In his workshops, spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) often demonstrated how quick we are to seek our salvation outside of us. He invited his students to put an object with some spiritual connotation on their mantelpiece – it could be a photograph of a guru, or a candle, or a plastic flower, or an ivory statuette, you name it. Then he suggested that they repeat a mantra twice a day for a month while focusing on the object. The mantra didn’t matter – it could be Om or it could be ‘Coca-cola’. After a month of daily practice, the object at hand has become extraordinarily holy to you. Even Course students who already realize that they’re still seeking salvation outside of themselves, are often surprised to notice the strength of such conditioning, when they try this exercise.
A Course in Miracles is very clear in stating that salvation – i.e., the attainment of inner peace and the perception of the real world – is not to be found in the physical world of time and space, but only through actively choosing to be right-minded, that is, practicing true forgiveness. See especially Workbook lesson 70, from which this blog post borrows its title. “My salvation comes from me.” Ken Wapnick has elaborated on what “me” refers to, as some people like to have “me” refer to Jesus in this case. Salvation is not found in Jesus, but in our minds’ capacity to choose to follow his advice to us. The trouble is that we are inclined to invite Jesus into our dream and have him fix things here. Yet Jesus can only help us if we are willing to bring our minds outside our dream. Lesson 189 offers an apt summary of how to do this (W.189.7): “Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. […] Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.” This is the same effect Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describes in his book on transcendental meditation “The science of being and the art of living” (published, by the way, in 1963, two years before the scribing of A Course in Miracles began). Through finding this silence, we clear our minds so that the voice of the Holy Spirit, Who is always there, can finally be heard.
You can make this choice any time, but you won’t be motivated to do so until you fully believe that this choice is the “royal road” to your salvation. We need to be very honest with ourselves about how we have defined “salvation” for our little self, meaning the body that we all still so thoroughly identify with. In lesson 91, Jesus seriously invites us to reconsider the notion that we are our body, and to shift our faith from the body to the mind: “Faith goes to what you want, and you instruct your mind accordingly. Your will remains your teacher. […] You can escape the body if you choose” (W.91.5:4) To which Ken pointedly adds that this does not refer to out-of-body-experiences, but to our power to escape from the thought system of the body. The same lesson also emphasizes that we won’t do this unless we can “reach an experience of something more solid and more sure; more worthy of our faith, and really there.” (W.91.7:4) This is exactly what the above-mentioned practice offers: our growing awareness of our true Identity as pure Spirit.
What is the consequence of accepting this meaning of salvation? In lesson 70 about this topic, we read that the “seeming cost” is that it means that nothing outside of myself can save me; nothing outside can give me peace. But it also means that nothing outside me can disturb my peace or hurt me in any way, if I so choose. Jesus adds that “today’s idea places you in charge of the universe, where you belong because of what you are [pure Spirit].” (W70.2:3). To boost our motivation a little further, Jesus reminds us that none of our idols ever lasted, and that we have never found anything in the dark cloud patterns of the wrong mind we imagined that endured. All illusions of salvation have failed us. It is only because we cherish our little individuality so much that we keep looking for salvation in the physical world, where it cannot be found. Please don’t start to feel guilty now – it’s a very common disorder that some seven billion people still cling to.
The conclusion is not that we shouldn’t be involved in the physical world of time and space. We just need to stop looking for our salvation in there. The realization that all your special relationships and all your special hobbies, attachments and passions – idols, really – will not lead to salvation, does not mean that you should forego all mindful involvement in the world. You and I were born with our own unique talents, and for a good reason. Once we really succeed in hearing the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit (our true intuitive voice), our actions will be directed to put our talents to use in the most effective way imaginable. We will be very helpful to those who are meant to cross our life’s path. This equates the Eastern notion of “living in Dharma“: lovingly deploying your own talents to make yourself and others happy, without any strings attached. Your salvation comes from you and only from you, indeed – if we are willing to keep practicing forgiveness.
Also see my seven “guidelines for living in an illusory world” in “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles”. This guidebook is published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is now available at Amazon.com: