In this perceptual world where we live, love and learn, we appear to lose what we give away. For instance, if I give you a book, I no longer have it. If you give me a book, you no longer have it. Many of us tend to measure the success in our life on how much material wealth we are able to acquire. And to the extent we succeed, others have less. We all read the stories of how the rich tend to get richer and the poor tend to get poorer. And so the world becomes a vicious place in which we snatch what we can get, lest we end up in the category of “have-nots” whom we secretly despise, or at least conveniently ignore.
Having more material wealth does not, however, tend to result in more safety, and certainly not in more inner peace. Many very rich people are constantly fearful of being robbed of what they’ve acquired. Some are even afraid to be murdered for their wealth. The majority of the common people guard what little they have with constant worry, hoping that catastrophe doesn’t strike them before the candle of their life goes out. This may sound a bit pessimistic; you might say that you don’t recognize yourself in this image. Unconsciously however, if you’re really torn out of your comfort zone, for example after a ‘natural’ disaster such as a flooding, this conditioning of “I have what I have taken or received from another” becomes painfully apparent.
How utterly different is the notion of giving and getting from the perspective of A course in Miracles! Jesus certainly doesn’t deny that in this material world of time and space, I lose what I give away. But the psychological world of the mind operates under entirely different laws. Following the central axiom of ideas leave not their source (T-26.VII.4:7), every thought [idea] that you express teaches the ones you are addressing, and yourself as well. For example, if I express loving thoughts to you, I’m teaching love to you, and also focus my own mind on love as the important thing at that moment. If, on the other hand, I verbally assault you in my anger over some stupid thing you’ve done (or not done), I teach hate and attack to you, and also in my own mind. What we usually don’t realize is that whenever we’re expressing anger, our brain produces all sorts of negative chemicals (especially cortisols) in our bloodstream; therefore, a verbal attack means also attacking your very own physical body. (This is an often still unrecognized cause of early stages of illness.)
That’s why in A Course in Miracles, Jesus teaches us that the universal law of the world is: ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap‘. If I attack, I attack myself. Literally, both mentally in my mind and physically in my bloodstream. What’s worse, my attack serves as an invitation for you as ‘victim’ to return the attack, in ‘righteous self-defense’ (W-pI.153.2). I sow attack – I reap attack. You sow attack – you reap attack. This has been the condition of the physical universe ever since the Big Bang. Just look at our long history of (civil) wars and you will realize this is so. A Course in Miracles tells us that this serves as an effective distraction (by the ego) to prevent us from looking in the mind, and realizing that this need not be (T-4.IV.1).
Since in this world we choose each and every instant between wrong-minded thinking and right-minded thinking, we always have the option of choosing a different teacher in our minds. And the universal law of ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap‘ still holds. That is, if I express love, I reinforce it in myself. Not just mentally, but even physically, since my brain produces ‘positive’ chemicals such as melatonine, serotonine and dopamine, supporting the natural self-healing process of the body. At the same time, my expressing love to you invites you to embrace that message and reinforce it. So if you feel you’ve never received the love you deserve, it’s a great lesson to learn that you won’t receive love by demanding it from others; you receive it by being loving. Anyone who has seriously tried this, that is, by foregoing any investment in the outcome, has found that it works. As ye sow love, so shall ye reap love.
At first sight, this message induces an enormous guilt trip. If you consider your 50,000 thoughts a day, you’ll find that many of your thoughts are not about love; they’re about worries, fear, doubts, judgments, or even outright anger or depression. So if we realize the universal law always holds, why don’t we consistently choose love? The great thing about A Course in Miracles is that it patiently explains to us why we employ the universal law as we do – that is, sowing attack, and reaping attack. Sowing fear, reaping fear. As long as we choose the ego as the preferred teacher in our minds, we are bound to attack out of fear, since the ego is the idea of attack, with the aim of the perpetual separation from God. Through denial and projection, we forget we did this; and to make sure we don’t remember, the ego has us constantly fix our minds on problems, threats, assaults and defenses. And so there will never be peace – not in the world, not in your mind.
From the viewpoint of A Course in Miracles, the only truly effective way out of this hell is to realize and accept that time and space are not real; that our perception constantly deceives; and that you and I are not a body, but pure spirit, created as Love by Love, and that all this misery need not be. Any psychotherapy process that does not provide an unambiguous answer to the central questions “What am I?” and “What is life’s purpose?” stays within the ego framework, with at best temporary relief from pain. I am pure spirit, and my life’s purpose is to forgive my own judgmental mind, and choose the better way with a better teacher. Now we can understand why Jesus, in A Course in Miracles, asks us so often to be vigilant about the thoughts we choose. Remember the well-known quote: “You are much too tolerant of mind wandering and are passively condoning your mind’s miscreations” (T-2-VI.4:6), ‘miscreations’ meaning attack thoughts. We do so because we still cling to the ego, because we feel this notion of individuality is all we have, and if we choose otherwise, we will disappear.
If you allow yourself to feel guilty about that, you are really telling yourself that you are powerless before the might of the ego. Luckily, Jesus also patiently explains to us that this thought-reversal process cannot be done overnight; it’s a slow process that requires trust, patience, and a little willingness (no, make that: abundant willingness) to guard your thoughts and consciously choose the Holy Spirit as a much better teacher. Never attack yourself for your constant stumbling in your efforts, because sowing attack means reaping attack. Sowing acceptance of where you are in the process as Jesus’ pupil and younger brother, will reap acceptance of the Atonement in your mind. Lasting inner peace is guaranteed if you keep practicing the loving effects of the universal law, with faith, honesty, and patience. Happy practicing!
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: