Sex and the Course

Spirituality and sex are often regarded as an awkward couple. And that’s generally because sex and religion are such fiendish enemies to each other. Many religious books particularly rage about women who focus on sex. Of course, more often than not, that’s merely a projection by the religious scholars who wrote these books to be able to cover their guilt about their own uncontrollable need for sexual intercourse, as the ongoing stream of scandals within the churches clearly illustrates.

Why is sex such a ‘hot topic’ for so many of us? This is because of two reasons, which are really the opposite sides of the same coin. Firstly, on our list of sought-after peak pleasures, sex usually ranks on top. In fact, if you ask anyone which feeling comes closest to the experience of the divine, the answer is usually: the height of the orgasm. In addition, we associate sex with our innate ability to create new life, which of course is the core of all expression of divinity: creation! We ignore the fact that the peak pleasure of sex is only of an instant’s duration. We become addicted to having more. And still more. Just to experience that ‘divine peak moment’.

The other side of the coin might be concisely summarized as guilt. This manifests on several levels. Firstly, there’s often the association with what we were told during our upbringing by the reverend, minister, priest or pastor, namely that sex is sinful and should not be sought after, since the body is filth. But we still crave for it. That’s guilt. The second level of this guilt is about what our focus on sex does to our relationship with God. We secretly acknowledge that the entire mechanism of sexual intercourse is a feeble parody on the divine power of the eternal Creator. We engage in sex only to tell ourselves that we are capable of divine creation as well, while deep down inside we know we are fooling ourselves, and will probably be severely punished in the afterlife.

And last but not least, guilt about sex is especially fueled because we realize that in the end it does not really satisfy at all. Sure, there’s great ecstasy at the peak of the orgasm, but there’s always the fear that some form of pain or misery will come of it. Especially the insatiable need of testosterone-driven men to repeatedly reproduce is the chief cause of countless marital fights, abuses, divorces and even murder (e.g., in the case of adultery). While on the one hand lovers think they find completion of themselves through sexual intercourse, there’s always the fear and suspicion that the other might find someone who is regarded as ‘even better’, as countless pop hits attest to. Moreover, if we have sexual intercourse with too many partners, we will inevitably call some horrible disease upon us. And so everyone associates to sex both pleasure and pain, however unconsciously this may be.

Oddly, in A course in Miracles we find absolutely nothing about sex. Just search your digital copy for the word ‘sex’; you won’t find it. The overly quick explanation is usually that this is because Jesus’ message is not about the body; it’s purely about the mind. We reason that since sex is obviously of the body and not of the mind, Jesus has no reason to mention it. Still, Jesus does talk a lot about the body in his Course. At a first glance it seems that Jesus, too, disregards the body as worthless. However, when one reads Jesus’ words more carefully, it becomes clear that in A Course in Miracles, the body is regarded as neutral, which is distinctively different from rejecting it, as so many religions and spiritualities do.

In the Course, Jesus explains to us that we might regard the body as a useful mirror of the mind. Contrary to widespread popular belief, the body is never the cause of what seems to happen to us; it’s merely the effect of a choice of thinking. This is perhaps best exemplified in Ken Wapnick’s “Love does not condemn”, which is by far the best resource available today to learn to forgive religion as a whole. In chapter 17, Ken mentions the Gnostic treatise “The Acts of John”, written somewhere between 100 – 300 A.D. In this somewhat bizarre story, John comes upon a young man who has killed his father for objecting to the son’s sexual affair with a married woman. John resurrects the father, causing such contrition in the young man that the son quickly cuts off his own genitals and presents them to his lover, exclaiming: “There you have the source of all this!” The young man proudly reports to John what he did, but he is quickly reproved by the apostle: “You should not have destroyed the place of your temptation, but the thought which showed its temper through those members; for it is not those organs which are harmful to man, but the unseen springs through which every harmful emotion is stirred up and comes to light” (Love does not condemn, p.558).

This Gnostic parable could have been taken right out of the Course. Now we can see why Jesus’ focus is always on the mind, since it is the thoughts we choose that automatically direct the actions of the body. More specifically, the core of every thought is its purpose, of which there are only two: (a) the ego’s purpose of attack and separation, and (b) the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness and inner peace. This also pertains to everything regarding the body: what do we use it for? Although we usually employ the body to reaffirm our belief in the separation, being the ego’s chief survival mechanism, the mind is perfectly free to choose to employ the body, including sex, for the right-minded purpose of forgiveness and inner peace.

This brings to mind Pursah’s Gospel of Thomas that was handed down to Gary Renard, in wich we read the following puzzling anecdote: “A woman in the crowd said to him [Jesus], ‘lucky are the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you.’ He said to her, ‘lucky are those who have heard the word of the Father and have truly kept it. For there will be days when you will say, “Lucky are the womb that has not conceived and the breasts that have not given milk”.’ (Pursah’s gospel of Thomas, statement 79). Obviously, Jesus is not saying that sex is sinful. He is merely explaining that a change of mind from ‘more separation’ (being the chief goal of sex) to the forgiving lessons of the Holy Spirit will automatically lead to the much deeper desire of lasting inner peace, instead of the short, fleeting pleasure of sex.

The ego eagerly uses such reasoning to nurture the guilt in our minds: “See – since you are obviously still focused on sex (and the body in general), you will never make it back to heaven. Forget about it and keep listening to me.” Jesus and the Holy Spirit, however, remind us of the fact that we may very well use the body for their loving purpose of forgiveness and inner peace, as we read in the Workbook section called “What is the body?”: “The body is a dream. Like other dreams it sometimes seems to picture happiness, but can quite suddenly revert to fear, where every dream is born. […] Made to be fearful, must the body serve the purpose given it. But we can change the purpose that the body will obey by changing what we think that it is for. The body is the means by which God’s Son returns to sanity. […] The Son of God extends his hand to reach his brother, and to help him walk along the road with him. Now is the body holy. Now it serves to heal the mind that it was made to kill. […] You will identify with that you think will make you safe. […] Identify with love, and you are safe. Identify with love, and you are home. Identify with love, and find your Self.” (W-pII.5.3:1-5:3; italics mine).

To summarize, sex in and of itself is never sinful, and should therefore never give rise to guilt. Be sure, however, that you are aware of the purpose of your sexual life: is it (a) to indulge in the ego-need for still further separation and an imitation of divine creation; or is it (b) to forgive your own condemnation of everyone and everything, and to walk the Holy Spirit’s way back to the oneness of the Son of God? Sex only becomes problematic once you regard it as salvation in and of itself. Such a purpose will always fail. Jesus asks his students to employ their bodies as the eyes, the ears, the hands, the feet through which his healing message saves the world. The form of the bodily actions, including sex, then becomes completely irrelevant – it’s solely the content, or purpose of what we use the body for which guides our journey back Home. So happily dismiss the ego’s purpose for sex, and choose once again the oneness love of Christ as your prime focus, since that is what you and I are.


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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Nothing comes to me unbidden

A Course in Miracles is a spiritual message rooted in nonduality. It teaches not only that God did not create the universe; it even goes as far as to say that the universe, time and space, yes life as we think we know it, is ultimately just a dream; a hallucination. Or better yet: a nightmare, as it is the effect of the root thought of attack, separation, and autonomy. Filled with guilt over this imagined savage sin and fear of retaliation by the Almighty Creator, the seemingly sleeping Son (all of us combined) seemed to fragment in time and space into a zillion splintered fragments (all of us separated), hoping against hope to hide from God. At the same time we keep up the illusion that the separation was in fact accomplished. All challenges, decay and death “prove” that we in fact did shatter the perfection of the Oneness of God, and are now on our own.

Clearly, the implication of this message is that the sole responsibility for whatever seems to happen in the universe, let alone our interpretation of it, is purely our own. To the ego, that’s a most inconvenient conclusion. After all, the mechanism of projection allowed the Son to repress his guilt about the separation. Projection lets the guilt rest on everyone and everything, except on me. Obviously, the evil is “out there“; not in me. And I will gladly suffer at the hand of all this evil, just to “prove” that I am an innocent victim of a cruel world. Surely God will accept me back into Heaven when my brief candle as shameful sinner flickers and goes out…

Jesus in A Course in Miracles (who, incidentally, is the manifestation of the Voice for Love and should not be confused with the judgmental biblical Jesus) has some rather painful messages for his students in this regard. That is, “painful” for the frightened separated ego, as Jesus puts the responsibility for everything that happens in our lives right in our own lap. Remember what Jesus teaches about the secret of salvation: “You are doing this unto yourself” (T-27.VIII.10:1). The word “this” refers to everything we experience in the world we think we live in, which, if we are truly honest, boils down to a life in which all of us walk “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1).

Many students unconsciously skip such passages. For example, have a look at chapter 21 in the text, where Jesus implores us to honestly admit: “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience, and decide upon the goal I would achieve. And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.” (T-21.II.2:3-5). Wow. And as if that isn’t insulting enough, take a look at workbook lesson 253, where Jesus would have me say to myself: “It is impossible that anything should come to me unbidden by myself. Even in this world, it is I who rule my destiny. What happens is what I desire. What does not occur is what I do not want to happen. This I must accept” (W-pII.253.1:1-5; italics mine).

What? Watch your mind as you take this in. At this point, the ego raises a pile of seemingly valid objections: “That’s plain bullshit! So you’re telling me that I deliberately caused my own cancer, because I wanted to? Preposterous! So my cousin got hit by a car last week because he invited this? And you would maintain that deformity in newborn babies is the result of their own choice? Come on, Jesus, it’s quite obvious you are making a fool of yourself!” And so we slam the blue book shut. We throw it at the wall, or try to flush it down the toilet. There are even several reports of people having ritually set the book aflame.

However, as Course scholar Kenneth Wapnick never tired of explaining, this is merely a typical case of the pitfall of level confusion. Since A course in Miracles is rooted in nonduality, we should always consider Jesus’ messages on two levels: (I) the metaphysical level, and (II) the experiential level in time and space, where you and I believe we are. From the point of view of our level II daily experiences, Jesus’ quotes above indeed seem ridiculous. Of course I do not want cancer; of course my cousin doesn’t want to get hit by a car. Still, what we fail to realize is that although there seem to be many egos, in content the ego is one, with only one purpose: keeping up the illusion that the separation has indeed been accomplished; that we are assailed by evil in everyone and everything outside of us; that we are innocent victims of a world that caused us, instead of the world being an effect of that ego thought system.

What does that insight mean on a practical level, where I indeed get ill, am involved in accidents and eventually decay and die? It means that in all such cases, the one ego has yet again found a way of affirming its reality: “See?! We obviously are apart from God. Perfection and oneness are filthy lies. Look at what happens in the world! See what happens to you! Isn’t it obvious that God is cruel, and hellbent on your punishment? And look over there, and there; yet more evidence of the reality of this world. Jesus offers but fairy tales! Be afraid, be very afraid. Cherish your own innocence [projections, really] and hold on to the infinitely small chance that you might be accepted back into Heaven if you but suffer sufficiently in this dangerous life!”

And so we keep alive and well the silly madness of being a powerless victim in a world we did not cause, just to “prove” our innocence. In Chapter 18 of the text, Jesus says: “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.6:7) The only way out of this hell is to shift the way we interpret what happens in the world, with the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. This shift is called the miracle, which does not look on love, but “…on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false” (W-pII.13.2). Changing the way we interpret this devastation, namely from “a just punishment” to “a useful classroom in which we learn to forgive”, allows us to ascend the ladder of the acceptance of the Atonement.

This may seem vague and impractical, but we could choose to apply this at any moment, in any circumstance. One workshop participant recently shared with the group how he was able to make this “mind-shift” while being hospitalized for surgery. Instead of feeling fearful, victimized and anxious, he chose to place his trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and just allowed all things to be as they were. The nurses were surprised to experience such a peaceful man in such an acutely dangerous situation. In fact, they admired the self-discipline this man had obviously mastered. In truth, it was just a gentle surrendering, a “quiet melting-in”, a choice for right-mindedness instead of the raucous shrieks of the ego. The surgery was successful, and he later reported that he had experienced hardly any pain during the whole event whatsoever.

The trick here is that once you are willing to lift the decision-making part of your mind to the place “above the battleground”, postponing all judgment, we realize that our imagined identity in this dream world of time and space, isn’t our real identity at all. The body may indeed seem to experience cancerous cells; however, we could choose to reinterpret this as a useful sign that we still need to forgive something, instead of a cruel punishment meted out by God. Your body mirrors your mind! Moreover, since this body is hardly the first that I have experienced in time, it’s quite possible that in previous lives I have had deformities. All this doesn’t matter from the metaphysical point of view. Instead of bemoaning the cruelty in the world, I could choose to see everything as a forgiveness opportunity offered me by the Holy Spirit. And the result of that choice is inner peace, my greatest gift to the world which is still ruled by “uncertainty, loneliness, and constant fear.”

So Jesus would say, “Why not admit that deep inside you know very well that this world is a place where starved and thirsty creatures come to die. Why not admit that deep inside you know you are an exile here, and that this desert you call the world is not your real home. You are dreaming about autonomy and separation, stubbornly maintaining that you know better than God. But do you want to be right or happy? For you cannot be both. Child of God, you have not sinned, but you have been much mistaken. Nothing has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, imagining what it would be like to be apart from your Creator, which is obviously impossible. Your Father loves you and will call to you until you choose to come Home to Him in peace at last. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. But how long do you want to postpone peace? Allow me to help you change your mind about all this silliness.”

A Course in Miracles offers us a unique way to discover and accept – without guilt, fear, anger or depression – the simple fact that you and I still choose to have a split mind: on the one hand, we do want to experience our inheritance as the Love of God; on the other hand, we still crave to be a special individual, autonomous and on our own, stubbornly insisting we know better than the Voice for Love. Burying the guilt about that wish merely keeps the misery of the illusion of time and space intact. And time and space are always accompanied by attack, guilt and fear, since this was the root cause of the universe in the first place.

As always, it’s helpful to remember that the outcome of this struggle is certain, for you and for me, and for every seemingly separated living thing. Time and space will have an end. The universe will disappear, and we will return Home into the Heart of God. It doesn’t matter how many lives this might yet take. As the Epilogue of the Clarification of Terms reminds us: “Forget not once this journey is begun the end is certain. Doubt along the way will come and go and go to come again. Yet is the ending sure. No one can fail to do what God appointed him to do. When you forget, remember that you walk with Him and with His Word upon your heart. Who could despair when hope like this is his?” (C-ep.1:1-6).


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.

Cherishing the nightmare

We all try to make the best of our time on earth while we are here. We try to be kind and loving; we work on personal development; we visit places that seem to exhibit the most beautiful aspects of nature. And yet, in spite of our efforts, life inevitably ends in sickness, entropy (decay, really) and death. “All things must pass”, as the saying goes. And so we try to protect the little lot we have, and we hope we never have to experience disaster or war. Yet it seems we are only born here to die again. What’s the meaning of it all? Many great minds have pondered this question.

A Course in Miracles, as a spiritual curriculum for attaining lasting inner peace, offers a rather uncompromising answer. Having come to us from outside time and space, we are taught that this entire world in time and space is nothing but a dream, and a bad dream at that. Section 4 in the Clarification of terms is especially clear about this: “The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever.” (C-4.1). And all Course students are familiar with Jesus’ bombshell in lesson 132: “There is no world! This is the central thought the Course attempts to teach.” (W-pI.132.6:1-2).

In other words, Jesus in A Course in Miracles bluntly tells us that the world we think is our daily reality, is nothing but a horrific illusion, which we made up, with the explicit purpose to experience autonomy and individuality, apart from God: “The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear [of retaliation]. And what is fear except love’s absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts.” (W-pII.3.2:1-5).

At first it is very difficult to be told, let alone accept, that the physical world you and I seem to live in, including time and space and the universe itself, is nothing but a dream in which the One Son of God is dreaming of continuous fragmentation in billions and billions of seemingly separated pieces, all the while living “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7:1) because the guilt that the sin of separation caused, will sooner or later have to be paid for in inevitable death. And yet we do not doubt the reality of the world as we rise, eat, go to work, relax, and prepare for another night. Why is that?

Jesus’ simple answer is that we do this because we want to be asleep, however painful it might feel at times, and however dreary the eventual individual ending is. “[The world] will remain no longer than the thought that gave it birth is cherished.” (W-pII.3.1:3). As long as we do cherish the idea of living as a special individual, with special talents that can “make a difference”,  we will continue to believe in the dream of separation. As long as we do not doubt its reality we will continue to believe that all kinds of people and circumstances can influence us (read: hurt us). We firmly believe in the “stimulus-response” (or: attack-defend) paradigm of the world.

We know this all too well from our nightly dreams. Even though the weirdest things can happen while we are asleep, as long as we are dreaming we do not doubt the reality of the dream. The difference between our nightly dreams and the “waking dream” we call “the world”, is our reaction when waking up. Regardless of whether I had pleasant dreams or a nightmare, when I wake up I realize that “it was just a dream”. I realize I was dreaming a dream, which isn’t real. I forget about the dream and move on. However, I fail to realize that I am also the dreamer of the world which isn’t real either, and that I could also choose to forget about this “dream world”, and go back Home into the Heart of God.

Enter A Course in Miracles. As we read in section II of chapter 28: “Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself, and but a part of someone else’s dream. The miracle does not awaken you, but merely shows you who the dreamer is.” (T-28.II.4, italics mine). The dreamer is the one Son of God, seemingly asleep in the nightmare of separation which is pictured as a universe with millions of bodies, from planetary size to humanoid size, each one being “a tiny fence around a little part of a glorious idea”. However, just like our nightly dreams, the world and the universe are misty illusions.

This message would leave us deeply depressed, if Jesus wouldn’t offer us a much better alternative. However much the ego would like us to think that choosing to wake up from the dream world means annihilation, or “being erased”, as one workshop participant once put it, Jesus tells us that we will find the real world, the gateway back to Heaven. And it’s solely our own choice: “[The miracle] teaches you there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep, depending on the purpose of your dreaming. Do you wish for dreams of healing, or for dreams of death?” (T-28.II.4:3-4)

The importance of this message warrants a further citation of this section: “The miracle is the first step in giving back to cause the function of causation, not effect. For this confusion has produced the dream, and while it lasts will wakening be feared. […] Like every lesson that the Holy Spirit requests you learn, the miracle is clear. It demonstrates what He would have you learn, and shows you its effects are what you want. In His forgiving dreams are the effects of yours undone, and hated enemies perceived as friends with merciful intent. Their enmity is seen as causeless now, because they did not make it. And you can accept the role of maker of their hate, because you see that it has no effects. Now are you freed.” (T-28.II.10).

In terms of personal development programs, Jesus’ call to us is something like: “What do you want? Do you want to go on living your life on auto-pilot, moving from one misery to the next, ending in death? Or do you want to become a happy learner and choose happy dreams in the real world, in the firm conviction that “disappearing into the heart of God” is much more preferable than remaining an autonomous separated individual who thinks he knows better than God?” Almost every Course student experiences this awkward balance between our desire for the Love of God on the one hand, and the desire for specialness on the other. And we would so much like to have both…

Again, A Course in Miracles is a veritable bombshell under the foundation of the ego. Jesus patiently explains to us, without judging us, just how much we still cherish the nightmare we think is our very essence. Its metaphysical non-dualistic foundation makes A Course in Miracles one of the most radical spiritualities available to us today. And yet, sooner or later each seemingly separated little self will get to the point where the pain of the nightmare becomes too much, and exclaim that there must be a better way, echoing Bill Thetford’s outcry and Helen’s agreement that set in motion the scribing of A Course in Miracles in 1965.

Before you hit yourself over the head about still failing to make the only right choice in this regard, please turn to the Manual for Teachers and read section 4 again about the characteristics of God’s teachers. These are not just about being honest with yourself, but especially about being tolerant, gentle, joyful, defenseless, generous, patient, faithful, and open-minded. And the most important characteristic is trust. Trust in the fact that you, too, will successfully make the journey Home, sooner or later. Just ask yourself every once in a while: “Why wait for Heaven?” And then happily choose the intuitive advice of the Holy Spirit again, being the Voice for Love, which is what you and I are. Congrats on your choice to be a happy learner!


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.

Love your brother as you love yourself

The idea behind this all-famous biblical quote is that you and I will be much happier if we treat others in the same way we would treat ourselves, meaning that we value others just as much as we value ourselves. Alas; although most of us really like the principle, if we scan our thoughts of the previous day, it is hardly what we put into practice. If I’m truly honest with myself, I’ll admit that my own needs are of the utmost importance, and I’ll see to it that they are met, even at the expense of others. This doesn’t just apply to survival-based needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Even trying to get home through the traffic jam painstakingly exemplifies this reigning ego-principle.

So why do we tell ourselves that we do subscribe to Jesus’ point of view about loving my brother as myself, but fail to practice it? In A Course in Miracles, Jesus elaborates a lot on this topic, and provides us with some major eye-openers that seem shocking on the one hand, but which on the other hand provide the only way out of the ego hell that will really work. Let’s briefly review some major points that Jesus makes in this regard. While doing so, it’s helpful to read this from an observer point of view. Since A course in Miracles is all about the undoing of the ego, it helps to observe the ego’s reaction as you read it. Same here.

First of all, Jesus bluntly tells us that we have forgotten that we have a mind at all, and, more precisely, that our mind comes with a decision maker that can choose, at any instant in time, between non-loving thought (the ego) and loving thought (the Holy Spirit, also called the Voice for Love). All this constant, relentless verbal chatter that seems to flutter through the brain are not our real thoughts, so Jesus informs us (cf. W-pI.10; W-pI.45). In fact, the only true thoughts we have are those that we think with God — a word which, in the Course, symbolizes pure Oneness Love, outside time and space. In other words, only our loving thoughts are true, and everything else comes down to “image making” (W-pI.15) in order to keep up the illusion that we can be separate from God and that we actually did succeed in doing so. This is why this universe in time and space is called a dream world (see T-18.II).

So, the first shock is the realization that my verbal thoughts are not my real thoughts. Or, as one recent reader humorously commented: “I think, therefore I lie”. But that’s only the beginning. Next, Jesus explains to us that the reason we do not love our brother is because we do not love ourselves. However desperately we try to keep up the image of ourselves as a sympathetic, loving, innocent and well-meaning person, Jesus tells us that we actually despise ourselves: “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. […] You think if what is true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible” (W-pI.93.1:1). While we would really like to deny such a statement about ourselves, something inside cringes, because we realize that, at some level deep down in the iceberg of our minds, we do believe it.

So it’s no wonder I don’t love my brother as I love myself. Or actually I do: since deep down I despise myself, I hate my brother like I hate myself. In fact, the core strategy of the ego to keep this self-hatred from surfacing, is to keep pointing fingers at everyone and everything else outside me: “I’m not evil — this or that other person is the culprit! Look at me: I’m just an innocent victim trying to be loving!” This principle, as all students of A Course in Miracles know well, is called projection: what we refuse to acknowledge in ourselves, we project out onto the world so that we can now see evil everywhere but in ourselves.

Why do you and I think so lowly of ourselves? Once we’ve attended Jesus’ lesson on the metaphysical foundation of this dream world, the explanation becomes crystal clear: I hate myself because I believe that am the one who rejected God and preferred separation, autonomy and individuality to my eternal place of peace in the Heart of God. As a result, there’s this gargantuan guilt about the savage sin of having separated from my Father. I can repress that guilt in a thousand ways by accusing others and constantly distracting my mind by focusing on idols (money, food, booze, special relationships, you name it), but… the guilt is still there, in the deepest recesses of the iceberg of my mind.

“To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning”, so we read in (T-24.in.2:1-2). Literally everything that I believed to be true about my very self needs to be re-evaluated; looked at again; and then transformed to what the Voice for Love would tell me instead about what I am. It’s remarkable to notice in A Course in Miracles how Jesus uses the biblical story of the prodigal son, to illustrate how utterly mistaken we were about our own worth: “Listen to the story of the prodigal son, and learn what God’s treasure is and yours: This son of a loving father left his home and thought he squandered everything for nothing of any value, although he did not know its worthlessness at the time. He was ashamed to return to his father because he thought he had hurt him. Yet when he came home, the father welcomed him with joy because only the son himself was his father’s treasure. He wanted nothing else.” (T-8.VI.4).

So Jesus’ clarion call to “love my brother as I love myself” still stands, but I first need to change my mind about who and what I am; about the degree to which I am worthy of love; about how much my Creator loves me, and about what will really make me happy. That’s a big chunk. I can now see why Jesus tells me that “to learn his Course I need to question every value that I hold”. A Course in Miracles invites me to train my mind to lower my fear sufficiently to allow the Holy Spirit to guide my daily thoughts, instead of the fearful ego, always busy keeping the gargantuan guilt in my mind deeply buried.

The basic means, principle and exercise to this end is called, you guessed it, forgiveness. Although, bottom line, this is really about forgiveness of everything I despise about myself because I feel so guilty about rejecting God, the daily practice boils down to forgiving everyone and everything around me that I previously condemned. As we read in chapter 9 of the text: “If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God. Do not question him and do not confound him, for your faith in him is your faith in yourself.” (T-9.II.4). That final part is the key. Whenever I dislike someone or something, that’s a sure sign I still project my self-hatred. This is not something to feel guilty about. On the contrary, I’ve just been offered another “lesson of love” in the classroom of the Holy Spirit. I am now learning to observe the dream world as a dream. I am the dreamer of the dream, and I can choose to be a happy learner, and realize I am still the one Son of God the Father would gladly welcome back.

Of course, it’s diligently doing the workbook lessons that transfers this happy principle into daily experience. Review, for example, lessons 228 and 227 in the workbook: “God has condemned me not. No more do I.” (W-pII.228); “This is my holy instant of release.” (W-pII.227). Let’s review this lovely prayer from the latter: “Father, it is today that I am free, because my will is Yours. I thought to make another will. Yet nothing that I thought apart from You exists. And I am free because I was mistaken, and did not affect my own reality at all by my illusions. Now I give them up, and lay them down before the feet of truth, to be removed forever from my mind. This is my holy instant of release. Father, I know my will is one with Yours.”

This way I am being shown I can love my brother like I love myself. All I need to do is allow the Holy Spirit to clean up (“undo”) the darkness in my own mind. This does not mean I should renounce the world and become a monk, by the way. On the contrary: the Holy Spirit may impel you and me to be very active in the dream world. The difference is that my thoughts and actions are not guided by the ever-condemning ego anymore; they will be guided by the Voice for Love, which is the royal road to the peace which is my inheritance. So instead of projecting hate, attack and separation, I now extend love, thereby inviting others to make the same choice. And whenever I give love, I will receive it. Happy practicing!


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. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

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

Recipe for instant inner peace

Please take a minute or so to list the top 3 of the most obstructive stress factors in your life. They could be about time stress; concerns about money, about your health, or about authority figures like your parents, your spouse, your boss, or politicians. Try, however, to keep it close to yourself. So if you list things like ‘the climate’ or ‘starvation in Africa’, chances are that you should be able to list something more personal. Other than that, the form doesn’t really matter. What matters is that these stress factors seem to rob you of the inner peace you want so much.

A Course in Miracles as a spiritual curriculum provides us with a beautiful ‘recipe’ for instantly reconnecting with that inner peace, no matter what the stress is about. Let’s review this exercise. What follows is loosely based on section VII in chapter 5 of the text, called “The decision for God”, and the opening of chapter 30 of the text, called “Rules for decision”. It can be safely used at any stress situation you find yourself in, to quickly turn it around and sink back into a peaceful state of mind that is much more productive.

The key in this process is to train yourself to ever more quickly realize, very basically, that you are not at peace. That in itself is a most important step in “rising above the battleground” of the ego thought tyranny. What will further anchor your state of mind above the battleground is asking yourself the question: “Who is guiding my thoughts?”. Or, as Jesus invites us to ask ourselves “a thousand times a day” in workbook lesson 156: “Who walks with me?” (W-pI.156.8:1) The question is rhetorical, of course. If I observe that I’m not at peace, the answer is obviously “the ego”.

Now, before you immediately jump to the much desired step of affirming that you don’t want the ego and that you’ll switch to that Voice for Love we call The Holy Spirit, it can be most helpful to quickly recap why we apparently chose the ego. To be sure, don’t turn that into a complex analysis, since that would only keep you rooted in the ego. The answer, based on the Course’s metaphysics, is plain and simple: I only choose the ego because I think I can be on my own and do better than God. In fact, I am bitterly afraid of the Love of God because I fear His Oneness would “crush me into nothingness” (T-13.III.4). I fear that accepting God’s love would rob me of my individuality, which it would.  That’s much too frightening; so I choose the lure of blissful autonomy of the ego. I stubbornly forget that since the ego symbolizes separation, hate and attack, this is exactly what I ask for and will subsequently experience in my life. I’m insane, but at least I exist on my own.

Back to the observer in the mind, being also the decision maker, who has just concluded that he’s not at peace, and the reason is that his thought stream is guided by the ego, and that the choice for this guide has been a deliberate choice, albeit made unconsciously. Once I remember that the choice for the ego is silly, and will hardly make me happy, at that point I, as the decision maker, am perfectly free to “choose once again” (T-31.VIII) the Voice for Love instead of the voice for separation. As we read in chapter 5 of the text: “I made the decision [for the ego] myself, but I can also decide otherwise. I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.” (T-5.VII. 6:8-9).

The obvious silliness of the choice for the ego, our subconscious fear of God’s Oneness notwithstanding, impels me to conclude that switching to the Holy Spirit as my leading guide will inevitably make me happier. Jesus’ repeated question: “Why wait for Heaven?” has been answered: “My ego is bitterly afraid of Heaven. My ego would have me believe that I am a body in time and space, requiring me to suffer and to point to other people’s sins as a prerequisite for being accepted back into Heaven. But I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.” This leads me back to chapter 5 of the text, concluding: “I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him. I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God [i.e., Love] for me.” (T-5.VII.6:10-11).

By minutely dissecting this self-forgiveness process, it may seem like a large chunk, difficult to master. That, however, is merely the ego creeping in again through the back door. Each time you honestly attempt this, you recondition your mind a little more, until it becomes a habit that really sticks. The motivating drive for continued practice is the experience of inner peace, each time you succeed. You could further firmly install this willingness in your mind by repeating the following prayer, each night just before you doze off, and each morning right after waking up: I thank you, Father, for having created me as a perfect expression of perfect Love, in eternity. I thank Christ, for keeping united all life as One in that Love. I thank the Holy Spirit for patiently guiding me toward the real world, and to the peace I experience by following His guidance.” 

So the next time you find yourself experiencing one of your top-3 stress factors in any situation, any time of the day, instead of feeling guilty, bad or weak, you could choose to gladly realize you are once again being offered an opportunity to reinforce the only thought process that will really make you happy, namely the switch from the ego to the Holy Spirit. Once you can mildly laugh about the silliness of the ego instead of feeling guilty, bad or weak, the liberating light of Love cannot fail to fill the vacant void where searing stress used to rule your mind. Happy practicing!


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. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

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

To call upon the Name of God

At first reading, A Course in Miracles seems to be firmly rooted in Christianity. After all, we read a lot about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, not to mention the fact that its author is no-one less than Jesus. The text contains hundreds of implicit and explicit references to biblical passages. And although in A Course in Miracles God is stripped from His vengeful traits we read about in the bible, much of the text is about learning how to focus more and more on our love for God each day.

Moreover, in A Course in Miracles God is definitely pictured anthropomorph, in the likeness of us human beings. We read that God is lonely without His children (T-2.III.5:11), that He weeps for us having forgotten Him (as if He has a body that can produce tears), and that at the end of our spiritual journey He will come down and lift us up into Heaven (cf. W-pI.69.7; W-pI.168.3). At the same time, though, other passages seem to contradict this image of a humanoid God. Although the workbook contains many prayers directly addressed to God, the manual emphasizes that “God does not understand words, as they were made to keep us separate from Him” (M-21.I.7). In workbook lesson 183 we read about praying to God: “Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus.” (W-pI.183.7:3-4).

Other passages go even further, and hold that time itself is one “vast illusion” (W-pI.158.4), and that God did not create this material world (C-4.1); we made it, as the one collective ego that chose to seemingly fall asleep in a dream of separation from the Oneness that is God. We made the world as an attack on God, to proclaim a space of our own where God could enter not (W-pII.3.2:1,4), so that the ego can contentedly conclude that the separation from God succeeded. In short, A Coure in Miracles seems, at a first glance, to be full of contradiction about the nature of God, the universe and ourselves. To many readers, the confusion that this engenders does not really motivate them to study the core of its message more thoroughly, to put it mildly.

This is why it’s so useful to add the many published works of Kenneth Wapnick to your spiritual reading list. Ken never tired of addressing such potential sources of confusion and explaining with great patience and honesty how we should interpret the message of A Course in Miracles in terms of the difference between form and its underlying content. Briefly summarized, we should realize that A Course in Miracles only uses anthropomorphic images and Christian language because that is the level of understanding we can initially relate to. Once we progress in our spiritual study, however, we are invited to look beyond these symbols to the real content of its message, which is not rooted in Christianity, but more in nondualistic metaphysics. It is only because phrases such as “a Oneness joined as One” are utterly meaningless to us who experience ourselves as separated individuals, that Jesus (himself a symbol, more about that later) uses language that we can relate to, love and understand.

As an example, let’s look at lesson 183, where we are invited to “call upon God’s Name and on our own”, as a means to find the inner peace we so desperately desire. Why should I call upon God’s Name if I am simultaneously told that God doesn’t understand words, that He doesn’t hear “little prayers with words”, and in fact does not even know about this world? The answer, as always, lies in being able to distinguish clearly between form and its underlying content. God is not anthropomorphic; God has no form. The word “God” is merely a symbol for the eternal Love that is our Source and Inheritance. Likewise, the “Name of God” is just a symbol for the reflection of that Love that we can personally experience by choosing to focus on the Holy Spirit as our guide (being Himself a symbol for the Voice for Love), instead of a focus on the ego, which, also, is merely a symbol for our choice for wrong-minded thinking or separation, attack, sin, guilt and fear.

So when Jesus invites me to “call upon the Name of God and on my own”, he isn’t being inconsistent. Jesus invites me to “choose once again” the Voice for Love (the Holy Spirit) as the primary focus of my thoughts, to eventually realize that my loving thoughts actually reflect my real Identity much closer than all my usual thoughts of specialness, individuality, autonomy and separation. To “call upon the Name of God and on my own” is therefore a poetic way of saying: “Choose again the Love that is not of this world, and realize this is your true Identity”.

Realize, though, that this is a nondualistic statement. Actually, Jesus’ entire curriculum called A Course in Miracles is, in a sense, a guide to motivate our mind to eventually honestly prefer nonduality (reality) to duality (the ego-dream). However, since we are all still convinced that dualistic time and space comprise our daily reality, Jesus needs to use anthropomorphic words to which we can relate to, which we can love and understand. As we progress on our spiritual journey-without-distance, we increasingly learn to see the consistent content where we used to perceive only inconsistent form.

In this way, eventually we realize it’s the same with Jesus himself, whom we unconsciously still identify with the figure that walked this planet some two thousand years ago. It’s tempting to regard Jesus as the most divine humanoid life form, having conquered the ego entirely, and who at some point decided to dictate his liberating message to a woman called Helen Schucman. Instead, Kenneth Wapnick clearly explains that “Jesus” should be seen as a symbolic manifestation of the Voice for Love, which is available to all of us all the time. Helen herself, in fact, never felt she had any particular special talent. She once said that, at least in principle, everyone is able to experience this Voice for Love.

We should not, however, focus on the voice as form. Most of us experience this Voice for Love not as a voice, but as peaceful intuition in the heart or hara (lower belly) area. The ‘Voice’ is then experienced as a loving impulse, which, as most of us know, always leads to the best imaginable outcome for everyone. So I should always try to remember that “The name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. But it stands for love that is not of this world.” (M23.4:1-2). The happy message of A Course in Miracles is that this Love is also my own inheritance.  So to “call upon the Name of God”, meaning: to invite the help of the symbols called “Holy Spirit” or “Jesus”, reminds me that there is indeed an alternative to the ego-clutter in my mind, and that the Name of God is my Name, because this Oneness Love is my inheritance. As we read in the poetic concluding chapter of the text: “God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content.” (T-31.VIII.9:5).

____________________________


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. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

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

But for the grace of God

Many concepts in A Course in Miracles such as God, Christ, love, death, mind, crucifixion and salvation have an entirely different meaning from how we once learned them. This is part of the reason why A Course in Miracles is so difficult to comprehend at first, and one of the main drivers for my book and blog called “Miracles or murder”. Although perhaps not apparent at first, gratitude is another concept that is completely redefined in the Course. Let’s briefly examine in what way.

In this world, we usually feel grateful if we feel we are fortunate, particularly when we experience ourselves to be more fortunate than others. As we read in workbook lesson 195: “Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss. The most that they can do is see themselves as better off than others. And they try to be content because another seems to suffer more than they.” (W-pI.195.1-3). The number of people that thank God — consciously or unconsciously — for having ‘saved’ them from an accident, a serious illness, or a natural catastrophe, are countless.

As scholar Kenneth Wapnick remarked, the popular saying “There but for the grace of God go I” is hardly a kind and loving thought. I am grateful I have been spared, even though you may not have been. I am grateful I don’t have cancer, while many others are not so fortunate. I got what I wanted, but quite possibly at the expense of others. In other words, our gratitude is usually based on comparisons and differences, and upon a sense of inequality of worth between myself and others. Needless to say, this is hardly the concept of gratitude that Jesus in A Course in Miracles would want us to embrace .

Workbook lesson 195 explains: “Your gratitude is due to Him alone Who made all cause of sorrow disappear throughout the world. […] You do not offer God your gratitude because your brother is more slave than you; nor could you sanely be enraged if he seems freer. Love makes no comparisons. And gratitude can only be sincere if it be joined to love.” (W-pI.195.1:7;4:1-3). In other words, we should be grateful to God and our brothers for the fact that in truth all life is one, and that the ‘tiny, mad idea’ of the ego and its world of separation and differences is not true, and never will be.

In chapter 2 of the text, Jesus tells us: “It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its Oneness transcends the sum of its parts.” (T-2.VII.6:1-3). So once again we see why it’s so important to keep the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles  always in the back of your mind when you read it. Workbook lesson 195 thus emphasizes: “We thank our Father for one thing alone: that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him. […] Therefore give thanks, but in sincerity.” (W-pI.195.6:1;5:1).

To be sure, you should not feel guilty over, for example, being healthy while others are perhaps not so fortunate at the moment. Also, it is not very loving and kind to dismiss other people’s suffering, by saying: “This is all illusory anyway. In truth all life is One, so I’m only going to focus on that, and not try to mend anything that isn’t real at all.” Such thinking would be what Kenneth Wapnick calls level confusion. The staggering metaphysics of A Course in Miracles do not imply that we do not pay attention to the world in our everyday lives. On the contrary, this world can be seen as a useful classroom in which we learn how we can allow the ego to be gently undone completely, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

When you and I accept our function of true forgiveness here in this dualistic dream world, we become a Teacher of God. This means that our kind and loving demeanor serves a gentle reminder to others that they, too, can make the same choice of the relinquishment of judgment, in the grateful realization that all life is one and the ego is a silly mistake. Once more from workbook lesson 195: “Let your gratitude make room for all who will escape with you: the sick, the weak, the needy and afraid, and those who mourn a seeming loss or feel apparent pain, who suffer cold or hunger, or who walk the way of hatred and the path of death. All these go with you. […] Then let our brothers lean their tired heads against our shoulders as they rest a while. We offer thanks for them. For if we can direct them to the peace that we would find, the way is opening at last to us.” (W-pI.195.5:2-3;7:1-2).

Now to be sure, it may at first be hard to feel gratitude when asked to see the sameness in yourself and, say, the leading politicians of your nation. Or with others whom you really don’t like. Realize though, in gladness, that this is the great reconditioning of the mind that A Course in Miracles offers us; namely that from shifting form form (“he’s the president”) to content (“he’s merely a mirror of my own mind, as there are no others”). The only reason that we find this difficult is, as we read in chapter 15 of the text: “You have little faith in yourself because you are unwilling to accept the fact that perfect love is in you.” (T-15.VI.2:1). My gratitude should therefore come from the realization that perfect love is not only within me, but within ‘all living things’, regardless of form, since life is one.

We conclude with the lovely message from workbook lesson 195: “Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love. For hatred is forgotten when we lay comparisons aside. […] Gratitude becomes the single thought we substitute for our insane perceptions [of separation]. God has cared for us, and calls us Son. […] What more remains as obstacles to peace?” (W-pI.8:1-2; 9:4-5;8:3). The grace of God is not just for me, but for everyone, without exception. Practice this realization often during the day, so that eventually you can sincerely answer the question what your prevailing state of mind is with one word: gratitude.

 


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. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

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

The immediacy of salvation

Students of A Course in Miracles, and spiritual aspirants in general, practice hard to learn to let go of their little separated self, and accept instead their identification with their larger Self, which somehow transcends the individual. They imagine that one day they’ll be enlightened, having left behind all the pain and sorrow that they still perceive at times. But in workbook lesson 188, which was by the way one of Bill Thetford’s favorites, Jesus says: “Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all.” (W-pI.188.1:1-4).

Such a statement could easily lead to a massive spiritual guilt trip, as the simplicity of this call is apparently still too difficult for us, as sincere spiritual seekers, to turn into daily experience. In Chapter 26 of the text, Jesus also comments on this: “The one remaining problem that you have is that you see an interval between the time when you forgive, and will receive the benefits of trusting your brother […] You see eventual salvation, not immediate results. […] Be not content with future happiness. It has no meaning, and it is not your just reward. For you have cause for freedom now…” (T-26.VIII.1:1;3:1;9:1-3). So how do we do that?

Well, certainly not by thinking that we need to work still harder on being spiritual. Rather, A Course in Miracles invites you and me to do less, meaning: do less on my own. Happiness – now – means I step back as my own teacher, and ask the Holy Spirit what to think, say and do instead. Otherwise, I am tempted to instruct the Holy Spirit how to help me, which of course never works. Remember, one of the central themes of A Course in Miracles is: “I need do nothing” (T-18.VII). We should merely invite the Holy Spirit (i.e., the Voice for Love) in. In Chapter 18 of the text, we also read: “It is not necessary that you do more; indeed, it is necessary that you realize that you cannot do more. Do not attempt to give the Holy Spirit what He does not ask, or you will add the ego to Him and confuse the two.” (T-18.IV.1:5-6).

As with almost everything in A Course in Miracles, the principle is simple, but its application is far from easy. The core of our resistance to this simple rule of thumb is that each time we practice this, we make the ego slightly smaller; a bit less important. Should this become a habit, the ego would eventually diminish and disappear… which ultimately means that would disappear! And so the ego seeks and finds all sorts of subtle strategies to keep judgment and condemnation alive and well, so that we can comfortably identify with a very special personal self, which was the root cause of the universe and the planet and all its billions of life forms on it anyway.

All students of A Course in Miracles are familiar with its teaching that the world we seem to live in is not our home. Happily, Jesus also speaks a lot about what our real Home is. Actually, much of his curriculum boils down to continually motivating its students to associate time and space with misery, and to accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the one way to return Home in the Heart of God. Again in Lesson 188, we read: “Light is not of the world, yet you who bear the Light in you are alien here as well. The Light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own. It is the only thing you bring with you from Him Who is your Source. It shines in you because it lights your home, and leads you back to where it came from and you are at home. This light can not be lost. Why wait to find it in the future, or believe it has been lost already, or was never there?” (W-pI.188.1:5-2:2). In other words, why wait for Heaven?

In Chapter 3 of the text Jesus tells us that seemingly having lost something does not mean it is gone; is merely means we forgot where it is (T-3.VI.9). This implies that I am in control of my own happiness or unhappiness, not in the future, but right now: “Let the darkness go, and all you made [material misery] you will no longer see, for sight of it depends on denying vision. Yet from denying vision it does not follow that you cannot see…” (T-13.V.8:5-6). What do I need to do to see? Simply this: “Sit quietly and close your eyes. The light within you is sufficient.” (W-pI.188.6:1-2). A few lines further in the same lesson, Jesus then invites us to “…take your wandering thoughts [i.e., judgments], and gently bring them back to where they fall in line with all the thoughts we share with God. [i.e., non-judgment]”. We will not let them stray. […] We will forgive them [i.e., wandering thoughts] all, absolving all the world from what we thought it did to us. For it is we who make the world as we would have it.”  (W-pI.188.9:2-10:3; my italics).

To summarize: Yes, accepting the Atonement is a slow process in time, which may take many lifetimes to master. At the same time, the choice for the Holy Spirit as the leading Guide of the mind can always be made now. In fact, this choice can only be made now, as now is the only time there is, as any reader of Eckart Tolle will remember. As Jesus concludes: “The peace of God passeth your understanding only in the past. Yet here it is, and you can understand it now. […] You will first dream of peace, and then awaken to it. Your first exchange of what you made [material misery] for what you want [the Love of God] is the exchange of nightmares for the happy dreams of love. In these lie your true perceptions, for the Holy Spirit corrects the world of dreams, where all perception is.” (T-13.VII.8:1-9:3).

So why not try it right now? Sit quietly and close your eyes. Calmly observe all your “wandering thoughts”, that is, anything you are not completely peaceful about, and realize these thoughts really do not serve you any longer, and so there is no reason anymore for you to focus on them. Then invite the Voice for Love, by silently saying: “The peace of God is shining in me now. Let all things shine upon me in that peace. And let me bless them with the light in me.”  (W-pI.188.10:4-7). Happy practicing!


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. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

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

What a wonderful world

This evergreen by Louis Armstrong, initially released in 1967 and covered by many artists since, invites us all to look only at the good things in life, and focus on the inherent love that is our desire beneath our superficial daily doings. It is often sung at spiritual events as well, where it is used as an affirmation to remind us of the beauty of life that is there for all of us, but for the choosing. All the ‘bad’ things and people that subsequently seem to cross our path are then at least not our fault, and we can continue to feel blissful about our advanced spiritual focus.

In A Course in Miracles, this world is depicted quite differently, namely as “…a dry and dusty place, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die” (W.pII.13.5:1). That’s hardly a wonderful world! Moreover, the Course’s workbook starts out by letting us know that nothing here means anything. What!? A Course in Miracles is one of the very few spiritualities that offer such a shocking view on the world and the material universe, and it is completely consistent about this stance throughout. So how could this be, if the goal of the Course is to attain a lasting state of unshakable inner peace, in the awareness that all life is one, and all the hurts in the world are illusory? This sounds somewhat contradictory, to say the least.

The explanation, of course, lies in the metaphysics that are the rock on which its message rests securely. When we say we want lasting inner peace, we usually mean we would like to experience that as a good healthy individual ego. A Course in Miracles brings us the most uncomfortable message that the entire ego, yea individuality whatsoever, is completely illusory, and even more so, the entire phenomenal universe and all our senses that behold it as well. The Course more or less equates the material world with hell, and summarizes the combined aspects of time and space as a hallucinatory nightmare. Why? Because the material universe is nothing but the imagined effect of the thought of separation from Oneness (God), and the body is nothing but a pitiful attempt to hide from the supposed wrath of the Creator over this ‘savage sin’, by splitting up in billions of fragments that now seem to have a life of their own. Jesus, in summary, is telling us that our seemingly individual autonomous personalities really do not exist in truth.

Now before you head for a deep depression about Jesus’ message (which would again be an ego tactic), hold on, and bear with him. A Course in Miracles would not be of much use if it stayed at that. There is, of course, a much better experience for us, one that reflects the truth of what we collectively are, namely the One Son of God (albeit seemingly asleep). The secret of salvation is but the realization that all the pain and misery in our lives come from choosing the wrong focus, or teacher, in the mind. As long as we focus on individuality, we continue to invite separation. It is only when we choose to step back and let the Voice for Love (i.e., he Holy Spirit) be the guide of our mind, that peace not only becomes possible but inevitable.

We will, however, only make this choice for a better mind teacher once we fully realize the silliness of the “joke” of thinking we can actually exist, separated from God, in a material universe that was made as a place where He could enter not and we could be on our own. Our continuous wish to see separation is mirrored in how our physical senses work: “All idols of the world were made to keep the truth from being known to you, and to maintain allegiance to the dream that you must find what is outside yourself to be complete and happy. It is vain to worship idols in the hope of peace. God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him. […] Look not to idols. Do not seek outside yourself.” (T-29.VII.6).

So this is why A Course in Miracles is not your everyday spirituality that states that this world can be a place of love. It does promise that love can be a consistent experience in the mind, but only if we fully realize that the material world itself is merely illusory, and not at all what we want. Yet the Course does not ask us to deny our experiences in this ‘nightmare’ we seem to live in. Rather, it invites us to calmly and honestly look (in the mind) at what it is we choose to focus on each and every minute of the day, and then happily “choose again” to experience this world as a classroom for real spiritual growth, which ultimately leads us entirely out of the world, to real eternal peace.

The world cannot be a wonderful world, if all things inevitably decay and die and pass away. The world cannot be wonderful as long as we perceive politicians and crooks that we exclude from the light in us. The world only becomes wonderful once we realize, with gladness and in gratitude, that there is no world! (W-pI.132.6:2). Having chosen the Holy Spirit as the one guide to our thoughts, all the various competing forms the senses behold shift to the background, while we bring to the foreground the content of the light of Love we all share. And this is no idle wish; it is the way out of hell. “The body’s eyes will continue to see differences, […] but the healed mind will put them all in one category: they are unreal.” (M-8.6:1-5). Now we can forgive every unforgiving thought we hold in our own mind. Now we can see past all seeming differences. “Now can you say to everyone who comes to you in prayer with you: “I cannot go without you, for you are a part of me.” And so he is in truth.” (S-1.V.3:8-10).

To summarize: this world only becomes a ‘wonderful world’ once we realize that there is no material world, and that all life that we perceive around is us but a mirror of the mind. This perception can be guided either by the ego or the Holy Spirit. And it is entirely up to you and me which guide we choose; this power of choice is our one remaining freedom. And what a power it is! The world becomes wonderful once we choose to regard it solely as a classroom in which there is only love or calls for love, to which only one answer suffices: the answer the Holy Spirit gives us. And so Jesus says to us in the Song of Prayer pamphlet: “Hold out your hand. This enemy has come to bless you. […] He is a Son of God, along with you. He is no jailer, but a messenger of Christ. Be this to him, that you may see him thus.” (S-1.III.5:3-9). Practice in seeing this not in some, but in all people you meet, regardless of behavior. The world is wonderful because through it we can learn to end the separation.


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. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

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

Reading versus doing

Although over three million people worldwide own a copy of A Course in Miracles, that certainly doesn’t mean that three million people have mastered its message. In fact, as scholar Kenneth Wapnick often remarked, many times when people say they are “doing” the Course, they are actually only reading the workbook lessons, and perhaps practice its instructions once or twice a day. This is not because people are lazy or stupid. After all, A Course in Miracles aims at reversing each and every belief that you and I hold about everything that we now consider to be of value in life. Jesus promises peace, love, and joy, but at the “expense” of our own ego-personality. No wonder there’s tremendous resistance!

Jesus wants us to want to study and “do” his Course. Like any learning theorist, he must nurture the motivation, or desire, in his students to follow up on his teachings. In doing so, he is of course fully aware of the ego-resistance against everything he presents us. As he states in the introduction to the workbook: “It is doing the exercices that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth. […] Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. […] Some of them you may actively resist. […] This does not matter. […]” (W-pI.In.1:2-4;8:1-2;9:2).

In several places in both text and workbook, Jesus addresses his students directly about the issue of their motivation. Usually the ego attempts to skip such sections, but they are worth reviewing from time to time. As early as Chapter 4 in the text, Jesus reassures his students: “You have very little trust in me as yet, but it will increase as you turn more and more often to me instead of to your ego for guidance. The results [of following through on my advice] will convince you increasingly that this choice is the only sane one you can make. No one who learns from experience that one choice brings peace and joy while another brings chaos and disaster needs additional convincing.” (T-4.VI.3:1-3).

As any good learning theorist knows, learning through rewards is more effective than learning through pain. So Jesus’ aim is to have us experience the joy and peace that applying his teachings will bring. It is this experience alone that will motivate us to practice even more, and more often. And so even after 180 workbook lessons, Jesus comforts and guides his students thus: “You are not asked for total dedication all the time as yet. But you are asked to practice now in order to attain the sense of peace such unified commitment will bestow, if only intermittently. It is experiencing this that makes it sure that you will give your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth.” (W-pI.181.In.1:2-4).

Again, the ego part of the mind senses – very acutely – that following up on Jesus’ instructions will ultimately mean its demise. Since we are all intimately identified with our own ego personality, unconscious fear about its undoing leads to all sorts of subtle self-sabotaging behavior. We might, for example, fall asleep while reading a workbook lesson. Or perhaps we’re suddenly distracted by tasks that we realize are overdue. Or perhaps the subtlety transforms into outright rage about the sheer impossibility of such “preposterous” lessons, and we throw the book at the wall. Or close it for a long time. There are many, many ways in which we can find justifiable excuses to not follow through on Jesus’ message. That’s why we need the experience of the peace and joy that doing the exercices will bring, if we are to ascend the “ladder of the Atonement”.

Jesus motivates his students by repeatedly assuring them that diligently doing the exercices requires almost nothing on their behalf: “Remember only this: you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. […] None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. […] The overall aim of the exercises is to increase your ability to extend the ideas you will be practicing to include everything. This will require no effort on your part. The exercices themselves meet the conditions necessary for this kind of transfer.” (W-pI.9:1-3;7:1; my italics). Again, Jesus appeals to the part of our mind that does want to experience the peace and joy he promises.

The core of what we should be willing to do is to give up judgment totally, if only for a little while: “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment.” (T-3.VI.3:1). And, again from the introduction to workbook lessons 181-200: “The experience of freedom and of peace that comes as you give up your tight control of what you see speaks for itself. Your motivation will be so intensified that words become of little consequence. You will be sure of what you want, and what is valueless.” (W-pI.181.In.2:4-6).

This is why Jesus assures us in chapter 20 of the text that “This course requires almost nothing of you. It is impossible to imagine one that asks to little, or could offer more.” What it offers is eternal love, peace and joy, albeit at the expense of our precious little individuality., which we’ll slowly come to realize we never wanted anyway, as it mostly leads to misery and pain. At the same time, Jesus admits that “It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful [if we give up judgment and ask the Holy Spirit for help].” (M-4.I-A.4:4). Therefore, no-one suddenly jumps (in his mind) from dualistic illusions to nondualistic truth in one leap; it’s a slow, life-long learning process.

So you and I can afford to be patient, and accept that the pace of the learning process does not seem very rapid. Jesus knows that a happy outcome is certain for everyone: “Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety. Patience is natural to the teacher of God. All he sees is certain outcome, at a time perhaps unknown to him as yet, but not in doubt.” (M-4.VIII.1:1-3). Of course, the ego can use this assurance as yet another excuse not to practice the workbook lessons. So this is why we need to be “vigilant for the Kingdom” and do practice the workbook lessons as often as we can, no matter where we are. The more you muster the courage to give up judgment completely and ask for help. the more often you will notice that warm, peaceful feeling in your body and mind. And it is this experience that will increase “…your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth”. So don’t just read the exercises; apply them as often as you can, in spite of unconscious resistance. Happy practicing!


 

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. 2018 Course workshop at www.youtube.com.

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