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.” (T-21.in.1:7) 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 Amazon.com: