Literally within you

By far most people, certainly in the western world, regard God as an anthropomorphic being, consciously or unconsciously. Even many ACIM students can barely avoid thinking about God, the Creator of Life, as a being Who is aware of them in time and space; an authority Who judges, a ‘Father’ who at best calls on us to join with Him in the mind. Indeed, from a psychological point of view, we only keep clinging to our little individual selfish life because we (that is, our ego) hope to be able to put the blame for all ‘evil’ in the world on others, clearly proving us innocent to God. Still, we are deathly afraid God will ultimately punish us for our cardinal sin of having rejected Him, just before the Big Bang.

In chapter 18 of the Textbook, Jesus pointedly reminds us that “You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize.” (T-18.VIII.1:7). This is because, as Kenneth Wapnick often emphasized, you and I simply cannot think of ourselves without a body. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus meets his students where they are. And so Jesus presents us with passages wherein we read that God is lonely without His children, indeed even weeps, as if he had tear ducts from which tears fall. All this imagery is meant metaphorically, as our minds need some form of image to relate to, since we are all “very new in the ways of salvation” (T-17.V.9).

In the Netherlands, for some time a few giant commercial advertisement columns near the highway had displays showing three words: “God is liefde” (God is love). Instead of reading this as a call to bring your attention to God (a Being) to ask for beneficence of some form, it may help to try to substitute an equal sign for the word “is”: God = Love, and therefore: “Love = God”. Since God is outside time and space, totally without form, it may help to literally regard unconditional, changeless Love as God. And it is within everyone’s power to choose to reflect that unconditional, changeless Love here in time and space – through forgiveness, by choosing a miracle, a holy instant, over the approximately 60,000 ego thoughts that usually occupy our mind during a day. Therefore, try to regard ‘God’ as a literal synonym for ‘Love’, as we already tend to do with a term like ‘perfect Oneness’.

Thus we read in Workbook lesson 41 “God goes with me wherever I go”: “It is quite possible to reach God. In fact it is very easy, because it is the most natural thing in the world. You might even say it is the only natural thing in the world. The way will open, if you believe that it is possible.” (W-pI.41.8) While this makes no sense if you think of God as a being, it becomes very natural if you read that as “Choosing unconditional, changeless Love in your mind”, and reflecting that in your actions in the world. Inevitably there will be ego temptations – in fact, we usually cannot keep this up for more than a few seconds – but reflecting that unconditional, changeless Love in your life is possible for us all. That’s why Jesus points out to us that “The Holy Spirit [i.e., the voice for God = Love] is in you in a very literal sense.” (T-5.II.3:7) Everybody has the power to choose that unconditional, changeless Love, although we usually don’t. If Love is literally within you and me, so must God be literally within you and me (i.e., within the mind, not the body).

The same is true for the ego, the thought of attack and separation and individuality. While there seem to be billions of different competing egos, the thought system within each of these seemingly separated ego minds is exactly the same: it’s trying to be god (a very distinct authority in time and space) in a threatening world which must constantly be defended against. Dutch poet Willem Kloos is solely remembered for his phrase “I am a god in the depths of my mind”. This touches the ambition of every seemingly separated ego. Unfortunately, again, most people regard the ego as some formidable foe, acting on its own. Countless people are fighting their ego in a vain attempt to subdue or overcome it. It’s very hard to fully realize that the ego is not some evil entity acting on its own, but is simply one part of the split mind that we actively chose and still actively continue to choose, since this ‘ensures’ the continued existence our cherished seeming individuality. And so, as with God, we see why Jesus in ACIM also frequently talks about the ego as some thing apart from us: “I have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing, acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly” (T-4.VI.1:3).

So our mind is a battleground; both Love and the ego are literally within us (i.e., within our mind). This is why Jesus emphasizes time and again that A Course in Miracles is a Course in mind training. It’s only when we learn to activate the neutral observer above the battleground (T-23.V.1), that we realize one part of the split mind is wholly illusory, and the other part of the split mind is wholly true. God (= Love) remains literally within us, no matter how long we vow to keep Love at bay, while the ego dissipates into nothing the moment we truly desire Love. It’s no surprise that so many spiritualities advocate the practice of the neutral observer to become aware of our divine or higher Self. ACIM as a spirituality is unique in that it explains in-depth why we spend so much effort at not choosing Love, and also where to find the Answer. To recap the well-known quote: “Seek not to change the world; choose, rather, to change your mind about the world.” ( If you seek for the Light of unconditional, changeless Love outside, you are merely covering your eyes. The Light is literally within you now. (cf. W-pI.188.1). To conclude, again from Textbook chapter 18: “Heaven [i.e., where God abides] is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect Oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within.” (T-18.VI.1)

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


Stupidity is a choice

One of the more well-known humorous quotes by musician Frank Zappa (1940-1993) is about the essence of the universe: “Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.” He probably never realized, from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, just how close he was to the truth. After all, the Big Bang was the direct result of the Son of God, seemingly having chosen a dream of separation from God, stupidly deciding to splinter into billions of fragments, in a maladaptive attempt to hide from God. In ACIM, Jesus calls it madness: “Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality.” (T-18.I.6). But although Frank Zappa frequently joked in his music about the silliness of the world, he was rather pessimistic about the outlook for mankind. He did not realize that you and I are not a helpless figure in an evil reality; rather, we are the dreamer of this nightmarish waking dream. A dream that is, to remind ourselves again, already over in reality, because it never truly happened, since in reality it could never happen. Let’s look at some ways the madness manifests in our waking dream of time and space that seems to palpably real.

My body is constantly bombarded by vicious bacteria, viruses and parasites. We scientifically battle these lifeforms, but they seem to be quite capable of keeping pace with our progress, as they learn to mutate ever more rapidly. No matter how much attention you and I pay daily to our health and well-being, we sooner or later get physically sick from time to time. It’s a rat-race that seems to go on and on (and we won’t win).
No matter how kind and loving you and I try to live our lives, sooner or later we get irritated, dislike situations and/or people, and wish that this or that would be different. Our minds are barely at peace at all during a day. Moreover, Murphy is always around: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong sooner or later.
We constantly elect political leaders who claim to act in the best interest of the people, but in practice primarily listen to the large corporations. We notice that very few people act in the general interest; by far most people act primarily in their own interest. Hmm, that’s including ourselves if we honestly look at our own projections… ouch!
Ah, and let’s not forget: the climate is seriously at stake. Millions of tons of plastic in the oceans seriously threaten our flora and fauna. Loads of medicinal progesteron waste deforms huge amounts of fish. In metropolitan areas, the air has become barely breathable. The global warming is very, very likely caused solely by human industrial factors. We may already be too late to prevent the global temperate from rising several degrees. If the ice caps melt, the rising sea level will cause millions and millions of deaths. That is, if your planet it not struck by some meteorite before that, extinguishing 90% of the population.
Apart from that, no matter how well we take care of our lives and our planet, sooner or later we all die anyway. We can invent ways to prolong the longevity of the physical body, but the extra years are not necessarily more happy years. Moreover, if I see my life span in the course of the millions of years of the existence of the planet and the universe, my lifespan sort of resembles one brief tinkle of a firefly in the night. In the larger picture of time and space, my physical life on earth is totally insignificant and irrelevant.

Again, this is what Jesus calls madness in A Course in Miracles. And we all believe it. Only when we honestly study and practice Jesus’ curriculum, we (slowly!) come to realize that the way to end the madness is not to renounce the world (asceticism), or to just party all our lives (since it’s all illusory anyway), nor to sedate our pain for the rest of our days. The trick to end this madness is to be very active in the world, but to do it with a different teacher. This is because the madness is not in the world per se, but in the thought system that made up this world: the ego, which is the idea of attack, separation, defense, pain, and death. Most of us have a grandparent who taught us that the only real way out of a difficulty is to face it and go right through it. In the same vein, Jesus pleads with us to look at the thought system we have chosen, from a bird’s eye perspective above the battleground, very calmly, without any condemnation, in no way denying the pain (psychological/physical) that we experience, and then realize just what we have chosen. He then simply invites us to “Brother, choose again” (T-31.VIII.3), meaning: why not choose to be guided in your thoughts and activities in this world by the Holy Spirit. You will be so much happier.

Kenneth Wapnick has emphasized many times that no-one should expect this to be a choice that’s easily made. After all, this requires complete trust in the Love of God, in which there is no room for any individuality. Bye-bye, cherished personality! The development of trust (M-4.I.1) is a process with many phases, stages and eye-opening moments. It’s no good banging yourself over the head and making yourself feel guilty for not having attained such a level of trust as yet. Such pain suits the ego very nicely; it conveniently seduces you to choose asceticism, partying, or numbing your mind – all perfect distractions to ensure the ego’s continued existence. Once you are convinced that letting go of your cherished personality is the way to eternal peace, the first step is simply to choose to step back and ask the other Teacher what to do. If you listen in silence, and wait for an answer to come without any fear or pain involved, you are making significant progress on the ladder out of the hell of madness. And you realize with astonishment that the madness and stupidity that we had heretofore taken as facts of life, are actually conscious choices by the seemingly sleeping Son of God, of which you and I are a holographic part, and they can be undone… just by choosing once again. That’s the road to the disappearance of the universe and the remembering of Oneness, the hearing of the eternal call of God:  “Forget all things except My changeless Love. Forget all things except that I am here.”  (The Gifts of God, p.128)

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


Don’t try to change others

Many a medical doctor finds patients across the desk, who, after having discussed their illness symptoms for a while, sigh and say: “All this endless talk… I believe I prefer pills.” Indeed, for many patients it seems much easier to repress the symptoms through pain killers or sedatives, than to honestly seek and find the real cause of the physical or psychological distress. Any psychologist will tell you that this ostrich strategy, that is, hiding your head in the proverbial sand, is a denial strategy that does not work. The symptoms, bothersome though they may feel, carry a useful message. If the symptoms are repressed, the message will find another way to get through, often in an even more painful form.

Any good student of A Course in Miracles realizes, however, that it’s not up to us to judge (i.e., condemn) such a situation and the choices that are made. After all, everybody walks this world “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T-31.VIII.7). That includes every ACIM student, or he wouldn’t be hanging around here any longer. You and I have many “good reasons” from instant to instant to choose wrong-minded thinking over right-minded thinking. After all, becoming right-minded all the time (that is, entering the real world) is a process of ascending up the ladder of Atonement; a process that may take several lives to complete. So it doesn’t suit any of us to bang this poor patient over the head with psychological and/or spiritual principles about waking up from the dream of pain. Such finger-pointing would be falling into the ego trap of attack and “correction”, which the ego loves.

Another reason to forego judgment in cases like these (actually, in all cases) is that condemning the patient would be a clear case of making the error real, that is, the error of believing that the separation from God has actually happened. If I perceive someone external to me, with a mind clearly separated from my own, then I’ve forgotten the metaphysics that are so essential to understanding the message of A Course in Miracles. Remember, God has but one Son (W-pI.99.7), Who seemed to have fallen asleep in the quantum possibility of dreaming what it would be like to live separated from God, hiding in zillions of fragments. Seeing separated bodies, then, is nothing more than a shadow of projection of the ontological instant of separation, which fortunately in reality never happened because it could never happen. Healing, then, means seeing my brother, including the complaining patient in question, as my savior, not as a poor wretched soul that needs to be converted.

A third reason not to judge what happens here is that if I focus on changing others, I can easily use this to distract my mind from the focus on the mind-work that I can do to heal my own mind. If I cannot even master my own mind, as is obviously the case since I catch myself thinking wrong-mindedly so often, wouldn’t it be just slightly arrogant to assume that I can change others? The argument sometimes put forth by Course students that there is in effect only one mind, so all interaction is mind-work, takes the point out of context. Yes, mind healing is done through interaction with other seemingly separated minds, but if I seek the solution for happiness in trying to change someone that I clearly perceive as external to me, I’m yet again caught in the ego dynamics of separation and condemnation, desperately working on a ‘better’ future.

Bottom line: don’t try to change others, no matter how convinced you are that your counsel would really help them ease their pain. “The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself”, Jesus tells us three times (T-2.V.5, T-5.V.7:8, M-7.3:2). If you are really sincere in resigning as your own teacher (for you were badly taught, T-12.V.8 and T-28.I.7), the Holy Spirit will provide the lessons that are most helpful to you, in this classroom called the physical world. So any time you notice a friend or a patient hiding his head in the sand, see this as a reminder that everyone walks this planet uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. Notice your desire to fix the situation, but don’t live it out. Choose instead to step back, and call upon the advice of the Holy Spirit, meaning: ask help in letting to of all judgment. Confirm to yourself that you would rather have your mind instructed by the Teacher Who will bring you Home, instead of the teacher that would keep you in pain. As we read in (T-9.II.4:1): “If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God.” He may not be making sense in his complaints, but he is still the Son of God, just as you are. Choosing to see a patient this way reinforces that very fact in your own mind as your own Identity, as well.

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