the Holy Spirit’s advice a little sooner. I am willing to make that choice once again now.”

This principle, as all Course students know, is very simple, but honestly following up on this complete reversal of the pain-joy associations can be very, very difficult. That’s why it can be helpful to be reminded of the fact that we don’t need to be fully enlightened overnight. Time is already over, and we can learn our lessons of Love at the pace we are willing to accept. A happy outcome is guaranteed for all. And yes, that includes you and me as well. What could be a greater joy than that realization?


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

All you need is Love

This immortal tagline of the hippie-period in the late sixties (coinciding with the period when A Course in Miracles was taken down by Helen Schucman — coincidence?) is regarded by many as the essence of spirituality. Or, by those who are not into spirituality, as the essence of the denial of one’s responsibilities in the world. After all, we do need to defend ourselves against all sorts of threats, be they psychological or physical, if we are to ensure any measure of safety here. At least that’s what anyone believes who is still convinced he is a body, which means virtually all of us.

From the perspective of A Course in Miracles, there’s an important distinction between love and Love. With the former, it seems I need the love from someone outside of me to complete me; to fill the searing lack that prevents me from feeling fulfilled. In the Course, this is called special love: the attempt to find a substitute for the Love of God which we believe we abandoned by trying separation, to be autonomous and apart from God, who is Love. Special love, therefore, isn’t about love at all — it’s keeping another in prison, accepting him or her only as long as your special love needs appear to be met. (This constant strain of judgment, by the way, is the root cause of all illness — first in the mind, then in the body. That’s why healing is always of the mind.)

Love (capital L), on the other hand, is something entirely different. In his Course, Jesus makes it clear that God equals Love (cf. WpI-46); the Holy Spirit is the Voice for Love. Jesus is a manifestation of this Voice for Love. Since he also makes it clear that you and I and he are perfect equals (T-1.II.3), Love (capital L) is the core of what you and I are. That’s why, in chapter 6 of the Text, Jesus implores us to “Teach only Love, for that is what you are.” (T-6.I.13). We made the world, the body and its sensory apparatus solely to distract the mind, to prevent it from remembering this simple truth, since this realization would obviously herald the end of the separation, the end of autonomy and of our individuality. Ouch!

The question “What am I?” can only be answered by keeping in mind this all-important distinction between form (what we perceive) and content (beyond the senses). In the final one-page summary in part II of the Workbook, Jesus answers the question “What am I?” as follows for all of us: “I am God’s Son, complete and healed and whole, shining in the reflection of His Love. In me is His creation sanctified and guaranteed eternal life. In me is love perfected, fear impossible, and joy established without opposite. I am the holy home of God himself. I am the Heaven where His Love resides. I am His holy Sinlessness Itself, for in my purity abides His Own.” (W-pII.14.1). Again, since God equals Love, our very essence equals Love as well.

So yes, it’s true: “All you need is Love”. Be sure, however, that you realize that this does not mean you need it because you now lack it. More precisely, the statement should read: “All you need is the acceptance of the Love that you already have and are.” Accepting this requires that I ask the Holy Spirit (or Jesus) for help in looking at all my rejections, all my condemnations, every non-loving thought that I ever choose, to realize the self-sabotaging nature of all of this. Every thought that is not born of Love is self-sabotage. I therefore have only one problem: non-forgiveness, for which there is only one solution: forgiveness. Therefore, choosing forgiveness (the meaning of the miracle, which is an expression of love) is the ‘royal road’ to accepting the essence of myself and all my brothers as Love.

Does this mean that I should never engage in a special love relationship in my life here on earth? Certainly not! Jesus never advocates asceticism in his Course. On the contrary, he invites us to live a very active life in time and space, only mindful instead of mindless. Following Jesus’ guidance, in each special relationship we can learn to clearly distinguish between the form of the love (e.g., usually physical attraction or desirable character traits), and the content of the person with whom we’re in a special love relationship with, which is unchangeable Love. It’s the focus on the content that turns the special relationship into a holy relationship, as we realize the absolute sameness and sinlessness in all of us. Even when the form disappoints, perhaps even resulting in a divorce, we can still choose to see the perfection of the content in the other, allowing us to part ways in a loving manner.

“Behold his sinlessness, and be you healed” (W-pII.357.1:5) is an apt summary of the core of Jesus’ forgiveness teachings in A Course in Miracles, where “his” evidently refers to everyone and everything we perceive around us. Regardless of the behavioral forms our senses perceive and interpret, in content you and I and all of us are all still united as the One sinless Son of God. This teaching also affirms that we should not seek for special love from a brother with the purpose to complete us — in content, we already are complete. We merely need accept the Love that is already present in all of us. This paves the way for the timeless experience of the oneness Love that we, as the one Son of God, truly are. Again, all you and I need is acceptance of the Love you and I already have and are. With the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit (or Jesus), we cannot fail. So why wait for Heaven?


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Proud to be different?

Last week when I was queuing up in traffic, I noticed that the car in front of me had a prominent sign across his rear window, in all-caps, stating “Proud to be different”. I remember blinking my eyes and having a second look at that sign. Who would want to express that so loudly on his car? (I reckoned it’s probably a ‘his’, not a ‘her’). The obvious implication of such a statement is “I’m not like you, and I wouldn’t want to be. I’m special; I’m unique. I’m worthy.” Focusing on specialness is an attempt to affirm your self-esteem, at the same time implying that you are secretly in doubt about your worthiness.

The attempt, of course, harks right back to the original ontological moment of the seeming separation from God, causing the Big Bang.  It echoes the Son of God who considered the tiny, mad idea (T-27.VIII.6:2) of autonomy from Oneness, and then decided to take it seriously, telling God to ‘get lost’ because he preferred to try to be a god on his own; again, separate from the Oneness Love that is God. “I’m proud to be different from You” is an apt one-line summary of the thrust for this ego-decision for separation. And so, in a sense the Big Bang is still happening even now on a daily basis, as we are all proud to be a special individual.

As I sat there waiting for the traffic light, I wondered what might happen if I had a sticker on the rear window of my car stating “Glad to be the same as you”. I use the word ‘glad’ because ‘pride’ denotes the arrogance of the ego, while ‘glad’ mirrors the nature of the Holy Spirit, Who is defined in A course in Miracles as “The call to awaken and be glad” (T-5.II.10:5) . Glad for what? Glad for the recognition that all perceived differences, yes even time and space itself, are wholly illusory — in truth, the oneness of Heaven has never been shattered. You and I and all of us are still safe at Home in the Heart of God, who, again, is synonymous with Love. Therefore, this gladness really refers to gratitude.

To the ego, stating that you and I are the same is a sign of weakness. The ego thrives on accentuating differences. The entire dream world of duality can only exist because we perceive differences all around us: in various shapes, sizes, colors, behavior, change over time, you name it. In a world where differences would be meaningless because everything is the same, the ego is quite clearly out of business. So to focus on seeing differences, and above all being different, ultimately exposes the ego’s perennial fear: that the Son of God might change his mind, realize that he had been painfully mistaken about being different from God, and choose to “awaken [to oneness] and be glad” — the ultimate death blow for the ego, which we all still intimately identify with.

However, on a practical level, it’s no use denying the differences that we all perceive around us. As long as we still believe we are here in the dream world of time and space, we can use our perception of differences differently (pardon the pun), namely to learn the Holy Spirit’s lessons of Love. No student of A Course in Miracles should fear to be “abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T-16.VI.8:1) and lose his special self before being ready for it. Time is kind; the Holy Spirit keeps gentle pace with the speed you and I can handle to nurture our readiness for awakening. I’m merely asked to patiently practice my willingness to forego all condemnation, that is, preferring to perceive sameness to perceiving differences.

That brings up an awkward point, though. Do I really perceive myself to be the same as the driver in the car in front of me, who still believes he’s “proud to be different”? Do I not say the exact same thing to myself when I compare myself to him? Few Course students escape the temptation to regard themselves as different (read: superior) to all those who are not yet aware of the dream nature of this world. This tragic dynamic subtly reinforces the very same specialness that they boldly claim to have laid aside, by having chosen to follow the voice of the Holy Spirit from day to day. But do they? Whenever a Course student expects special guidance from the Holy Spirit for special challenges, he can be sure to have missed Jesus’ plea to please “step back and let Him lead the way”.

Again, on the level of form, we cannot avoid perceiving differences and having preferences. This dream world thrives on attack and defense, and horrible people do horrible things here. A Course in Miracles certainly does not ask of us to walk around in blindfolded denial, while foolhardy affirming that “we’re all the same, we’re all the same.” However, we are asked to begin to question the reality of what we perceive, and to consider choosing another Teacher, Who shows us the difference between illusion (form) and truth (content). On the level of content, which is the level of the spirit that is beyond our sensory organs, you and I and all of us are indeed still the same, because we were created by the same Creator. All minds are joined; therefore, we all share the same wrong mind, the same right mind, and the same decision maker.

In his Course, Jesus pleads with us to train our decision making mind to increasingly focus on the content of the right mind, while not denying the form of the wrong mind, but gently allowing wrong-minded perception to be reinterpreted in the light of His Love, which knows not of differences. So my lesson that day was to realize that my interpretation of the car sign “Proud to be different” was a lesson of Love offered me by the Holy Spirit, in effect asking me: “Brother, choose again. Would you choose to see yourself as different from him, or would you choose to overlook the form and realize he’s still as much a Son of God as you are?” In other words, will I choose murder or will I choose a miracle?

To close, let’s recall the prayer in workbook lesson 342, entitled “I let forgiveness rest upon all things, for thus forgiveness will be given me”. It’s an affirmation to prefer to see the oneness of God, and gently forgive my faulty perception of differences, which merely serves to keep the Love of God at bay. “I stand before the gate of Heaven, wondering if I should enter in and be at Home. Let me not wait again today. Let me forgive all things, and let creation be as You would have it be and as it is. Let me remember I am Your Son, and opening the door at last, forget illusions [of differences] in the blazing light of truth, as memory of You returns to me.” (W-pII.342.1:5-8)


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Seriously suffering sinful soul

Most of us are quite familiar with various sorts of self-sabotage. We either subtly avoid responsibilities at work, or we persistently work too hard, resulting in burn-out. We keep drinking or smoking, even though we know we are poisoning our bodies. We keep trying to make other people love us, even though somewhere we know our happiness does not depend on approval by others… The forms are countless. While some forms are more subtle than others, we all engage in some dynamic of serious suffering. Even though we try to be kind, oftentimes we’re not too kind for ourselves at all, and we regularly feel miserable because we obviously can’t control our impulses.

On the other hand, equally familiar in each of us is the desire to get rid of misery and find lasting happiness. We usually try to attain this by seeking solutions in the world around us. For example, we think we could be happy if only we would have enough money, or find that special love partner that complements the traits that I lack to find that perfect balance in life. Even when we acknowledge that happiness will not be found outside us, but only within, we indulge in personal development programs that aim at improving the effectiveness of our behavior, but without having to alter the concept of the self to any serious extent. Ten years later we once again try the newest self-help program. And we wonder why we keep sabotaging ourselves, as we are so sure we don’t want to…

A Course in Miracles offers us a decidedly different view on self-sabotage. To paraphrase lesson 5 in the workbook: “I never self-sabotage for the reason I think.” The Course’s metaphysics tell us that the material world which we believe is our reality, is merely a dream (nightmare, really), constructed to be a place wherein the sleeping Son of God believes he can hide from his Creator, Whom he thinks he has rejected and separated from. All this follows from the Son’s desire to experience himself on his own and therefore shatter the Oneness that is God. Terrified of being punished by the almighty Creator for this ‘cardinal sin’, each fragment of this sleeping Son indulges in suffering and projection, in a meager attempt to hold up the innocence that he seemingly threw away in the act of the separation.

In his Course, Jesus patiently explains that we deliberately suffer in order to appease the anticipated wrath of God about our decision to separate from Oneness: if I show God how much I suffer, He may have pity on me. He might consider accepting me back into Heaven, and punish someone else. That’s where projection enters the stage: since I refuse to see this perceived sinfulness in myself, I’ll see it in others, leading to an endless chain of blaming and finger-pointing: “Look over there God, there’s the culprit; he should be punished instead of me.” And so I fearfully engage in an endless cycle of attack and suffering, hoping against hope that God will be fooled by my sinful ploy.

However, all the while, I still want to keep experiencing myself as an autonomous individual, but have someone else be responsible for the sin of separation from oneness. The best proof dat perfect oneness has been shattered is the experience of sickness and death. And so my body decays and eventually dies. I ‘gladly’ pay this price as proof that I have the power to exist as an autonomous self, unique and on my own. And I ‘prove’ this to myself again and again, in a string of reincarnations that keep the illusion of individuality alive. As scholar Ken Wapnick semi-jokingly remarked: “Just being born here is the ultimate self-sabotage.” Ken actually refers to “Self-sabotage”with a capital S, because of the decision, as the one Son of God, to still remain asleep in the ego-dream of time and space, even though in the reality outside time and space, nothing happened.

So now I can see why I ‘never self-sabotage for the reason I think’. I self-sabotage because I think my suffering grants me the endorsement of God Himself. I project because this way I think I can persuade God to regard me as innocent; I should be spared; others are sinful and should be punished. In a sense, the goal of A Course in Miracles is to have us joyfully realize the silliness of this ego-dynamic, and change our minds about it. And so Jesus comforts us in the text: “Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it.” (T-18.I.6).  He invites us to shift our self-concept from “seriously suffering sinful soul” to the happy learner who learns to hear “the call to awaken and be glad” (T5-II.10:5).

So, on a practical level, how do I learn to ‘hear the call to awaken and be glad’? The answer, as all Course students know, is called forgiveness, through my “choice to see my brother’s sinlessness” (W-pII.335) instead of his guilty sins. At a first glance, this may seem odd. Do I awaken by focusing on what’s outside of me? Doesn’t Jesus tell me time and again “not to seek outside myself, for it will fail”? (T-29.VII.1:1). The trick here is to realize, again based on the Course’s metaphysics, that there is no-one else ‘out there’ — everything I perceive is a projection of some split-off part of the mind. The way I see you comes from the way I see myself. “What I see in him [my brother] is merely what I wish to see because it stands for what I want to be the truth. It is to this alone that I respond, however much I seem to be impelled by outside happenings. […] My brother’s sinlessness shows me that I would look upon my own. And I will see it, having chosen to behold my brother in its holy light.” (W-pII.335.1:3-7).

So if I accept the metaphysical premise that sin never happened and is therefore not so, and that you and I and all lifeforms in the dream world are the same, at least in content, the entire cause for self-sabotage, suffering and projection simply vanishes into the nothingness from whence it came. Only one life compass remains: to be kind to everyone, including myself. And I don’t need a lifetime study in metaphysics to do that. As Ken Wapnick remarked in his final workshop in 2013: “I’d much rather have someone who got the metaphysics all mixed up and upside down and who is kind to everyone, much rather that, than someone who’s into metafetish but is unkind to even one person.”

So why not choose the only road that will really free you from all self-sabotage: choose to see the sameness in everyone, including yourself. Choose to see the innocence in your brother, and you will behold innocence in yourself. People commit horrendous acts on the level of the forms of the dream world, which should certainly not be denied, but also not seen as seriously sinful, as they are mistakes that call for correction in our own mind, and for nothing else. All events in the world are offered you and me as lessons of Love by the Holy Spirit to undo a little bit of our own projection of our own self-image as seriously suffering sinful soul. Undoing projection is the way to true lasting happiness; not in time as an individual body, but as spirit in the eternal Heart of the Oneness of God, which is what you and I are. Make today different by making it all the same, and suffer you no more!


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Heal thy what?

Last week I wasn’t feeling particularly well. My intestines kept stubbornly complaining, and I really couldn’t concentrate fully on anything whatsoever. After some self-inspection I simply concluded that I had been working too hard the past few weeks. So just before bedtime I took a standard painkiller and practiced visualizing that I immersed my entire body in loving light, as intensely as possible. Sure enough, after two nocturnal practice periods, the nagging pain went away and my body was happy again. You might say this is no big deal. After all, given enough rest, most symptoms gradually disappear ‘naturally’. It’s even a well-known public secret that most medicine does not really cure; it merely supports the self-healing process (salutogenesis) of the body.

Still, there’s more to it than that. In the past decade, many stories have reached me of remarkable physical healings. Almost all of them involved the invitation of love. These are not stories they just heard from others; they are stories of their own experiences. More than a few of these, for example, relate to the remission of serious cancer after sending sharply focused love or light to the location of the symptoms, leaving physicians baffled. One of the most well-known examples of this “self-healing” is of course published by Brandon Bays in her book “The Healing journey”. And there are many other shining examples of how we are much more powerful in our healing abilities than we usually realize.

But what do we actually heal in such cases? When Jesus in the Psychotherapy pamphlet of A Course in Miracles calls on us to “Heal thyself”, he is certainly not talking about the body. In fact, the Course repeatedly states that the body is merely an effect of the mind. Especially the Psychotherapy pamphlet is very clear on this: “All illness is mental illness. It is a judgment on the Son of God, and judgment is a mental activity. […] Once God’s Son is seen as guilty, illness becomes inevitable. It has been asked for and will be received.” (P-2.IV.1:1-2;2:1-2). So my physical symptoms reflect some form of unforgiveness in my mind, and it is there that the healing work needs to be done.

“Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form”, we read in (W-pI.193.4:1-2). It’s important here to be acutely aware of feelings of guilt or victimhood. With the former, I’m inclined to bash myself for obviously having made myself ill, while as a good Course student I should know better by now. In the latter case, I may protest that I do forgive, but my DNA is obviously stronger than my power to forgive. Both conclusions are ego-strategies that will not work, for both render my image of myself inadequate. They key here is to realize that, as again the Psychotherapy pamphlet says, my self is a concept that I made up. (P-1.I.3:3). That is, I still attribute some reality to my body. That is the illness. “Sickness is insanity because all sickness is mental illness […] Illness is therefore a mistake and needs correction.” (P-2.IV.8:1;7:1).

In both physical healing as well as in psychotherapy, most people want to be healed without having to give up their cherished self-concept of an individual body that can be happy on its own. And yet the most oft-repeated lesson in A Course in Miracles teaches us that “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” (W-pI.201-220). And so Workbook lesson 136 summarizes how we use sickness as a defense to having to recognize this truth: “Sickness is not an accident. Like all defenses, it is an insane device for self-deception. And like all the rest, its purpose is to hide reality, attack it, change it, render it inept, distort it, twist it, or reduce it to a little pile of unassembled parts. The aim of all defenses is to keep the truth from being whole. […] Sickness is a decision. It is not a thing that happens to you, quite unsought, which makes you weak and brings you suffering. It is a choice you make, a plan you lay, when for an instant truth arises in your own deluded mind, and all your world appears to totter and prepare to fall. Now are you sick, that truth may go away and threaten your establishments no more.” (w-pI.136.2:1-3;7).

So “heal thyself” means healing the mind — by accepting the truth of what I am, which is the same as what you and everybody else are: the one Son of God, albeit asleep in a dream of seeming separation. Accepting this truth means gently forgiving myself for still believing I am in a body in the world. For true healing, I am to look at that “tiny, mad idea” of separation from oneness, and stop seeing myself as the home of evil because of my cardinal sin of separation, however unconsciously buried. Healing means I once again choose to love my self as the Son of God. I once again choose to see all life as one. I once again choose to see this world as a classroom in which I happily learn the lessons of Love, offered me daily by the Holy Spirit.

In her book ‘Dying to be me’, Anita Moorjani shares with us her story of her near death experience, after a rapid terminal cancer process. Her spirit was told she had to go back since she still had a part to play in the dream world. Two of the most important lessons that she took back with her are: “Love yourself unconditionally” (since most of us, bottom line, despise ourselves) and “Live your life without fear”. So Jesus’ call to “Teach only Love, for that is what you are” (T-6.I.13:2) most certainly also means “Teach yourself only Love, since that is what you are.” Obviously, “self” refers to the self as spirit; however, since the body is merely a mirror of the mind, you should also love your body, in the sense that the body offers you countless opportunities for forgiveness, and so accept the Atonement.

To get back to my bowel misery and healing, and all the wonderful stories of physical healing through the engulfment of the self in loving inner light: the effectiveness of such practice depends on what it is used for. If it is used solely to ‘cure’ the bodily symptoms, while the underlying unforgiveness is not dealt with, the effects (if any) will bring temporary alleviation at best. The ‘light of Love’ ought to reflect your choice to identify with your Identity as Love, and that nothing else exists. As always, ask the help of the Holy Spirit, the Voice for Love, Who will not hesitate to help wherever He is welcomed.

How do you know you succeeded? “You will recognize you practiced well by this: The body should not feel at all. If you have been successful, there will be no sense of feeling ill or feeling well, of pain or pleasure. No response at all is in the mind to what the body does. Its usefulness remains, and nothing more.” (W-pI.136.17:2-3). So “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, might be corrected as: “A loving thought a day keeps the doctor away”. Seemingly separated fragment of the Son of God, heal thy mind; return to Love and accept God’s loving cure: “You are still My holy Son, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure. Therefore awaken and return to Me. I am your Father and you are My Son.” (W-pII.12.5).


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

Where does salvation come from?

Everyone is always looking for salvation, whether conscious of it or not. We all  desire a deep sense of lasting happiness, peacefulness and joy, without having any reason whatsoever to feel fearful, angry, or depressed. As long as we are still living purely on ego-autopilot, we hope and believe salvation is to be found in idols of the world: in having excess money, in having the perfect partner, in a million dollar hyper car, in making an impact on the state of this planet; you name it. Countless generations have persistently attempted such strategies. Alas; they found to their dismay that although their intentions and plans seemed fine, everything failed because they were at the mercy of a cruel and wicked world.

Spiritual aspirants, including students of A Course in Miracles, have learned the lesson that salvation can never be found in externals, because all externals are defective. Nothing lasts. Therefore, salvation must come from within. To cite a popular line from the Course: “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T-21.In.1:7). Since the world is “an outside picture of an inward condition” (T-21.in.1:5), it follows that if I am to experience happiness, peacefulness and joy in my daily life, it must emanate from within. So salvation is not something that I can find outside of me. As many spiritualities teach, salvation is an inner choice. Once I make that choice, my perception of the world outside will invariably mirror that peaceful inner state of mind.

Still, at a first glance, A Course in Miracles seems to be rather inconsistent in where salvation comes from. A statement such as “My salvation comes from me” (W-pI.70) seems clear enough; but at other times we read that we need Jesus for our salvation: “You stand below me and I stand below God. In the process of “rising up,” I am higher because without me the distance between God and man would be too great for you to encompass.” (T-2.II.4:3-4). At still other places, we read about our brother being the source of salvation: “My brother is my savior. Let me not attack the savior You have given me.” (W-pII.288.1:7-8). So where does salvation actually come from, bottom line?

This question, of course, can only be asked by a mind that still turns others into external figures, including Jesus. The metaphysics of A Course in Miracles tell us that since there is no world (W-pI.132.6:2), there are no “others”. You and I are not bodies; we are spirit, which is joined as one. In the end, not only is there no difference between me and you, but there is also no difference between me and you and Jesus, as he himself explained to Helen early on in the text: “There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you.” (T-2.II.3:10-13). The answer to this confusion, then, is that my salvation solely lies in my choice in my mind to see all life as one, forever lovable and forever unchangeable, the eternal Son of God.

Although this change of mind seems to be an enormous task, it is actually our most natural state of mind. We do not need to seek for this love; we only need to seek and find all of the barriers that we have built against this natural state (T-16.IV.6:1), because we insisted on taking the ego-thought seriously that we could do better than God, and be a god in our own little universe. However, although we still seem to be separate creatures, you and I and everyone around us still remain as one free spirit. And so salvation lies in our choice to accept that as the truth, and nothing else, as we read in lesson 318, “In me salvation’s means and end are one”: “I am the means by which God’s Son is saved, because salvation’s purpose is to find the sinlessness that God has placed in me. I was created as the thing I seek. I am the goal the world is searching for. I am God’s Son, His one eternal Love. I am salvation’s means and end as well.” (W-pII.318.1:4-8)

It is also imperative to realize is that salvation is not something to be anticipated for in the distant future — salvation can only be found now. Recall the Course’s metaphysical notion that there is no time, and that to the Holy Spirit, time is solely a vehicle to provide us with the time we need to change our minds and make the right choice. See for example lesson 317: “I have a special place to fill; a role for me alone. Salvation waits until I take this part as what I choose to do. Until I make this choice, I am the slave of time and human destiny. But when I willingly and gladly go the way my Father’s plan appointed me to go, then will I recognize salvation is already here, already given all my brothers and already mine as well.” (W-pII.317.1)

Let’s read about salvation in section 14 of part II of the workbook, entitled: “What am I?”. This lovely poetic piece beautifully answers any remaining confusion about where salvation comes from: “The truth of what we are is not for words to speak of nor describe. Yet we can realize our function here, and words can speak of this and teach it, too, if we exemplify the words in us. We are the bringers of salvation. We accept our part as saviors of the world, which through our joint forgiveness is redeemed. And this, our gift, is therefore given us. We look on everyone as brother, and perceive all things as kindly and as good. We do not seek a function that is past the gate of Heaven. Knowledge will return when we have done our part. We are concerned only with giving welcome to the truth.” (W-pII.14.III; italics mine).

In our daily lives, this certainly does not mean we should walk around in a blissninny mood state, while in foolhardy denial of all the painful events that do happen here, or better, seem to happen here. Above all, we are asked to think and behave as normal people. For example, even from above the battleground it’s perfectly normal to mourn at the death of a loved one. At a funeral, you don’t go hitting people over the head with the metaphysics of the Course, saying they shouldn’t mourn because it’s all illusory anyway. That’s not kindness; that’s an attack. And as you see your brother, so do you see yourself. You and I bring salvation by acknowledging all life as ‘joined as one’ on the level of content (spirit), and practicing kindness on the level of form (the body). Learn to consistently choose the Voice for Love as the guide for your thoughts, no matter how often you may stumble. Salvation is given you, me, and every soul that still wanders here uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. How many people are needed to save the world? One — you.


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

A Course summary in 12 lines

No Course in Miracles student is beyond fear, anger or depression all the time. Being a Course student means practicing vigilance for “the Kingdom”, which means checking as often as we can which guide we have chosen to direct our thoughts: either the ego or the Holy Spirit. In this practice, it is helpful to memorize some particularly striking statements that capture a key aspect of Jesus’ message. Let’s review some of these, summarized in a dozen lines. These may help you to quickly get on track again if you notice you just stumbled in your mind training practice, by rejecting something or someone. Jesus’ statements are printed in boldface.

I am never upset for the reason I think. I could see peace instead of this. (W-pI.5; W-pI.34). The first thing to realize whenever we feel not at peace and start blaming someone or something for it, is that “being-not-at-peace” always involves projection. Therefore, my upset is really about some guilty belief within me that I projected out, because I still refuse to look at it. Before inspecting that belief, however, I need remember that I am a Son of God and therefore could choose to experience inner peace, instead of my disquiet. The very moment you actually follow up on this, you’ll feel better.

The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. (T-27.VIII.10:1). The next step is to realize that nothing comes to me unbidden. My lack of inner peace has a purpose. Once I can ‘righteously’ point my finger at all the wrongs outside of me, I have a convincing case for God that I am an innocent victim and should therefore be accepted back into Heaven, while others should be sent to hell. Unconsciously, that’s the goal in mind whenever I choose not to be at peace. So indeed, whenever I feel fearful, angry or depressed, I am actually doing this to myself.

There is no world! This is the central thought the Course attempts to teach. (W-pI.132.6:2-3). The first two lines above are preposterous from the ego’s point of view. After all, I can make a long list of things that happened to me which were clearly entirely out of my sphere of influence. Only when I seriously consider the metaphysical foundation of A Course in Miracles, which states that everything in time and space is an illusory dream, our reality as spirit being completely outside time and space, does this become comprehensible. The Son of God is one in content, even in its seemingly fragmented state with many forms. Although each of us seems to have private thoughts, in content we are always choosing between ego or Holy Spirit, each and every instant.

I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me. (W-pI.201-220). If there is no world, then there are no bodies, which means that my body does not really exist. However, if the Course stayed at that, it would merely be depressive. The fact is that you and I are pure spirit, created by a wholly benign Creator in His likeness. We are not at peace solely because we took the ‘tiny, mad idea’ seriously that separation from God is in any way possible. We project our horrendous guilt about this mistake (the ego says: sin) because we are mortally afraid that God will hunt us down and punish us severely, and justifiably so.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I. There is no cruelty in God and none in me. (W-pI.R.V-in.10:8; W-pI.170). Most of us in the Western world were brainwashed early on with the fixed and fearful notion that God is both loving and punitive. However, in A Course in Miracles, Jesus clearly states that Love does not condemn, and therefore the wrathful attributes of God are solely projections of the guilt of the scholars who wrote the scrolls. That is why Jesus in his Course quotes the parable of the prodigal son: this son, who had squandered everything for nothing of any value, being afraid his father would punish him at his return, noticed to his astonishment that his father welcomed him back with joy, since the son was his treasure. Thus it is with our Father, too.

Teach only love, for that is what you are. The Holy Spirit is in you in a very literal sense. (T-6.I.13:2; T-5.II.3:7). Since God is only Love, we are only love. We do not regard ourselves that way because unconsciously we feel so wretched, which is ultimately about our decision to separate from God, which in reality never happened, but which will remain in the mind as long as we choose to remain asleep in time and space. Happily, the Holy Spirit is always present in this dream, and He can use everything in the dream to turn the tables on the ego, that is, turn an attack into a forgiveness lesson. This Holy Spirit is not some external agent; He is the Voice for Love, or our choice for right-minded thought. Since our essence is love, the Holy Spirit is indeed literally inside our mind.

Seek not outside yourself. For it will fail, and you will weep each time an idol falls. (T-29.VII.1.1-2). In the Course, an ‘idol’ is anything outside of us we associate salvation with: money; possessions; special relationships; you name it. However, since everything outside of us merely serves the purpose of distracting our minds so that we shall not look inside and see there is no sin and guilt, any focus on externals is bound to reinforce guilt and fear in some subtle way, since that is the essence of the separation thought we call the ego. We try a thousand idols to find lasting happiness, and of course none of these work for more than a little while. Jesus’ point by the way is not to turn our backs on the world, but merely to make no big deal of it, since the world is nothing.

I need do nothing. I need only be vigilant for God and His Kingdom. (T-18.VII; T-6.V-C). Frantically pursuing idols makes sure we stay on the ego’s road to nowhere, which may affirm our seemingly separated individual autonomy; but it also keeps us in misery and pain, providing yet more opportunities to see evil and guilt outside of us, justifying the tragic cycle of attack — defense. Jesus is telling us that salvation is not found by frantically pursuing it, but merely by taking a step back and allowing the Holy Spirit (the Voice for Love) to guide our thoughts. Since this is a choice against the ego with which we still identify so deeply, this choice engenders enormous resistance. That is why Jesus implores us to be vigilant for this choice, the only one that will make us happy.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. (T-16.IV.6:1) This is probably the most often quoted statement of the Course. And yet it is also probably the most ignored statement of the Course. Most students blissfully employ the Course to make themselves feel better in this dream world of time and space. We all yearn to find some lasting love amidst the devastation of our lives. Instead, Jesus invites his students to start looking inside, in the mind where we have built our useless barriers against true love: the Love of God, which means that there is no individuality. And so again, we love the quote, but the unconscious resistance against it is enormous.

The way you see your brother is the way you see yourself. We will enter Heaven together, or not at all. (W-pI.181). Although these are not literal quotes, they nonetheless convey a central theme within A Course in Miracles: I cannot hope to find salvation without seeing all lifeforms as equally worthy of God’s Love. Remind yourself that each time you point your finger accusingly at someone or something, three of your fingers are pointing at yourself. Again, I’m only accusing a projection of some part in myself that I have not yet been willing to forgive. So every time I meet someone, I am given another chance at salvation, by making it a holy encounter.

Anger is never justified. I will forgive, and this will disappear. My salvation comes from me. (T-6.in.1:7; T-30.VI.1:1-2; W-pI.193.13:3; W-pI.70.10:5). This triad should be self-explanatory by now. The “this” in the second sentence refers to my upsets, which I have chosen with the purpose of holding on to my precious individuality and therefore keeping the oneness love of God at bay. When I forgive, I take back my own projections of fear, and acknowledge that all life is one, kept perfectly safe by a wholly benign Creator outside time and space. However, Jesus cannot change our mind for us. Therefore, my salvation must come from me, through my choosing a better Teacher to guide my thoughts.

To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything. (W-pI.185.1:1-2) You and I could walk around for decades uttering the quotes above, but we won’t progress an inch unless we start to really mean them, that is: live them. We can do this at our own pace. As Jesus says in the introduction: “This is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary”. We don’t accept the truth overnight. The process is more or less as follows: “…at first to be but said and then repeated many times; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth.” (W-pII.284.1:5-6). It doesn’t matter, since time is already over anyway. We are merely seemingly reliving what is already over. Just nurture your willingness to focus on choosing the right Teacher, here and now, and you are well on your way to the real world, free of any condemnation.


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.

The past is gone; forget it

In order to maintain my sense of my special personality, my own unique individual self, I keep comparing myself to everyone around me. I especially focus on what makes me ‘better’ than someone else, especially those that I don’t really like. Unconsciously, I constantly manage of my list of arguments why I am right about something or someone, and others are wrong. The ego especially likes to emphasize situations that clearly illustrate that I have been treated unfairly. After all, such cases are plausible arguments for my unconscious plea to God that I am an innocent victim and should therefore be accepted back into Heaven, while the guilty ones should be punished and sent to hell.

From the perspective of A Course in Miracles, there’s a slight problem with that. Or better yet, a fundamental problem. After all, one of the central tenets of this non-dualistic message is that God does not condemn, since God is Love, and nothing else. Love does not condemn. See for example workbook lesson 170, which by the way states that not only there is no cruelty in God, but there is also none in you and me (W-pI.170). The ego has a big problem with that statement. Since the ego is the idea of condemnation, attack and separation, if this statement is true, this implies that the ego is not true. This is indeed the metaphysical premise on which Jesus’ entire curriculum rests. However, since you and I are still so thoroughly identified with this special individual ego self, we quickly read past such lines and primarily focus on how the Course can make us feel better in this dream world of time and space.

Again, the chief way of making myself feel better is to compare my own innocence to the faults (the Course says ‘sins’) of those around me. To do this, I must constantly focus on what happened in the past, or, better, on how I interpret what seemingly happened in the past. In fact, clinical research in the nineties showed that not only do we have some 50 to 60,000 thoughts a day, but also that over 98% of these thoughts focus either on the past, or on the future. Obviously, you and I plan the future based on our past experiences. And so I relentlessly clutter my thought stream with interpretations of the past, in order to be able to emphasize my special innocent self that may righteously condemn others, because their selfish egos keep treating me unfairly, preventing me from finding the Love of God that I want so much.

To find that Love, however, A Course in Miracles tells me that I should forget my brother’s past entirely. In workbook lesson 288, we read that this is the idea …”that leads the way to You [God], and brings me to my goal. I cannot come to You without my brother.” (W-pII.288.1:1-2). This is true because God is Love, and you and I, being the Son of God, were created in like fashion, and are therefore equally worthy of this Love. “To know my Source, I first must recognize what You created one with me [i.e., my brother]. My brother’s is the hand that leads me on the way to You. […] Let me not attack the savior You have given me [again, my brother]. But let me honor him who bears Your Name, and so remember that it is my own.” (W-pII.288.1:3-9).

This is of course directly antithetical to the ego’s dictum of one or the other. If I should regard myself as equally worthy of the Love of God as anyone else, then the ego is clearly out of business. This realization immediately fuels the fear of the disappearance of my very self. It is this realization that makes people close the dark blue book and forget about it for a long time. Until the pain of constant judgment gets too much, and the nagging notion resurfaces once again: there must be a better way. Once you and I become slowly willing to accept — with much reservations at first — that perhaps my essence is not a body, that time and space are a ‘vast illusion’ (W-pI.158), and that my perception and interpretation of the past only serves to keep up the illusion of false autonomy and individuality, real hope of salvation becomes possible.

A major form of forgiveness to this end is to learn to forget the past, since the past is gone. The past remains in my mind only as long I want to hold on to it, to nurture the ego. But the past is not here in and of itself. To recall once again lesson 288: “My brother’s sins are in the past along with mine, and I am saved because the past is gone. Let me not cherish it within my heart, or I will lose the way to walk to You. My brother is my savior.” (W-pII.288.1:4-6). This is true because, apart from form, the way I perceive my brother is the way I perceive myself, which is the content the Course always addresses.

The ego of course viciously objects: ‘That’s crazy! We cannot do without the past. If you forget the past, you wouldn’t know how to drink a cup of tea, or know how to brush your teeth. And we can learn from the past, for example to prevent world wars from happening again. This Course is obviously out of its mind!” Sounds plausible. The mistake here, however, is the ego’s perennial focus on forms: tea, tooth brushes, world wars. The Course never asks us to deny the forms in the world; the key is what the forms are used for. There are only two options: for attack (ego) or for healing (Love). We only hold on to the past because this way we can justify our condemnations. Once we choose to perceive everyone as equally worthy, the past becomes irrelevant except to serve as a classroom of the Holy Spirit in which we learn to forgive ourselves for our mistakes. So to say “forget the past” really means “forget my condemnations”. That’s the content.

The way to practice this is really quite simple (though not always easy). Try to sit quietly for a moment; close your eyes and pick someone whom you hold some grudge against. Try to imagine what would happen if this person’s past were completely gone, which really means: taking back the projections that you placed in the image you made of that person. In the resulting vacuum, you can now ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help you see the light of Love shine in that person. Stick with that for a while and make sure you mean it. The next time you meet this person, you may be astounded by the results this miracle has effectuated. You then realize that we are able to shift the ego’s purpose of time (“I’m innocent, you’re guilty”) to the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness (“You and I are the Son of God”). When I forgive (i.e., forget) my brother’s past, I am reminded of the oneness of all creation by a Creator Who is only Love. Always remember that we will awaken to the state of mind called Heaven together, or not at all.


See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button

See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at www.youtube.com called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page: ikzoekvrede.nl.