Of course I want love… do I not?

Let’s say I have a day off. Outside the weather is sunny. I decide to go for a trip by bike into the woodlands and enjoy the beautiful nature, de-stressing a bit at the same time. Moreover, I suddenly remember today’s workbook lesson (“I thank my Father for His gifts to me” – Lesson 123, easy as 1-2-3) and decide to practice my lesson while enjoying the forest. I happily hop on the bike and get going. But within five minutes from my departure, I find myself being almost hit by a car coming from the left – the driver simply didn’t see me because of the bright sunlight. That was pretty scary. I can feel my heart pounding and my mood dropping. Not two minutes later I experience trouble in taking over three teenagers on their bikes, carelessly occupying the entire breadth of the cycleway, with a speed that even a tortoise would have no trouble keeping pace with. They don’t respond particularly kind either at my request to please let me pass. In short, by the time I reach the woodlands I’ve lost my appetite for the beautiful nature – my focus is on my irritation over all these bothersome people that live around me.

As I leave the residential area behind and enter the wooded lands, my faithful daily practice as a Course in Miracles student resurfaces, and I start to look at my thoughts, now, and at what actually happened back there. I realize, for example, that I feel just plain angry, and that I’ve psychologically attacked just about everyone that I met since I got on my bike. I also realize, for the zillionth time, how hard it can be to focus on a lesson; I hardly thanked my Father for His gifts to me (that is: Peace, Love, Oneness, eternal safety, my certainty of my Identity, et cetera). On the contrary, I have been in total amnesia about these gifts. If I’m really honest, my conclusion is that I slip into mindless condemnation at even the slightest distraction. Why is it that after all these years of practice, I’m still bothered by such a condemning and unforgiving mind? I’m sure I’m convinced that God’s Oneness Love is my deepest desire. Of course I want love… do I not?

The unique contribution of A Course in Miracles as a spirituality is that it pays a lot of attention to the thought mechanisms in our everyday lives. Sure, there are lofty metaphysical notions about time, space, holography and our true Identity as pure Spirit. This is necessary to make us see that we’re more than this little mound of clay we call our body. But the simple analysis of how and why we choose a thought is at least as important, especially the why. And this why is metaphorically “mind-blowing”. As a Course student, you come to realize that literally all of us have a conflicted mind: we constantly shift between wrong-minded thinking and right-minded thinking. Yes, we want love, as long as it suits our ego need to emphasize our specialness. No, we do not want love if it reminds us of our desire to return back to the Oneness of our Father, which is the case every time we see shared interests instead of separated interests.

I suddenly realize that these kids on their bikes didn’t cause my irritation, and neither did the driver in the car. I actively chose these thoughts that almost instantly led to the corresponding biochemistry (emotions) in my body. I actively chose those thoughts so I could see evil in something external, and not in myself. Ah, yes, Jesus teaches us that we secretly (that is, unconsciously) believe that we are the home of evil, darkness, and sin and that if anyone could see this truth about us, he would recoil from us as if from a poisonous snake. We believe that if this truth would be revealed to us, we would be struck with horror so intense that we would rush to death by our own hand, seeing that living on is impossible (W-pI.93). To avoid having to face this, we project that image out to anything external that suits the goal of emphasizing differences and justification for attack. The guilt for sin must always be in something else! My thoughts send out messengers (that is, my perception) to report to me even the tiniest shred of guilt. My perception carries that screaming to its master (my wrong mind), to be devoured. (T19-IV.A.12). Now I am fully justified in attacking the miserable sinful world outside of me. The point is that this proves that, yes, I separated from my Creator, but hey, I cannot be held responsible. I’m an innocent victim in an evil world. So please, dear God, it’s plain to see that once you condemn the sinners to eternal hell, I’m not among them. My innocence is plain, while my individual specialness remains guaranteed. Long live my ego!

Unfortunately, many spiritualities mainly focus on what Kenneth Wapnick calls blissnissyhood. The general idea is that if you train your mind to focus on Love and Oneness, you will condition the judgmental part of your mind to slowly fade out, just like a blazing fire that is reduced to smoldering ashes once you stop feeding it. In short, such spiritualities claim that the ego can be overcome (or undone) by diligently not giving it attention. This is the exact opposite of what Jesus teaches us in A Course in Miracles. As Jesus explains: not looking at illusions (our wrong mind) is the way they are protected (T-10.VI.1). Happily repeating lovely affirmations day by day creates a veil of peaceful love in the mind, but the “tarnished edges and rusted core” (W-p1.133.8) of the unconscious condemning iceberg below the watershed in your mind will not go unnoticed for very long. A sense of emptiness keeps nagging at the edges of the minds of the blissninnies. That’s why Jesus cautions us: “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough.” (T18-IV.2)

To truly accept God’s gifts of peace, Love, Oneness, safety, certainty of my Identity as eternal pure Spirit, I must first learn why I am not already accepting these gifts. I have to look at my thoughts. That’s the meaning of the miracle: it merely looks on devastation, and quietly does nothing. (W-pII.341.1) It merely reminds me that I am the dreamer of the dream, and that this dream is not the truth. Please keep that word in mind: devastation. The miracle doesn’t look on love; it looks on devastation, that is, all the attack urges in my unforgiving mind. These urges are my ego-drive to find justification for attack, which emphasizes my individuality and my supposed innocence. A Course in Miracles therefore not only shows us why we keep choosing condemnation instead of forgiveness, but it also offers a way out of this vicious circle of amnesia: the daily practice of turning on the observer “above the battlefield” of the mind, and then to simply look. Non-judgmentally. From that state of mind, we’re able to focus on stillness and make room for the voice of the Holy Spirit, which usually isn’t a voice, but a peaceful or happy impulse. It’s this simple looking and quietly asking for guidance that finally offers the sleeping Son of God a way out of the hellish dream that has seemingly been going on for some fourteen billion years. So why wait for Heaven? The peace of God is shining in me now. (W-pI.188)


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, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

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Medicine is magic… so what?

Reading A Course in Miracles, we realize that although you and I experience sickness mostly in our body, all symptoms are merely reflections of wrong-minded thinking. See for example lessons 136-138 and the “Psychotherapy” pamphlet. One of the major lessons in the ACIM curriculum is that the entire world of form around us is a projection, deliberately chosen by us (as the sleeping Son of God) in a guilt-laden attempt to hide from a wrathful Creator who would certainly annihilate his sinful son over having separated from his Source! This sin-guilt-fear thinking is the ego. It is called wrong-minded thinking in A Course in Miracles. The ego is geared towards constantly distracting our mind to externals, illusory though they may be, so that the sleeping Son of God never looks inside and see the innocence and shared desire of all seemingly fragmented life forms: the yearning to return to the Father, thereby undoing space and time and individuality once and for all.

Ego distractions come in many forms: mild irritations about “objectionable” behavior; judging the weather; the world news, and everything else that you might dislike. Distractions also come in the form of physical illness. Although at first glance this seems to be a separate category, Jesus explains that all experienced effects of wrong-minded thinking, regardless of their perceived form, are the same in content. To  the ego it really doesn’t matter whether I experience misery in the world or in my body: the desired distraction of the mind to externals is guaranteed once again. Thus Jesus counsels us not to try to change effects, but to honestly examine the source of the misery: our choice for condemnation and separation. A famous ACIM quote puts it this way: “Seek not to change the world [including your body]; choose, rather, to change your mind about the world” (T-21.In.1.7).

Carefully reading lesson 136, which is among the most important lessons in the workbook according to Kenneth Wapnick, we come to realize that “Sickness is not an accident. Like all defenses, it is an insane device for self-deception. Its purpose is to hide reality, attack it, change it, render it inept…” (W-p1.136.2). Why is it deliberate? On an unconscious level, I see sickness as clear proof that separation from God has actually succeeded. Moreover, I cannot be held responsible, as the world is clearly a cruel place where the kind-hearted such as myself are constantly victimized by people who clearly deserve hell. If anyone is to be accepted back in Heaven without punishment, it must certainly be me. Oh, and look at how I suffer for my error of separating: my sickness surely deserves the compassion of my Creator…? – And so I go on and on, exemplifying Jesus’ assertion that “Sickness is a decision. It is not a thing that happens to you, quite unsought, which makes you weak and brings you suffering. […] Now you are sick, that truth may go away and threaten your establishments [of separation, of individuality] no more.” (W-136.7.4)

Healing, then, must be a choice of the mind as well. Jesus explains that this requires a willingness to accept “the truth of what I am”, that is, pure spirit. So any time I feel sick I can remind myself that I have… “again misplaced myself, and made a bodily identity which will attack the body, for the mind is sick.” (W-136.19.2) I can then tell myself: “I have forgotten what I really am, for I mistook my body for my self. Sickness is a defense against the truth. But I am not a body. And my mind cannot attack. So I can not be sick.” The result, though, is most likely that I will feel guilty and depressed, because the physical symptoms do not depart immediately by realizing this truth. In fact, many times the physical symptoms seem totally unaffected by however loving my thoughts seem to be during the day.

At this point we should realize that we’re prone to what Kenneth Wapnick calls “level confusion”. Jesus’ statements about sickness of the mind are framed from a Level-I perspective, where there is no such thing as a world and separation – there is only mind. From a level-II perspective though, in the seeming dream of time and space and perception, this world and my body feel palpably real, and we’re not asked to deny this. In this world, illusory though it may be, there are choices to make, in which I choose to be guided by either wrong-minded thinking (ego) or right-minded thinking (Holy Spirit). The beauty of A Course in Miracles is that is does not chide us for our physical experiences (and pain!) in the illusory world.

Sometimes, our physical pain is too much of a hindrance to practice any spiritual message. Rejecting medicine as “a form of magic that will not truly heal”, is a mistake that results from level-confusion. Keeping yourself in pain hardly reflects the kindness that Jesus advocates in his curriculum. In Chapter 2 of the Text book we read: “All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles […] It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents of corrective purposes is evil. Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement. In this case it may be wise to utilize compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing relief.” (T-2.IV.4).

So if you experience a headache, please do take an aspirin. If you are confronted with a more serious disease, please do follow your doctor’s advice. The use of medicine may not result in healing as Jesus defines it in terms of undoing guilt to reach the real world in the mind, but it does make some room in the mind, allowing you to reach the calmness that you need to become mindful in the first place. Please do not advise your family or friends against medical treatment, by arguing that such use of magic will not truly heal at all. That’s not being loving; that’s erroneously thinking you know best. If you open your heart to the voice of the Holy Spirit (your true intuition), you’ll know that any intervention that can alleviate pain (and especially the resulting fear) can be useful, at least temporarily. First things first: you first need physical healing relief before you experience the space in your mind to work on Jesus’ mind-training curriculum.

If you are physically okay and are looking for spiritual advice to bring about the healing of your unforgiving mind, which is true healing, it’s not even necessary to find a psychotherapist who centers on A Course in Miracles. True healing is in your own mind. No-one can change your mind for you. Seeking a psychotherapist of a certain spiritual school is often a subtle defense to give away responsibility for the mind-work that you must do to undo your own ego-focus. There is only one Psychotherapist, who speaks with perfect clarity throughout the day if you only invite Him in: that’s the Holy Spirit, who is in you in a very literal sense (T-5.II.3). An effective way of achieving this openness-of-mind would be, for example, to study Kenneth Wapnick’s magnificent series “Journey through … [Textbook | Workbook | Manual for teachers] of a Course in Miracles.“. It’s a great way to fully understand why, citing lesson 140, “only salvation can be said to cure”, but at the same time aspirins are okay.

 


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, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

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Crucifixion at the grocer’s

What’s the link between a grocery shop and crucifixion? Nothing, most people would say. But from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, there is a clear link. As with all such terms, crucifixion according to A Course in Miracles has nothing to do with a body. It applies only to what the mind decides, because the body is an effect of the mind. Crucifixion is condemnation. Crucifying ourselves is something you and I do on a daily basis, and willingly so – we’re just usually not aware of it. That’s why A Course in Miracles is a course in mind training. Let’s briefly review how this works, and how you can stop crucifying yourself.

Let’s say you find yourself in a grocery store to get some food and beverages. Unfortunately, at the counter there are no less than three people waiting in line in front of you. The other counters do not open, of course. The cash payment by the elderly woman at the front seems to take forever, as she has trouble discerning which coin is what. The customer after that seems to check-out twelve items, while you get the strong impression that he actually has thirteen. In short, you feel the irritation slowly building up in your bloodstream. Biochemically speaking, you start to pollute your blood with adrenaline and cortisol, which is normally not what you would want to do… but all these dreadful people leave you no choice, do they?

As a student of A Course in Miracles, you learn to train your mind to much quicker step back, turn on the inner observer, and honestly look at your thoughts. Not to make you feel guilty over your failure to forgive, but to become aware of how incredibly attached you are to your own special self. And that honest realization is the prerequisite for being able to “choose once again” the miracle of forgiveness that we usually withhold in the mind. A Course in Miracles makes us see that we are not tossed about in a world beyond our control, but that we willingly choose all the pain we experience (but blame everyone else for it). This not only seems to “prove” the separation from Oneness (at the Big Bang) actually happened, but it also clearly demonstrates that God is to punish someone else for it, not me. This doesn’t work, of course, as my continued judgments only add to my own guilt. In short: each time I condemn, I am merely crucifying myself, for I experience the pain.

To help us dismantle this mind-madness, Jesus guides us in gently undoing our “double shield of oblivion” (W-pI.136.3:5) that we’ve erected to keep us in the wrong mind, or “ego-mode”. First of all, I can remind myself that I am never upset for the reason I think (W-pI.5). Not only do I choose how I interpret the slow payment of the elderly woman and the sneaky behavior of the man, but these people are themselves projections of the ego mind. I make up an ego for myself and for everyone I meet. I’ve been projecting! Once I take back the projection, I realize that my real upset is because I secretly accuse myself of being so crooked. I got rid of my conviction that I’m a miserable sinner by projecting that fear onto people around me. Taking back that projection, I can now see that all the time I was only attacking myself, but without realizing it. As we read in the Course: “Would I accuse myself of doing this?” (W-pI.134.9:3). That is what I am doing.

Now must the second step (to undo the second shield of oblivion) follow quickly, or else I will become very depressed. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus explains that I am not a body at all, that there is in fact no material world and time (W-pI.132.6). I’ve erroneously identified myself with a little speck of dust, a little mound of clay called a body (T-19.IV.B.4), in a nightmare of the sleeping Son of God. The second step therefore is realizing that my body is not my essence at all. My essence is pure spirit. I am and will always be safe at home with God. In a sense, this is also the taking back of a projection: that of the ontological guilt into a myriad of fragmented matter and “living” bodies. God in truth has only one Son, even in the dream of time and space. So even in the supermarket I can only attack or bless myself, appearances to the contrary. Taking back this second projection makes me realize that “What I think [interpret] is not the truth” (W-pI.134.7:4). I’ve been crucifying myself: my mind by condemning myself, immediately repressed and followed by judging other people; and my body by injecting cortisol in my bloodstream. Until I realize such silliness, I am free to crucify myself as often as I choose (T-4.In.3), reveling in my special ego identity. Once that gets too painful, I can choose the alternative that leads to lasting inner peace: forgiveness.

So the next time I visit the grocery store and find myself waiting at the tail of a queue of customers who seem to start to irritate me, I can now quickly choose my right mind, smile gently, and say to myself: “Ah, I know what this is. I’m doing it again. Of course I am, because I’m still so identified with my ego and my physical body. I’m seeing stupidity and evil all around me because I don’t want to see it in myself. But I am not a body. I am free, for I am still as God created me (W-pI.205). So I could see peace instead of this (W-pI.34). I simply decided wrongly. Of course I did, because the ego’s decisions are always wrong. I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace. 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 for me.” (T-5.VII.6:7). The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself (T-27.VIII.10:1).

The nasty pitfall is to become discouraged in your practicing because you keep falling into it again and again. Realize, however, that this is inevitable. That is why you came into this world (T-18.V.2), to learn it can be reinterpreted as a useful classroom. If you wouldn’t stumble into the pitfall, you wouldn’t be here – you would already be in Heaven. True, you are in Heaven already, but are now learning in the dream to resign as your own teacher (for you were badly taught, T-28.VII.1) and to choose to ask the Holy Spirit ever more often how to reinterpret circumstances and people in this world of time and space. And the answer always comes down to choosing a miracle by withholding judgment, and forgiving yourself for your unforgiving mind. Allow yourself some slack. Enlightenment seldom comes overnight. By patiently following the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you’re well on your way to waking up from the dualistic nightmarish hell of time and space.

 


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, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com:

buy-now-amazon-button