The 2016 U.S. Presidential election posed some serious emotional challenges for many spiritual aspirants who are seeking to attain the experience of lasting inner peace no matter what happens. Spiritualities such as A Course in Miracles may teach to “seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T-21.in.1:7), from the fundamental premise that “There is no world!” (W-pI.132.6), but the presidential election serves as a reminder of just how much we still need to learn to really believe this. As the Course says about our deepest desire “I want the peace of God“: “To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything.” (W-pI.185.1). We obviously do not mean these words wholeheartedly yet, for otherwise we wouldn’t be here in time and space anymore. And all the while our ego whispers that we will never ever mean this, because the peace of God is clearly a lie, if we look seriously around us.
It does seem like a mission impossible to finally get to the point to really mean these words. And yet, there are shining examples of great minds who have demonstrated their ability to manifest this belief into real-life experience. And we don’t have to go back in history as far as Buddha or Jesus of Nazareth. Let’s take a situation wherein inner peace would no doubt be inconceivable: being imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. And yet Viktor Frankl found himself in exactly that unfortunate position. He discovered inner peace and he survived. You may want to read his 1946 book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. While he was never into nonduality, Viktor concluded “…that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, […] in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment.”
Another example is from Kenneth Wapnick’s experience of unexpectedly finding a burglar in his own apartment. Without denying his own understandable initial feelings of shock and fright, he nevertheless was able to quickly step back and ask the Holy Spirit for help, which entailed the reminder that God’s Son is One. He gave the burglar the contents of his purse, who then returned a portion of it. Ken demonstrated not attack but only Love, and this had a profound effect on his ‘visitor’. He left Ken’s house with the emotional plea “Pray for me…” While you and I may not yet have achieved the advanced degree of “letting go, letting come” that Viktor Frankl, Kenneth Wapnick, and other inspiring examples that you probably know of have achieved, they do serve as a shining beacon and promise that it is indeed possible to go from saying “I want the peace of God” to really meaning it and living it.
The beauty of A Course in Miracles is that it convincingly explains us why we do not fully want the peace of God yet as long as we still seem to be breathing here in time and space, eating, sleeping and working, and counting the hours, days, and years. Recall this incisive passage from (T-13.III.4): “You have built your whole insane belief system because you think you would be helpless in God’s Presence, and you would save yourself from His Love because you think it would crush you into nothingness. You are afraid it would sweep you away from yourself and make you little, because you believe that magnitude lies in defiance, and that attack is grandeur. You think you have made a world God would destroy; and by loving Him, which you do, you would throw this world away, which you would. Therefore, you have used the world to cover your love, and the deeper you go into the blackness of the ego’s foundation, the closer you come to the Love that is hidden there. And it is this that frightens you.” Why? Because in His Love there is no individuality, only a “Oneness joined as One”, which is the end of individuated personality. That’s our fear.
The answer to this fear is found in many places in the Textbook, Workbook, and Manual for Teachers. Let’s look at one particularly inspiring answer, found in Workbook lesson 170, “There is no cruelty in God and none in me”. This lesson exposes the ego ploy of keeping us mindless by having our minds focus continually on a dangerous world, which we need to defend ourselves against all the time. In (W-pI.170.2:4) we read: “Today we learn a lesson which can save you more delay and needless misery than you can possibly imagine. It is this: You make what you defend against [i.e., fear], and by your own defense against it is it real and inescapable. Lay down your arms, and only then do you perceive it [as] false.” And a little further on: “Love would ask you lay down all defenses as merely foolish. And your arms indeed would crumble into dust. For such they are.” (W-pI.170.5:4)
To you who seek the experience of lasting inner peace no matter what happens, Jesus says mildly: “Lay down your arms”. This comes down to withholding all judgment and condemnation. Accept the now as it is, for you are safe, now and forever. The inner peace of the Son of God only seems shattered if you choose to perceive it as such. No matter how bad the situation currently seems to be, or how bleak the future appears to you, know that this perception is a choice. Even in the most despairing of situations, you can always realize that you are not a helpless figure in a dream, but the dreamer of the dream. You therefore always have the option of making a different choice in your mind, namely stepping back and asking the Holy Spirit for help in what to think, perceive, and do. Again, saying these words is nothing, but to mean them is everything. And don’t be afraid you are asked to reach the finish of this seemingly impossible mind-changing journey on your own. Your part is merely to train yourself to be mindful as much of the time as possible, honestly look at the devastation in your mind, and nurturing your willingness to be guided by a better Teacher. And where He is made welcome, there He is (T-19.VI.7).
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: