One of the most painful realizations of many students of A Course in Miracles is to experience the gap between ‘grasping’ Jesus’ message, intellectually accepting it on the one hand, but failing to follow through on that message in daily life on the other hand. This is often experienced as self-sabotage, and can be very frustrating. I keep telling myself that of course I want to walk Jesus’ path of forgiveness, and yet I still find myself becoming angry, fearful, and/or depressed. Such disappointments have led many sincere students to discard the book for a long time, or give up on it altogether. So why is this gap so persistent?
The answer to this question becomes plain once you dive into the metaphysical foundation of the Course’s message. “Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea at which the Son remembered not to laugh” (T-27.VIII.6). The Son seemed to fall asleep, dreaming of separation, of space and of time; in short: of duality. The ego is the idea that separation from Oneness, from non-duality, is possible, and that I, as individual, will be better off, because I can now be god in my universe. The core focus of my life, while living on ego auto-pilot, is for my own survival and well-being. I may care for my kin and for others in the world, but only after I’ve taken care of my own individual necessities.
And then this Jesus guy comes along with A Course in Miracles, claiming that time, space, perception, consciousness, the ego – heck, my very individuality! – are nothing but flimsy illusions, lacking any reality whatsoever. He challenges my mind with questions such as “Would you rather be right or happy? For you cannot be both.” (T-29.VII.1:9); “There is no world! This is the central thought the Course attempts to teach.” (W-132.6:1) and “Accept no compromise in which death [meaning anything that does not last, which is everything in duality] plays a part.” (M-27.7). No wonder my ego is in strong resistance to such a message! No-one is apt to follow an advice that would surely lead to the complete disappearance of the universe and his very own self. Realizing that I have a split mind does not automatically lead to the willingness to heal the split, by henceforth only listening to the Holy Spirit.
Even if we are willing to train our ‘observant decision maker’ in the mind, so we learn to look at our thoughts ‘from above the battleground’, we still have to deal with the indomitable urge to bring Jesus’ truth into our illusory everyday lives. We might say: “Yes, I know the body is an illusion, but if I keep up my daily affirmations, I will keep illness at bay.”, or “Yes, I know the world is an illusion, but through my charitable work I might convince some more people to choose the road of peace and joy.” As long as I still believe that forgiveness means forgiving someone else, and that relationships are between two distinctly separate people, I’m not really hearing Jesus’ message, as Kenneth Wapnick frequently points out in his “Journey through the workbook of A Course in Miracles“.
Many Course students fail to get beyond their disappointment over failing to heal their split mind instantly and choose the Holy Spirit as their sole teacher all the time. I might realize that my right mind wants to ‘walk’ with A Course in Miracles, but my wrong mind wants it to walk with me. And when I realize, day in day out, that despite my faithful Course studies and practice of the workbook, my most unforgiving mind remains deeply split, I shouldn’t be surprised to lose heart and ‘water down’ my spiritual practice for long periods of time.
Jesus fully realizes the extent of our resistance to his message. That is why, on several occasions in the textbook, he gently reminds us that we are spiritual beginners, who are “very new in the ways of salvation” (T-17.V.9): “This is your language. You do not understand it yet only because your whole communication is like a baby’s. […] Still in this infant is your vision returned to you, and he will speak the language you can understand”. Jesus can afford to be gentle and patient, as he knows the outcome of the dream of duality with perfect certainty: this entire dream will end as it began – in nothingness – and in truth we are already safe at home. We are only mentally reviewing what has gone by. [W-158-4].
The meaning of Jesus’ persistent advice to us that we look [at what’s going on in the mind], is to be taken very literally. Healing a split mind requires that I look at the split, as often as I am willing to, from above the battleground. And that means: observing my every unforgiving thought without condemning myself. That last part is crucial. Rather than hitting myself over the head because I have failed to follow through on Jesus advice again, I should merely be honest in my conclusion that, when push comes to shove, I still choose the ego, the wrong mind. Practice this especially regarding seemingly ‘insignificant’ preferences. For example, every time I notice I dislike some aspect of a person or a situation, I can realize that I do not want to walk with God; I want to be god. And every time I find myself hoping for this or that, I can realize that I want Jesus to support me in living more happily in the dualistic dream.
The answer to how to heal the split mind is not to become spiritually zealous, or becoming foolhardy in banging yourself for every unforgiving thought. The trick is to keep the metaphysical truth of Jesus’ message in the back of your mind always, even though you don’t really believe it fully yet, and “trust implicitly your willingness [to keep practicing forgiveness], whatever else may enter” [T-18.V.2]. Training your observant decision maker above the battleground remains the most productive exercise. As Jesus comforts us: “How can you who are so holy suffer? All your past except its beauty is gone. I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them [your thoughts] of errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. [..] They came from the Holy Spirit within you, and we know what God creates is eternal.” (T-5.IV.8) So I am fully justified in gently forgiving myself my attachment to the wrong mind. The healing of the split mind is just a matter of time, and A Course in Miracles is a perfect guide to help me save time.
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: