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: